When I started this site it was all about divorce recovery but it has grown into so much more than that. Building self-esteem back up again is a key part of divorce recovery but it is also a very important part of every ones life at some point or another.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t all wait for a crisis to work on our inner health.
What is Self esteem
I don’t buy into most of the psychology of clinical terminology you may see elsewhere. I much prefer to keep things very simple and re-frame everything into something that a two-year old would understand.
For me, self-esteem is simply that overall feeling of good or bad to get about yourself. It is not tied to any actions, it is not tied to any events or external things at it. It is what is left over, the opinion of yourself, if you were completely isolated.
Language – If you can change the way you talk: You can then change the way you think
Wrap your head around these two concepts then I will explain why.
Explicit memories are concrete memories of things you directly remember happening to you (e.g. an event or a conversation)
Implicit memories are the unconscious memories that shape the way you do things and feel things. This type of memory is how you build up a mental model of the world and it doesn’t need active participation from you. (e.g. the sky is blue, birds can fly, little silver metal disc with numbers printed on = money, dinosaurs are extinct). The peculiar thing is that repetition of explicit memories turn them into implicit ones.
Language has long been used by people in power as a means of making their subjects think a certain way. There has been a lot of research go into the topic and lots of books written on it (my personal favorite is 1984 by George Orwell).
I am suggesting we use all that knowledge to flip the status quo on its head. If you take a few minutes to really have a good think about it certain words conjure up certain thought patterns. That is a result of your social conditioning and it can be undone as soon as you are aware of it.
Learn a new skill
This is my personal favorite because it is so easy to do and so rewarding. This is a precursor for the next step which is building resilience so stick with me.
This is a case where smaller is better. What I want you to do here is choose something simple to do but also something that you don’t know how to do, then conquer it. In the day of YouTube tutorials for everything you can find a heap of ideas. Here is an idea that I did – learn the Rubik cube. It is a completely useless skill in the larger scheme of life but the sense of accomplishment was massive. 35 years after picking up my first cube I conquered it and it only took about 3 days of practice in the end.
Build Your Resilience
Life is going to throw challenges at you and to grow you need to also learn how to fail and how to cope with distress.
Here is an analogy that I found to be very beneficial when thinking about resilience. I think it came from an old Chinese or Japanese proverb but I lost the origins; it goes something like this:
Think of yourself as a young blade of bamboo battling a strong wind. If you bend in the wind and stretch with the strong gusts you will be moved but you will stay put: if you stiffen up and become rigid into the ground the wind will knock you straight down and uproot you. Better to remain flexible and move with the breeze until you are strong enough to stand up strong.
Acknowledge that you a small part of something much bigger – The Universe
For anyone who has ever read some of the better spiritual self-help books, you may recognize this activity but I think it applies for everything and anyone. Whether you are a spiritual person or not there are big advantages to understanding that the universe is vast, humanity is a very small part of it and you are not the center of it.
These types of exercises are also used by people who are trying to reduce their egos. My favorite is star gazing. Once you start observing the stars, planets and space in general you can quickly get a sense of much how insignificant your personal problems are.
Forge yourself a little bit of freedom – create new options
Life tends to be hardest and self-esteem at its lowest when you feel trapped into a corner with no way out. Don’t let emotions take a hold of you – take some action, it doesn’t have to be right, it just has to be progress. One of my favorite mentor used to say to me
Sometimes you are better off just getting on with it and understanding that you are going to get it wrong, you can fix it and then it will be right. Sitting back not doing anything won’t serve anyone, you will probably look dumb too.
Meditate; or at the very least remove idle distractions
Turn off the TV, disconnect from social media for an hour and re-engage with yourself. You may be surprised how hard this is at first and how bad you are at it.
Even if you just turn off the TV and put the phone down what you have done is removed yourself from a whole heap of bad news (TV) and impossible expectations (social media). That could never be a bad thing. Even if you use the time to do some housework it is still going to leave you with a sense of accomplishment you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
The best reward is going to be when you look into yourself and try to understand the source of some of your pain, then dealing with it.
Build your Independence
I know that this post isn’t going to solve any of your problems for you. Sorry, I wish I had the magic pen but alas they only live in fairy tales. For the rest of us mere mortals we need to work within the world we live in. Check out this post it will set down a path for you to build on the subject of self-esteem and get you working towards your own Autonomy.
Hi there, My friends call me Remy. I am a middle aged divorcee that has decided not to walk the path other people decided to set down for me. I have gained the most strength in my life from my failures. Resilience is a very powerful attribute if you can manage it, I am still building mine up but stick with me and we can forge ahead together.