I have come here to ask you for help on a problem that has been haunting me for years and I hope you have the answer if not, don't worry I can't find it either. I would like to know how to get rid of self-esteem issues because it is very irritating for others whenever I constantly tear myself down and can't seem to treat myself with respect (as I have been told by said others) and to be honest these self esteem issues are causing some suicidal thoughts. If you can help than it would be very much appreciated and thank you for using your probably precious time reading all of this and/or I am sorry if this was too short. (First time doing any of this; sorry if I missed anything).
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Sometimes I think that low self-esteem issues are an epidemic in this world. So many furries who write to me suffer from low self-esteem, including yours truly. I completely understand how overwhelming this can be and how difficult it is to overcome.
While I would not say that I am completely over my self-image issues, I can honestly say I am not as bad as I once was. Here are some things that I have done to fight against depression and anxiety caused by a low self-image.
1. Stop comparing yourself and your accomplishments to those of other people. This is the single most liberating thing you can do for yourself. You have to realize that there will ALWAYS be people smarter, more talented, richer, better looking than you are (as well as the reverse), so it is really quite pointless to always try to do better than the Joneses. Instead of worrying about others' status, simply focus on being a better and happier you. That's all that really matters. How? Well, you set goals for yourself and work towards them, but don't worry if you have setbacks or stall once in a while. Just keep trying.
2. Stop worrying about what others say about you. Don't seek validation from others, especially those who are overcritical of you because they are trying to put you down to boost their own self-esteem (i.e., e.g. bullies). I always consider the source. If I am criticized by someone for whom I have no respect (a troll, for instance) I have learned to disregard this as unimportant (hard lesson to learn because criticism hurts, but you can do this). If you are criticized by someone you respect, first reconsider whether that respect is deserved. If not, then reevaluate that person's role in your life. If it is deserved, then try to see if that criticism was meant to be helpful. Sometimes, people we think are being overly critical are honestly trying to help us. The best way to figure this out is if the critic dishes it out in a kind and loving matter and, hopefully, also balances criticisms with compliments.
3. Reassess how you criticize yourself. Usually, we are too hard on ourselves, even downright mean in ways we don't deserve. For instance, people have told me I am good looking, but when I look in the mirror I see all kinds of things that I criticize about myself for ("I'm going bald, I'm out of shape, I have bad skin...." and on and on). Instead of looking for BAD things to say about yourself, look for the GOOD things and focus on those. Reinforce them daily ("I am a kind and loving person." "I love my dog and take good care of him." "I work hard and am doing okay financially." "I have nice eyes and a nice smile" etc.)
4. If you see something you don't like about yourself but it is fixable, fix it. Not happy with your body? Exercise. Have crooked teeth? Get braces (I had braces in my 40s!) Think you're not very smart? Go get some books and start reading, for Pete's sake! Think you have no talent? Pick something that interests you and start working on it (e.g., I'm taking piano lessons).
5. If you see something that you can't fix that you don't like, give it less value in your life and make it a low priority. Are you short? Well, you can't fix that, can you? But it really isn't something that defines who you are inside. When you describe yourself, either make that one of the last things you say about yourself or don't even mention it. Are you kind of a klutz? My family and I constantly joke about how uncoordinated we are. None of us is going to be a graceful dancer, but we manage. Can't sing on key? Then don't go on "The X Factor." Know your limitations, but don't define yourself by them
6. Surround yourself as much as possible by people who love and support you for being you. This does not mean having a herd of "yes men" around you a la Donald Trump. It means that you need to recognize the people who are a positive part of your life and hold on to them; at the same time, get rid of those people in your life who bring you down (and, yes, that can often include family members).
7. This might seem a bit weird, but eating right and exercising regularly can actually do wonders for your self-esteem because when your body feels better you feel better, too.
8. Do little things to treat yourself. It doesn't have to be much, just something fun and happy that makes you feel good and worthy of doing something nice for yourself, especially if you achieve a goal. You can, say, buy yourself a new shirt. Get a delicious ice cream cone. See a movie. Or just go outside for a nice hike and enjoy nature. Any little thing you enjoy. Try to do at least one thing every day or two.
9. Get out and socialize when possible. Human beings have an innate need to be around each other. On the other hand, isolating ourselves and being a hermit can often make you depressed and lonely, which then feeds into your low self-esteem. Be with people.
10. Get a pet. This might not be an option for everyone (say, if you have housing restrictions or allergies), but there is nothing that makes one feel happier than the unconditional love of a favorite pet. If I have had a bad day and come home to see Ernie the Wonder Dog so absolutely excited to see me walk through the door, you bet that makes me feel good. I love cats, too, though I don't have one right now. But when I did, I loved how they would curl up on my lap and purr and just look so content and happy because they were cuddling me.
So, there are 10 suggestions for helping your self-esteem.
Hope it helps!
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