Self Esteem: When ‘Good Enough’ Seems Unattainable
By: Karina Baltazar-Duran, LMFT
Good enough: 2 words that seem to ring in our heads like lasting sounds from a bell tower. Am I good enough? Will I ever be good enough? Some days I feel more accomplished than others, why doesn’t it last? How did I get here when I used to carry myself in a brighter light? I’ve been burned so much, how can I put myself out there again?
According to Diviya Lewis, Happiness is made up of 3 elements: our genetics (over 50%), our life situation like health, wealth, relationship status (about 10-15%) and our thoughts & behaviors (about 40%). Check out the breakdown below to shine some light on how to make ‘good enough’ better.
Self esteem can be passed on through familial and genetic influences. For example, if growing up we witnessed our mom struggling with her own self worth, we might adopt a similar mind frame. Genetics can form our self esteem but it doesn’t have to solidify it.
Life Situation (health, wealth, relationships)
Failures, accomplishments, and everything in between shape our self worth. Ironically, it’s not as simple as you think: failures might not always equal low self esteem and a super accomplished person may not have the best self esteem. Someone can have multiple degrees, double majored, be the youngest in every position in their career due to advancing so quickly, and also carry a theme of failure because they don’t feel ‘good enough’ yet (enter imposter syndrome). Alternatively, a person who has encountered many failures in their life can have some of the greatest self worth due to their resilience from those failures.
How to increase self esteem in this area:
- Surround yourself with positivity: things, places & people. Positivity is contagious, being around others with positive outlooks on life can help shape the way we think, feel, and act.
- Go.To.The.Doctor. Yes, I’m talking to you, a person who hasn’t been to the doctor in 6 years. Poor health makes us feel bad about ourselves: it keeps us from going out, being around others, and living our life the way we hope to. There is usually a solution to a medical problem, you won’t know if you don’t go. Just because your health is at risk now, doesn’t mean it has to be.
- Willie Nelson said “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around”. Financial wealth doesn’t necessarily equal self esteem, finding riches in our life does. One can be rich in friends, family, hope, or generousity to name a few. Being grateful for what we have during good times can be fairly easy. Finding gratitude in dark moments? Therein lies the struggle. If 2020 taught us anything (other than how to make epic Zoom backgrounds, when stores get toilet paper in, and 4th grade division for some), it is acknowledging the positive things and people in our life that will give us the greatest benefit.
Surprised to learn this only accounts for 40% of what our self worth consists of? You mean all those times we talked ourselves into that dark rabbit hole of negativity doesn’t make up a bigger percentage? According to Michele Wiener-Davis “what we give attention to, grows”; we can feed the worry bug or we can blow the biggest air balloon of positivity and ride it high.
How to rise to the top:
- Do something you are good at and make it a hobby: performing arts, writing/blogging, cooking/baking, making people laugh, making new friends, organizing, crafting, learning a language, sports, technology, creativity, the list goes on. It’s been scientifically proven, doing anything we’re good at over a period of time increases our sense of accomplishment which can lead to a higher sense of self worth.
- Thought stopping. A technique that’s just as it sounds. When you find yourself feeding the worry bug, talking down to yourself, or stuck in the deep forest of the “what ifs”, picture a literal stop sign, imagine you’re clicking to the next channel on a remote, or create a mantra to tell yourself “we’re not doing this to ourself today”. This technique takes seconds, and it stops you in your tracks to avoid jumping on that cargo train of negative self talk.
- Help someone. Whether it’s volunteering, helping your elderly neighbor carry her groceries, or offering to help your niece with 4th grade division because your brother’s pulling his hair out during virtual school. Helping others not only brings us a sense of accomplishment, but it gives others the opportunity to celebrate us, and as a result we get to have a different experience of ourselves. Isn’t that what we all really want? Different experiences of ourselves when we are feeling like we’ve failed at being human?
Having trouble doing any of these things? Do they sound great but you are still thinking how and where can I even begin? Counseling is a great place to start. When we are feeling down, dark, and negative, it’s hard to see the positive qualities about ourselves, but we all have them. A therapist at Thriveworks can highlight these things in our lives that we do not see, and when we find someone to believe in us, we start to believe in ourselves too. Call Thriveworks at 281-667-9790 to get connected now.