6 Tips to Boost Self Esteem
I stood on the stage in front of 300 other females.
I was nervous. I was on display. I am not a big fan of speaking in front of others, and there I was, charged with appearing as an expert on the topic I was presenting.
It was a conference for teen girls on body image and self esteem.
Throughout my childhood and on into my 20’s, I had a significant weight problem. I would allow my own fears of being judged and my own shame to keep me from pursuing many activities. I had experienced weight-shaming and name-calling growing up, and it had taken a toll on my own self esteem.
I think I learned as much during my preparation for the conference as I shared with the girls that day.
Here are the top 6 things I encouraged the teens to do to improve their own self esteem.
- Take a personal inventory. What accomplishments have you had? What cool things are you able to do? Can you complete a task faster, better, or in a creative way? Do you have a unique talent, play an instrument, binge watch more t.v. shows in a row than any of your friends? Find things about yourself that are special that are not related to your physical appearance and make a list. Keep the list handy – you’re not done doing great things, are you?
- Learn realistic expectations. Are you trying to run a marathon right after you get off the couch? Maybe setting some mini-goals along the way will help you keep from getting frustrated as you go. Think about it – so many people have “New Year’s Resolutions” that they come up with, but there is no plan to put it into action. As soon as January 1st comes along, BAM! You take this huge leap into something you’ve never done before and a short time later, you are overwhelmed and give up. Learn about setting SMART goals to help you see your progress along the way.
- Step away from comparisons. Did you know that only 8 women in the U.S. meet the definition of what the media has determined is the current “ideal body?” How about this – did you also know that many of those are so seriously underweight that they are considered clinically anorexic? In that case, it’s actually healthier to be uniquely you! Be your own motivation to be awesome. Don’t compare yourself to images and expectations that aren’t really attainable. Just like I said in tip #2 – be realistic in your expectations.
- Check your self talk. How much of what you tell yourself is positive and how much is negative? When you finish the sentence “I am ___,” what words pop into your head? Are they negative or are they positive? When we continually think negatively about ourselves, it’s hard to see ourselves in any sort of positive light. Commit to yourself to practice the Mirror Exercise to help yourself improve your ability to use positive self talk.
- Accept challenges and set backs. You won’t always get things right. And that’s okay. Each time something doesn’t go exactly as you expected, live through it and learn from it. Take the advice from #4 and practice your positive self talk (okay, I survived that, I learned from that, it was worth it!) and use the experience to plan for the next time.
- Celebrate every step. Did you get up off the couch and walk around the block? Awesome! You’re that much closer to running that marathon! And the next day, you walked it twice? Fantastic! That’s progress! Acknowledging milestones that you reach along the way to your goals helps boost your self esteem in that you show yourself that you can accomplish things that you set your mind to achieve.
Self-esteem isn’t created overnight – positive or negative.
It has to be nurtured and molded to become what it is. Be proud of yourself now, set goals that work for YOU, and always be your own biggest fan through the challenges and the milestones.
Speaking at the conference opened my eyes to some steps I need to take to continue building myself as a person. I need to mirror what I ask others to do and be a positive influence on others. I have a teen daughter myself, so I have to remember that I am modeling behavior that I want to pass on to her. There are eyes watching me and how I manage my own self esteem.
And I’m okay with that.
How do you nurture your self esteem? What are some barriers that you’ve encountered in your past that have made it difficult to feel positive about yourself? How did you manage it? Let me know in the comments below!