‘Mind Yourself’ – Mental Health & Well-being with Martin Furber

How to feel better if you have low self-esteem.

There are many reasons someone can have low self-esteem, and those of us who identify under the rainbow flag often hear negative comments, either about ourselves personally, generally, or about those we care about. As such, we are more likely to experience low self-esteem and other mental health issues, compared to the general population.

So what can we do to help ourselves? What you say to yourself matters, and really makes an impact on your overall state of mind. It embeds into your subconscious. The problem is that your mind does not always recognise the difference between what is true and what isn’t. If you change the way you speak about, and think about yourself, you really can make a big change to your life.

Even saying things such as ‘I’m stupid’ over and over, can have a really negative impact and affect your self-esteem. It becomes part of your beliefs about yourself. So never put yourself down, even in jest.

It’s not difficult to see how any one of us can, at some time, feel we are not good enough or will not meet the expectations of others or perhaps even ourselves.

However, for some people, these thoughts and feelings can become intense and begin to really affect their overall self-esteem. Whatever the cause, you can help improve your self-esteem by doing two things:

  1. Take positive action to change the things you say to or about yourself.
  2. Alter your perceptions of how you view yourself.

Positive affirmations (statements you say to yourself) may sound a little bit ‘Woo-Woo’ to some of you. However, if you accept what I say about how all the negative things you say to yourself are affecting you, then it stands to sense that making a conscious effort to change these things to more  positive statements, will help you. You will need to take positive action for it to work. Try repeating a positive statement about yourself a few times. Say it out-loud. If you are having trouble identifying something positive about yourself then think back to the last time someone said anything positive to you, even if it was just a thank you for holding a door open for them.

As for the second point, again, this may be difficult at first if you have low self-esteem, but it is perfectly possible. Have a really good think – what are you good at? Everyone is good at something, maybe you are active in our community or are a good role model to others. Perhaps you excel at something unusual? Again, you may really have to think, but absolutely everyone is good at something.

The above are starting points for putting yourself in a better frame of mind, which is a great way to start increasing your self-esteem. If you find them difficult, then you might need to challenge your negative thoughts. When you have a negative thought about yourself, ask yourself if it is really true? Is there another way to look at the situation? Are you being too hard on yourself?

You could also try setting yourself a small and manageable task, and then completing it. When we set and achieve a goal, it boosts our self-esteem. Start with small goals that you are confident you can achieve, and then gradually set more challenging goals. Each time you achieve something, you will feel better about yourself, in other words you will boost your self-esteem.

When we have low self-esteem, we can start to look at many things from a negative point of view, this can lead to other issues. Taking care of your physical health will also improve your mental health, so make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly. Your body and mind are all connected, good physical and mental health go hand in hand.

The people you spend time with can have a big impact on your self-esteem. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself and who support your goals. If you find yourself surrounded by people who are constantly putting you down or make you feel bad about yourself, then you may really need to have a long hard think about distancing yourself from them.

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Martin Furber is a therapist qualified in various disciplines and an instructor member of Mental Health First Aid England.

Please note: If you feel you are in a mental health crisis or emergency and feel you may be in danger of causing harm to yourself or others then please contact your GP, The Samaritans on 116 123 or attend A&E.