One way to think about the concept of self-esteem is to focus on what it means to have a strong sense of self. People with a solid sense of an independent individual self are able to balance separateness and togetherness, and they are able to feel calm an contained on their own. They are able to affirm themselves without over-emphasizing what they imagine others might think. I use the word “imagine” with intention, because we never ever know for sure what others are thinking. Focusing too much on what others might think is usually a waste of emotional energy.
While I don’t think in lists, people often request them. So here are a few thoughts on the topic of raising self-esteem:
Say No To Crumbs:
In other words, do not settle for less than you deserve, especially in your romantic and intimate relationships. If someone you are dating cancels a plan at the last minute without offering a thoughtful or respectful excuse, making plans with them again is an example of settling for crumbs. If someone you are sexually intimate with refuses to meet your friends and never introduces you to others in his or her life, continuing in the relationship is settling for crumbs. Part of the reason we’re inclined to take crumbs relates to a conscious or unconscious fear that we’ll never be fed again. Unfortunately, by taking crumbs, the self is devalued, and so you’re more likely to end up in more situations with a metaphorical plate full of unappetizing scraps rather than allowing yourself to enjoy a full and satisfying meal.
Being strong enough to say no to a substandard relationship and instead tolerate being on your own long enough to know yourself, take good care of yourself, and feel good about yourself, positions you to choose a relationship from a place of strength rather than a place of desperation.
Cultivate a Cause:
Saying no to crumbs is a little more complicated in a vocational context. While leaving an unsuitable relationship to be on your own can be a healthy opportunity for growth, it might not be prudent to leave a job without having another lined up, even if you don’t feel adequately valued in your current position. But there are still things you can do that will help bolster your sense of self-worth in these situations. Develop a hobby or volunteer for a cause that’s meaningful to you. Engagement with others focused on activities and efforts of substance is beneficial for your self-esteem, and can often involve networking and positioning yourself for other job opportunities.
Take a Break from Social Media:
This advice is given by experts in a variety of fields. An epidemic of screen addiction is captivating users and disintegrating self-worth. Social media deteriorates self-esteem. Think of social media as a form of virtual candy. We crave it and it tastes great for a quick minute. Before long, we are left experiencing an uncomfortable and unpleasant aftermath. Social media offers a similar sugar high through the dopamine rush that accompanies the reception of “likes” “retweets” and “comments”. But before long, users notice an inclination to put themselves down in comparison to other users and end up feeling lousy. Those who can tolerate a break from this cycle notice a boost in self-esteem.
Strengthening self-esteem involves more of a marathon effort than a sprint. The suggestions above are merely tips that begin scratching the surface. But that’s okay, because developing a strong sense of self is an emotional task which can be cultivated throughout the arc of a lifetime. Enjoy the journey.