“Everything that happens to you is a reflection of what you believe about yourself. We cannot outperform our level of self-esteem. We cannot draw to ourselves more than we think we are worth.” ~Iyanla Vanzant
There are many people I know, including myself, who at times struggle with an inner voice that tries to convince us that something is wrong with us or that we are somehow not “good enough.”
This can be troublesome, because how we feel about ourselves can affect every aspect of our lives.
That loud and harsh inner critic which thrives on belittling us, constantly plants seeds of negativity and makes us acutely aware of all our faults while simulataniously glossing over our greatness.
Our opinions of ourselves are shaped by various forces, including our primary caregiver relationships and other external factors. An article on Psychology Today.com, lists 10 Sources of Low Self-Esteem, which are:
- Disapproving Authority Figures
- Uninvolved/Preoccupied Caregivers
- Authority Figures in Conflict
- Bullying (with Unsupportive Parents)
- Bullying (with Over-Supportive Parents)
- Bullying (with Uninvolved Parents)
- Academic Challenges Without Caregiver Support
- Belief Systems
- Society and the Media
- Disapproving Authority Figures – “If you grew up hearing that whatever you did wasn’t good enough, how are you supposed to grow into an adult with a positive self-image?”
- Uninvolved/Preoccupied Caregivers – “It’s difficult to motivate yourself to want more, strive for more, and imagine that you deserve more when your parents or other primary caregivers didn’t pay attention – as if your greatest achievements weren’t worth noticing.”
- Authority Figures in Conflict – “If parents or other caregivers fight or make each other feel badly, children absorb the negative emotions and distrustful situations that have been modeled for them.”
- Bullying (with Unsupportive Parents) – “If you already felt unsafe at home and the [bullying] continued outside home, the overwhelming sense of being lost, abandoned, hopeless, and filled with self-loathing pervaded your everyday life.”
- Bullying (with Over-Supportive Parents) – “Conversely, if your parents were overly and indiscriminately supportive, it can leave you feeling unprepared for the cruel world.”
- Bullying (with Uninvolved Parents) – “If your primary caregivers were otherwise occupied while you were being bullied and downplayed your experience, or they let you down when you needed their advocacy, you might have struggled with feeling undeserving of notice, unworthy of attention, and angry at being shortchanged.”
- Academic Challenges Without Caregiver Support – “There’s nothing like feeling stupid to create low self-esteem. If you felt like you didn’t understand what was happening in school, you might have internalized the belief that you are somehow defective.”
- Trauma – “Being forced into a physical and emotional position against your will can make it very hard to like the world, trust yourself or trust others, which profoundly impacts self-esteem.”
- Belief Systems – “Whether judgment is emanating from authority figures or from an established belief system in your life, it can evoke shame, guilt, conflict and self-loathing.”
- Society and the Media – It’s no secret that people in media are packaged and airbrushed into unrealistic levels of beauty and thinness. It’s an epidemic that’s only getting worse and worse.
You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”
While reading this list, I noticed quite a few familiar things listed here that have affected me at various points in my life and I’m sure you do to. But at some point, we have to decide that we are no longer willing to allow the negative things in our past to continue to overwhelm our present, and influence our future.
What can we do to quiet that scathing inner voice that causes us to second-guess everything?
We can start by Loving Ourselves Like Our Life Depends On It!
When I was ready to release myself from the clutches of negative self-talk, learning to love and respect myself became the ultimate goal. But I know that sometimes, this is easier said than done. A few of the tangible actions I’m currently practicing include:
- Stop criticizing myself in a way I wouldn’t dream about doing to others.
- Stop comparing myself unfavorably to others.
- Become more open about what’s going on in my life and connect more with my loved one’s.
- Break old self-destructive habits and set new and helpful boundaries for myself.
- Set several small and attainable goals for each day.
- Focus on my positive attributes.
- Self-care – meditation, plenty of sleep, eat well, exercise, eliminate alcohol.
These are the things that work for me, and there is no “one-way” of increasing your self-love so, I encourage you to find your own formula.
If you take the time to discover and nurture your recipe for improved self-esteem, I believe that you’ll get to the point where you can honestly declare “l love myself,” and repeat this mantra consistently, protecting this thought until you feel it and believe it.
“This day, I vow to myself to love myself, to treat myself as someone I love truly and deeply – in my thoughts, my actions, the choices I make, the experiences I have, each moment I am conscious, I make the decision I LOVE MYSELF.”
Last Friday, January 11, I was happy to visit local middle school students and speak to them about a few topics which included; diversity and inclusion in the children’s book publishing industry and mirror books and window books. Plus, themes such as, “we are all a sum of our unique experiences” and “being courageous enough to tell your authentic story.”
Check out the brief video of the event. I hope you enjoy!
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