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The building blocks of self-esteem By Inika Khosla

Scrolling through Instagram to let a certain body type, the number of likes or another’s validation determines how we value ourselves when looking at the mirror. Letting our voice be overshadowed by those who speak louder and have an air of confidence around them. Losing ourselves trying to be someone else and feeling almost unsafe in the environment around us. Why do we let these things determine how we feel about ourselves? Why is our self-worth attached to these almost immaterial things? 

More often than not, the answers to these questions are attached to our self-esteem. This rather common word is used to subjectively describe our understanding of personal worth and value. This, therefore, determines how we hold ourselves regardless of the situation around us. This is defined by many factors including;

  • Self-confidence
  • Identity
  • A sense of belonging
  • Our feeling of security 

Other than this value almost defining our emotional health and overall well-being as it reflects on how we view and conduct ourselves in everyday life, it also influences other aspects of our life. Self-esteem impacts our decision-making process and our ability to take on certain roles and challenges in life. If one remains uncomfortable in their skin, it becomes almost impossible to feel confident to take on demanding roles. This may also stem as an ‘insecurity’ feeling in various relationships and even demotivate one from carrying forward certain tasks.

It's not unknown how many of us experience low self-esteem at certain moments of our life. And yet what isn’t unknown are the simple measures one can take towards a better stepping in their self-esteem. The following are the building blocks of self-esteem that might help one gain if not value an understanding of their self-worth;

Negate dwelling on past ‘negative experiences’

Like most people, we too have been through a phase of obsessing about something that happened in our day which has inevitably shaped us to become who we are today. And yet, we sometimes keep coming back to these situations, overthinking and pondering over them, hoping they had gone differently, coming up with the perfect comeback over something in the past or simply unable to let go of that person. And yet, what we fail to realise is the negative impact this experience has on our mental health. 

This obsessive pondering, often manifests itself as stress, less proactive behaviour and our area of concern, ‘lowering of your worth’. A common phrase ‘don’t dwell on your past’ is usually what comes to mind, and yet, in this case, the past is the culprit here. In simplicity, your past actions don’t determine the future, nor does your past assert a value on you. It simply provides a learning opportunity for all and stands as a testament to how much better we can be for ourselves.  

Establishing a strong belief system

Whether we like to believe this or not, our mindset and statements about our own life have a large impact on how we perceive ourselves to be. If we constantly believe that we aren’t capable of a certain task, or we will always be this unhappy or that our value is determined by the way we look then we are conditioning our mind to believe these thoughts. We then automatically view ourselves as less than simply because of our thinking. Therefore, the need to establish a strong belief system, where we start with simple affirmations establishing that we aren’t less than can go a long way in determining one’s self-worth. 

Understand the power of ‘belonging’

Since the beginning of time, we as a species have felt the need to travel and hunt in groups, for many reasons including safety, companionship but moreover to feel the need that we belong to something bigger than ourselves. These groups, which may be friends, family or even relationships are what define our experiences in life. The need for communication, sharing and solidarity are all different aspects we seek to fulfil by being part of these groups. Therein, they help us feel understood and assured that there are individuals who are looking out for us, which adds much value to our self-worth. 

Accepting compliments 

One of the most common terms, which I am too guilty of using is, “I can’t take a compliment”. Although this may seem to many as a mere joke, the resistance towards compliments becomes a way for many to make themselves feel worse about themselves. This is born out of the severe conditioning of the mind where we choose to believe we aren’t equal to another and therefore don’t deserve this compliment. However, setting goals to accept compliments even though they may make you uncomfortable is the best way to face this head-on. Here, you train your mind to react a different way when receiving a compliment which in time becomes a paved path towards improving one’s self-esteem. 

In the end, if one truly doesn’t affirm their worth, then these building blocks would remain scattered pieces of the puzzle. Realising that one’s value isn’t determined by another but by the way we see ourselves is a small but vital step in this journey. While the road ahead demands healthier emotional habits and reconditioning at various stages, I assure you, it seeks to bring about larger returns on your investment.