How to Improve Your Self-Esteem (aka Even Madonna Gets the Blues)
Madonna was recently interviewed by Howard Stern and at the end of the interview she said “we are all insecure in our own way.” It was good to hear that even Madonna, who could probably pay someone to walk behind her and tell her how fabulous she is all day long, can feel insecure at times. In fact, she’s an excellent model for learning how to improve your self-esteem.
How to Improve Your Self-Esteem and Fight Your Insecurities
Knowing that everyone feels insecure/afraid/unsure of himself or herself, at one time or another, what can we do differently to manage our own low self-esteem? What if we saw our own insecurities and low self-esteem as a part of the human condition and not something that we constantly need to “get over” or pretend we don’t experience. When a client tells me they are struggling with anxiety, I always tell them to try and make anxiety “your friend.” You do not need to fight your fears but to accept them, challenge them and determine how the experience will benefit your own personal development. With this in mind, how can we apply this idea to managing our insecurities?
What if we stopped feeling like we are “not enough” and start coming from a place of abundance? Lynne Twist in her book, The Soul of Money, says “(f)or me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is ‘I didn’t get enough sleep.’ The next one is ‘I don’t have enough time.’ Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it.” When I first read that passage, I recognized myself immediately. Every morning I wake up complaining that I didn’t get enough sleep, but since I slept too late, I now don’t have enough time to get __________________ done. That feeling of “not having enough” is what contributes to our insecurities because by simply thinking “I don’t have enough…” you already determined that you are lacking something. When we feel we lack something we feel less than and the spiral continues.
How Mindfulness Helps You Improve Your Self-Esteem
To come from a place of abundance is to no longer fight the feeling that you “don’t have enough” but to embrace the idea you have everything that you need. One of the common ways we try and manage our feelings of low self-worth is to fill ourselves up with things, like alcohol, drugs, food, clothes, and the list goes on and on, that will make us feel like we are “enough.” How do we embrace that feeling? Mindfulness is becoming a more and more popular way to manage these feelings.
Mindfulness is the practice of being completely present in each moment from a non-judgmental place. The core of mindfulness is the belief that you have exactly what you need right now. Filling yourself up with alcohol or food is pointless because, when you are mindful, you are not lacking anything. If you want to learn more about mindfulness check out Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment–and Your Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn or Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh and Arnold Kotler.
What if we stopped taking every single rejection, negative opinion or “dis” from other people as being the “truth.” It is your job to challenge the “truth.” My favorite example is, if you recently went on a date and really liked the person but they never called you again. It is easy to assume that it is because you are an “unlovable, ugly, terrible, boring person.” The key is not allowing these quick assumptions to become your “truth.” The truth is you have no idea what that person is thinking or feeling. Maybe it didn’t work out because they felt you two didn’t mesh, or he/she is in love with their ex and realized they shouldn’t be dating at the moment or maybe they were captured by aliens – who knows. You can speculate forever but you will never know the complete truth of why they didn’t call.
The important part is not to say to, “this person doesn’t like me so therefore I am unlovable.” You cannot take this one unreturned phone call, from a person that you kinda know (and kinda like) and allow them to define how you view yourself. That is a lot of power you are giving to another person who you might barely know. It is OK to feel sad that a potential relationship didn’t work out. It is OK to feel disappointed that someone you liked is not going to be a part of your life.
How can you use the experience of rejection or getting your feelings hurt and make that a good thing? You have to decide how you want to live your life. Do you want to be a risk-taker? Do you want excitement, adventures, fun or unique experiences?
I remember someone saying to me when I was 23 years old, “you will never know great happiness if you have never experienced great sadness.” If you want fun and adventure, you have to take risks, when you decide to take a risk and “put yourself out there” you may be rejected. Being rejected and having someone say “no” to you and having your ego-crushed, is the by-product of taking risks. Think of rejection as the “price of admission” for being a risk-taker.
No one has been judged and crushed by the media more than Madonna. It gets her down but she makes a choice of how long and how much she will let someone else’s perception of her bring her down. She continues to take risks, she continues to fall down (literally, as you might have seen on the YouTube video) and get back up and she will continue to have moments when she feels just like the rest of us. That’s how you improve your self-esteem.