Self-esteem is easy to neglect. In the flurry of requirements for school or work, we often overlook the tiny voices in our heads telling us that we can’t do it, we’re not good enough. That voice is a sign that your self-esteem is taking damage.
When left ignored, the voice gets louder and louder until it becomes uncontrollable. Ah, but I’m probably just being overly dramatic. I know I’m doing fine. I know I did my best. It’s just self-esteem. No big deal, right?
Hold it right there!
Left unchecked, these little things have been proven to reduce the quality of life. It could lead to mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression, often with tragic results. Making things worse, there seems to be a big push from school or work to always hustle—for that grade, for the pay, for that award.
Because of this, we forget just how important taking care of ourselves is in truly succeeding. After all, you can’t reap the rewards of your hard work if you’ve gone crazy (or worse) trying to make them happen.
What would you suggest then?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that rewires your thought patterns to influence your behavior. When administered by a professional, it could counter a lot of harmful psychological behavior, and improve your self-esteem among other things.
Putting it crudely, it’s you forcing the bad thoughts to stop, and to assess how valid they are as they come. However, not all can afford to go to the doctor.
Here are some mantras you could tell yourself when the bad thoughts take over. Take note, and I cannot stress this enough. This, in no way, qualifies as a substitute for professional help. You can think of it as psychological first aid. As with any first aid, you might still need to go to the doctor after if you find that the problem is too big.
With that, here are five mantras that could help give your self-esteem a boost.
The five mantras to help your self-esteem
1. I empathize, but I’m choosing myself.
Let’s begin with the most important one. It’s good to extend yourself—your skills, time, especially your empathy—to other people when they’re in need. However, you should never put your own well-being aside.
You are most capable, therefore most helpful, when you’re healthy. Because of that, you can say this when you find yourself burning out. Understand your own limits, and reinforce them.
It’s important to push yourself every now and then for your personal growth. Yes, but there’s a fine line between braving the challenges and recklessness. It’s not being selfish to put yourself first, it’s taking care of your most precious asset: yourself.
2. My feelings are valid.
If you’re like me, who grew up always under pressure to excel, chances are you’ve been told, at least once in your life, that your feelings don’t matter. School and work can be very competitive environments.
There is a pervasive belief that we have to be working 24/7 to succeed. Because of that, it’s become easy to dismiss our feelings as mere obstacles to our work. Plot twist: they’re not.
There are a lot of things beyond our control, and things don’t always go our way. It’s okay to feel sadness, disappointment, resentment, or whatever you want to call it. Repeat this mantra to yourself when you find yourself (or someone else) trying to shove your feelings out of the picture.
You’d be surprised how much more insightful your decisions become after taking how you feel into consideration. After all, you can’t sprint with a broken bone, and you can’t make smart choices with a heavy heart. Deal with that first.
Remember, the first step to resolution is to acknowledge what is there. Acknowledge, assess, learn, let go, action. You are the director of your life, which brings us to our next point.
3. I am not defined by what I’ve done, but what I do.
Failure can feel like the end of the world, and success feels like a peak you want to be on forever. However, piling your mistakes on yourself is not the way to go. Conversely, neither is resting on your laurels. Your story has not ended yet. Assess how you feel about the last achievement or failure you’ve made. Accept it. It is done and there is nothing we can do about it. Now, it’s time for the next.
Say this to remind yourself that there is always the next test, the next contest, the next adventure. The least we can do is to try. You grow at your own pace. Every failure or success adds to the richness and depth of your being.
4. I am where I have to be.
Jumping from the last point, it’s important to set milestones and timelines for yourself. It’s how you can measure your own progress. But, in the age of digital media, our peers’ lives are so much more accessible. A photo here, a status update there—it’s become easier to see what others have achieved. Because of this, you might be inclined to base your #goals on theirs.
Keep in mind though, whatever they’ve achieved, that’s part of their journey, not yours. We’re all born into varying circumstances. Some may have been more privileged with more resources to go further, and there’s nothing we can do about that.
When you take this into consideration, you put better context into their achievements, and yours. There’s merit in looking back to see where you are now compared to then. The progress can be massive or small. Regardless, it’s still progress.
5. I am enough.
If the last four still didn’t cut it, try this one. Think about it; you are where you are because someone believes in you. As a student, you were given a spot in school because the admissions office saw your potential. If you’re working, you were hired because your employer believes you have something to contribute to the company’s vision and mission.
You can attribute it to luck, or that maybe they made a mistake. Maybe you feel like you were able to fake it through the application process. Well, hate to break it to you but they’ve probably screened hundreds, maybe even thousands of people before you. They can tell when someone’s faking it. Instead, own it while you hone it. Believe it while you achieve it. No matter how you want to put it, remember that it’s all a process.
Every public speaker was first a listener. Every writer was first a reader. Every leader, a follower. Behind every success is a series of failures and rejections. No one is instantly successful, and that includes you. Fail (and eventually succeed), at your own pace.
Be kind to yourself
As I said, you are your own greatest asset. You are human, not just another machine built for productivity. With the right support, from yourself and the people around you, you can achieve great things. So take care of yourself first. The world is kind to no one, so we must be kind to ourselves before we can be kind to others.
Bear with me here: The world will keep turning even when you decide to take a break.
Do you know what that means? You can breathe. You can relax. You can make mistakes. You can laugh. It’s okay. Maybe we weren’t meant to be happy. After all the pursuit of “happiness” will never end. There’s always some greater happiness to chase after—that next award, that next citation, that next promotion—and that’s tiring.
Maybe it’s enough that we are at peace with ourselves and our place in the world. Maybe it’s enough that we’re in the process of figuring things out. Maybe it’s enough that we are alive. As long as we’re alive, the possibilities are endless. We just have to try.
If you’re struggling with your mental health and feel like you have no one to talk to, you can reach out to the HOPELINE at (02)804-HOPE (4673) or 0917-558-HOPE.