Why is women’s self-esteem a deal breaker?
“I am not good, enough”, “I am not worthy of good things in life”, “I feel ashamed of my body”, “I can’t rest, until everything is taken care”, “I am a bad mother, if I am prioritizing myself over my kids”, “If I speak up, then I will lose my relationships”.
These are some of the statements, as women, you would have said to yourself, at some point in your life. These are very classic indicators of low self-esteem. Let us dive into the world of self-esteem. What is self-esteem anyway? What builds self-esteem? Why is it such a deal breaker? How can someone enhance their self-esteem?
In simple words, self-esteem, is the way we perceive ourself, with our qualities and flaws, put together. Most of the times, as women you are conditioned to meet a certain criterion, in order to earn the trophy of being a ‘good woman’. Majority of women will spend their entire life, trying to win this trophy and yet they will never earn it. Is it because, it’s very difficult to earn it? No, it is because, in order to possess this trophy, women need to break-free from their shackles of low-self-esteem. This seems more challenging, given that for ages women have been conditioned to prioritize everyone but themselves. This mindset will never let women, enhance their self-esteem, which in turn will never give women access to this trophy.
If you wish to enhance your self-esteem, you have to understand how is self-esteem formed. This process lays its foundation during childhood. The way your parents talked to you and treated you, established the core of your self-esteem. In the context of collective culture, how your relatives, neighbors, teachers, and society interacted, shamed you, appreciated you, determined your self-esteem during childhood. Then life events happened, along the way of growing up, further dictated the course of your self-esteem. Now, in this entire process, as children you didn’t have much power, so you believed the words of our parents and loved ones. Today, the question you need to ask yourself is, ‘am I still following the same course of my low-self-esteem, with all the trauma, and negative feedback, which is wrapped in sense of guilt and shame? If yes, then be aware that your internal dialogue is still the same negative vocabulary that was said to you by your parents, and significant others, during your childhood. The pattern might have continued till date by those who became a part of your life in various capacities; spouse, in-laws, colleagues, boss, friends, kids, siblings etc.
It’s imperative for you to become aware that self-esteem is an absolute deal breaker for women’s overall health and wellness. When someone has low self-esteem, then their self-doubt is higher. When self-doubt is high, then your decision-making capacities are low, because you don’t trust your judgment. This is the reason; many women feel unhappy in relationships because they are constantly looking for validation. Since you have no faith in yourself about the decisions you take, unknowingly, you bestow too much power to people in your life. These could be; your husband, boyfriend, parents, friends, colleagues, in-laws, or boss. Since you have not been operating with your full autonomy due to low self-esteem, you are unable to unlock your true potential, don’t get to enjoy your life to the fullest, struggle with health issues, and don’t become the best version of yourself. It’s high time for your to restore your power back.
Hence, it become crucial that you enhance your self-esteem, to become the best and healthiest version of yourself. The most crucial and under-rated component of self-esteem is ‘vocabulary’ The way we talk – to ourselves, to others, the narratives we create, the stories we sell to ourselves and others, as defense mechanism to save our ego from being hurt, it’s all about words. The following tips and techniques will help your build and enhance your self-esteem.
- Chek your vocabulary:
You need to become aware of how you talk to yourself. Mostly, the way we talk ourselves down, if we talked to others, we would have no friends left on the planet. So, recognize your negative vocabulary, and get rid of it. If you can replace it with positive vocabulary, it’s great, if not stick to neutral self-talk.
- Unlearn the rigid patriarchal concepts:
Concepts like, ‘you always have to prioritize others’, ‘if you are a good mother, you will always cook fresh food’, ‘if you are good woman, you should be able to keep peace in the family’, ‘if your spouse is toxic, just suck it up’, ‘resting without being sick is selfish’, ‘kids always have to come before career’. You have to create new learning and follow them. You have a right to prioritize yourself and take care of yourself, otherwise one day you will become so unwell, that you will not be able to take care of anyone. So, recognize what is it that you need to unlearn, and then do it.
- Grow your mind-set:
Low self-esteem narrows your mindset. If order for you to enhance your self-esteem, you need to grow your mindset. Read self-help books, listen to good podcasts, surround yourself with progressive people, and don’t get caught up in regressive daily soap operas. Invest in your growth, weather you are a working woman, or a home maker, you grow. Learn new skill, exercise and push your body to become healthier or enhance your career, either way, do something.
- Be happy for others:
When someone achieves something, or becomes successful, specially it is another woman, learn to be happy for her, rather than character assassinating her or attributing her success to luck / destiny. You grow your self-esteem when you learn to celebrate others.
- Pay attention of your presentation:
Dress your best, no matter what. When you look good, you feel good. Invest time in your grooming, don’t have a laid-back attitude towards your grooming and dressing. This is a game changer when it comes to enhancing your self-esteem.
- Inculcate assertiveness skills:
Learn to say no, with this simple mantra, ‘I have to say ‘no’ to the right people, at the right time, in the right way’. You are not on the spree of saying no to everyone, choose when you wish to use it. Say no, without feeling guilty.
- Regulate your emotions:
As women you have to understand yourself, you are functioning to best of your capacities for only 2 weeks in a month. Other two weeks, either you are experiencing PMS or you are on your periods. During these times, your hormones overpower your emotions, to a large extent. Don’t expect yourself to do be able to do everything on your checklist, go easy on yourself. Usually during these two weeks, women tend to beat themselves way too much, and it jeopardizes your self-esteem.
- Practice self-forgiveness:
Whatever you believe, you have done wrong, learn to extract the learning, and move on. Beating yourself is not helping in anyway, but is great to shatter your self-esteem. Rather than constantly blaming yourself for things that happened in life, create an approach to empathize with yourself. Tell yourself, ‘If I could have said something, I would have said something.’ ‘If I could have done something about it, I would have done something about it’. Whatever you are still blaming yourself for, let go, because when it happened you were not the version of yourself, that could have stood up then, maybe today you are, or in future, you will be.
- Develop self-compassion:
You are very compassionate towards your kids, spouse, parents, and others, but you don’t do a great job in displaying compassion towards yourself. If you don’t learn to be compassionate toward yourself, you are setting your self-esteem to be sabotaged forever. If you don’t know how to do it, then just think as to how you would treat your child in a certain moment, and treat yourself in the same way. It will be highly compassionate.
Ask yourself, ‘do I like myself?’, ‘do I enjoy my own company?’, ‘do I trust myself?’. If your answers are negative, then just pause and think, ‘how can I be upset with others when don’t like you, don’t want to spend time with you, or don’t trust you? Remember, the world will always treat you in proportion to how they see you, treating yourself. You accept yourself, for who you are today, and miraculously you will observe slowly people will begin to accept you. If there are things about yourself that you don’t appreciate, then work to better them, critiquing yourself isn’t the solution. Accept and appreciate yourself, and the world will follow the suite.
Bottom line is, that you wear multiple hats, and the most important hat you wear is being ‘you’. You are a role model for many of your loved ones, if you have children, for sure for them. Break free and end this inter-generational loop of oppression of women by shattering their self-esteem. If you feel exhausted from life to do all this work by yourself, reach out to professionals, and they will be very happy to support you in your healing journey.