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Take steps toward loving and accepting yourself as you are

How much are you worth?

Who do you see when you walk toward a mirror?

Do you admire that person and want a closer look?

Or do you look away?

Self-esteem is a powerful reflection of how you feel about who you are, what you mean, and whether you count at all.

If you find you are generally dissatisfied with yourself or often wish you were an alternate, ideal self, your self-esteem may be sinking or already pretty low.

What can be done to raise your self-esteem?

Well, what do you do when you raise something?

You give it attention. You bring it back. You take it higher.

Embrace the following 7 means for raising the way you see and value yourself:

1. Raise your head. Look your reflection in the eye, and remind yourself that you deserve to be here. To live. To fully walk out your life—whatever it looks like, however you live it. Commit to changing the way you treat yourself.

2. Raise buried feelings for a closer look. Understanding your personal history, relationships, and their effect on your life may help you recognise where feelings of inferiority, shame, or insecurity began.

Working with a counselor could be an empowering first step to unearth childhood experiences, life-changing events, or trauma that may be affecting your self-perception.

3. Raise your self-awareness. How do you talk to yourself? Are you mean and critical? How do you talk about yourself? Are you self-deprecating or apologetic?

Notice your self-talk. You may need to work through long-held fears, irrational assumptions, or false ideas about yourself in order to boost your self-perception.

4. Raise your mental defenses. Fight against the inaccurate thinking that drags down your self-esteem. Guard your mind with the following protective measures:

  • Resist the tendency to think in blanket, all-or-nothing terms. You are not a failure because you experience failure.
  • Challenge the idea that your efforts don’t count. You can, and should, take credit for your achievements, rather than dispute or downplay them.
  • Question whether your feelings are factual. Just because you experience an emotion doesn’t make it true.
  • Refuse to jump to conclusions. Try to avoid making negative assumptions or envisioning the worst-case scenario.

5. Raise your standard of thinking and believing. Elevate your mind by modifying your old way of thinking. Try these positive self-esteem boosters to replace the negativity:

  • Embrace self-forgiveness. It’s human and entirely understandable that you make mistakes, fail, or fail someone else at times.
  • Trade demanding expectations for encouraging affirmations. Recognise impossible mandates you’ve placed on yourself and use them as opportunities to encourage yourself.
  • Cope with hope. Look at your situation honestly and then interject hopeful thoughts rather than pessimism. Kindly tell yourself to remain positive and try again.

6. Raise your voice. One on one, to a room full of people, or through the pages of a journal, find and use your voice. Share who you are assertively and honestly. Your experiences with hurt, loss, prejudice, abuse, or simple anonymity may have tricked you into believing you don’t count. You have something to say worth expressing and worth hearing.

7. Raise your glass in self-acceptance. Release self-criticism. Embrace self-kindness. Celebrate the fact that you are excellent simply because you are excellently present. You don’t need a list of accomplishments to make it so. Don’t be afraid to be seen and known, wrinkles and all. Applaud the decisions you made today — right or wrong. Pat yourself on the back for making positive changes, great and small.

Neil Ward Counselling