Overcoming Low Self-Esteem with Mindfulness
If you have a pulse, you have probably struggled with low self-esteem from time to time. You want to feel like a good person, but no matter what you try, you just can’t seem to find any lasting satisfaction with who you are. You accomplish something or receive praise from someone you admire and you feel good for a while, but it’s not long before you’re feeling like a schmuck again.
You spend countless hours wishing you could fix yourself because you think youare the problem. My thighs are too fat. I’m lazy. I’ll never measure up. You beat up on yourself or hide the parts of yourself you don’t like. You walk around convinced that you aren’t worthy of your friends or perhaps your job. At times you feel better, but it’s not long before you’re back to square one: schmuck.
You are not the problem!
But what if you have the problem all wrong? What if the problem isn’t you? What if the problem is how you relate to yourself? The way you buy into those negative thoughts? I’m not saying you’re flawless, and some amount of constructive criticism is a good thing, but how do you know those negative thoughts are true anyway? Have you ever had a thought that you were sure was true, but realized later that you were totally wrong? Has your mind ever been wrong about anything?
Low self-esteem is seeing yourself as inadequate, unacceptable, unworthy, unlovable, and/or incompetent. These beliefs create negative, self-critical thoughts that affect your behaviour and your life choices, often lowering your self-esteem even further. Using the tools of mindfulness, you can learn to look at situations, other people and yourself objectively, without the negative influence of the past and with the awareness that you always have a choice, says Deborah Ward.
Live in the moment
When you are focused on the moment, you can choose your actions consciously and wisely, unaffected by the hurts of your past and unconcerned by worries or hopes about the future.
When we’re aware, we can recognise how we are responding and reacting to our own fears, creating a moment between our emotions and our actions. We can then choose to respond in a healthier way.
Write in a journal
Many of our thoughts and feelings are locked in our subconscious mind and writing can help to bring them into our awareness. Writing about the way we feel and think can help to separate negative ideas about ourselves from the truth of who we really are.
When we approach our lives non-judgementally, we simply accept ourselves, our experiences, our failures and successes and other people just as they are, neither good or bad, without pride or shame.
Stay connected to yourself
Mindfulness can help you to develop a sense of connection to yourself and reduce your people-pleasing ways by allowing you to stop the autopilot thinking and behaviour that keeps you jumping to please others without thinking of your own needs.
Practice mindful meditation
Meditation just means letting go of the racing thoughts in your mind and accepting that those thoughts, feelings and beliefs are transient, rather than parts of yourself. Take a few moments every day to simply be still, focus on your breathing and watch your worries drift away like clouds.
Participate in your own life
Mindfulness encourages us to become active and assertive in creating our own lives. Awareness of your thoughts and choosing your responses to them enables you to take action and participate in your own life.
Develop a beginner’s mind
When you have a beginner’s mind, you look at things as if you are seeing them for the first time, with openness, eagerness and freedom from expectation. You can see things in a new light, rather than automatically responding with the same old patterns of behaviour.
Non-attachment, or letting go, is the goal of mindfulness. When you let go of what you think you should do or who you should be, you can trust yourself and choose what’s right for you.
Show compassion toward yourself
You deserve love as much as anyone else. Self-compassion simply means providing yourself with the love, safety and acceptance you need.
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