Self-esteem: Pitfalls + Power-ups

It’s kind of crazy what a heat wave can do to a girl.

She might suddenly find herself trying on swimsuits within the cavernous bowels of a poorly lit dressing room, a mirror standing before her reflecting an image less striking than Kate Upton. Okay. Beach—out. Barbecue, anyone?

But how can she possibly prove her domestic royalty when lately this working mom’s been more like the queen of takeout? That’s too much pressure for one potluck dish to handle.

Forget it. Maybe a family outing to the park is better. But of course she’s the one woman there who forgot to reapply her kiddo’s sunscreen 20 minutes in. And is that a mosquito bite? Way to go, Mom-of-the-Year.

“Our self-images are shaped by a combination of many factors: our upbringing, past experiences, messages received from others and what’s going on in our lives today,” said Fort Wayne counselor and life coach Yvonne Smith, MSSW, LCSW. “With all these demands, so many women feel they just don’t measure up to being a good enough wife, parent, friend or daughter. There are so many factors hitting us from all directions at all times.” With expectations running high, it’s no wonder a woman might find her self-esteem running low.

“Self-esteem is what we say about ourselves to ourselves,” said Smith. “It permeates every area of our lives: our relationships, our ability to take risks and our careers. It’s like a lens through which we view the world, others and ourselves. This perception can be a positive light or like a negative dark cloud. If a woman’s self-esteem is not good, there’s a reason, so it’s important to pay attention to that—it could be indicating we need to change something in our lives.”

So how do we reclaim a healthy view of ourselves?

“It can be done! All it takes is creating a healthy mindset, lifestyle and employing self-talk,” Smith said. The following are some helpful pointers from our resident expert.

  • First, examine how healthy your self-esteem currently is. Pay close attention to what you say to yourself about yourself for the next few days. Is it mostly negative and critical (I was so stupid for saying that)? Or is it more positive (I really blew that project, but I understand better now what went wrong, and I’ll do better next time)?
  • Try talking to yourself like you would a good friend—with kindness, respect and understanding.
  • Be mindful and intentional about who and what are most important in your life. Focusing your time and energy on those will strengthen how you feel about yourself.
  • Surround yourself with people who are positive, productive, encouraging and who believe in you.
  • Find at least one thing to do today to help you feel better about yourself.
  • If spirituality is part of your life, integrate it into your daily practice.

Smith encourages all women to go out and live their best life now. “What are you waiting for? You’ll feel better for it!”

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