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In the theme of our 21 Day Self Love Challenge, we’re talking all things self love and ways to better prioritize the love we give ourselves as mothers. Our kids learn by what we do.

Love lesson: How to stop hating your beautiful self!

People ask me why I say that loving yourself is a revolutionary act. The reason is that low self-esteem is an epidemic in a society that says continually that we are not good enough. If you’re raised by people with low self-worth and educated with extreme self-hatred, guess what often happens?

For most of us, self-esteem issues have their roots in our childhood. If you are repeatedly told that you are worthless, whether with words or behavior, then you will believe that you are worthless. Even well-meaning parents can lay the foundation for low self-esteem later in life. For example, if a parent compares you to a sibling or makes it seem as though your accomplishments are irrelevant this can manifest in self-worth issues later in life. As children we see ourselves as the center of the universe, and so if a parent is absent or even betraying another parent, we blame ourselves.

I received the following heart-breaking email the other day:

Hi Abiola, I’ve been struggling with self worth and low self esteem and fear since I can remember. I’m afraid of revealing my true self, all of me, the non-reserved part of me because I don’t want to be judged or rejected. I was teased as a child and felt misunderstood all my life. I’m better than I used to be but I still have issues. Tonight, I feel like I’m not enough to be a friend to some people or be around them. Sometimes I just feel like I will never overcome my battle with low self esteem and fear. Advice please.

When you see your world through the lens of low self-esteem, you can find proof of your lack of worth in every interaction. Rejections, dismissals, abandonments, and betrayals are heightened because they seem to confirm for you that you are not enough. You then don’t feel like trying because your worthlessness seems imminent. Your thoughts of your own inadequacy become a self-fulfilling prophesy. You feel generally not good enough for honors, accolades, prosperity, and love. When we accomplish anything as an adult with low self-esteem, we see ourselves as a success impostor who could be found out, that we are truly worthless.

No matter who you are, you have your whole life ahead of you. You are worthy are all the good things in the world! The time is now to take actions to change your ingrained beliefs about yourself.

Here are action steps you can take to raising your self esteem shift and learn to love yourself:

1. Get support.

First of all, partner with a great cognitive behavioral therapist. Many people with low self-esteem have low grade depression as well. Interview your therapist to make sure that they are right for you. Your low self-esteem will tell you to just take who you can get. Ignore that voice. Ask your therapist how long clients typically work with them for self-esteem issues. This will not be a quick fix, but you don’t want someone whose clients come for 10 years with no change either.

Your fear voice may tell you that you can’t afford this kind of support. You can’t afford not to do this. Make this investment in you.

2. Manage your negative self-talk.

The Inner Bully is a raging wildebeest, even in the best of circumstances. When we have low self-esteem, that inner voice is on blast all the time. Don’t believe it just because you think it. Monitor the language you use to speak to yourself. Most of it you may not be aware of so start by creating a Self-Love Journal and noting for a week everything you say to yourself. Also note the trigger situations that cause you to beat yourself up. Track your self-loathing triggers.

Remember that although it may not seem like it, everyone has issues of feeling inadequate, even your most amazing friends.

3. Create new mantras, or as I prefer to call them, womantras, for yourself.

In your notebook write down a list of 10 new “I AM” statements. Here are a few to begin with: I am worthy, I am beautiful, I am smart, I am a good person, I am enough. Add 5 more and read them to yourself every morning, at noon, and before bed – every day for the next year. In addition, a great self-worth mantra to write on the inside cover of your new Self-Worth journal is “This too shall pass.” Whether life is amazing or not so great, things keep moving forward. It is only us who remain stuck.

4. Learn not to take things personally.

When you have self-esteem challenges everything seems personal. We see this in our own urban neighborhoods on a daily basis where everything is about superficial respect. People want to fight and physically hurt someone for looking at them the wrong way or saying hurtful words because their idea of respect is external not internal.

Someone rolling their eyes at you or being rude to you says nothing about you. It says everything about them. As stated in “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” don’t take anything personally. It feels personal when you don’t have your own internal power source to fall back on but it is not. As Maya Angelou said, you’re not in it, meaning you are not in other people’s behavior.

If someone is bullying you, lying to you, cheating on you, or ignoring you, you are not in it. They would be doing that to whomever was in your place. Let them keep their own problems, issues, and dramas with themselves. If someone gives you a gift and you don’t take it, it still belongs to them. The same with personal dramas.

5. Be present in your emotions.

When life sucks, it is instinctual to tune out sometimes. We are great at this as Americans. We numb, avoid, and tune out from our own lives and feelings by soothing ourselves with drugs, alcohol, food, TV, porn, video games, the web, shopping, gambling, work. Basically, anything to stop us from really looking at our lives and feeling our feelings. You cannot improve a situation if you don’t address it.

Denial is self-destructive. Stop numbing, avoiding, and tuning out. Develop a practice of mindfulness, and paying attention to your feelings. Be the observer of your feelings and situations, not the victim.

6. Do something kind for people you don’t know.

It is a great self-esteem booster to do for others. No matter who you are there is also someone in a lesser state. Volunteer, give, make an effort to give to others. Bring food for your elderly neighbor, offer to babysit so that your friend can have a night out, volunteer to feed the homeless at a food kitchen. Give, give, give.

7. Up your self-care game.

Love up on yourself. People with low self-esteem usually fall into one of two camps when it comes to self-care. You either feel you suck anyway so why try, and make no effort in your appearance or anything else, or more often you are super vigilant about what you look like on the outside while neglecting yourself. Many women with low self-esteem have their hair, nails, makeup and clothes on point and don’t feel comfortable with anyone seeing them less than done. When you are comfortable with yourself whether glittered up or not, you have healthy self-esteem.

Self-care is not getting just your hair and nails done, or bubble baths and massages, although that helps. Self-care includes how you take care of your mind, body, and spirit. Treating yourself well includes eating healthy foods, taking mental time when you feel overwhelmed, having a practice of stillness or spirituality according to your beliefs, and surrounding yourself only with those who treat you in loving and respectful ways.

9 More Positive self-esteem booting quick hits:

  1. Release people pleasing and passive aggressive communication.
  2. Release judgement of others. Judgment is an act of violence.
  3. Burst out of your comfort zone by learning something new.
  4. Find a new tribe. Join a support group or meetup group of like-minded people.
  5. Speak up for yourself.
  6. Forgive yourself for everything. Let yourself off the hook for being human.
  7. Read biographies of famous and powerful people. You’ll learn that we all experience mistakes, failure, and rejection.
  8. Stop judging yourself by other people’s social media. You have no idea what is happening in anyone’s life.
  9. Release the need to be perfect at anything.

You are no more flawed or imperfect than anyone else. The same force that created the flowers and sunshine created you. Most importantly, you are enough and you are worthy.

Rock on!


Photo: NaturalHairDaily

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