Many struggles with low self-esteem, poor body image, or lack of self-love. You are not alone!
Oftentimes working on yourself and promoting self-growth and self-compassion can be the best way to go about your life issues. It gives perspective and more room for planning, making important decisions, and working on your relationships. When we are in a good place ourselves the issues start to seem easier to manage. Approaching problems from the inside most of the time can give better results rather than trying to adjust to the world around us.
The most control we have is over ourselves rather than over other people or settings. Inner power is the most potent force which you can use in your daily life.
How to gain more confidence and self-esteem?
First of all, one needs to understand that we are all equal and worthy of love as human beings. Also, that self-actualization and enhancement don’t mean possessions, performance, and others’ opinions of us. Self-esteem and self-love do not come from those things, they can come only from within us. It is much more efficient and realistic to compare yourself to ‘You Yesterday’ or ‘You a Year Ago’ rather than to another person. Other people do not have your experiences, your upbringing, memories, body, etc. This idea of equality does not give you a free pass for not doing anything in your life like improving and striving for more but so that you can do it for the right reasons. So that you can be better than ‘You Yesterday’.
Toxic Self-Esteem Sources
There are three types of toxic self-esteem. We develop those mechanisms as we grow up and look up to our role models.
- Performance-based self-esteem: we perceive ourselves as worthy of love only when we perform adequately to our own standards, if not addressed this type can develop into workaholism. (this type is very prominent in men)
- Possession-based self-esteem: we perceive ourselves as worthy of love based on what we have and what is our social status, this approach can develop into greed and devaluation of other people. If you think that only having enough possessions or having a trophy wife is important in life then you are promoting possession-based self-esteem. (this type is also very prominent in men)
- Others-based self-esteem: we perceive ourselves as worthy of love only if others think we are, if this type of thinking is not addressed it can develop into codependence. (this type is very prominent in women)
Here are some useful exercises to help you develop a healthy sense of self-love, self-esteem, and boundaries.
Find a comfortable position. Close your eyes, breathe naturally and sink into a deep state of relaxation. Think back to your earliest memories of childhood, to a time when you achieved something that surprised you and made you feel happy. Perhaps it was a physical milestone, such as jumping over something that had seemed too big for your abilities at that age, finding your first friend, or being brave when you went to school for the first time. Our memories of childhood are usually vague, but everyone can remember something significant from their early years if they think hard enough. Trust that something will come to the surface and it will, for everything that you have done and everything that you have said has been imprinted on the subconscious. The important thing is that it should be something that pleased you, not necessarily something for which you received approval. When you have a scene in mind, scan it for details. Take in as much of the sounds, smells, and tastes as you possibly can. If you feel yourself becoming emotional, let the feelings flow because it is obviously something that needs to be expressed and cleared. Now scan forward slowly to another incident in your childhood when you made another step forward in understanding or proving your ability. Perhaps it was learning how to swim or ride a bike. Can you remember if you were anxious about doing this, or maybe you doubted your ability? Can you also recall the feeling when you succeeded? Continue like this through school, further education, your first job, relationships, setting up home, and other events to the present moment. Let the images come to you naturally and then, when you are ready, come back to waking consciousness.
Acknowledging Your Achievements
You can use this as a separate meditation, or as an extension of the previous one. If starting afresh, relax as in the previous exercise, then start to visualize what you would like to do if you had the time, money, and opportunity.
Indulge your fantasy because it may reveal that what you subconsciously desire is not actually unobtainable at all. Often our dreams of unlimited wealth and success hide modest aspirations such as having more time for ourselves, the courage to act spontaneously, or the need for new surroundings. Let the images flow naturally and then, when it feels right, come back to waking consciousness.
Create Your Affirmations
People often underestimate the power of positive intention and words. The meaning behind the words is very powerful. By repeating certain phrases to ourselves we can reprocess our brain. Doing the affirmations in front of a mirror is even more influential. Even though you might be feeling not up for the task or your self-esteem is not in the right place at that certain time, DO IT ANYWAY!
Different “chakras” also have separate types of affirmations so you can experiment with them.
Crown Chakra affirmations start with “I understand”
Third Eye Chakra affirmations start with “I see”
Throat Chakra affirmations start with “I speak”
Heart Charka affirmations start with “I love”
Solar Plexus Chakra affirmations start with “I do”
Sacral Chakra affirmations start with “I feel”
Root Chakra affirmations start with the usual “I am”
Art Therapy for Positive Body-Image
Art therapy can be a very powerful tool, especially for people who like to express themselves by being creative in any way. If you do not think of yourself as a creator or an artist it is ok too! It is about getting your feelings out onto the paper. The point of art therapy is not to create a ‘beautiful piece of art’ but to express your emotions and thoughts in a different way. You might surprise yourself! Because the mean of communication is different from the one we use every day (speaking) the novelty can create a great outlet for hidden emotional parts.
Body of Positivity:
Create an outline of your body (if you want to go big, make a real size outline using your body on a bigger piece of paper!). Fill the inside with positive affirmations, images, things that make you happy.
Draw what a body image is for you. I know it can be perceived as a vague explanation but it gives you a lot of space for creativity.
Think: Why my body image is important to me? What influences my body image? When and where do I feel a boost in my self-esteem and positive body image?
It can be a drawing of you and external factors or something completely different! By knowing what influences us and what is important in the concept of a body image it is easier to address that issue.
Creating Boundaries Exercise
It will be a visualisation exercise that you can use at any moment of your daily life.
First, take a couple of deeper breaths. Ground yourself and think of the most beautiful place in the world. What can you see, hear, smell, feel, or taste?
Now imagine that there is something that you need a boundary for. Imagine a wall. It can be a brick wall but it also could be a wall of flowers or any other equivalent. This wall has a looking glass, you can see through it. Nothing gets to you through that wall, you and your emotions are safe behind it.
You can also relax this wall, practice tightening the fortifications, and relaxing them.
You can put up this wall any time you want and any time it is needed.
Using your wall doesn’t mean that you are not hearing or seeing the situation unfolding in front of you. You are still an active observer. You can listen to people’s opinions and statements without those words getting to you. You can acknowledge them as opinions and not make them a part of your inner world.
When you will have sufficient self-esteem you will be able to create good and strong boundaries. Boundaries come from our innate sense of differentiation from others. We can acknowledge others and their statements but differentiate those from our opinions. Boundaries are protecting us from getting emotionally hurt but are allowing us to see things objectively and still listen in.
Message today to try anxiety therapy and trauma therapy. If you’ve experienced sexual trauma Love Empowerment Clinic can help as well. Try art therapy trauma approaches and mind-body mindfulness approaches to healing.