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Cultivating Self-Esteem: A Journey to Inner Strength


In a world flooding everyone with expectations dictated by imageries of simulated perfection, nurturing healthy self-esteem becomes a transformative journey toward authenticity. Self-esteem is the basis of our emotional wellbeing, playing a central role in shaping how we feel about ourselves and trust our abilities to face adversities and overcome obstacles. Self-esteem defines our overall opinion about ourselves and is the foundation upon which we build our relationships, pursue our goals, and navigate life's challenges.

People with higher self-esteem are more:

  • likely to feel loved and accepted

  • proud of what they do

  • prone to believe in themselves

People with lower self-esteem are:

  • constantly doubting themselves

  • harder on themselves

  • likely to feel they are not good enough

Adolescent jumping high

Adolescents who are absorbing negative messages about who they are and what is expected of them may sink to that level instead of realizing their true potential.

Daniel J. Siegel

Understanding Self-Esteem:

Self-esteem is a complex interplay of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours encompassing our self-worth, self-respect, and self-love. Self-esteem is a dynamic aspect of our psychological makeup, influenced by various factors such as childhood experiences, societal norms, and personal achievements. Being a dynamic element, self-esteem can improve by acknowledging its conscious and subconscious aspects, unravelling the layers contributing to its formation, exploring alternative narratives about the self and working toward inner growth.

The Impact of Low Self-Esteem:

Low self-esteem lies a shadow over every aspect of our lives, hindering our ability to pursue our dreams and enjoy fulfilling relationships. It acts as a barrier to personal growth, preventing us from taking risks or embracing new opportunities. Individuals with low self-esteem often engage in negative self-talk, doubting their abilities and worth, which can lead to a cycle of self-sabotage.

Building a Foundation of Self-Love:

The journey to self-esteem begins with cultivating self-love. Embracing our strengths, accepting our flaws, and treating ourselves with kindness are essential components of self-love. Practice self-compassion by acknowledging that everyone makes mistakes and experiences setbacks. Treat yourself as you would a friend, offering encouragement and understanding in times of difficulty.

Playing guitar

What this means is reflecting on your relationships in the past in your own family life

and asking yourself how those experiences influenced your development.

Daniel J. Siegel,

Cultivating Self-Esteem: Set Reasonable Goals

Setting reasonable goals and celebrating achievements are great ways to boost self-esteem. Break down larger objectives into smaller, manageable tasks, and celebrate each accomplishment along the way. Recognising your achievements reinforces a positive self-image and builds confidence in your abilities. This process not only propels you toward your aspirations but also instils a sense of competence and self-worth.

Surrounding Yourself with Positive Influences:

The people we surround ourselves with have a profound impact on our self-esteem. Cultivate relationships with individuals who encourage and support you. Positive influences can provide encouragement, constructive feedback, and a sense of belonging. Conversely, toxic relationships can erode self-esteem. Learn to set boundaries and distance yourself from those who undermine your sense of self-worth.

Developing Resilience in the Face of Challenges:

Life comes with challenges, and building resilience is a crucial aspect of fostering unshakable self-esteem. Rather than viewing setbacks as failures, see them as opportunities for growth and learning. Develop problem-solving skills, embrace change, and understand that adversities do not define your worth. Resilience enables you to bounce back from difficulties, reinforcing your belief in overcoming obstacles.

couple hugging

For a child or an adult, it’s extremely powerful to hear someone say,

“I get you. I understand. I see why you feel this way.” This kind of empathy disarms us.

Daniel J. Siegel

Practising Mindfulness and Self-Reflection:

Mindfulness, the practice of being present in the moment without judging yourself, your thoughts or challenges, can significantly contribute to healthy self-esteem. Regular self-reflection allows you to become aware of your thoughts and feelings, uncovering any negative patterns that may undermine your confidence. Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, presence in the moment and conscious breathing exercises, support a positive mindset and reduce self-critical thoughts.

Final Thoughts

Cultivating self-esteem is a transformative journey that requires self-awareness, self-compassion, and intentional effort. By embracing self-love, setting realistic goals, surrounding yourself with positive influences, developing resilience, and practising mindfulness, you can build a foundation of confidence and empowerment. Remember, your worth is intrinsic, and nurturing your self-esteem is an ongoing process that will positively impact every facet of your life.

When unpleasant feelings sit too long, it's time to reach out. Remember that you don't have to face everything alone; find someone you can trust to talk to. A helpline, a support group, your GP or a counsellor can make a difference and offer support.

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