The Self-Esteem, Self-Worth and Self-Love Equation
March 01, 2018
“It’s not anyone’s job to make you feel good about yourself. It can only come from you.”
If you’re searching for validation (and love) externally, you’re looking in the wrong place.
The likes you receive on Instagram, the reassuring comments from your manager telling you that you’re doing outstanding work, compliments from outsiders - sure, they make you feel good and they’re mood-boosters, but heavily relying on others to improve your self-esteem is a slippery slope.
These examples are neither sustainable or abundant sources of love. Here comes the cliched truth (permission to cringe granted) - you need to love yourself first.
The definition of self-love
Self-love isn’t some hippy buzzword we’re throwing around. It also shouldn’t be confused with a daily pampering sesh. It’s less about treating yourself and more about coaching yourself.
By that we mean, employing a supportive, patient and nurturing approach that encourages personal growth and development rather than a critical and judgmental mentality that strips away your confidence and self-esteem.
Be supportive of your endeavours (even when you make mistakes) and invest in yourself. At the end of the day, practising self-love is a prerequisite for pushing past your limiting beliefs (we all have them), taking responsibility and developing the courage to live life authentically and abundantly - you know, doing the things that make you feel most alive on this planet, without worrying about afilter.
"Self-love requires you to be honest about current choices and thought patterns and undertake new practices that reflect self-worth." - Caroline Kirk
The self-esteem, self-worth and self-love equation
Your self-esteem and your self-worth are closely tied to the love you extend to yourself. So, when you consistently erase love from the equation through negative self talk or relentless comparisons to others, your vision of yourself will naturally crumble.
We’re not saying that practising self-love will make you immune to negativity. We both know that’s not true because we’re human. All we’re saying is that mentally beating yourself up (the icy cold opposite of self-love) makes you lose your sense of self.
Showing yourself the same love and compassion that you would show to your loved ones? Well, that energy is pretty empowering. It lights you up and unleashes the best in you.
Only when you love yourself can you begin to shed your insecurities and strengthen your sense of being. The beautiful thing is that the more worthy you feel, the more you have to give to the world.
Funny thought: Remember in Monsters Inc. how “screams” powered the city? Well, on this planet, practising self-love brings power to your life (and those around you).
Cringe all you want but it’s true and it had to be said.
How do we help ourselves?And where do we even begin?
It begins with building self-awareness and understanding who you are. Self-love is about knowing what contributes to your happiness and wellbeing and making generous deposits on a regular basis.
It’s about becoming conscious of what you’re feeling physically and emotionally and taking appropriate action. Developing this level of consciousness requires you to check in with yourself throughout the day so that you can notice how you are feeling.
When you have a better understanding of the emotions you are experiencing, you can identify links between your environment, your actions and your thoughts. If you’ve uncovered a negative link that is frequently disrupting your wellbeing, this is an opportunity to initiate change because you know deep down that you deserve better.
"Living consciously means taking responsibility for the awareness appropriate to the action in which we are engaged. This, above all, is the foundation of self confidence and self-respect." - Nathaniel Branden
Last week, I had one of those over the top anxious days. It was an ordinary day and I had completed my morning ritual but my anxiety levels had reached an all time high and I had quite literally lost my sense of self.
I had somehow transformed into the most insecure human who felt unworthy because of the most superficial things like the fact that my wardrobe was “outdated” (because when you quit your full time gig, you need to cut back on expenses) and my skin was “breaking out” (only a couple of pimples) and my hair was displaying regrowth (which had been there for weeks).
There was a lot of negative self-talk and as a result, my self-worth and self-esteem plummeted big time. My vision of myself was so tarnished by these toxic thoughts that the prospect of attending a social event that same night turned me into an emotional wreck.
Fortunately, I mustered the strength to attend this event. It was only later that night after returning home and talking it out with a close friend (who can relate) that the toxic spell had worn off and I was able to see how irrational I had been all day and actually laugh about it.
More importantly, I recognised that those feelings I felt earlier in the day were just anxiety-related emotions flowing through me - they don’t define who I am.
The next day, I woke up with a clear, positive mindset. I felt really good emotionally and mentally and came to the conclusion that the resilience I was displaying (after a very anxiety-fuelled day) was the result of all the things I’ve been doing to take genuine care of myself.
It was a real-life example of the compound effect. A small example, but an example nonetheless.
Why am I baring my soul and displaying a very vulnerable side?
Because, I know how common this feeling is and sharing helps me as much as it helps those experiencing the same thing. I’m a work in progress - we all are - and that’s a good thing.
So, what’s the lesson here?
Those seemingly insignificant decisions you make every day - they matter. It’s always easier to hold onto the same mindset, the same habits, the same lifestyle than it is to change it.
The easy road doesn’t pay dividends though. You can’t expect to feel your best if you don’t consistently put in the effort and remain generous with the time you allocate to practising self-care and self-love.
"Each choice is like a length of steel wire. By itself, it’s not that big a deal, but when braided together, when compounded with all the other choices you make, these slender lengths of wire form tree trunk like tension lines of awesome strength. Nothing is stronger than habit." - Jeff Olson