Google defines “self-esteem” as "confidence in one's own worth or abilities; self-respect."
I do kind of agree with this definition, but I don't think it’s totally complete. As someone who has struggled with self-esteem myself, I decided to dedicate the last 8 months to researching as much as I could about this topic.
Self-esteem is confidence in one's competence in dealing with life in general. It is measured by how much we think we deserve happiness and respect. It also correlates with how much we love ourselves. Someone with high self esteem usually loves themselves a lot.
Self-esteem defines our thought patterns and feelings. It can have an extremely positive effect or an extremely negative effect on us. While almost everyone agrees that high self esteem is a good thing, people don't always see it as a necessity. Rest assured that high self-esteem is not only "a good thing", but crucial to our well-being and happiness.
If someone with low self-esteem is happy, they feel and act like they don't even deserve it. Our self-esteem is like a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you think you are good, you will be. If you think you are shit, you will be.
Here are some examples of how someone with high self-esteem and someone with low self-esteem react to the exact same situation:
Situation: Romantic Rejection
High Self-Esteem Joe: I will find someone else, maybe even better. I am a pretty cool person, so it won't be hard.
Low Self-Esteem Joe: What did I even expect, a piece of shit like me would obviously get rejected. Why do I even try?
Situation: Job Performance
High Self-Esteem Joe: I think I am doing a pretty good job. My boss and coworkers said I am doing well, so it must be true.
Low Self-Esteem Joe: My boss said I was doing good? He is probably just mocking me, my last article was such garbage, like everything I do.
High Self-Esteem Joe: I can do this! Even though it’s tough, I am tougher.
Low Self-Esteem Joe: I can't do this, I suck at basically everything. It’s too hard.
High Self-Esteem Joe: Big whoop, lets try again. I am better equipped with the lessons I learned from this failure.
Low Self-Esteem Joe: Well shit! I am a failure, and I suck at everything I do. WHY DO I EVEN TRY? Might as well give up.
But I was always a low self-esteem person from childhood! How can I change?! Well, it’s not impossible. HARD, but totally possible. Nothing is set in stone. Your brain is capable of massive change, but only if you commit to changing it.
Let’s start with some solid advice!
#1. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
John was born into a poor family located in the "bad" part of town. John's parents were alcoholics and constantly abused him. John also had a learning disability that hindered his studies. This made him give up on high school and drop out. Then one boring Tuesday afternoon, John read an article called "How To Improve Self Esteem and End Up Winning Every Time". This changed his mindset and he went back to high school. After graduating, he got into Ryerson and then got a job as a bank analyst. He made good money and couldn't be happier.
One day, he went to his local tennis club and met Eric. When he got home, he found Eric on Facebook and like everyone else in the world, he started stalking his life like a creep. He noticed that Eric went to Harvard and worked for NASA. Eric also had a pretty nice looking girlfriend and an amazing house in America. This made John feel like a failure. John thought, "We are the same age and from the same city, and Eric has achieved so much more than me. He became an astronaut and I just became a banker from Ryerson." John ate some ice cream, cried a little, then went to bed.
Was it stupid for John to compare himself to Eric? Yes. Eric was born in a "good" part of town into a loving and supportive family. Eric didn't suffer from any learning disorders. His military father instilled a strong sense of discipline and a tireless work ethic in Eric, which helped him get into Harvard and succeed. John got dealt a bad deck of cards in life, but he still turned the situation around even though the odds were against him. Eric got dealt an amazing deck of cards in his life, and his life seemed to be a breeze. Life deals each one of us a deck of cards. Some people get the good ones and some people get the bad ones. No one chooses their decks, but if you play them right you can still win even with crappy deck. So it's unfair, stupid, unscientific and ridiculous to compare ourselves to other people.
The story is not yet finished, because Eric didn't actually have the amazing life John thought he did!
Eric's girlfriend constantly made him feel horrible about himself. Eric went to NASA to be an astronaut but instead got the job of a mechanic. Eric hates his job in NASA because it makes him miserable. He thought NASA would be more exciting. Eric has no idea how he is going to pay for that expensive house he just bought.
John made another mistake. He compared his life to Eric's highlight reel. He conjured up an idea of Eric from what he saw on Facebook. Would Eric really post his struggles in life on Facebook? No, he would only post the good parts. So don't make the mistake of comparing people's "good parts" with your life as a whole. You don't know what's going on behind the scenes.
Also if you start comparing yourself to others, you will find that there will always be someone who is better looking, taller, smarter, has better WiFi connection, etc. You will never win if you start playing that game.
So what should we do instead? As Ernest Hemingway said: "There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self."
He is right, we should only compare ourselves to our former selves and see how far we have come. The only fair comparison is when you compare yourself with someone who was dealt the same cards in life as you. YOU.
So John, I hope you realize how far you have come given the circumstances and that you give yourself a pat in the back, because you deserve it.
#2. Accept compliments.
When someone gives you a compliment, what do you think a low self esteem person says in return? They say, "Oh no, I look ugly" or "Oh no, my story was lame". We can make the mistake of seeing this as being humble or not braggadocious but in reality, when someone brushes off a compliment like that, that person is rejecting the "good" people see in her. Why? Because the person does not see herself as pretty or smart.
We can change that, let's flip the script by using two simple words. When someone gives you a compliment, look them in their eyes and say, "Thank you!" Accept your goodness and realize that everybody around you does not think the negative things about you that you think about yourself. If they had a look into your mind they would laugh at the criticisms that you make about yourself.
I have a friend who is pretty, cool, smart and kind. Unfortunately she doesn't see herself as these things. She told me that she was insecure about her breast size. Obviously to me and all my other friends this seemed so bloody ridiculous we started laughing. We honestly never noticed her "small breasts" (according to her), because we were too busy noticing the amazing things about her. Besides, who doesn't love small boobs?
We are our own worst critic. Before you start freaking about that pimple on the cheek before a date, try to imagine your date having a pimple on his or her cheek. Would it really matter to you? No, because everyone gets pimples here and there so you wouldn't think someone as lesser for having one. There is a lot more to you than your FLAWLESS FACE! Who cares if you have a pimple? Does your pimple downplay how funny you are? Does it downplay how intelligent you are? Does it downplay how generous you are? No, it does not. Stop defining yourself with one good thing about yourself. Try to realize that you are a sum of good things.
#3. Associate with supportive people and support them in return.
When I first started highschool I had no friends. Being an immigrant with no prior connections to the area didn't help. I was sad, confused and lonely. I ate my lunches in abandoned hallways because I didn't like sitting alone in the cafeteria. A teacher caught me and asked me why I was sitting there. I said, "I don't like feeling alone when everyone else has friends." I burst out crying after saying that. The teacher took me to the cafeteria and forced a group of people to sit with me. They became my "friends". I would sit with them at lunch, carry their books, do small chores for them, be a target practice for them. Oh they also constantly called me ugly and stupid. Such good "friends" they were. I didn't leave them because I thought being alone was the worst thing ever.
One day I couldn't take it anymore. I sat next to some other people in class, whom I didn't know. There I met my current best friend, who introduced me to my other current best friends. Life with the new group of friends was way better. They laughed at my jokes, they didn't treat me like a slave, and they were actually nice to me.
We all have a bad habit of being with people that put us down because we feel like we have no other choice. It is actually better to ditch those people and be alone than be called a potato every single day. We also should refrain from calling our friends potatoes, even in a joking way because maybe they think they actually look like potatoes. We should make a habit of boosting their self-esteems by telling them nice things. It feels great to give and receive compliments, so it's basically a win-win situation.
Aleef K out. I will return with Part 2 soon, stay tuned :)
- Post by Aleef Khan, SExT Cast Member & Regular Blog Contributor
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