Quest for Self-Esteem

I have struggled with my own self-esteem all my life. I’m not sure if it’s an innate attribute, cultural influences, my upbringing, or negative experiences that have influenced my self image. My guess is its a combination of several. For the most part I had a happy childhood growing up in a Los Angeles suburban town.  My parents were loving and we did fun things as a family.  Yet, I have memories of myself at a very young age feeling like I was not good enough, not smart enough, not skinny enough, not talkative enough, and so on…

I seem to always be on a quest to understand why I feel the way I do.  There have been moments in my past in which my biggest fear was that everything I try to accomplish and attain in my life will be sabotaged by my lack of self worth. How Sad!!

I’ve come to realize that I am not alone in how I feel, and there are some women who feel worse about themselves than I do.  I have photographed thousands of women in my career and it still amazes me when someone says something critical about her body, hair, nose, eyes. We are all different and that is actually a good thing. If we all had the same physical attributes and personalities life would be pretty uninteresting.

So here are some things I have found to be helpful in loving myself and who I am that may help for you too.

I quite my mind
Mediation is really fantastic to minimize all the negative thoughts I have.  The best way to “hear” what it is I am thinking is to try and not think.  Not easy, but when I realize what I am thinking about I begin to catch myself even when I’m not meditating. I understand now that the beliefs I have about myself are False.  If I think I’m stupid – Yes, that is False. I strive for 10 or 20 minutes a day and once or twice a week one hour.

I surround myself with lighter things
I am not talking about soft silk. If you watch TV or YouTube or go to Movies you know we are all surrounded by tons of violence and heavy drama. There was a point in my life when I was a huge ghost story addict. I decided that if I want to feel better about myself and feel inspired than I needed to surround myself with things that make me think positively and feel good.  Yes, watching a violent crime drama on TV may be cathartic but since I am so routinely bombarded with negative energy it only makes sense to experience more lightness I must feed myself positive forms of entertainment more often than negative. I read inspiring books, watch inspiring stories on TV or comedies more often than heavy drama’s or horror flicks now.

Take care of myself and have fun.
Pretty self explanatory. Maintain simple healthy rituals for my own well being. I take it one step at a time and don’t beat myself up about it if I don’t do my workout.  I plan and schedule routines but I no longer get into the “Have To” mindset. If I do then I set myself up to fail. I plan meals, bubble baths on weekends, wine tasting with friends because it makes you feel good, and if I miss one of my plans it’s okay.

Stay in the present
This is probably the most difficult for me but at some point I realized I needed to just let it go.  Whether I get compliments or criticism staying in the present moment means I step outside of myself and assess the situation without reacting to what someone else has said. In this way my motivations are not generated by the need for positive strokes, nor am I taking someones spiteful words personally because after my assessment I realize that it is always the other persons issue not mine.

Hear it from others.
I mentioned this last because this task I am still working on.  Getting feedback from others about yourself.  I need to remember it is not to get emotional validation about myself. It is meant to make me see an entirely different point of view of who I am.  This exercise starts by writing down all my strengths. Then asking my friends what they like about me, all my good and unique qualities. It will be interesting to see my list compared to theirs. 

I would love to hear what others do to for themselves to keep their self esteem strong. So please comment your thoughts and ideas.