Building a better you

Here are some simple practices and habits to build self-esteem without relying on external validation.
Image used for representational purpose.
Image used for representational purpose.

Self-esteem is the cornerstone of our mental and emotional well-being. It reflects how we perceive ourselves and the worth we place on our own existence. While seeking validation from others can offer a momentary confidence boost, it’s neither sustainable nor a healthy means to build it. Instead, the path to self-esteem lies within. Here are some simple practices and habits to build it without relying on external validation.

1. Change your posture: Believe it or not, the way you carry yourself can have a significant impact on your self-esteem. Maintaining good posture and positive body language can make you feel more confident. Try this simple exercise: stand tall, shoulders back, and head held high. Notice how it changes your mood and self-perception.

2. Accept your flaws: Nobody is perfect, and that is okay. Embracing your imperfections is a powerful way to boost self-esteem. Remember that our flaws make us unique and human. Instead of dwelling on what you perceive as shortcomings, focus on your strengths.

3. Use social media with intention: The only person defining your self-worth is you, and not your boss, parents, friends, manager or lover. In today’s digital age, it is easy to fall into the trap of seeking validation on social media through likes, comments and followers. It is essential, however, to remember that the digital platforms often present a warped version of reality, and seeking validation from strangers is not a healthy path to self-worth. Curate your feed to include positive and inspiring content, limit your time online, and remind yourself that your value is not determined by your online presence. Engage in meaningful conversations, but avoid basing your self-esteem on the fickle nature of virtual approval.

4. Attach your self-worth to the right things: Instead of tying self-esteem to ever-changing factors like your appearance, weight or material possessions, anchor it to aspects that truly matter—your character, values, kindness and resilience. Embrace a healthy lifestyle for the sake of your well-being, and not just to conform to societal beauty standards.

5. Practise self-compassion: It involves treating yourself with the same concern and goodwill that you would offer to a friend facing difficulties. It means acknowledging your mistakes without harsh self-criticism. When you practise self-compassion, you create a nurturing inner environment that fosters self-esteem.

6. Have a purpose: People moulded with goal do not need fancy bags and the ‘likes’ of social media to prove their worth; for them, it stems from living and contributing to something greater than themselves. Purpose-driven individuals find fulfilment in their passions, values and meaningful goals, allowing them to break free from the shackles of external validation.

7. Choose the right circle: Most feelings of inadequacy come from being with the wrong friends and relationships. Surround yourself with people who support and uplift you. Avoid toxic relationships and negative influences. Positive, encouraging friends and family can provide the validation you need without compromising your sense of self.

Homework to build self-esteem:

a. Find a quiet space, take a deep breath and centre yourself in the moment.
b. Record a voice note or write a letter to yourself, appreciating who you are.
c. Mention things you value about yourself, your strengths, unique qualities, and the progress you have made in life.
d. Speak or write with kindness and warmth, as if you were talking to a friend.
e. Save the voice note or letter and make it convenient to access.
f. Set aside time regularly to listen to the note or read the letter, allowing the words of self-appreciation to seep into your subliminal mind.
g. Pay attention to the positive emotions that may ensue. Repeat this exercise frequently, especially when you feel underappreciated.

By adopting these simple habits, you can boost your self-esteem and lead a more fulfilling life. Remember, you are worthy just as you are.

(Coutinho is an integrative lifestyle expert)

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