Self-Esteem: What Breaks And Builds It

Self-Esteem: What Breaks And Builds It

How to tread the path and keep moving ahead

Luke CoutinhoUpdated: Sunday, October 29, 2023, 10:29 AM IST
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In a world where many people measure their sense of worth based on looks, appearance, body type, social media likes, and followers, building a solid self-esteem is more important than ever.

What breaks it

Constant comparisons: We often scroll through perfectly curated social media profiles that showcase the highlights of someone's life, and we start questioning our own worth. "Why can't I look like that?" or "Why can't I have what they have?" These thoughts are toxic as well as detrimental to your self-esteem.

When it comes to comparing yourself with others, remember one thing - we always compare the worst of ourselves to the best of others, and that's so unfair! Plus, most of what we see on social media and in magazines isn't even real. Airbrushed skin, photo-shopped bodies, edited skin tones - most of it isn't even close to reality.

Social media often paints an inaccurate picture of reality. People usually share their best moments, leaving out the struggles, insecurities, and imperfections. The more you compare yourself to these distorted images, the more you damage your self-esteem. Embrace your unique qualities and remember that your journey is entirely your own.

Being a people pleaser: It's perfectly natural to want to be liked by others, but when it becomes an obsession, it can be detrimental to your self-esteem. Constantly seeking the approval of others, doing things you don't want to do just to fit in, and changing yourself to match others' expectations can wear down your self-esteem. Your self-worth should not be determined by how many people like you or approve of your choices.

Building self-esteem involves realising that not everyone will like you, and that's perfectly okay. Everyone's values are different. What's important is, do you like yourself? If there are ten people in a room, you will have ten different opinions about yourself. Going by what others think of you will only leave you feeling more and more disconnected from your inner self. Instead, focus on being true to yourself, pursuing your passions, and connecting with people who appreciate you for who you are. You'll find that authenticity is a magnet for positive, like-minded individuals who genuinely support you.

Basing your worth on what others think: Relying on others' opinions to determine your self-worth is a recipe for disaster. External validation can be fleeting, and it's impossible to please everyone. Your self-esteem should be grounded in your own beliefs about yourself rather than what others think.

What builds it

Setting boundaries: If you don't set your boundaries, know that someone else will. Boundaries are necessary in every relationship. It doesn't mean you are rude or arrogant if you set a boundary. It simply means that you respect yourself, and so should everyone. Boundaries empower you to say no when you need to, protect your time and energy, and prevent others from taking advantage of you.

Practice saying no when necessary, and don't be afraid to communicate your limits to those around you. Remember, it's perfectly acceptable to put yourself first at times.

Recognising your flaws and accepting them: Perfection is a myth, and striving for it can be incredibly damaging to your self-esteem. We are trying to reach somewhere that's completely unattainable. Even nature has flaws, and who are you? Just a product of nature.

Instead of fixating on your flaws or imperfections, try embracing them. Your flaws are a part of what makes you unique and human. They are not signs of weakness but opportunities for growth and self-acceptance. With acceptance comes confidence and the strength to be just who you are - your authentic self!

To build self-esteem, practice self-compassion. When you make a mistake or fall short of your own expectations, treat yourself with kindness rather than harsh self-criticism. Remember that nobody is perfect, and your flaws do not define your worth. By recognizing and accepting your imperfections, you can develop a more realistic and positive self-image.

Basing your worth on your values, priorities, and nature: If your self-worth is based on looks, weight, success, and productivity, you are always going to struggle with it because you won't be successful every day, not every day will be a productive one, and your weight will fluctuate due to several factors. So should your self-worth keep changing as well?

One of the most potent ways to build self-esteem is to ground your self-worth in your values, priorities, skills, and authentic nature. What are the things that honestly matter to you? What are your core beliefs and principles? Embrace them and let them guide your choices and actions.

When you base your self-worth on these intrinsic factors, you become less susceptible to external influences and opinions. You develop a strong and resilient self-esteem that can weather life's ups and downs. Your worth becomes a reflection of the values you uphold and the person you are becoming.

Self-esteem is a precious asset that everyone should nurture and protect. In a world filled with comparisons, people-pleasing tendencies, and external validation, it's easy to lose sight of our true selves. However, by setting boundaries, recognising and accepting our flaws, and grounding our self-worth in our values and nature, we can build a robust and healthy self-esteem that will carry us through life's challenges. So, remember, the path to a stronger self-esteem begins with embracing who you are and loving yourself for it.

(Luke Coutinho is Holistic Nutrition and Lifestyle – Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine, Founder of YouCare - All about YOU)

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