I think I took the concept of being humble a little too far. In my Christian upbringing, I can hear my great-aunt or even my grandmother cautioning me on the dangers of being prideful. Afterall, the Devil was prideful and look how he fell. Messages such as these led to a young adult me who really had no working definition of who she was other than "humble." But to articulate to another any other descriptors felt wrong. Felt boastful. Felt prideful. This in turn, led to my underdeveloped self-concept that I am still unraveling through my own healing journey.
When we have a low self-concept and see ourselves as worthless, it tends to be challenging for us to identify any good qualities about ourselves. These negative thoughts tend to distort our perceptions and lead to us disqualifying any positives about ourselves. These biased and faulty perspectives cause us to feel bad about ourselves and the world around us (for more on this topic see our "Eight Thought Distortions and Ways to Cleanse Your Lens"). Once caught in this negative thought cycle, we tend to lean more towards only seeing our negative traits or only remembering our failures. We become masters of putdowns with the intended target being ourselves. To get to a place of rebuilding our self-esteem we have to first recognize when we are being unreasonably harsh towards ourselves and find ways to refute it.
We must actually take a balanced look at ourselves, paying special attention to what is good about ourselves. This will require deliberate effort. To start, what are some of the good things you have done today (both in thought and in action)? What are some compliments you have received? How about any thank-you's? Write down a list of these good things and it will help you refute those negative thoughts and feelings.
Last week, many of you faithful readers were challenged to try something new. (And if you missed it, I will link it here.) From some of the messages I received, this new experience was not comfortable for you. This is absolutely okay! The purpose was to engage you and your brain in a new way through a different sort of experience than your normal day to day experiences. It is through our experiences that we learn new things about ourselves (our areas of strength vs our areas for growth).
What's other's thoughts?
Sometimes we are blinded by our own bias, and we need a more objective opinion. This is where are social wellness and social network come into play. What do those closest to us have to say? Sometimes we can learn beautiful things about ourselves through the eyes of our loved ones (friends and family). Often times, they see the beauty in us that we can't see.
If we find ourselves feeling persistently worthless, seek help of a qualified mental health professional (psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counselor). Through exploration, one of these professionals may be able to help you treat any underlying causes that prevent you from identifying your good qualities.
What's the starting point?
If you are absolutely stuck on where to begin, I would like to share with you an exercise that I have personally found to be helpful. Hopefully this exercise will be helpful to you as well. Take a look at the list below. Circle all that apply to you.
After identifying your list, what would you friends or family say? Identify a trusted person and see which from the above would they say about you? Did either you or they come up with something that isn't on the list above?
Now, comparing your list with that of a loved one, can you list 7 of your best qualities?
Post your list on a mirror in your home. At least once a day for the next seven days, read your list to yourself. At the end of the week, notice how you feel and journal about it.
Each generation has received a different message about how to view themselves. Today's article is not meant to be a criticism of generations that diminished the role of self-love and self-appreciation. However, it is about restoring balance and making it okay to consider who uniquely beautiful you are. When we are able to recognize our own good qualities, we tend to be happier and have greater self-esteem. When we have healthy self-esteem, we are able to function well socially. The intention behind today's blog article is to help you take the time to purposely build self-esteem by assessing and appreciating your positive qualities; nothing more, nothing less. When we are able to do this, we increase our ability to maintain and strengthen our social wellness domain thus decreasing stress and championing our self-nurturing. I hope this post has been useful to you and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. And remember, wherever you are on this journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading.
"No matter what age you are, or what your circumstances might be, you are special, and you still have something unique to offer. Your life, because of who you are, has meaning." ~Barbara De Angelis
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