Low self-esteem is a common problem. It can have a huge knock-on effect on your relationships, your work and your ability to cope with life, as well as affecting your weight loss journey. However, these feelings are based on opinion, not fact, and are entirely within your power to change.
When you suffer from low self-esteem, sometimes the smallest thing can cause you to doubt yourself, such as a comment about your weight. These beliefs will probably result in you thinking things like ‘I’m unattractive’ or ‘I’m a failure’. The more you react this way, the more the spiral of negative thinking will continue, but it is possible to break the cycle. Here’s how.
The first thing to do is to pay attention to the way you react to things, in order to understand why you are thinking this way. Keep a diary of situations that occur, your reaction and what it is that is causing you to react that way.
Once you have identified these feelings, don’t judge them. Your emotions will heal when they are heard and validated. Exercising mindfulness through yoga or meditation can help with this, according to Jacqueline Hurst, hypnotherapist, life coach and emotional eating expert.
‘We live and work at such a pace in today’s world you need to slow down and breathe,’ she says. ‘Meditation is really good for this, it connects you with yourself and helps you understand the process of your thoughts’.
Once you have accepted the ‘bad’ thoughts, focus on creating good ones. Record positive situations during your day that made you feel good about yourself or make a list of 50 things you like about yourself, and then read it. ‘Talk to yourself as you would talk to someone you love,’ suggests Jacqueline. ‘If a friend walked into a room and you said how big their bum looked, they wouldn’t be your friend anymore. So don’t talk to yourself that way either’.
Start to challenge yourself and test your strengths and abilities. Set yourself a realistic goal, and tell someone about it so you can accept their praise. Then set yourself a harder challenge. Just by doing something new and trying something different your view of yourself will shift.
Sometimes, the sad truth is that people close to you have been lowering your self-esteem. Address their behaviour by telling them how they’re making you feel or try to limit the time you spend with them. Then find a loyal group of positive supporters who will cheer you on instead.
Understanding the way you think can be a difficult and painful process, so don’t try to struggle through alone. You could consider professional help, or share your feelings in your LighterLife group.