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How to Have a Healthy Self-esteem Without Affirmations9 min read

Affirmations suck!

You can’t get your mind to believe in something without offering it some evidence first.

I’m not even going to go into the fact that affirmations can be bad for you. In terms of developing a healthy self-esteem, affirmations can do more harm than good.

Your mind a) already has a specific belief about who you are. b) has evidence (real or imaginary) to support this.

And the process of challenging those evidence-based-beliefs includes more than repeating positive beliefs and words.

Your mind will hardly believe in positive affirmations because a) it already has opposing, conflicting beliefs. b) it has nothing to prove it. It will consider them as lies and, as a result, it will make you feel worse about yourself.

Not only are you a piece of shit. You are a liar, too.

To induce real change, you need actions. Real actions that can be considered as evidence to support the healthy beliefs you want to have about yourself. 

Below, we are going to discuss 4 tips and actions that will help you see yourself in a more positive light.

While every case is different, those 4 actions will help you at least walk away from the negative and unhealthy self-image.

The first 2 are long term solutions and they take time. The other 2s are mid-term solutions that will help as well.

Let’s get started.

1. Rise Up to The Occasion and Face Your Problems

Believe it or not, this is one of the best ways to have a healthy self-esteem.

Not only will you be making your life better in the process, but also you will feel better about who you are as a person.

The idea is that we all have our problems. Every one of us has their unique set of problems. Problems that we need to solve in order to be happy and satisfied with our lives (and ourselves).

For instance, some people have problems with their social lives. Other people have financial problems. And most of the people have a nice mix of social, academic, financial, and health problems.

And your brain works as an observer. It notices your problems even, and especially, the ones you’re not consciously aware of.

When you ignore your problems, your brain won’t like it. It will make you experience tons of negative emotions to get you to do something.

Again, when you ignore these negative emotions you will end up with more of them. Eventually, you’ll end up with depression, anxiety, and unexplainable stress.

On the other hand, your life quality is going to suffer because you’re doing nothing about your problems.

Now tell me, how do you evaluate someone who can’t solve his life problems (and spends his time running away from them)? How much respect would you have for that person? Would you trust him to take the lead?

Exactly!

Your beliefs about yourself are going to be negatively affected by the single act of running away from your problems and ignoring them.

That will happen because:

  • Your life quality will suffer.
  • Feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness will develop. Those are the type of emotions that will destroy a healthy self-esteem.

And oh, let me remind you. Usually, we escape our problems using destructive means. Things like drugs, alcohol, porn … etc.

In this case, we will be feeling worse. If you believe, even if 1%, that what you’re doing is shameful or immoral or illegal, it will damage your self-esteem because it will induce feelings of shame.

Or we escape them using normal and good things but excessively (T.V, social media, video games …etc.).

In this case, you’ll be feeling guilty and weak and more like a coward while doing these activities because you know you should be doing something else that is more important to you.

Whatever way you use to ignore your problem and get instant pleasure, it’s going to backfire in the end.

The good news is that this works on both sides!

When you start facing your life problems, the way you see yourself will change for the better. Let alone that your life quality will improve.

Try this: sit down and identify the things that you don’t like about yourself/your life the most. Those probably are your biggest problems. (Read: A Practical Plan To Develop a Healthy Self-esteem In The Next 90 Days)

It takes an amount of self-awareness and a bit of courage to do that. So, prepare yourself for some discomfort and pain.

After that, promise yourself that you will do one little thing each morning (or evening, or whenever!) that will help you solve this problem. Promise yourself that you will do that for a month. And, please, stop the things you do to ignore your problems. You know them, cut them off.

Commit to this and try it for a month at least.

You’ll be solving your biggest problems. You’ll be getting closer to your goals. You’ll be improving your life quality. And as a side effect, you’ll be getting closer to a healthier self-image and self-esteem.

After all, what would think about someone who is reliable and who takes responsibility for his own problems and who takes actions to solve his life problems? Someone who is proactive and is working on a solution instead of running away?

Exactly! Be that person.

2. Share Yourself with Someone Who Has Earned The Right to Hear Your Story

We can’t live without human’s connection. Only psychopaths can do that.

In the book The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown talks about what she calls shame resilience.

Shame is an emotion that can literally destroy your self-esteem and screw up your self-image. After all, shame says I’m bad instead of I’ve done something bad (guilt).

Shame resilience is about the ability to recognize shame and stop it from taking charge of the way we think and feel (and behave).

Dr. Brown talks about a specific type of people that she calls wholehearted.

Wholehearted are those who live with their whole heart. They let themselves be seen even though it can be risky. They have the fantastic ability of handling shame, vulnerability, and fear.

In other words, they are brave. They are honest and authentic in their communications. That requires them to be vulnerable (it’s uncomfortable) and to handle shame in a more effective way.

There’s a lot to be said about vulnerability and authenticity. Dr. Brene Brown has good content that you can check out.

But what I want to mention here is something about shame resilience and vulnerability.

Brene says that wholehearted people have shame resilience. She explains that they first recognize shame, much more like mindfulness.

But what really got my attention is that she stressed out that they talk shame!

They use the word shame. Most importantly, they talk about why they are feeling ashamed. They do that with close people that they care about and trust.

The less you talk about shame, the more you have it. When they talk about it, those feelings of shame relief.

I’ve come to the conclusion that shame is the root cause of most of the self-esteem problems. It’s the cold, painful feeling that you are fundamentally wrong and that you are not worthy of love or anything worthwhile in this world.

Based on that, here are the benefits that you will reap from sharing yourself with someone you trust:

  • Shame resilience: The less you talk about shame, the more you have it. Regardless of why you experience shame, it will directly affect your self-image. After all, it’s all about the belief that I’m bad.
  • Connections: Don’t underestimate the power human connection has on the way you see yourself. It’s a human need. When you feel seen, heard, and appreciated, you will start developing better beliefs about yourself. Moreover, the feelings that we’re not loved, heard, or seen is what make some people develop poor self-image in the first place.

Try this: find someone who you trust. Someone who has earned the right to hear your story. This is important.

Might not be easy, I know. However, remember that connection is a human need that can’t be ignored.

Then share yourself openly and honestly, as much as possible. This can be very hard; vulnerability is uncomfortable. But the effect it has on your self-esteem, and your relationships, is priceless.

Share your story. Your thoughts. Your worries. What you feel. How things are making you feel. Your opinions. In brief, share yourself.

Again, you do this with someone you trust. You don’t have to be vulnerable with everyone you meet (and probably you shouldn’t). Go easy on yourself; don’t over-share.

Better connection can influence many things in your life, your self-image included.

(Note: sharing yourself will directly help you feel more connected. That’s good. It’ll influence your self-esteem as well. However, sometimes sharing yourself will make you aware of some problems and might make you feel bad as well. In this case, it’s also good. It gives you the awareness you need to change things, along with the social support.)

3. Read

You’re already doing it.

Growth influences the self-image. The more you grow as a person, the better self-image you’ll have.

And reading gives you that.

You can read about self-image as you’re doing now. You can read about one of the problems that you need to solve. You can read about a topic that you’re interested in. You can read something informative or thought-provoking. You can read fiction and nonfiction.

Reading will give you new ideas and probably new skills. That way, you’ll be able to solve your life problems better; you’ll become competent. With competence comes confidence.

It’s straightforward and simple. Read. Start small if you have to. It’s a long term process, but it’ll influence many things in your life, your self-image included.

Here is my own reading list for this site.

4. Give With No Strings Attached

Volunteering can help you get more self-esteem, feel more connected to the society, and even help you to become more healthy ¹.

This will definitely affect the way you see yourself.

When you give something without expecting anything in return, you experience a lot of strong and beautiful emotions.

And generally, every behavior that you do will affect the way you see yourself. And when this behavior is as noble and good as giving, it’ll affect the way you see yourself positively. Let alone that it’ll bring other feelings such as gratitude and connection.

Try it. Go and volunteer or just help someone by giving with no strings attached. You’ll be amazed by how good you’re going to feel.

Tony Robbins talks a lot about how giving is the secret to living. And how giving and helping someone can touch you emotionally and even change your entire perspective.

In a recent article in LinkedIn, he said:

I feel the benefits of giving immediately. I become more productive. I find creative solutions to problems. I find strength when I’m exhausted. I don’t get ensnared by the “tyranny of how” because I’m so certain about the WHY I do what I do. 

It’s worth the try.

Self-esteem is more than just "love yourself"
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