Many people make contact with Birmingham Counselling Services saying that their self-esteem and confidence are very low, and that this is preventing them from living the life they really want. They ask for help in dealing with the problem. It may be that this lack of confidence is a long-standing issue, perhaps going as far back as early childhood, and in this case there will not be a quick fix solution. However, that doesn’t mean that there will be no solution. It is possible to work effectively at raising your self-esteem as long as you don’t expect an overnight cure. A problem which has taken a long time to build up will need time and effort to undermine it, and it can be undermined.
First of all, make sure that you are taking good care of yourself:
a) As far as you can, eat a healthy diet. Try to avoid processed foods, refined sugars, lots of coffee and alcohol; concentrate on regular meals, fresh fruit and vegetables, water to drink. It needn’t be as dull and unexciting as you might expect.
b) Take regular exercise. You don’t have to take out expensive gym membership. Walk whenever you can (get off the bus a stop early, borrow a dog), climb stairs rather than using lifts – as you get into the habit other things will occur to you.
c) Make sure that you have enough sleep on a regular basis. Two or three very late nights followed by sleeping in until midday is not the same and will not improve your health.
d) Take care of your personal hygiene. Allow enough time to take a bath or shower, clean your teeth, do your laundry and wear clothes which are clean and comfortable.
e) Every day, do something you really enjoy. It needn’t take long nor be expensive, as long as it is something you do for yourself. Watch your favourite TV programme, allow yourself half an hour to read a library book or listen to music, spend 15 minutes in your garden or a local park, just sit quietly and let your mind relax, kick a football around – whatever appeals to you, and not what you feel you should be doing. And when you have allowed yourself this small space in your busy life, don’t feel guilty.
If you can practise all these activities regularly, you might well find that you start to feel better. This is not the time to stop, it is the time to add more.
The next activity is a bit more challenging. You are going to make some lists:
I hope you have been able to create all three lists, even if they aren’t very long.
What comes next is even more of a challenge, and you can do it. Choose someone whose judgment you trust and show them your lists. Ask them to comment on your lists and make their own lists about you. I guarantee that their lists will be longer than yours, because they will be aware of good qualities in you which you are managing to overlook or ignore.
Take these third party lists seriously. Someone you trust has found all these good things in you. What does this feel like? Have you been seeing yourself as a victim in a hostile world? Has this meant that you have been feeling helpless and reluctant to join in, missing out on opportunities and experiences, growing less confident every day. This situation does not need to go on indefinitely – you can change.
No-one honest would pretend that this will be easy for you, but it is possible, and it can be taken in stages. It is always easier if you can have help and support when you are starting out on a journey like this one, and it might well be that you find you can ask someone from outside your usual circle of family and friends more easily than someone you already know and who knows you well. It could be very helpful for you to approach a counsellor, someone you can talk to in absolute privacy about your hopes, your fears, your dreams. There are qualified and experienced counsellors at Birmingham Counselling Services who would be glad to support you. You can reach us via our website: www.BirminghamCounsellingServices.co.uk , or by calling us on 0121 314 9903.