Is your confidence low? When you think about yourself, are you a little … meh?
These feelings hit us all up from time to time. And that’s fine. Life has its ups and downs, and most of us know that tomorrow will probably look better again.
But, when these feelings don’t subside, and when they take over our thoughts and emotions, they lead to serious issues with self-esteem. And chronic low self-esteem can have a devastating effect on your life in general.
So, even though you probably shouldn’t make an appointment with a shrink when you’re just feeling a little down on yourself, monitoring these feelings is a must. And getting out from under them should be a priority.
What exactly is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is a critical part of the way we see our place in the world. It is the thoughts we think about ourselves, the emotions we feel when we think about ourselves, and the pictures we have in our heads when we think about ourselves.
It has a hand in just about everything we do and experience in life.
In short – if you have healthy self-esteem, your everyday life choices will be good. You’ll live courageously, be your own person, have healthy relationships, and can deal with difficult situations without collapsing into a puddle.
What does low self-esteem do to your life?
As a short sidebar – and because it’s in the news so much. Do you know that almost 90% of people who’ve been bullied at some point in their lives say it seriously impacted their self-esteem? Food for thought, right?!
Low self-esteem touches your mental health. It affects the way you make decisions – pretty much about everything.
It also has a snowball effect. Low self-esteem grows like cancer. It may start with someone making a comment about … let’s say your nose being too big. You take that to heart. Next thing, when you look in the mirror, you start believing there’s something wrong with your ears too.
Away from the mirror, when you’re lying on your bed, your mind conjures up a hundred other things that may be wrong with you.
If you believe what your mind tells you, your self-esteem takes a hammering. And the next time you walk out of the house, you’ll inevitably feel lesser than the people around you.
Typically, low self-esteem brings the following into your life:
- You start avoiding difficult situations
- You become overly sensitive to criticism
- You become riddled with anxiety
- You start withdrawing from social situations with no adequate excuse
- You struggle to trust yourself
The real ray of sunshine here is that you really can change all that. Nobody in this world is perfect just as nobody in this world so riddled with flaws that they become worthless and meaningless.
It’s all about balance, and that balance is a choice.
Journaling for self-esteem
Often, when thoughts stay in our heads, they simply become a part of the maelstrom of thoughts and feelings that swirl in us every day.
Unless you identify certain individual thoughts, or thought patterns, that you consciously want to work with, it really all just remains white noise.
Keeping a journal, and actively using it to write down the things you want to work with to improve your self-esteem, is a brilliant way to get a handle on those low feelings about yourself, and to kick them to the curb once and for all.
This journal is both a place where you can jot down the things you notice, as well as the perfect space for you to actually examine those things and discuss them with yourself.
This journal is where you can weigh the truth and reality of the messages your mind sends you and decided if they’re keepers, or if they belong in the dustbin of time.
A few ideas for your self-esteem journal
These are obviously only guidelines – a few ideas to get you going and show you the kind of content that could be helpful. But remember, your inner world is completely unique, so adjust and reshape all of these if you need to. Make it so it fits perfectly with your being, and the goals you want to achieve.
Jot down the negative thoughts you have about yourself
We’re often not even aware of what we’re thinking. This is one of the strangest things about us humans. We have this incredible brain that literally thinks 50 000 thoughts every day, and mostly we’re just completely unaware of what it’s busy with.
That is until we need its thinking power to complete some kind of task. We call our thinking world into consciousness, use it to focus and solve a couple of problems, and then release it to sink into its own business again!
Step one is to become more conscious about your thoughts. When you notice your brain circling negative thoughts about you or your life, jot those down.
And then, challenge them on paper. For every negative thing your brain tells you, write down three positive things – things you do well, or things you meant to others, or even things you deeply understand.
The aim is to remind your brain that there are other things to think about. It doesn’t have to circle the negative like vultures circle a carcass!
Write down how you care about yourself
Self-care is also something a great many of us is really bad at. And, like with our thought world, we often don’t notice or pay attention.
Your journal is the perfect place to drag these bad self-care habits kicking and screaming into the light. When you see them in black and white, it will inspire you to do something about them.
And, once you do, you’ll feel better about yourself, and you’ll have more positive things to remind your brain of when it comes up with its outlandish BS!
Make notes about how you relax
Many people don’t realize how difficult it is to relax when your self-esteem is on the fritz. When you have that constant critic in your ears all the time, the simple act of sitting back and listening to a piece of music or reading a book can become nigh impossible.
When we struggle with low self-esteem, we also tend to want to be distracted. Anything bright and shiny and loud takes us away from our inner thoughts, and that feels better than confronting them.
For instance, you’d be more inclined to sit in front of the television than you would be reading a book. Or meditating. Or listening to music.
It is because the more relaxing and rejuvenating activities are reflective by nature, and reflection can be downright unpleasant when your self-esteem is low.
Again, we don’t always notice these habits until we focus and look for them.
Discuss this with your journal. See how you relax (if at all) and write down ways you used to or would like to relax.
Make a date with yourself to do something for no other reason than to relax, keep that date, and write about how it went.
Use your journal to discuss your life goals
There’s an unbearable sense of uselessness that sets in with low self-esteem. And the word unbearable is probably a euphemism in this context.
Your journal is the one space where you can start to rekindle your passion. Have a re-look at the goals you used to have for your life. If you didn’t have any, get some and write them down.
Discuss them in your journal. They don’t have to be rule-the-universe large. They can be small. Remember, this is your life experience, and only you matter in this journal!
Write down why these goals are important.
Then – very important – commit to them.
And once you do, use your journal to keep track of your progress.
Write down how you can be useful to someone else
Nothing makes us feel better like doing something for someone else. But when we’re so battered by low self-esteem, it can seem like a gargantuan effort to just leave the house!
Use your journal to jot down a few things you can do for someone else. This can be anybody, and it needn’t be big. Small things matter, even if the other person doesn’t even notice.
Pick items on your list, do them and then discuss how you feel with your journal.
Again, this will give you something to remind your brain of when it starts with its nonsense!
Write down all the things you’ve been dying to try
We’re an adventurous bunch. We all have a little locket deep in ourselves where we keep the things we’d love to do before we shuffle off this mortal coil.
Some call it a bucket list.
Use your journal to put that down in writing. Feel it when you’re writing it down, and set at least one of those as a goal.
Continue to discuss it with your journal, make plans about how to achieve it, and follow up on your progress.
Remember, this journal is for you and by you. It has nothing to do with anybody else. There is no shame here, no criticism, and no judgment.
Remembering to forget, and forgetting to remember
In life, there are things we need to forget, and there are things we have to forget to remember. This is one of the guiding principles of a healthy inner life – is letting go of what doesn’t serve you, and getting more of what does.
Self-esteem is dependent on this balance. If you continue to remember what you should be forgetting, and forgetting what you should remember, you’ll remain in a quagmire of negativity and unhappiness.
It’s all about letting go and shifting focus.
A story that matters
In 2009 everything in Heather Mathew’s life was going swimmingly. She owned her own house, had a wide circle of friends, and ran two businesses. But somewhere inside there was a gaping hole. Something was missing.
Lots of inner reflections and reading, truly inspiring people that appeared from nowhere, and commitment took Heather on a path she could never imagine.
You can get more of Heather’s story by clicking the button below, and also see how she shows up differently these days. And how she spends her time helping others to be the best possible version of themselves.