I have noted times and times again that opinions are nice to have; and that being a knowledgeable and informed person is a big plus these days. But in a world of endless opinions we are scrutinized every day by what others think and by society’s never ending rules about what is considered pretty and productive and humane. And, more than everything else, we are always watched by our own most ruthless critic: ourselves.
Today I wanted to talk a bit self-esteem and how it often proves to be a foe when it might have been our friend. It has been my observation many times that the more intelligent and conscious a person is, the tougher he tends to be on himself. And, by extension, the more aware the person is, the less-likely he is to be harsh and cruel to others. I’m not sure where the reason sprouts from but I have seen it more often than not.
As we already know, for the most part, our opinions of ourselves tend to fluctuate during our life as a whole, and even our day-to-day: how well we’ve done on that driving test can really determine how we’ll be treating everyone for the rest of the day and whether or not we feel the work-week has been productive (enough) can literally determine our whole weekend. Our opinions are fragile: they can chip based on what others say or on how we feel about our results. And, the more sensitive we are, the longer those little slumps of low self-esteem can last.
And those slumps are not the best: they can be that nagging feeling of failure or under-appreciation by others, or they can bring a full-fledged depression in those of us who are naturally prone to it. It can hurt. And it can get sad. And while there are many professionals that spend their whole careers trying to determine what makes us be more or less critical of ourselves, there are some very basic ways you can try and begin to control these ups and downs. Of course, it’s a long and winding path to say you’ve actually mastered that skill of self-control but we all need to start somewhere, right?
Be aware. Very often it’s negativity that leads us down the rabbit hole of criticizing ourselves. Try to be aware of your thoughts and especially negative ones: train yourself to be on the lookout whether you are using a ton of negative words when you are thinking about what you did or conversing with yourself. Then, try your best to step back and look objectively: if it was someone else in your shoes, would you be this critical of them? Is this really so important for you that you feel you (or anyone else) deserves to be put down for it? Probably not. And what good will that do, anyway? Generally, pointing out the negative will not make anyone see the positive or re-assess the situation. And that’s really what you need to do: re-focus and rethink what might have been done better so next time you will come prepared.
Don’t judge. This is a tough one… we all have it hardwired in our heads that everything requires our opinion and everything needs to be labeled as good or bad. Not everything does. And judgement often tends to lead directly into the rabbit hole from the point above. Who needs that?! Judgement can be positive and uplifting too: and if you cannot seem to be able to keep it there, just refrain from doing it at all. Pretty much like that saying “if you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all“. Notice what you don’t like and focus to keep an image in your head of what you would like instead.
Learn to let go. Everything is temporary. And nothing you did/are deserves this much of your attention f it’s negative. Oftentimes we tend to dwell on things we cannot actually change and/or things we have no way of predicting the outcome of, and that helps lower our self-esteem. Sometimes opening your eyes to the fact that some things cannot be changed and detaching yourself from them is the best you can do. Even if others around you don’t seem to be (think: are you comparing yourself with the wrong people?). Don’t invest so much negativity if you cannot practically do anything to change what’s bugging you: we are all given different positives and negatives that we must learn to accept when they can’t be altered. Because in the end we are all people and we are all flawed and we are all here for a short amount of time: might as well make the most of it, right?