“You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously” – unknown
As you may know by now my message is simple, Improve your self-esteem and real happiness is yours.
Whether one-to-one or in my workshop, I am often faced with the same question – How can you love yourself as you are and want to change at the same time?
I agree that it can sound contradictory. Sometimes these things just do, accepting that was step one for me.
It is possible to accept yourself and improve yourself at the same time. In fact, as I will explain, accepting yourself makes self-improvement easier.
Improving your self-esteem and learning to love yourself does not mean you should not have goals or aim to change your life for the better.
Wishes, desires, dreams and goals are a normal part of existence and growth.
You can have goals to get that promotion, lose weight, start your business. Of course you can.
Your problems arise when you are seeking that change to prove you are a worthy human being – when your whole life revolves around having these things in order to feel like you belong in this world.
I guess to really understand it; we need to be on the same page when talking about self-esteem.
What is Low/High Self-Esteem?
Low Self-Esteem is when you have a negative outlook on yourself. Beliefs of not being good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, happy enough, *insert your own belief here*. People with low self-esteem place a low value on themselves and usually think they need to meet certain ‘criteria’ in order to be good enough. They berate themselves for any mistake and spin negative stories about their decisions and actions.
High Self-Esteem (or balanced self-esteem if you prefer) is when you have a balanced, realistic view of yourself (it is not arrogance, arrogance is more likely related to low self-esteem). People with high self-esteem understand their value, know they are good enough, recognise strength and accept themselves for weaknesses and past mistakes.
I can’t say it enough times – when you have good self-esteem, you value yourself as a person.
Low self-esteem impacts many, many people. You are not on your own. It really isn’t OK, that so many people are walking around NOT valuing themselves as a human being on this Earth. Yet, worshipping everyone else around them. It makes me so sad, I could shake us all.
Self-Acceptance Helps You Reach Your Goals
Appreciating and valuing yourself will encourage you to move in the direction of your dreams. You want good things for someone you love, you want them to do well, you want to see them succeed. You encourage them to do that scary thing and better themselves. Loving yourself means you respect yourself enough to eat healthy, exercise, have the odd doughnut without beating yourself up, be treated well, say no, risk going for that big job and all the other things that demonstrate self-worth.
Self-loathing and not liking yourself result in you struggling to do the things that would be better for you. You just don’t care enough. I know you think you do, but ultimately, that is not what your mind is hearing. Your mind is hearing there is no point in creating the dream life when you don’t deserve it or it’s too hard for you to get there.
Does Changing Mean You Do Not Accept Yourself As You Are?
No it doesn’t. Growth is part of human life. We feel alive, excited and at times amazing when we are making positive changes in our lives because we want to, rather than believing we have to.
It means you are living a life in line with your own values.
I can almost guarantee, when you have low self-esteem, most of the goals you have are not even your own. They are your parents’, or colleagues’, or partner’s or whoever it is you are trying to please and/or fit in with.
Do not mistake loving yourself for meaning everything has to be perfect the way it is.
However, it does mean finding acceptance in this moment, not judging yourself or calling yourself names because you are not where you want to. Acknowledge your reality. You accept it, appreciate what is good and then you make a choice. You choose what you want to do to make life better.
You goals need to come from a place of choice, rather than a need or way of validating your self-worth.
You can choose to make the most of your life today. Not being where you wish to be, does not make you less of a person. If you are telling me you know what will make you feel better, I say good for you, go for it. But please, please do not put all of your value in that one thing. You are so much more than having that job, that body, that relationship.
You are so, so much more. You just have to see it.
Open your eyes
It is at this stage, I have experienced client’s struggle to shift their mind-set. They come to me, convinced they do not need to accept themselves yet, however they will as soon as X has changed or happened, and then things will be perfect.
On the one hand, it is my job to help people reach their goals. On the other, I know in cases like this, I am only offering a good service by encouraging people to work from the inside out.
Accept yourself first, and then like I explained above, your goal will be so much easier to achieve.
One client I worked with firmly believed, losing weight is the only way to be happy. She had lost it before and felt good, so that was all the proof she needed.
This is how deep the belief went. Right to her core. “To be happy, I have to be slim”.
Why is it a problem if X, Y, Z does make you happy?
If you decide you can only value yourself as a person by being or having something else, you are telling yourself a story that right now… “I am not good enough without X,Y,Z”.
True happiness and long lasting positive change does not come along when you lack in self-worth.
Sure, you can have fleeting moments of fun and happiness. But I’m talking that feeling of content and fulfilment that only comes when you know you are valuable.
For arguments sake, let’s say my client puts in the time and effort and does lose weight, she does feel better for the moment and believes she likes herself more. There is still a big problem with this…
Her happiness now depends on keeping that weight off.
You know how life can be so unpredictable…that makes this a very risky game.
Have you ever tried to control life? Have you ever tried everything in your power to stay a certain weight, hold on to a relationship, be better than everyone at work? It’s anxiety provoking to say the least.
You create a rule for yourself. “To be happy, I must stick to this way of life”. “Without this, I am not worthy”.
No one wants to be unhappy or unworthy, in fact everything we do is to feel worthy or ignore the fact we don’t feel it.
So you do everything you can to avoid it or stick to your new rule. It takes all of your brain power and when any little thing happens to interfere with this – say hello to anxiety, stress and depression.
Who wants to lose weight and then spend a lifetime worrying about every carb they eat? Not me, not you.
Enjoy the journey
Focusing on your self-esteem and accepting yourself now means you get to enjoy the journey.
Do you know what it means when people say ‘Enjoy the journey?” It means you get to enjoy life.
You get to go for your dreams and work towards your goals, but you also get to be present and appreciate what you have already, who you are already. You get to wake up and enjoy the day.
You get to be excited about the steps you are taking towards your goals and knowing you are doing what you can to live a fuller life.
Most importantly, I know that if I was to leave this world tomorrow, I wouldn’t be wishing I had cared less about the little things, regretting the time wasted on not valuing my life.
In my early 20s, I remember thinking so much about my weight, going on diets and hitting the gym with the only intention to lose weight. I’m not sure exactly when, but I remember having conversations with myself, telling myself life is too short for this, I would imagine myself at the end of my life and having to realise how much of that precious time I spent thinking about my weight and feeling guilty for eating chips (I LOVE chips!). I changed my approach to why I exercised (just for my health in general) and refused for these thoughts to steal much more of my happiness (of course I still think about my weight from time to time but it isn’t soul destroying anymore).
Goals are harder to reach with Low Self-Esteem
Negative thoughts about yourself make you feel useless, sad, rubbish. When you feel rubbish, your behaviours are much less likely to be good, healthy ones. So in actual fact, the chances are self-loathing is going to drive a negative cycle, and keep you from achieving that goal anyway.
The purpose here is to aim for your goals from a loving place, rather than hateful.
Part of building your self-esteem and loving yourself involves getting to know who you are as an individual and what you want in this life. As opposed to what you think society, friends, family and the media wants from you.
Firstly, as you begin to like yourself and know who you are, you will start to realise maybe you don’t mind your body shape, maybe you don’t want the bigger house just to keep up and you don’t intend to settle in any relationship.
No, you know now you deserve the best, so enjoying the process will have to happen.
Self-Love Will Not Stop You Caring.
Often people worry that if they love themselves as they are, they will not care about bettering themselves. This is very unlikely.
Self-Love will push you more in a positive direction. That’s what we want right?
As you begin to love and accept yourself, you will find positive changes start to happen naturally. Working on the inside, will bring about a beautiful ripple effect in your outside world without you having to try.
To learn more about how you can start to love yourself, download my FREE E-Book, you will receive the first three steps to self-love that changed my life.
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Carly Ann xx