Struggling with self-esteem? Show yourself some LOVE
Guest post from Beth Scarlett (MA, RP) an amazing psychotherapist who has been working with clients for over 15 years.
As a therapist, one of the most common concerns clients have shared with me through the years is “low self-esteem”. Early in my career I read all the books I could find about self-esteem and had multiple worksheets about boosting self-esteem and increasing positive self-talk.
Self-esteem or self-acceptance to have more work-life balance?
In recent years however, I have found it more worthwhile to focus on self-acceptance than self-esteem. What’s the difference? Self-esteem encourages us to focus on the qualities we like about ourselves. Certainly not a bad idea. But what about the qualities we don’t like? Self-acceptance has us to look at our whole selves and therefore, carries less judgment. This is who I am, and I’m OK with that.
Imagine that you could really look at your whole self and think, “yes, this is who I am, and I’m OK with that.”
Ironically, accepting ourselves is a good step toward finding motivation to change.
Self-love is really about Self-acceptance, which creates the foundation for balance in yourself and in your life. So, to help remember what we can do to find greater acceptance and balance in our lives, think of the acronym “LOVE”.
Learn about yourself
Take some time to learn about who you are. Try to do so without judgment. Journaling and quiet reflection time can both be really helpful. Ask yourself interesting questions, like “what do you lie about?” Pay attention to the words you use most. Often, it reflects what’s important to you. And if you are the one that your friends all turn to for advice? Listen to what you tell them, it’s often what you most need to hear.
Optimize your time – don’t focus on being busy
We are a society consumed by being busy. It’s gotten to the point that if you run into a friend at the grocery store, it almost becomes competitive as to who is busier. We talk about our time as if we aren’t the ones making the decisions as to how we spend it. “I’m swamped this week. I’ve got a major work deadline. I’m hosting my in-laws for dinner on Saturday and on top of that, I have to make cupcakes for Billy’s bake sale.”
One trick is to make a time budget to see where your time is going. Include “fixed” time expenses (work/commute, sleep, household duties, etc.) and figure out what your remaining “variable” time is. We tend to think of our time in terms of days, but this works better by taking the whole week into account. To save you the calculating. There are 168 hours in one week.
When I do this activity with working moms, most are surprised by how much variable time they actually have. And they say, I don’t feel like I have 20 hours a week of “free time”. Many people find their “flexible” time is consumed by activities like watching TV and surfing the Internet. While there’s nothing wrong with these activities, they are often done mindlessly.
How can you have more intentional downtime? What would you like to be doing in those variable hours that is important to you? And, if you’re someone that has less variable time than you’d like, can is there anything in the fixed time category that you can let go of?
Tune into YOUR values. Not necessarily what you were raised to value or what you’re “supposed to” value, but what is actually important to you. I could easily write 100 pages about values, but since I am trying to live more by something I value greatly, simplicity, I’ll keep it simple. Find a list of values online. Look at it, and see what stands out to you on a gut level. Are there any values that you had but got lost along the way? Are there any values you are holding on to that don’t really apply? When you are clearer about your values, you are more likely to reduce the inner conflict and be more accepting of yourself.
What gives you energy? What takes energy away from you? How do you recharge? This looks different for everyone. Some people get energized by an intense run, some by completing a scarf they have been knitting. Just pay attention and make choices that enhance your energy instead of deplete it.
So, show yourself some LOVE and let us know how it goes.