When I was thinking about today’s blogging prompt “Tenderness” I remembered a blog post about self-esteem that Cheryl Fassett, one of the brilliant ladies in my creative circle, wrote a couple of months ago.
The way you think about yourself has an impact on your self-esteem
It is called: “Self-talk becomes your truth” in which she explains how the way you think about yourself does have an enormous impact on your self-esteem, on how you think about yourself and how you act. And we mostly think rather cruel and hard about ourselves which in turn brings our self-esteem down.
That is, even more, the case when you suffer from a mental health condition like depression and/or anxiety. One of the first signs that my mental health is spiralling down is an increase in thoughts like: “I can’t do this!”, “I am so stupid!” or “This is too much!”. These thoughts are always present in my mind one way or another because I have a problem with my self-esteem anyway, however, they get more and more when my mental health gets worse.
One of the reasons for my low self-esteem
I assume one reason for this self-esteem problem is how I dealt with my mother’s cancer illness and her death. I was 8 years old when she got cancer and she spent a lot of time in hospitals or away to rehab until she passed away when I was not even 13 years old. My child mind desperately searched for a way to heal her and then I got an idea: “If I promise God that I am a good girl and do everything the right way surely he will save her”. So I’ve done a deal with him. But we all know that these deals hardly every work. And that was the case for me too. She passed away and my whole world turned inside out and became a rather dark, hopeless and cruel place.
What I concluded on the day of her funeral was, that I had failed my mother, that even though I had worked tirelessly to improve myself and become a better person, it was not enough and that I better give up because there is no point in working for something anyway. And that way of thinking has stayed with me all those years. It is like a black acidic pool inside of myself. I have built many walls and thoughts of protection around it but whenever I think about my low self-esteem and where it comes from I end up at that day and those conclusions.
I have no idea how I managed to survive this. I have no idea how I managed to get through school, university, immigrating to the UK and life in general with this damning judgement over myself. But I have.
Time to let go of low self-esteem and how to achieve this
And now it is time to do some cleaning up inside and get rid of the acidity of this cruel self-talk. It is time for some tenderness for myself and some letting go of low self-esteem. And how will I do this?
Six Tools to let go of low self-esteem
I simply will keep on using six tools I have discovered over the years of living with low self-esteem:
- Positive Affirmations
- Be more open with my husband
These have helped me already with being more tender and gentle with myself and showing myself that those negative conclusions I drew many years ago are not true. However, healing low self-esteem is a journey. Unfortunately, it is not the case that you realise what the reason is for your low self-esteem, you work on those reasons and then your self-esteem magically goes from zero to 100. If your self-esteem has been hurt early in your life or over a long time it might as well be that you work on it for the rest of your life. But we are certainly worth it, aren’t we?
So let’s have a closer look at the six tools I mentioned:
I am a huge fan of Julia Cameron’s “The Artists Way” (affiliate link)* that encourages every one of us to discover our artistic self and give it some room in our lives. One of its tools to achieve this are the so-called “Morning Pages”. They are just another word for daily journaling in a certain way however, I have found them to be a very good tool to figure out why I feel bad and to be able to express what I feel in a safe environment. In my experience, it is often too hard to speak to someone about my doubts, fears and negative judgements about myself. But at the same time, it lets go of a lot of pressure if I find a way to say it like it is.
I can write in my diary: “I feel shit today and wish it all would end” and have it off my chest while if I told my husband about this he would get worried and may overreact. That certainly would make things a lot worse. There are several studies that have proven the good effect of journaling for your mental wellbeing and you can find out something more about it here.
2. Positive Affirmations
Positive Affirmations work exactly with the effect Cheryl wrote about: You become what you think about yourself.
To use positive affirmations you need to pinpoint your negative thought about yourself down and then change them into a positive message. For example, I would change my thought: “What I do is not enough!” into “What I do is enough!” and repeat it daily. We all know how repetition can become a habit and this new message to yourself will do its work subconsciously.
These work rather well in my experience, however, we do not have only one negative belief about ourself. Especially when you live with low self-esteem for a long time there are many thoughts that work together. So it will need a while to figure all of them out and work on them bit by bit. I have always felt it is better to work on just a few than all of them because the feelings coming up can overwhelm you. Find out more about positive affirmations here.
Gratitude is the practice of reminding ourselves about the good in our lives. Lauren, the other brilliant lady in my creative circle has written a post about gratitude which is called: “Gratitude Jar ~ here is how and why”
I personally have not used a gratitude jar so far but have either written down something I am grateful for in my diary and/or give thanks to the universe in the morning and evening. When I forget doing this I know something is not quite right with my mental health. That is why I believe the gratitude jar is a good idea as the jar is a physical reminder for practising gratitude. That is why I am going to create one. Find out more about the benefits of gratitude here.
Mindfulness is a practice that is used for hundreds of years in Buddhism. It basically means to realise that your thoughts and feelings are something you experience not something you are. And that those change continuously. Mindfulness uses different ways of training you to accept your thoughts and feelings as something changing and to keep your focus on your being not on your thougths and feelings.
As I wrote in “Joy – Mental Health Diary ~ ABC of Love 11 ~ Love Is In Da Blog 2018” my doctor has given me the book “Mindfulness a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world” (affiliate link)* that explains Mindfulness from a scientific point of view and teaches you how to use it. I am just finishing my week one tasks and do feel it makes a difference. However, I will write about it in another post.
5. Being more open with my husband
In point one, I wrote that it is sometimes rather hard to talk about my feelings because I am worried I make things worse. But I have started to talk more about my low self-esteem with my husband. He feels the same in many ways but often has a different point on how to deal with these feelings. It gives my self-esteem a boost that I am not the only one who feels like that. And I hope it has the same effect for him.
The five previous tools I mentioned are more a part of my self-help regime. Something I can do every day to improve my self-esteem. Low self-esteem is not considered a mental health condition however, both are closely linked and that is why you often work on your self-esteem in therapy.
Even though I am aware of some that cause my low self-esteem and am working with tools to heal from it I do feel that I need professional input too. I feel I have come to a point where I can’t get any further only with self-help. There seem to be points that I am not aware of that cause me great problems and an outside professional view will be beneficial to get over these points. I have self-referred to the Wellbeing Service and am waiting for my assessment over the phone in March.
With these six tools, my self-esteem will be on the rise
Just writing about these five tools to raise self-esteem make me realise that I am not doing as bad as my twelve-year-old self still thinks. My self-talk has already changed that little bit towards: “I can do it after all!” and that is the goal I am working for. But there is still some way to go to eradicate that black, acidic pool inside of myself fully. But I am on a good way to get there!
Do you live with low self-esteem and how do you deal with it? Please let me know in the comments.
Catching Fireflies: Self-Talk Becomes Your Truth
A Gentlewoman and Scholar: The Gratitude Jar – Here’s How and Why
Psychology Today: Do Self-Affirmations Work? A Revisit
MindBodyGreen: 14 Creative Ways to Practice Gratitude
Norfolk & Waveny Wellbeing Service: Self-help
This post takes part in “Love Is In Da Blog 2018” and answers to the prompt “Tenderness”. I had challenged ourselves to use a photo as a medium, however, we are all free to use the prompt in the way we want. No photo for me in this case.
NEW Blogging Prompt ~ Unique ~ Love Is In Da Blog 2018
I hope I do not confuse you with connecting tomorrows prompt with today’s post. However, I want to try out different formats for my posts and different posting times and so I hope you can bear with me.
So what’s on the Alphabet for tomorrow?
And the medium challenge I set you is to use or make a drawing.
And here are the rules/suggestions to take part:
“Love Is In Da Blog” Rules/suggestions
- Join in! No matter where, when and with what. You missed the first day or week? Don’t worry. Just jump in when it suits you.
- Send us the link! Unfortunately, my blog is now self-hosted and the ping-back option does not always work. So please leave a link in the comments on the day of the prompt that you are writing to so we can all come and visit you.
- Tag your post either with “Love Is In Da Blog” or #LoIsInDaBl. You can also use these as hashtags for Twitter and other Social Networks to give your post more exposure.
- No matter which medium the prompt favours you create with them whatever you please, and whatever length you please (no pun intended ) as long as it is about “LOVE.”
Now go, create and have lots of fun!
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