Self largely represents the “I” and the “me” of an individual. Self is an easily relatable and recognizable word. Also a complex philosophical phenomenon, self can be spoken of in terms of the union of the body, emotions, thoughts, and sensations. It is influenced by our previous experiences, belief systems, culture, skills, inner qualities and supporting circles.
Thus, the expression of self can be dynamic.
According to Carl Roger, the concept of self has three components- self-image, self-esteem, and ideal self. Self-image is about how one perceives themselves. Self-esteem deals with the value that a person has on own. The ideal self is what one wants or wishes to be.
What exactly is Self-esteem?
Self-esteem relates to the way we feel about ourselves. It reflects our inner sense of confidence as an external experience. It could influence the person’s life process.
For example: when self-esteem is too high, it can result in relationship problems, difficulties in social situations, and an inability to accept feedback or criticism, with direct effect on our mental well-being.
On the other hand, low self-esteem can cause fears of failure, harsh self-criticisms, and feelings of worthlessness. This can also negatively contribute to our mental health.
Self-esteem in moderation is the key to good mental health. There are several ways in which we may achieve that through the reframing of our thinking. Here are a few of our ideas:
Be kind to yourself
Take moments to be kind to yourself. Allow time to rest and heal. Suffering is part of our life so treat yourself like you would a loved one or someone you care about. Allow time to leave your thoughts and emotions for those moments without any judgment. Many of us blame and criticize ourselves and feel as though we are not enough when in a state of low self-esteem.
Be present in the moment
Allow yourself to be present here and now. Take note of your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. Practice mindfulness. Take notice of your thoughts and feelings. Remember that you are the director of your own life.
Respect who you are and your core beliefs and strengths. You are not determined by other people’s judgment and external validation. You are in charge of your thoughts and your life. True self-esteem come from within you.
Invite the thought that you are a unique person and forgive yourself for your own self-criticism. Each person has their own good qualities and strengths. Accepting yourself helps you to recognize yourself clearer and allow you to be and feel better.
Be aware of your qualities
Start the day with self-praise. Start with small steps to practice gratitude for all that you have and acknowledge them. You can practice positive affirmations like: I can, I am capable, I am proud of myself, and I am worthy.
Listen to the feedback from others
Receiving positive feedback is encouraging while often it is a challenge to listen to critical feedback in a positive way. Learning to accept and assess all kinds of feedback can strengthen your self-esteem and enrich your relationships. That said, don’t let negativity into your life. We must also learn to sieve the feedback that are necessary for us from those that are distracting and discouraging.
Assertiveness is an interpersonal skill. It is recognizing your needs and values through appropriate forms of expression. Practice ‘I’ statements such as I feel… I think…
Self-compassion allows you to understand yourself when you are feeling like a failure, suffering, or feeling inadequate. It recognizes that being imperfect, failing, and experiencing life difficulties are inevitable, and that our selves are not determined by the ups and downs in life but by our choices.
Celebrate your successes
The best way to increase your self-esteem is by celebrating your successes. Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Stop putting yourself down. Do not compare yourself with others. Everyone has their own pace. That’s what makes life so much more exciting and beautiful.
To sum up
This pandemic has seen our regular routines go through drastic changes; important plans cancelled; and we faced losses and isolation. These in many cases have caused us to struggle with self-doubt and self-criticism, with influences on our self-esteem.
When we are busy in the external world, we often overlook our inner world – our feelings, emotions, thinking and the connection to self.
However, this can also be taken as an opportunity to spend time with ourselves. And at this moment, we can choose kindness and respect- toward our own self and others. This can boost our self-esteem while also protect our mind and body.
Sita Maya Thing Lama,
Mental Health Care Professional,