There are days when we’re at our best both physically and mentally—days when we’re just feeling ourselves, and when we feel like our confidence is through the roof. These are our good days—but unfortunately, it can’t all be good days.
At any given time, we can feel insecure, anxious, or even angry about ourselves. Whether it’s about the way we look, how we speak, our skills or talents, our family and friends, our grades, career, or status, everything makes an impact on our self-esteem.
Self-esteem, or a person’s sense of their own worth or value, is affected by both internal and external factors. And while for some, self-esteem might dip a few notches down on bad days, there are others who face crippling self-esteem issues on a daily basis—for them, every day is a bad day. Low self-esteem can not only dampen relationships, but also damage your sense of self permanently.
If you are, or know someone, with low self-esteem, here are a few things you might need to hear:
It’s not a competition.
There’s a reason self-esteem issues commonly start to form once you hit puberty. This is the age we become more aware of our surroundings and peers, and start to feel the pressure to conform to certain standards. Think of this phase as your awkward years.
Comparison is the root of self-doubt. Especially now that we’re always bombarded with images of what we should look like and the things we should have, we tend to base our self-perception on other people. Social media can heavily contribute to making us feel like everything is a competition—but you should know that it’s not. What’s important is to pay attention to your own story and look straight ahead instead of sideways. It is easier said than done, but you must learn to appreciate what you have instead of focusing on what you don’t. Remember, it’s okay to move and take on life at your own pace. After all, everyone’s story is different.
It’s okay to be critical.
You should be more critical about the things around you. Question why certain looks, features, shapes, or sizes are considered beautiful. Question the images and advertisements you encounter every day. Think about how women are portrayed in the media. Question everything—but the one thing you shouldn’t be overcritical about is yourself. Don’t fixate on your flaws; instead, list down your assets and repeat them to yourself. Especially when under stress, remember to go easy on yourself and show yourself a little kindness.
It’s okay to talk about it.
You probably feel like you need to put a brave face on, but being open about your fears and insecurities is a step toward overcoming your self-esteem issues. Though it may be scary, more so because self-esteem is inextricably linked to mental health, opening up to others, especially those who might be going through similar things, will help you feel like you’re less alone facing the problem.
You are valid and enough.
Sometimes, all we need is to know that we are enough. If we have that inner sense of worth, we wouldn’t need to constantly seek external validation. It would be much easier to be confident about ourselves, whether it’s about the color of our skin, our size, our opinions. Make sure to tell yourself: whatever you are is enough. You are unique and valuable.
You should be your own advocate.
Rather than being your own worst critic, you should be your own best advocate. This is the best way to take control of your life and fight toward a healthy sense of self, allowing you to build healthy relationships both with others and your own self.This means not only fully embracing who you are, but also surrounding yourself with what is empowering. Accept that you are beautiful on your own terms. Finally, be a source of empowerment and a positive force for others who might be dealing with the same issues.
Dove is helping girls everywhere forge an empowering community, where every girl is a #ConfidentGirl. By encouraging young girls to define beauty in their own terms, Dove is championing the self-worth of millions around the world. The Dove Self-Esteem Project, currently present in 139 countries, aims to help girls build and protect their self-esteem by equipping them with the tools they need, such as workshops and modules. Learn more about the Dove Self-Esteem Project here.