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  • Writer's pictureDr. Pamela Davis

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem

On the surface, when I think about my years growing up, low self-esteem should not be anywhere on my radar.

I grew up in a small town with both my parents. I experienced the best of life - I had plenty to eat, clothes to choose from and I excelled academically. What more could a kid ask for?

I suppose my self-esteem came in to play during my middle/high school years. Despite the effort of my parents to assure me of my smarts and beauty that assurance dissipated as I interacted with my peer group. For all the things that I was good at or even felt comfortable with, my peer group often ridiculed or poked fun at. [Kids can be cruel, right?]

Understand now, that I was probably easy bait. Easy in that, my clapback was weak. I was a teacher's kid; outside of school, I did not interact with my friends (or school mates).

Let me add further perspective.

>I attended a school outside of the area where I lived.

>I did not have neighbors to the left or right of me (within walking distance) to interact with.

>I attended church with a peer group different from the group I attended school with.

>I did not have a core group of friends that transcend across all groups (school, church, play).

Simply put, I was always in fear of being accepted. It was a hit or miss; most of the time, it was a miss.

When I went off to college, I was a small fish out of water. This time though, I felt more in control of fitting in. One thing in my favor was that I had a core set of friends. While this gave me a springboard to keep my confidence level in check, what I thought of myself was still most times sub par.

I made it through college, got married, got divorced, and then I was single again with a little one. I decided enough was enough. I had to get my feelings about myself in check. My first step toward improving my self-esteem was connecting with a therapist. It has been over 20 years since meeting my initial therapist (whom I am no longer seeing) but I still hear her voice and the guidance she gave serves as comfort and reinforcement for me.

Counseling helped me.

Upon scheduling therapy sessions, I was able to take control of some of the things that I had been blaming on others. I grew up in the 70s and societal norms back then, while they were acceptable, times have changed. There were things that I was holding on to that I needed permission to release and no longer needed to hold on to. Not grudges, so much. But more so behaviors. Through therapy, I was also able to make better choices. Better choices with relationships. This was monumental - I deserved better than what I was choosing for myself!!!! My therapist helped me to see that I was worthy of the absolute best of everything!!!

Self-help books were helpful.

I love to read, especially for self-improvement. Hearing others' stories of inspiration and how they were able to overcome low self-esteem gave me courage.

Self-affirmations comfort me.

Although I do not use self-affirmations everyday, I do have a set of faves that I whisper to myself when I need them. Some of them are phrases that I created, some are quotes, and others are scriptures. These are helpful when self-doubt and the negative noise creeps into your headspace. I keep these handy in my journal so that I can refer to them and get them saturated in my spirit.

Power Fit!

Having a power fit is a must! If you are like me, there are days when you really aren't feeling it. It's time to go to work or a meeting or even to the grocery store, but you aren't feeling your "pretty self". I have those days. To give me the extra boost I need, I have what I call a "power fit" as in, an outfit that makes me feel powerful. For me, the power fit is not a single outfit, it's certain colors and styles. On days when I'm not feeling my confident self or I just want to have that extra juice to propel me through the meeting, I wear a power fit.

Prayer works!!

I'm not sure who you believe in or pray to, but I believe in God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. One of my favorite scriptures is Philippians 4:6 ESV - Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. I am so grateful that I can make my needs known to God and He will comfort me.

You can overcome low-esteem. If this is an area of your life that you need to address, take the first step and reach out to a trusted friend or therapist to help you advance toward healing. Fitting in and being accepted no longer haunt me. Through my journey these strategies have helped me overcome low self-esteem. I can finally embrace the smarts and beauty within me.

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