1. Don’t compare yourself to others.
Growing up, I constantly compared myself to others. I analyzed their success, their looks, their personality, their skillset, and saw something that I wish I possessed. I found myself losing these inner-battles with my low self-esteem and in turn, I was losing myself. When good things came my way – no matter how hard I worked for them – I felt unworthy and undeserving. I was self-sabotaging my own happiness. I was never good enough for myself.
It wasn’t until I recognized this that I was able to being rebuilding my self-esteem. Over time, I found solace in mindful thinking, yoga and meditation, and began to find my lost soul. This re-construction (as I like to call it) allowed me to lay a foundation of a calmer me so I wouldn’t react with anger, sadness or jealousy when I reverted to my old ways. When I was at my lowest, my guard, self-security and happiness was stripped from me. Being able to repair those wounds has helped me to form a positive mind frame and thicker skin. I have totally built a more balanced and nuanced perspective towards my surroundings and towards myself.
I have made a lot of mistakes in my past. For years, those mistakes I was so ashamed of haunted my thoughts as I incessantly over-analyzed them. After I realized how paralyzing this was, I found the strength to forgive myself and view my mistakes as a lesson learned. The lessons I have learned have allowed me to move forward, let go of what can’t be changed and focus on the present.
2. Be confident
I have always struggled to believe in myself. After being diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder, my entire life was put into perspective. Every question I had about why I behaved the way I did or thought the things I did, made so much more sense. So I started to take actions to change that.
First and foremost, I recognized my weaknesses and accepted them. I stopped trying to analyze them or ask why I wasn’t better at this, better at that. I started implementing balance in my everyday small tasks. I may not be able to control every outcome, but I can control the way I live. Rather than living in a state of mess and chaos, I find order in my daily chores. Every morning I make my bed, I always wash the dishes after a meal, do my laundry every other day, and make sure my apartment is immaculate. Chaos ensues more chaos. Being clean helps me to restore balance. Maybe your balance consists of something different, whatever it may be, embrace it. These small tasks give you a feeling of control. It’s hard sometimes to do this after a 12-hour work day, but you have to push yourself. Procrastination is a grave in which dreams are buried. Always push to make changes. Small steps. Always know that you can handle whatever life throws at you next and find strength in your convictions.
If someone criticizes you, channel that into something positive and let it be an opportunity to improve. Accept it with grace and appreciation. Learn from everything and be inspired by others. Be confident in your potential. It takes practice to be confident but that practice will make you whole.
3. Not everyone will like you.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a people pleaser. My opinions may be strong, but I like to make people happy. Recently one of my oldest and dearest friends began to drift away from me. She stopped including me in her plans and left calls and texts unanswered despite my attempts to save our friendship. This happens in life of course, but it’s been a struggle for me to accept. It just didn’t make sense. I needed the validation of her friendship. But one day, I stopped reaching out. Realizing that you can’t always change the way people think of you, I’ve stopped worrying about how she views me. It was emotional poison that I didn’t need to dwell on.
People come and go – it’s a part of life. And despite how long you’ve known them, they’re relationship has touched your soul and will always be a part of you even after they’re gone. Understanding this has helped me more than I can explain. It has given me peace of mind and has allowed me to just let certain people and situations go.
Our friendship has run its course for now and that’s ok. Everything happens for a reason. Accepting that not everyone will like you and still being confident in who you are, is the start to building a strong self-esteem. There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you if you don’t take anything personally.
4. Learn to say ‘No, thank you!’
I was always afraid to say no to people. I would jeopardize my own boundaries to make someone feel better even if I didn’t agree with them. I know it’s hard, but something you just have to do it. Saying no to things you don’t believe in or won’t bring you happiness, can give you strength.
My entire life, I’ve always been a helper. Helping my mom in the kitchen, helping my employees to understand something – I find joy in helping people. And that has contributed to my feeling of self-confidence. It’s a part of me. But doing something about your core beliefs leads to self-destruction and guilt. Trust me, in the long run it is better to say no to doing something that doesn’t agree with you. In the end, your emotional well-being will be sacrificed.
Everyday brings joy and struggle. Enjoy the joy, but also ironically enough, enjoy the struggles because they are coming your way for a reason. The challenges you face will shape you, guide you and, most importantly, teach you a lesson. So when life throws some obstacles in your way, don’t take them personally. The struggles we go through are apart of life – everyone has to deal with them. How you deal with your struggles can either make you stronger and make you miserable. This choice is on you!