Low self-esteem is just a feeling. It has absolutely nothing to do with the reality of who you are and what you are capable of.
Loving yourself and your body unconditionally is hard work and a continual process. Some days you are a #selfloveclub champion. Other days, the big strides you’ve made on the self-love journey can suddenly feel nonexistent. It can be devastating to have old, negative ideas about yourself pop up out of nowhere. Depending on what else is going on in your life, these moments can threaten to ruin your day.
We all have our own insecurities that are unique to our lives. Some days it’s only the worst client that occupies our minds, or the least successful project. I know I certainly have days where nothing fits right. Sometimes I am convinced that I am the Absolute Worst At Everything. Certain places seem to possess a surprising and dark power to strip me of what I thought was rock-solid confidence, even if I left the house feeling amazing (I’m looking at you, mall).
The good news is that if you’re having one of those days, you can turn it around. Here are some tips.
1. Recognize What’s Outside of Your Control
To some extent, low self-esteem is fostered by the conditions of capitalism. We are constantly told to be prettier, busier, more successful, more innovative, more you-name-it — just more, more, more. We are expected to always be in the process of becoming; we are never supposed to stop and feel satisfied with ourselves and our achievements as they stand. An atmosphere that fosters constant anxiety over the need for continuous self-improvement is not one that will ever let self-esteem come easily. Give yourself room to sit with your negative feelings. How many of them are the result of external pressure?
2. Take Stock of the Positives
Do you have lingering doubts about yourself from something someone said or a situation that made you feel vulnerable? It might be a good idea to take some notes about what about what those unpleasant experiences have taught you about yourself. Maybe you learned how to spot a toxic environment or individual, and you can avoid one the next time you see it. Or maybe you learned a new way to think about yourself that will help you to take difficult moments less personally. Reframing a source of insecurity as an experience that you ultimately came out ahead from takes time, but it can be worth it.
Related: 10 Ways To Be Body Positive in 2017
3. Pinpoint The Source And Make A Plan
I can’t try things on in certain stores. I just can’t. There are whole neighborhoods that make me feel like a sentient potato. And I fucking hate Lou Bega’s only hit, “Mambo Number 5.”
The gaping mouth of the River of Self Hate can appear in many forms. If you can see the patterns of what consistently brings your self-esteem down, you can start to avoid those activities or places more easily — and if you can’t avoid them, you can have plans in place to help keep your spirits high. The next time you start to feel yourself getting down, pay attention to what was happening and where you were at the time. Don’t feel embarrassed by what you might find — again, one of the things that sets me off is literally Mambo Number 5.
4. Reach Out
Ask someone who you know struggles with similar issues if they’d be down to have a positivity pact. When you start to feel down on yourself, send this person a text. They can reply with some quality memes, or with more serious words of encouragement. Then, if they’re having a tough time, you can return the favor. Be honest with each other about the amount of time and emotional energy you have, however — keep things as light as you need.
5. Step Up Your Self-Care
Make a list of things that usually help you to change your headspace. Draw a long bath, order your favorite pizza, or work on a creative project that you just haven’t been able to make time for lately. Know your go-tos and go to them. Acupuncture is usually my top choice. What’s yours?
6. If All Else Fails, Take A Really Good Selfie
I’m totally serious. Selfies are powerful AF. The best thing about them is that you alone are controlling how you want to see yourself and how others can see you. Are you powerful? Sexy? Cute? Cool? All of the above?
The key to taking a good selfie is making sure that you have adequate light. If you don’t have a good light source in your house, get a cheap photo light off Amazon — it doesn’t have to be anything special. Once your environment is bright enough, put on something you love, play some music that makes you feel good and snap as many photos of yourself as you want. You don’t even have to share the results. Sometimes it’s nice just to have some strong selfies on hand to flip through whenever you’re having a day when you feel less than yourself.
More than anything, remember that low self-esteem days are totally normal. Low self-esteem is just a feeling. It has absolutely nothing to do with the reality of who you are and what you are capable of. But with a little bit of planning, you can be prepared when that feeling pops up, and get back on track to celebrating yourself in no time.