Low self esteem is something I really struggle with. This was a particular issue throughout my teenage years, something which I’m sure resonates with many teenagers (boys and girls alike). Teenage years can be an especially testing time and it’s not uncommon to feel insecure during this time. However, it’s also important that this self-doubt doesn’t take over. It shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the many new and exciting experiences that come with being a young person.
This is not only a problem of my past, however. In exactly one month, I turn twenty and I have decided I do not want self-doubt to dictate my adult life. As a university student, it’s essential that I feel confident in my academic capabilities, as well as my ability to eventually pursue a career. Having the confidence to approach new people and express myself in a public setting is equally important to me.
Ultimately though, low self esteem can have a hugely negative impact on mental health. It can leave you feeling worthless, hopeless and intensify feelings of anxiety and depression.
With this in mind, what steps am I taking to attempt to improve my confidence?
For me, self-care involves showering, brushing my teeth and maybe applying a little make-up before leaving the house. Simple things (I say simple, but they don’t always feel so easy!) such as these give my confidence a little boost. When I feel nice in myself, I find it easier to exude confidence around others. Being paranoid that I smell or that my hair is noticeably greasy is only going to make me feel more insecure!
It also means ensuring that I fuel my body sufficiently, and that I continue to eat regularly and keep hydrated throughout the day. Not providing my body with the essential nutrients it needs only heightens negative emotions, such as low self esteem, and makes them more difficult to cope with.
Do you ever stop and listen to the running commentary in your head? Personally, I find the little voice in my brain to be very critical. It’s constantly putting me down and telling me I’m not good enough, and this really takes it’s toll on my confidence.
If somebody was speaking horribly to our close friend, we would call them out without hesitation. And yet, when it comes to our own self-talk, we rarely stop and question whether or not we are being too harsh on ourselves.
I am therefore making a conscious effort to challenge that niggling critical voice that threatens to take over every situation. Instead, I replace it with positive thoughts such as ‘I am more than capable of doing this!’. Also, I am trying to recognise the things I’m good at more, rather than belittling myself for what I’m not.
Stepping Out of your Comfort Zone
Essentially, the only way to really challenge low self-esteem and anxiety is to put yourself in the exact situation you’re most afraid of. Now, I know you are probably thinking: ‘WHAT, ARE YOU CRAZY?! DON’T YOU REALISE HOW MUCH I CANNOT DO THAT?’ (and my answer to both of those questions would be yes).
Trust me when I say I’ve had enough practice to know how impossible it can feel to step outside of your comfort zone. How are you supposed to put yourself out there when all you want to do is hide from the world? Nonetheless, it’s really important that you do (put yourself out there, that is).
Be mindful of your limits, but focus on making progress – small steps will add up. If you’ve survived a scary situation once, you will feel more confident when facing it the second time around (and the third, and the fourth, and the fifth…).
How about you? Do you struggle with your confidence and what tips would you give people who feel similar?
Thanks for reading,