Admitting I had experienced periods of low self-esteem was a very worrisome task. At first, it seemed like an issue quite prevalent with a particular gender or perhaps, individuals who felt they didn’t measure up to standard. But I was amazed at how it affected people who were pretty good at masking issues quite similar to mine. Sadly, I happened to be one of those people who may have convinced a few friends and family that I was doing great.
Definitely , I knew that sense of self-worthlessness simply wouldn’t disappear without me wanting to face the problem head on. For years, I’d let this feeling determine how I ought to live my life, how to relate with peers and when I was better off behind closed doors. Trying to avoid looking in the mirror didn’t solve the problem either but learning how to accept and appreciate my reflection, was the way forward.
What next? I reflected on my teenage years in boarding school where I considered myself to be the odd one out because I wasn’t amongst top of the class or as pretty as other girls. I felt that I had failed to meet peer-group standards. Likewise, significant incidents in previous relationships created biased beliefs which made me feel inadequate and discouraged me from changing my outlook on life. Therefore, I adopted ways to overcome low self-esteem and have summarised them into ten points.
1. Building self-confidence is a journey. It’s a journey which begins with one step at a time and requires a steady pace to remain focused. At first, I was keen to see quick results but realised some things took time to heal. It’s likerewiringyour thinking process and deciding how to perceive change. Although I’m not a bible scholar, I knew I needed to believe and trust what God says about me. I did have bad days, but this time, the journey wasn’t without him.
2. Words of positive affirmation. I’m constantly reminded of God’s everlasting love and his continued faithfulness through scriptures like Matthew 10: 29-31 and Jeremiah 31:3. Also, I enjoy listening to gospel music and teaching when cooking. I used Deezer, an internet based music streaming service, to create a playlist of uplifting tracks by impressive gospel artists. I still can’t get enough of ‘LovinMe‘ by Jonathan McReynolds and ‘Move Forward‘ by TroySneed. Equally, I’m inspired by Jill Briscoe’s, Priscilla Shirer’s and Pastor Nike Adeyemi’s teaching via YouTube because they explain how to tackle challenges in marriage, parenting, career and health issues, using scriptures and sometimes, personal experiences. These are brilliant ways of receiving and believing words of positive affirmation.
3. Being objective in times of rejection. Before I got married, I was reacquaintedwith a mutual friend. It was a long-distance relationship so we hardly spent a day without speaking to each other. In due course, we hoped to tie the knot, and I would finally relocate to Nigeria to live with my heart-throb. Finally, we got to spend quality time but shortly realised we desired very different things. I really wanted things to work out and even agreed to make certain changes, but he soon lost interest. A few days into my visit, he began to resent my presence. Our last telephone conversation proved he was glad to see the back of me.
Naturally, I was heartbroken, felt rejected and blamed myself for whatever may have gone wrong. But over the years, I learned that rejection doesn’t mean one isn’t good enough or not worthy of being loved. Most times, it’s God’s way of telling you to let go of what he hasn’t predestined to be in your life. You may need a season to cry but there’s also a season to move on and to keep your head up. Try to be objective even when the door is shut or ‘no’ becomes the resounding response.
4. Retail therapy doesn’t fix everything. At the time, spontaneously buying new clothes and accessories seemed to relieve the pain but it was only temporary. Fine dresses and pearls couldn’t fix the problem but I yielded to the illusion. You see, material things are nice but are designed to fulfil one purpose, to make one look good on the outside. Behind the expensive attires and stiletto heels, was a bruised soul in search of wholesome redemption.
5. Self-worth isn’t always about money. Self-worth isn’t always about the price tag, belonging to a certain class, achieving accolades, or looking unto others to define one’s self. I felt condemned by past incidents and allowed mistakes to deter me from moving on. Sure, everyone has a past and some may be more gruesome than others but it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a good future. God doesn’t create shoddy, crummy or substandard work so there’s much greatness within you.
6. Don’t do things that wouldn’t make you feel good about yourself. Despite what the majority may deem acceptable or what seems to float someone else’s boat, avoid doing things that could make you feel worse. Fitting in shouldn’t cost one’s dignity or sense of reasoning. Be yourself and develop the habit of making good judgment.
7. Have a hobby. Hobbies are therapeutic because they are relaxing, rewarding and encourages one to try new things. They aren’t boring and span from numerous interests such as joining a reading club, volunteering with your local church or even visiting a nursing home. Recently, I developed interest in making wigs, and now I absolutely love it! Pick interest in something that could help take things off your mind and enable you to realise that life is worth living.
8. Don’t be intimidated. In public, I was intimidated by unfamiliar conversation, other women’s clothes, and strong personalities. I struggled to maintain my poise and occasionally, preferred to remain indoors. Shying away wasn’t helpful because I didn’t realise interacting with other people could be beneficial. Whenever I didn’t have much to say, I endeavoured to remain quiet and listened to other people’s opinion. Listening is a lifelong and incredible skill which enriches one’s intellect. No one knows everything.
9. Always ask. If you are unsure about something or need help, always ask. You could burnout by striving to do many things on your own. There are no super humans but real people with real problems. It’s okay to have time to yourself but don’t drown in self-pity. Learn to confide in someone you can trust. He or she may have encountered similar challenges and could reassure you that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.
10. You are a role model. Whether you’re married with kids or not, you do matter. If you have children, you are their role model. Their perception of self-esteem is an integral aspect in molding their character. They may witness us at the lowest point in our lives but notwithstanding, we also have to show them how to develop the right attitude towards tackling life’s difficulties. Do we let them believe that life is a playground or prove to them that there can be victory in the face of adversity?