Think about what you say to yourself when you are feeling down: “You aren’t pretty enough”, “You aren’t important”, “You are a screw-up”. These are just a few of many thoughts that you may say to yourself when you are in this mindset. Now take a second and ask yourself if you would say these things to a friend or family member. The answer is most likely an “of course not”, as they are incredibly hurtful and unkind comments to say to anyone; yet you may say them to yourself all the time. When you are overly critical of yourself you are constantly looking for ways to validate that these criticisms are true and begin to believe they define you more than your accomplishments and successes. This cycle of negative self-talk and low self-worth is toxic to your mental health and can eventually leave you feeling depressed, anxious, and with low self-esteem. If you feel you are truly mean to yourself and would like to try to improve your self-esteem, below are some strategies you can try.
Challenge Negative Self-Talk
A large contributor to low self-esteem is negative self-talk. The negative thoughts that pop into your head saying you are “ugly”, “stupid”, or “needy” are only going to reinforce you feeling bad about yourself. The first step in improving your self-worth is to become aware of the mean things you are saying to yourself so you can begin to challenge them. When you catch yourself being harsh, gently note what is happening and remind yourself that these are thoughts and not facts.
Create a Positive Narrative
We all have a narrative that shapes how we perceive ourselves. When your narrative is negative you are bound to have a self-perception that is negative as well. As you begin to challenge the negative self-talk, try also spotlighting the positives in your life. If you begin and end every day reflecting back on the aspects of your life you are proud of, thankful for, and happy about, you are challenging your narrative to be more positive. By doing this you are allowing yourself to spotlight the positivity in your life and reaffirming your abilities you doubt yourself.
Accept yourself, flaws and all. It is way too easy to get wrapped up in what others have accomplished, trying to live up to other people’s expectations, and feeling like you are inadequate. Rather than getting caught up in comparing yourself to others, get caught up in having more compassion for yourself. When you begin to focus on your flaws and faults take a moment to forgive yourself and redirect your thoughts towards the positivity in your life. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and it is important to love yourself for both.
If you feel you are your own worst critic and would like some support, it may be useful to connect with a therapist. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!