How To Prevent Your Self-Esteem From Taking You On A Roller Coaster

Culture & Society, Learning To Love Yourself, Re-framing Your Thinking

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(Originally posted on Hello Perfect)

With all the Insta-pics, tweets, and Facebook status updates, we look like we’ve got everything together. But sometimes, despite all appearances, the reality is far from put together.

In a recent article, author Sarah Varney shared the story of Carlos, a formerly overweight man, to illustrate the idea that despite the fact that someone looks healthy on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t battle past demons.

You can lose the weight. You can put on makeup. You can get surgery. But sometimes the external changes aren’t enough. Sure, having a great body is good for your self-esteem, but if you base your self-esteem solely on the media’s standards of beauty…well, you’ve seen what happens to girls who do that.

If you base your self-esteem on external factors, you’ll find your self-esteem speeding up and down faster than Roadrunner chasing Coyote. The key is to build your self-esteem from the inside out. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend my time building a solid foundation instead of chasing after my self-esteem like a beginner runner trying to run a 5k.

Cut Out Media

 

Yes, you did just read that. Yes, I know Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model are as addicting as Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream. But if you cut media out of your life (notice that I didn’t limit it to stuff you see on screens?), you get a chance to focus on yourself rather than trying to reach what is most likely an unattainable “norm.”

If that sounds impossible, start small. Cut out one reality show one week. Throw away those old issues of Vogue that are gathering dust on your desk. Watch one episode of Game of Thrones instead of holding a marathon and chowing on popcorn in the process. Media can be fun, but too much of it can be so damaging to your self-esteem.

Talk To Someone

 

            Yes, this goes against my entire do-not-rely-on-external-factors argument, but hold on for a second and hear me out. We are humans, not robots. We can’t do everything ourselves. We run out of steam so fast that it’s not even funny. That’s where talking to someone can help.

Now, when I say someone, I don’t mean anyone. I mean someone you trust. Someone doesn’t need to bring you down to make herself feel better. You might not be a chatterbox, but here’s the thing. The longer you keep your lips zipped, the bigger your problems get. Talking to someone can give you some perspective. You might realize that the thing you’re obsessing over, which seems like the worst thing on the planet a few hours ago, is actually the most insignificant detail in the world.

You don’t need to disclose your entire life story. Just tell someone that you’re having issues, and you need a pick-me-up. Sometimes all you need is a little pick-me-up (that is not in the form of tiramisu) to make you feel better and boost your self-esteem.

 

Focus On What You Do Well

 

I’m not going to pull a Louise Hay and go all self-help book on you, but sometimes we actually do need to focus on what you do well. Do you cook a mean spaghetti with meatballs? Take note of that. Are you the resident Miss Organization that everyone turns to because they know that you won’t lose anything you give them for safekeeping? Write that down. Positivity attracts positivity. Focusing on what you have and what you do well instead of what you don’t have brings more positive things into your life.

And who doesn’t want that? The best part about that is the fact that you can pull out your Things I Do Well list and look at it (if lists are your thing). You can keep adding to it. When you actually take a step back and look at it, I have a feeling that you’ll discover that you’re actually pretty darn talented.

Give Yourself Time To Let Steam Off

 

            If you’re feeling overwhelmed with things, excuse yourself. No, I can’t give you a machine where you can press the pause button on life, but you can voluntarily remove yourself from situations that aggravate you. The more you suppress your emotions, the more the steam builds. And the more you suppress your emotions, the more your self-esteem will suffer.

Let off steam in the best way for you. Write in a journal if that’s your thing. Go run a couple miles in the park if that’s your thing. Do whatever it is you need to do to let off steam. The worst thing you can do when you’re trying to boost your self-esteem is to ignore your emotions. You’ll just feel worse about yourself if you do. No one wants that, right?

How To Turn Your Pain Into Power (And 3 Little Things To Know Before You Do)

Culture & Society, Learning To Love Yourself, Re-framing Your Thinking

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How many personal social media accounts do you own?

1?

2?

3?

(Or better yet, 0?)

My inner communications major has never been a huge fan of social media. I mean the term “privacy” has gone out the window, the word “friend” is a verb (how weird is that?) and don’t even get me started on cyber-bullying.

On the plus side, social media has given birth to a whole wealth of jobs. It also lets people communicate with their loved ones and friends using something that’s a lot faster than email.

They can be really helpful if you use them right, but they can also bring a lot of pain.

Everyone goes through pain. Sure, other people around you might have gone through similar issues, dealt with them in different ways, but everyone goes through it. No one got anywhere zooming around a real-life Monopoly board collecting $200 every time they passed Go.

Yes, it’s scary as heck, but people relate to vulnerability.

The girl I was a year ago would have looked at the person I am now and thought I was on some kind of drug for saying that. She would have thought I was crazy for starting a blog.

At the time, I thought blogs were reserved for companies and people like Perez Hilton.

I wasn’t the CEO of a billion dollar company, and I had no interest in which celebrity was dating who. All I wanted to do was find a job.

Therefore, I had no interest in starting a blog. Who would want to read about my daily woes anyway?

Then a friend asked me 2 questions:

“What do YOU offer the world? Where can you share your experiences and stories to help other people feel like they aren’t alone in their own experience?”

That made me realize that I could help other people by sharing my story. So I bit the bullet and claimed a WordPress account.

When I shared my story back in November on my blog, I remember my fingers shaking as I went to press the Publish button. I was staring at the cursor for a long time, listening to the battle in my head.

“Yes.”

“No.”
“DO IT”.

“DON’T do it.”

“You’ve already come this far, just hit the big blue button.”

“Are you crazy?!”

“Yes, little voice in my head, I heard you.”

“No, no, no, no.”

“Do not press that blue button. I repeat. DO NOT PRESS IT.”

“Too late.”

“OK fine.”

I spent the next 48 hours wondering what ungodly power possessed me to a) start a blog and b) share the most painful part of my past with the Internet.

But then I realized something.

I was free.

That post gave me freedom. There was nothing to hide from anyone anymore. It was already out there.

There were no likes on the post, no comments, but I didn’t care. Setting myself free was a greater gift than the fleeting stab of joy we all get when we see a little notification on our social media networks.

A few months later, I got a message from a college friend, who told me that they really related to what I had already written, and found it extremely helpful. They encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing.

Cue the waterworks. Knowing that I helped this person was better than the feeling I got walking across the stage at my university’s commencement ceremony.

Fast forward to now.

I’m still chugging along, struggling to figure out my issues. I forget to meditate sometimes. I can’t tell you that I haven’t thought about going back to my not-so-happy place.

But I know better now. That little Facebook message made me realize a few things:

1.    Putting Yourself Out There Can Be A Good Thing

Yes, it’s scary as hell, and you’re going to want to turn back because sharing your pain is…well…scary. But even if you aren’t a celebrity with thousands of Twitter followers that sing your praises, being vulnerable allows you to connect with people. You may not be finding the cure to cancer, but your story can help someone in some way.

2.    The Little Things Matter

Have you been bullied? Than you know how powerful words can be. Sometimes all it takes is one little thing to turn your day upside down. By the same token, it could be the smallest thing that makes your day magical.

It could be:

  • A conversation with a friend.
  • A kind email from a supervisor.
  • A smile.

Some of us live in places where we learn to focus on what we don’t have rather than what we do have. Some of us spend hours worrying about what we look like and starving ourselves when there are children (and adults) out there who eat out of trash cans to survive. There are those of us who take our education for granted when there are people who can’t even complete middle school.

I’m not trying to say that we should all volunteer abroad (although that is really high on my bucket list). The important thing is to recognize that the littlest things can make a big difference. YOU have the power to inspire others, to make someone’s day. Why not embrace that?

3.    Take Your Time

Have you ever rushed through something? What happened afterward? Were you happy with the result, or did you want to go back and do it again?

OK, maybe you’re that person who can pull really amazing things off at the last second, but in my experience, I generally felt like I’d cheated myself out of a job well done.

Sharing your story with the world is no different.

You don’t have to disclose everything once the floodgates open.

You have the power to choose what you put out there into the world. If you’re not ready to disclose certain things when people ask you, don’t.  

Honor yourself instead for your courage and the boundaries you set. Honor yourself for how far you’ve come. Sure you may not be Demi Lovato, but your story can have an impact that is just as powerful.

I’m going to say that again just in case you didn’t get that.

Your story matters.

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So be the warrior you know is inside you. Do not fear change, because your story could change someone for the better.

What can YOU offer the world?

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