Often in my work, I encounter clients who downright have minuscule self-esteem. Their inner dialogue is nothing but a negative, critical soliloquy. And the question always arises, “How am I suppose to build my self-confidence?” And that is a difficult question indeed. Just how are we suppose to feel good about ourselves in a world of constant comparison when we are bombarded with photoshopped images and Pinterest boards? And do we even deserve to feel good about ourselves or is that just being delusional, egotistical, and narcissistic?
What I have found to be more helpful than thinking about how to enhance self-esteem or self-confidence is to think about being more kind to ourselves. In other words, developing self-compassion.
Think about those thoughts in your head. Now, take them out of your head. Think about that ticker-tape that runs at the bottom of news and sports programs with the headlines or scores. Picture your thoughts in that ticker-tape. What does that look like. Does it look like:
“I can’t believe I messed up that presentation. How could I be so stupid to miss that error? What is wrong with me that he doesn’t love me anymore? I have such a muffin-top. My ears are too big. Look at those wrinkles.”
Or does it look like this:
“I left that data out of my presentation yet I was not defensive when my supervisor pointed it out, I corrected it, and the presentation overall went well. I have gained a few pounds lately, so I am going to make sure to go to the gym after work.”
Chances are, your thoughts are more similar to the former. Are these things that you would say to your spouse, friend, or child? Probably not. What would you do if someone said these things to you? I would punch them. So, why do you say these things to yourself?
Self-compassion is not about being perfect or special or ignoring our flaws and weaknesses. Rather it is about embracing our whole selves: the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is about being as kind to ourselves as we are to others…at least I hope you are kind to others.
So go ahead and give it a try. Replace that ticker-tape with more kind and gentle thoughts and see how that might change your day, your week, your life.
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserves your love and affection.” – Buddha