Back in 2017, I shared, for the first time with the world, that I battled with esteem issues. I was scared, just like I had been my whole life, to admit this. I was the girl who always felt less than everybody else. Only saw the flaws in myself. More often than not, I felt like my opinion didn’t matter and everyone else was always right. I kept my head down and avoided attention or connection, so that others couldn’t see the flaws in me. I followed trends and always wanted to know what’s cool so that I could be likable and win other people’s approval. I was scared of sharing and even standing up for my values, due to fear of rejection.
I had body image issues too. I was overweight (still are) and one of my fears was, which guy would want to date a girl with a big stomach like mine. Weird, I know; but if I’m being honest, this is exactly what went through my mind. You see, I actually liked my body, but my fear was what people, especially guys, thought of me. And that made me insecure. So insecure that I got into a ruthless fitness routine so that I could change my body. Maybe then I will be likable. I will be more confident and love myself, I lied to myself. That fitness journey was done in such an unhealthy way that I ended up suffering from disordered eating. But that’s not what I want us to discuss today. You can read more on my struggle with disordered eating here.
Today, I want us to go in-depth on what low self-esteem is all about and how to overcome it.
Self-esteem refers to how we value ourselves, our perceptions in who we are and what we are capable of.
So when someone has low self-esteem, that means that they do not value themselves and they do not trust their possibilities. It’s characterized by a lack of confidence and feeling badly about oneself.
Low self-esteem could be caused by past failures and mistakes, unsupportive parents and/or friends; those who keep bringing you down, stressful life events, trauma, body image issues, negative thought patterns and what have you.
If you have suffered from low self-esteem or know someone who has, you know how much it can mess someone up. It affects the way one performs in school, work and relationships too. It also affects the opportunities one gets as it affects one’s confidence and whether they believe they can handle the responsibilities or not. From personal experience, I know low self esteem can affect how others treat us. If we do not love and respect ourselves or have high self esteem, how can others treat us properly?
I did not deal with my self esteem issues until I found myself in a situationship in which I was too afraid to stand up for my values and actually be myself due to fear of rejection. They say relationships act like a mirror of our insecurities and even though I didn’t get in deep, what I saw about myself in the short while was enough and I knew that if I didn’t work on my self esteem and identity, I’d be really messed especially in making life choices.
Over time, I have learnt to hold onto several truths that have been my anchors in raising my self esteem and knowing my worth which can be summed up in a single Truth; God defines me . This may sound like an obvious point because I write a lot on spirituality but from personal experience, I know that self help material will tell us to trust in ourselves and all that, but we may forget the ultimate source of all the awesomeness in us. There are also times when me may feel so devastated about ourselves that we can’t see value in ourselves, but God does. Also, our bodies, money and all the things some use to boost their ego(false sense of confidence), do change. But God’s value in us doesn’t.
He says I’m valuable enough to die for, He says I’m a masterpiece created to do good works(Ephesians 2:10), wonderfully and fearfully made (Psalm 139), I’m not my mistakes– I can always write a new story(2Corinthians5:17), I’m lovable and my name is on the Palms of His hands(Isaiah 49:16)
I could keep going, quoting Bible verses that define our worth. Because it’s in the Bible and in God, that we know our true worth and we can have high self esteem. It’s an anchor that remains unchanged, no matter the situation. However, this blog post is not enough for me to outline them all.
Now, I know that it’s one thing to know the truth, and another to put it in practice. So here are some practical tips;
- Outline your strengths and everything else you love about yourself. Deep down, you know them. Name them all. Outline your weaknesses too and make peace with them. It doesn’t make you any less of a person, it only makes you human. There are things/ habits you can change, and those you can’t. For those you can change, make a plan to improve but be kind to yourself as you do that. On your strengths, work on even making them shine brighter. Shine your light baby!
- Stop focusing on the inner critic and affirm yourself with truth. There’s always a voice in our minds trying to bring down each one of us. What some do not realize is that, we have a choice not to listen to it. Focus on what is true. You are beautiful. You are intelligent. You have a purpose . You are valuable and so much more. Check out my book, Musings With Jules for more affirmations.
- To sort body image issues, you could start by making peace with who you are and how God made you. Wonderfully and uniquely you. Also, wear clothes that flatter your body and make you feel your best. This really boosts body confidence.Also, eating healthy foods and exercise, not from a place of self hate but self care, works wonders!
- Stop comparing yourself to others- I once heard from one of my favorite YouTubers,” if you keep comparing yourself to others, you’ll always come up short.” So you better be content with who you are and work on being a better version of yourself.
- Surround yourself with people who see the good in you and value you.
- Serve– sometimes we focus too much on ourselves and trust me, you’ll always find a mistake. So why not take some attention off yourself and focus on how you can serve others. It could even start with complementing others and offering help where you can. It’s therapeautic and takes off pressure from yourself.
I could have written more, but this blog post is long enough. What you shouldn’t forget friend is that, changing the outside doesn’t help much, if we do not feel good about ourselves on the inside. Do work through what’s inside. You could start by journaling and counter anything that tries to bring you down , with Truth, which you can find in the word of God. When he created you, he was pleased, so why won’t you be pleased with yourself? No pressure though, I know the self-love journey can be hard, especially when you’ve spent a big part of your life believing that you have not value. But that’s NOT true. It’s time to write a new story and the tips above could really help.
I got so much more to share but I’ll stop here with a question; would you be interested in my book on SELF ESTEEM AND BODY POSITIVITY? Kindly let me know in the comments and some of the areas you’d want me to cover.
Have a productive week ahead 💕