August is Admit You’re Happy Month. Woo-hoo, so that’s cool, unless you really aren’t happy. For you, August is Paste a Grin on and Fake You’re Happy Month. If you struggle with low self esteem, lack of confidence, poor self-image, life can feel pretty bleak.Here are self-esteem boosters and blues busters so you can honestly be happy this month!
Chronic low self -esteem is a debilitating and destructive illness. It’s a demon on your shoulder that constantly nags about short-comings, failures, mistakes–real and imagined. It second guesses, ridicules and enslaves. It distracts you with constant negative bombardment. You hear everything through this dirty thought filter. You misunderstand because low self esteem twists comments, words, actions and meanings. Every moment is an exhausting struggle to carry this unbearable load. Ironically it can many years to recognize low self-esteem. People tend to develop unhealthy relationships in which they are shamed because they believe that is all they deserve.
Low self-esteem is at the core of many surface illnesses, emotional and physical: depression, codependency, lethargy, failure to thrive, low achievement, substance abuse, isolation, relationship issues, control issues, rage, arrogance, intolerance, parenting problems, frequent illness, stress and stress related illnesses and others. It is genetic. Low self develops in utero; a growing fetus can sense if she is loved and wanted. And even if she is loved, a mother who suffers from low self-esteem emits chemical signals to the baby, preparing her for an unfriendly world. Infants born into homes with generational low self esteem interact, learn to feel badly about themselves. Low self-esteem becomes part of the child’s frame of reference.
But also, like an illness, remedies, treatments and cures can be found. And it’s essential that they are. There are useful strategies for coping: diet, life management, yoga, massage, acupuncture, acupressure, drug therapy, stress management, counseling, relationship therapy, group work, hypnosis, 12-step programs and others. Here are techniques to put into practice immediately.
Know that healing is a process; one day at a time. Do your daily mental health “homework.” Practice replacing negative thoughts with positive. Keep doing it till positive supersedes negative. But give it time. Your self-esteem wasn’t trashed over night and true recovery takes a long time. You will begin to feel happier and more energized.
Pause and listen to the negative messages you send yourself. Do you tell yourself you’re fat, ugly, stupid, slow, worthless? These are based on wrong assumptions and flawed mental images. Learn to catch yourself playing the messages and pause them. Generate new positive images, memories, responses and messages. Erase the old tapes and replay your new messages.
Learn to talk back to yourself and if need be, others. If you are hearing people trash talk you, answer back. If you’re the one do it, answer you back! Speak up for yourself. Be your own best friend. Affirm yourself. When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself, talk back to that idea as if it was a person. Say things like “No you are not fat and ugly. You are strong and attractive. You are not stupid. You are logical. You think things through.”
Remove yourself from toxic people, dangerous situations and low self-esteem triggers. Detach from cruel, selfish, hurtful people. No one can make you feel badly without your permission. If your group is bringing you down, get a new one. If you’re uncomfortable, leave. This may only need to be temporary, but you have to in order to salvage your self-esteem. Seek out congenial settings and nice people.
Don’t put on your red flasher for everyone else’s crises. Did you learn, growing up, to “give without counting the cost”, to be everyone’s servant? Those are dangerously slippery slopes. You have to count the cost to yourself before you give. If it’s too high or wasted effort avoid it. There are people who thrive on chaos. Even in the occasional crisis, if it’s not yours, think before you leap in to lend a hand. You aren’t obligated to bail everyone else out, especially if the crisis is of their own making. You aren’t the designated ambulance driver. Poor planning on their part does not constitute a crisis on your part.
Stop volunteering to be a victim. Those with low self esteem, cannot bear for anyone to be upset. They personalize and take other’s anger as failure. Some people manipulate that. Others just ride herd and take out all their problems on others. But the one with low self-esteem doesn’t get it’s their problem, not his. Thy go out of their way to be ultra nice, patient, forgiving,etc. So let people be angry, if you know you have done nothing hurtful. Don’t buy into anger that’s vengeful or chronic. Make a point of avoiding the angry outburst looking for a sacrificial lamb. Leave the room. Don’t bite. You don’t owe anyone.
Let people own their feelings. So “he doesn’t like this” or “that makes her angry?” That’s their issue. You can show compassion but don’t apologize for yourself if you have done nothing wrong. If they need to talk and you are willing to listen, make sure it stays objective and does not devolve to personal attacks. Also, set a limit. Some people can’t get out of a dump session and it spirals. If they can’t move on, you can. And pat yourself on the back for being a good friend.
Discover what you need and get it for yourself. Stop taking such good care of others that you don’t care for yourself. Nourish and comfort your mind, soul, body and spirit. Quit working right up till bedtime, waiting on everyone. Set a stop time. When it comes, what didn’t get done waits. Read, relax, unwind. If you’ve not done that before, others may be surprised or a little offended. Don’t worry. Just do it. They’ll get used to it and if they don’t, it’s their problem.
Vent your frustrations. Call a caring friend. Go to your room for awhile. Go for a drive or walk and talk or scream it out away from others. Don’t just smile and say you’re fine. Be honest with other and most of all with yourself. Don’t bury. Process it. Listen to yourself.
Encourage yourself. Progress seems slow sometimes. Reward yourself. Do’t give up or give in. Keep trying. When you fall or fail, forgive yourself and start over.