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Self-Help: The problems with advice for low self-esteem and ways around it

Ever feel like self-esteem could do with a boost? Well, here at Oh! Ducky Darling we feel advice for low self-esteem can sometimes miss the mark. Here are some alternative options to try and give your self-confidence a welcomed boost, by Rosa Fairfield.

Photographs by @justefe 


Are negative beliefs all in our head? 
Most advice I've seen for low-esteem seems to revolve around the belief that your negative thoughts about yourself aren't true. Sometimes this is true and challenging those is a great fix but what happens when it doesn't work?

Let's look at an example. Meet Sarah, she has low self esteem because she thinks most people don't like her. Sarah has evidence of this, as most people she's come into contact with have told her this. Therefore, challenging her original thought isn't guaranteed to bring Sarah comfort. It can feel like a bit of a trap.

What are the alternatives?
Embracing negative thoughts, because 'negative' thoughts don't have to be negative, we're the ones that put labels on them. Meditation works on letting thoughts pass and be, instead of reading too much into them. It doesn't have to be. OMG!!! Most people don't like me, I'm doomed. It could be: yep, most people don't like me. I really enjoy writing and I'm good at it so I'll focus on that.

Lately, everyone seems to be all about the self-love. I openly admit that I sometimes find this a bit overwhelming. I feel like there's some massive standard that I have to live up to and I must be this amazing confident, self-assured person for people to like me. See what I did there? What happens when the need for self-love just reaffirms your low self-worth?

What are the alternatives?

Finding a balance...

You don't have to sugar-coat everything. Say... you don't like the shape of your nose. You don't have to go on a massive journey to try and love it. I think others often have the desperate need to argue back whenever someone states there's some part of them they don't like. 'No! Your nose is beautiful you need to own it, it's awesome'. Like, it's okay to be content with disliking some things about yourself. The same people would probably judge you for being arrogant if you did love all parts of yourself as much as they're telling you to.

Pushing yourself outside your comfort zone
This is another of those... 'it really doesn't work for everyone'. I think people often seem to believe the way to get over a fear is to face it. Again, this works for some people. It can also have the negative effect though and make people even more terrified of the thing they were to begin with. This is the same with trying to fix self-esteem issues around a certain area.

What are the alternatives?
Try thinking outside the box, what are you comfortable with that will really help you with this situation? Instead of turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, like alcohol, you could try some small productive changes that are very specific to you.

I've always been insecure about my thighs, instead of exposing them and always walking around in jeans, I wear a lot of a-line skirts. This is my happy comfortable alternative. If you get creative, you can think of a healthy solution to any issue... and no, this isn't sad or upsetting that you're not fixing the insecurity, it's making sure you're as comfortable as possible.

Building positive relationships
I find it ironic that this is often on the list of things to build positive self-esteem. It normally goes along the lines of cutting negative, toxic person out of your life. Although, yes, this can be helpful... but in many cases the person with very low self-esteem believes they're the problem and reading things like that can just re-enforce that view.

What are the alternatives?
Acceptance of others. When you can accept others as having traits that you find positive and negative, it can help you to realise that it's okay for you to also have both positive and negative feelings towards to yourself and for others to have them about you.