Overcoming low self-esteem with mindfulness was an added bonus from my journey to manage my anxiety.
Through that process, I learned that I had some deep-rooted self-esteem issues and learned how to overcome a lack of self-confidence.
Once I knew how to fix my self-esteem, I started to feel more confident and enjoyed greater levels of self-esteem.
Today I want to talk with you about the connection between mindfulness and confidence. And, some tips for overcoming low self-esteem using mindfulness.
Can you overcome low self-esteem?
The first step is to know if it is even possible to overcome low self-esteem. The good news is, yes it absolutely is!
Self-esteem is defined as “a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value”. That sense of personal value is shaped by many outside factors.
For instance, the kind of childhood that you have has a big influence on our self-worth. Growing up in a home that is filled with love, respect, and communication can help a person develop a strong sense of self-worth.
Whereas, growing up in a home that is filled with anger, addiction, and unrest can cause a person to feel a low sense of self-worth.
I am an adult child of alcoholics and my home growing up was volatile. There was definitely love and we had plenty of food and things that kids wanted.
But, growing up with alcoholics meant that I couldn’t count on my parents for the emotional support that kids need. So, my sense of self-worth was contingent on validation from other people for a long time. And, I wasn’t mindful of who I let into my circle.
Other experiences like relationships, your job, your personal development, and your support system or friends can all influence your overall sense of self-worth.
And, the amount of self-worth you have will have a direct impact on how you take care of yourself. For instance, if you have low self-worth you might self-medicate with emotional eating instead of eating wholesome foods that are nourishing.
Or, you might now make getting enough sleep a top priority because you’re riddled with anxiety or money mind.
A negative cycle is created where low self-esteem causes you to not take care of yourself and that behavior causes you to have low self-esteem.
The good news is, your self-esteem is fluid.
In other words, you may reach your 40s having low self-esteem but, you can consistently increase it until you fully overcome your low self-esteem.
How do you fix low self-esteem?
The first step to being able to fix low self-esteem is to think about what you think about.
You have made it far enough in life that I’m sure you’ve had some experiences that left you with negative self-talk.
The way that you think of yourself has to be addressed before any other measures you take to increase your feelings of low self-worth.
The best way that I have found to become aware of your negative thoughts about yourself is to start journaling.
If you’re not sure where to start with this, you can use journaling prompts for mental health to help open your mind and discover what you think about yourself.
For instance, if your job makes you feel worthless or unimportant, then finding a new job would be really powerful for improving your self-worth.
But, if you tell yourself you’re too stupid or not talented enough to find a new job, then, you will probably not apply for any new ones. And, you’ll end up staying miserable in the job you have.
This can affect your relationships with the people around you and cause you to feel stuck in your life.
On your journey to overcoming low self-esteem with mindfulness, it’s important you begin with identifying your negative thoughts and then taking steps to improve them.
A few ways that you can improve negative thoughts are:
- Practice Gratitude
- Focus on your strengths (journal about them daily)
- Write down the things you like about yourself
- The Work by Byron Katie
- Stop judging others and find positives about them
- Stay present (negative thoughts usually come from guilt about the past and worrying about the future)
- Think about what you smell (this helps you to automatically move out of your mind and your thoughts and into your body)
Your thoughts affect your feelings and your feelings affect your behaviors. Changing your thoughts will improve your self-esteem by changing your feelings about your own self-worth.
You just have to be mindful of your thoughts so you know what needs to be changed.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is defined as, “A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”
Basically, mindfulness is when you think about the hear and now on purpose. For instance, imagine you’re at your son’s football practice.
If you’re practicing mindfulness you would think about how the breeze feels on your face, the sound of the helmets hitting with each tackle and the smell of the grass that was just cut and is a little wet from the rain.
Instead of daydreaming about things that have already happened or things that haven’t happened yet.
Like the meeting last week when Jenny spoke up against your idea and made you feel small.
Or, how awful it would be if your son got hurt during football practice and you had to take him to the emergency room. What if they had to put plates and pins in his arm and he couldn’t ever grow up to be a classical guitar player like you want him to be?
You get the point.
Mindfulness is a practice whereby you make yourself aware of your thoughts and then shift them from your mind and into your body or the moment around you.
How do you practice mindfulness to overcoming low self-esteem?
It is very easy to get stuck on “autopilot”. After all, your life is basically just one big routine. Have you ever been driving to work and suddenly you’re pulling into the parking lot and can’t really remember how you got there?
No wonder you allow your mind to talk down to you all day long without pushing back. You’re not even really aware that it’s happening.
Practicing mindfulness changes all of that. Just like muscle memory when you workout, your mind remembers the mindfulness activities that you practice. And, eventually, mindfulness comes easier and more natural for you.
Overcoming low self-esteem with mindfulness can be a serious game-changer for you.
These are a few ways that you can practice mindfulness each day.
The next best thing to having positive thoughts in your head all the time is no thoughts at all. And, that is where meditation comes in.
Meditation is the act of emptying your mind of thought. This is easier said than done. And, if you’ve ever tried to meditate, you know what I mean.
The good news is, you don’t have to sit perfectly still with a totally empty mind in order to be technically meditating.
In fact, just sitting and listening to your breath is considered meditation. Swimming laps and matching your breath to your rhythm is meditative.
Doing an activity like yoga or taking a walk can be meditative in that you focus on your breath in synergy with your body.
In other words, you fill your mind with the sound of your breath instead of allowing your “monkey mind” to run wild with thoughts, regrets, and what-ifs.
Tune into your senses
How often do you sit and listen to the sounds in your backyard? Do you have birds outside? When do they sing?
What does the air smell like at your daughter’s school when you pick her up?
What does the handle on your refrigerator feel like? Is it smooth or rough? Metal or plastic?
These are all moments throughout your day when you could tune into your sense to be more mindful about the here and now.
This is a simple breathing technique that you can do discreetly at any time during the day. You just breathe in for a count of five, hold your breath for a count of seven, and exhale for a count of 10. Repeat for at least five cycles.
Thinking about your breathing and putting counts to it helps to bring you into your body. It also helps to clear your mind and relax your body.
I do this breathing while I’m at my desk working, driving, standing in line at the bank or store, pretty much anywhere. And, I do it several times per day.
Nothing snaps you out of an autopilot mind-funk like practicing gratitude. And, not just “I’m thankful for my kids and my health”.
But, really deep gratitude for something like the way the branches on a tree are growing.
Feel gratitude and appreciation for the world around you instantly moves negativity out of your mind and body and fills you with love and peace.
Affirmations are an easy way to completely change your mind about a subject. They work through the reticular activating system inside of your brain. Essentially, the more often your brain hears a thing, the more likely it is to believe it.
Some other ways to try overcoming low self-esteem with mindfulness are
- Set a timer to stretch and take three deep breaths every hour
- Imagine you have to describe your current environment to someone who has never been there and use exact details
- People watch and look for positives about each of them
- Slow down and take a breath between each activity
- Take 5 deep breaths each time you use the restroom
- Take a scan of your body and tune into any areas that hurt or are tense
- Look around the room you’re in and then close your eyes. Try to remember as many things as you can.
- Close your eyes and smell a citrus fruit. Pay attention to the images that come to your mind when you do this
- Listen to music while you doing something mindless, like cleaning. Do the task to the rhythm of the music.
- Look out the window and name as many shapes and colors as you can without thinking about what each object is
- Listen to a song you’ve never heard and try to repeat back as many words as you remember
- Name your emotions and write them down in your journal
- Each time you eat, be mindful about the adjectives of each of the foods. Soft, squishy, smooth, hot, spicy, etc.
- Each time you drink something, do the same
- Set a timer to bend over and touch your toes for a count of 20 seconds at least once per hour
Can mindfulness increase confidence and low self-esteem?
By now, I’m sure that you’re noticing a trend.
Your mind is an asshole and you have to keep an eye on her at all times.
Did you know that your mind is more likely to believe or notice a negative event than a positive one? Psychologists call it the negativity bias and it has a powerful impact on your relationships, decisions, and behavior.
What does this mean for overcoming low self-esteem?
You have to continuously feed your mind with positive thoughts in order for it to believe them and have an effect on your feelings.
And, how does mindfulness help with that?
Well, the more often you are aware of what your mind is thinking, the more often you can work to change those thoughts from negative to positive.
Mindfulness reminds you to get out of your head and into the present moment. When you do that you can use gratitude, meditation, or breathing to replace the negative with a positive.
The more often you feed positivity into your mind, the more like it is that she will start to believe it.
Imagine, you have learned through self-esteem journaling that you have negative self-talk throughout most of the day.
This negative mindset has had a tremendous impact on your self-esteem and you don’t feel confident enough to leave your bad working situation or dysfunctional relationship.
So, you start working to overcome low self-esteem with mindfulness. You meditate every day and do breathing exercises with affirmations.
Pretty soon, your mind starts to learn how to stay in the moment and not wander off into a negative spiral.
I can speak to this with firsthand experience. When I started trying to overcome low self-esteem with mindfulness I used this exact system. And, my mind started to learn.
After practicing this system for a few weeks I noticed that when my mind wandered into a negative brain cloud, I would notice it immediately. And, I would literally tell myself, “you don’t have to think about that stuff anymore”.
Then, I would tell myself three positive things and go on about my day.
Mindfulness is an important exercise for your overall mental health is so many ways. But, it is especially powerful for your confidence. Overcoming low self-esteem with mindfulness is definitely possible and will make a huge difference in your life.