How's your body image? Are you attractive? Do you like the way you look? Do other people think you're beautiful? It's hard to talk about body image without sinking deep into our most vulnerable places. As standards of beauty become progressively less realistic (hello Instagram filters, goodbye pores), being able to have an honest conversation with ourselves about our looks becomes increasingly difficult. Yet we each live within our own, unique bodies every day–being able to look at them in a realistic (and non-damaging) way is a valuable tool towards understanding who we are, developing a healthy body image, and ultimately towards building self-esteem.
Building Self Esteem
Mental health support groups can help you improve your self-esteem. Although there are many different techniques to build self-esteem, from various forms of therapy to self-help exercises, mental health support groups could also play a part. They help because, sometimes, what we really need to build self-esteem is increased connection with others. For people living with low self-esteem, it can sometimes feel like you’re the only one struggling with this problem. But the reality is that many people also live with low self-esteem, whether that’s because of a mental health condition or as a standalone issue.
Do we have to conquer fear? I've gone through some changes in my life recently that have me thinking about fear. In particular, how we react to feeling afraid. Why are some fears considered perfectly acceptable, while others fill us with shame and demand action? Being afraid of an aggressive animal, an impending surgery, or a loved one experiencing harm are all considered rational and acceptable. Yet we tend to hide our fears of social interaction, object/behaviors that feel uncomfortable, or people who affect us. So, what makes certain fears unpalatable? What makes us decide a fear is unfounded or embarrassing? Why are some fears allowed, while other fears must be conquered?
There are many techniques that can help you build self-esteem on your own, but sometimes, therapy for low self-esteem is necessary. You might feel you need therapy for self-esteem issues if they are showing no signs of improvement. Also, your low self-esteem may be interfering with your life – you may be so self-critical that you notice this impacting your work, social life, and relationships. Therapy for low self-esteem can help you address the negative patterns of thinking and behavior that you’re trapped in, as well as allow you to address the root causes of your feelings of unworthiness.
Accountability matters when we're building self-esteem. We do not like to do things wrong. As children, many of us are taught that wrongdoing results in punishment. We learn to deny mistakes, to avoid the "bad" experiences that result from being blamed. Yet though we may learn to avoid culpability, we never stop making mistakes–they are a natural part of life. So, what happens when we shift away from denying mistakes and focus on using accountability as a tool to build self-esteem?
Low self-esteem affects your social life, among other things. When you have a low opinion of yourself, you can become painfully self-conscious, feeling worried that others will also judge you. For this reason, many people with low self-esteem will go to efforts to distance themselves from social situations, which –- in the long run –- can worsen low self-esteem. Here’s how having low self-esteem can get in the way of socializing and what you can do about it.
"Be yourself." "You do you." "Listen to your heart." The messages behind authenticity are beautiful ones: you are the center of your world and you are the only voice that matters. But while such phrases are inspiring, we live in a world that bombards us with beliefs, opinions and general emotional noise. This creates a dilemma that many of us struggle with–how do I think like myself when everyone and everything is trying to tell me how to think?
Overcoming rumination is important because rumination is when you dwell on negative thoughts. Unlike introspection, which involves a curious and healthy exploration of thoughts and events, rumination is repetitive and self-destructive. Ruminating thoughts tend to focus on personal regrets, mistakes, and embarrassments, which feed into a negative self-image. While introspection can lead to insight and personal development, rumination keeps you stuck, trapped in a cycle of self-criticism.
If I could talk to the teenage version of myself about authenticity, I know what I would say. I would tell her the very things she is afraid make her "weird" are actually the things that make her awesome. I would tell her to stop wasting energy being afraid of judgment, and to put that energy towards enjoying the things that make her happy.
When discussing the process of building self-esteem, we often focus on the journey from low self-esteem to healthy self-esteem. But something that often gets left out in this conversation is the danger of building too much self-esteem. Yes, it is possible to have self-esteem that is so high that it causes issues in your life.