6 Astounding Ways to Raise and Nurture Your Self-Esteem
#6. Nurture the self-esteem of others.
“For me, building self-esteem was [about] learning what self-esteem was in the first place. It was unlearning what I had learned about myself … I went back to self-school and learned all about me.”
Do you resonate with the above quote?
Building my self-esteem has been an ongoing process.
I have had to unlearn many things about myself and rip away many labels others have put on me through the years; labels that later became my identity.
I call them labels because I have never identified with them deep down. But even though I haven’t identified with them, I started acting as such. My true authentic being started fading away as I allowed people to label me according to their own subjective worldview.
The great thing is that after many years of inner work, I did manage to unlearn all I had learned about myself through other people’s lenses. It was a lengthy and challenging process but I did succeed in building up my self-esteem in a healthy way so I could be my true authentic self and live in accord with my own beliefs and values.
Here’s a great question I came across on my self-improvement journey which really put things into perspective for me:
“Have you ever thought about the fact that just about every version of the hero’s journey starts with the hero living home, cutting loose of the gravitational pull of family?” ~Nathaniel Branden
I left home when I was 18 years old to go study in a different city and then a few years later, I went to another continent to pursue my dream of travel and adventure. That’s when my transformation started happening.
But I didn’t really make the connection as to what might have caused it until I came back home and everyone was telling me I had changed. People were amazed at my ‘transformation’. From the shy, passive, quiet girl I had become more assertive and outspoken- I still do prefer listening more to actual speaking but there is a noticeable difference in the way I approach people and situations nowadays.
I went on an introspective journey to understand what had happened because this version of me now feels like the authentic one. The one I truly enjoy being and not the one I used to be before I left.
As I became acquainted with Dr. Nathaniel Branden’s work, one of the pioneering figures in the self-esteem field, it dawned on me. By removing myself from my familial background I got to become who I was actually meant to be.
My seven years journey abroad really brought me back together to my inner self.
Don’t get me wrong. I still kept in touch with my family and came home to visit as often as I could. It most certainly doesn’t mean you have to move abroad or cut ties with your family.
What I mean by cutting loose of the gravitational pull of family is to discern whether certain beliefs and behaviors might be detrimental to your growth but you keep on holding on to them because you believe that perhaps your family might not accept you otherwise.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into what self-esteem actually is.
Self-esteem is the sum of self-confidence and self-respect.
There is no such thing as having no self-esteem. We all have self-esteem.
It is therefore a matter of degree. Each and every one of us has high, low, or average self-esteem.
Another important point: there is no such thing as people being incapable of raising their self-esteem, but a matter of doing the inner work.
Self-esteem is not something you are born with, but something you can develop through your life.
To raise your self-esteem means to raise your belief that you are competent to live and worthy of happiness.
Maslow suggested that individuals need both appreciations from other people and inner self-respect to build esteem. According to him, both of these needs must be fulfilled in order for an individual to grow as a person and reach self-actualization.
And whilst the above statement is true, self-esteem at its core is what you think of yourself, not what others think of you. We are nonetheless social beings. But there has to be a balance between inner and outer validation.
If deep down we don’t think we are worthy of certain things, achieving them is going to get harder and even come with a price:
To achieve success without attaining positive self-esteem is one of the major roots of impostor syndrome.
Imposter syndrome can stifle the potential for growth and meaning, by preventing people from pursuing new opportunities for growth at work, in relationships, or around their hobbies.
Another thing to consider is that:
If we don’t have healthy self-esteem we are more prone to make choices and decisions that are not congruent with our values and capabilities.
We tend to blame life or others when things are not going great but we must keep in mind that our life is shaped by the choices and decisions we make. And a huge part of our decision-making process stems from our self-esteem.
What are the family origins of self-esteem?
According to Stanley Coopersmith’s study of the family origins of self-esteem, the parents of children with high self-esteem tend to have high self-esteem themselves.
When we are children, some of us benefit from loving, nurturing, and emotionally available parents or caregivers. Which leads us to grow up having a healthy self-esteem.
But some of us, grow up with emotionally and physically unavailable parents who don’t manage to nurture a healthy self-esteem in us because they lacked self-esteem themselves.
The ‘if only’ thoughts
Have you ever had any of the following thoughts:
If someone had believed in me as a child…
If I had been supported more in my creative endeavors…
If I had grown up in a more emotionally supportive environment…
I most certainly did.
And if you did as well, I am here to tell you that it is not your fault. You didn’t deserve that as a child. And no parent nor teacher with high self-esteem is going to believe that ridiculing or giving tough love to a child is going to inspire healthy emotional growth of that child.
It was not your fault.
But you have the power now to do something about it. You can be there for yourself and do all those things you wish your parents did, but for various reasons couldn’t.
You are your biggest cheerleader!
The pillars of self-esteem.
The 3 most important pillars of self-esteem are:
★ Self-awareness: becoming aware of your feelings, thoughts, desires
★ Self-acceptance: learn to own your experience and become your own best friend
★ Self-assertion: learn to express yourself by taking action
The great news is that you can work on them.
By working on your level of self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-assertion you can raise and nurture your self-esteem.
Here are 5 ways that are going to help you do so:
1. Reconnect with your inner child
Your inner child is the one holding the key to your self-esteem.
What would the child within you said if he could speak?
How it works
Your inner child is struggling to survive the only way he knows, trying to make himself seen and heard from that airtight chamber in your subconscious you unintentionally pushed him in.
I wrote a full article on how to heal and soothe your inner child here.
Allow the inner child to feel welcome within you and integrate it into your adult self.
2. Live consciously
If you walk around through life in a mental fog, you lose your awareness and assertiveness. You lose your joie-de-vivre and go on autopilot.
Your self-esteem decreases and thus you depend solely on external circumstances and people to validate you.
How it works
When you become aware, you also tend to be less reactive and more mindful of your behaviors.
When triggered, you are more likely to take a pause and think about what you are going to say.
You take responsibility and accountability for your actions.
3. Live authentically
If you live a life that is not in alignment with your core values and beliefs you are going to feel like you are betraying yourself. That will decrease your self-esteem.
Living authentically goes hand in hand with living consciously. If you constantly do things you don’t truly enjoy doing, you are going to feel unfulfilled and slowly get into that mental fog where every day is the same as the other.
How it works
Your inner self and the self you present to the world have to be in synch for you to have healthy self-esteem.
Find those things that make you feel the most connected with your inner being, the most joyous.
This doesn’t mean you have to suddenly give up your 9–5 job, but you can find some hobbies that really speak to you, get involved in activities that make your heart burst with joy.
Becoming enthusiastic about life means living more authentically.
4. Have self-acceptance
Your self-acceptance is not a function of our physical attractiveness, as some people naively imagine.
But your willingness or unwillingness to see and accept yourself does have consequences to our self-esteem.
How it works
Stand in front of the mirror and acknowledge your reality.
Right now that’s me.
I don’t deny it.
I accept it.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have goals, passions, or desire to improve and work on yourself. It simply means you are aware and all right with where you are at this moment.
This will not only lead to a more harmonious relationship with yourself but by practicing self-acceptance you become aware of aspects of yourself you can improve.
5. Let go of guilt
Judging yourself or your behavior is only going to lead you to feel guilty.
And guilt subverts healthy self-esteem.
How it works
When you judge or criticize yourself, is that your voice or one of your parents’ voices? Whose voice is it the one telling you that you’re not good enough?
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should not repent or regret certain behaviors that might have hurt others.
But instead of beating yourself over them and talking harshly to yourself, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to learn certain lessons?
To recognize certain patterns of your behavior and use them for future reference to not make the same mistakes over and over again?
6. Nurture the self-esteem of others
This is a very important one.
Whenever you interact with others you either lower or raise their self-esteem.
You cannot “give” anyone self-esteem, but you can support the practices that will lead others to develop healthy self-esteem.
How it works
Provide a safe space for others to open up to you, a space where they don’t fear being judged or ridiculed. A space where others can feel seen and heard by you.
Use the following affirmations:
I hear you.
I am here for you.
I can only imagine how difficult this must be for you.
Support others to achieve their dreams and goals. Believe in them.
I know it might get difficult cheering on someone who doesn’t see their own worth, but offering someone a new perspective on their self-worth can be extremely beneficial.
Sometimes you might fail especially if certain people have a victim mentality and are simply not ready to help themselves. But it’s definitely worth the try.
You can do something as little as paying them a compliment. Compliment their smile, their laughter, their soul.
✵ You are capable and worthy of making your own life choices and living life on your own terms.
✵ The 3 most important pillars of self-esteem are self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-assertion.
✵ You can raise your self-esteem, and live a more conscious, authentic, assertive, guilt-free life by nurturing others’ self-esteem as well.
“Serenity inspires serenity, happiness inspires happiness, openness inspires openness and when we live from the best within ourselves we are most likely to draw out the best in others.”
Allow yourself to be the person you are meant to be and inspire others to do so as well!
I would love to know more about your self-esteem journey and what ways you use to raise and nourish it!
Thank you for reading! I appreciate you!
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