Having high self-esteem is a huge game changer, and I believe, one of the most important aspects to attaining true happiness. We have all experienced periods of inadequacy. Believe me, it is just a part of life. We are all subject to ridicule, sarcastic jokes and tear-downs - being called "Hillbilly Holly" in 3rd grade, for example, because I wore overalls that were too big one day- (By the way, those are totally back in style now!!) - Or when I was made fun of for actually doing my assignments in my high school history class instead of joking around with everyone. These instances may seem silly, but no matter the magnitude of the criticism, we often let them hurt us for a long time. All these years later, I can still feel the sting of embarrassment from these memories.
All of us are also subject to the subtle messages the media sends out, saying women need to look tall, thin, and perfect to be worth anything and men need to be handsome, chiseled, and masculine. We are indirectly told we need to have an amazing adventurous life-style, have a Pinterest worthy house, own a multi-million-dollar business, and learn 12 new skills by next weekend. Stay at home moms need to do something more with their lives and working mothers need to spend more time with their kids. Men need to be filthy rich and constantly busy in order to prove successful. Students need to participate in 15 extra curriculars, including being student body president and football captain, all while maintaining perfect grades and a healthy smile to get 3,000 likes on the next Instagram post. It really is no wonder we live in a world where 4 year olds struggle with their self- worth. We are too hard on ourselves.
Now, don't get me wrong. All of these things can be really great. I don't see anything wrong with getting ready for the day and feeling presentable. I don't see anything wrong with working to have a healthy body. I don't see anything wrong with having a fun activities planned or keeping an organized house, owning a business or learning new things. I don't even see anything wrong with posting our favorite life events on social media. What I DO see a problem with is taking these things and turning them into unrealistic and unhealthy expectations. We turn these things into a quest for perfectionism and acceptance. It turns into a game of comparing our everyday self to everybody else's absolute best self. We become self-conscious because we forget our strengths and focus on our weaknesses. This has got to stop!
The road to happiness begins with believing in yourself and feeling confident in yourself. You need to let go of your mental burdens and allow yourself to feel great- just for being you. Notice I say -"Allow yourself". I say this because confidence is a choice. It is an amazing, liberating CHOICE. So, how can you begin to do it? Here are 3 suggestions!
1. Learn to Recognize your Strengths
Everybody has unique character strengths and talents that make us all valuable in different ways. Recognizing our strengths can feel a little awkward at times... maybe it feels a little proud to tell ourselves and others what we are good at. Learning to recognize our strengths can be very powerful, however, because it allows us to understand our identity and ultimately our potential. Our unique character strengths can be used for immense good. How sad, though, that we often let our talents go to waste because we don’t see them in ourselves.
Pay attention to activities that excite and invigorate you, as they can be your talents. Look for your natural personality traits and figure out what makes you a unique individual. Don’t be afraid to even ask people what they think your strengths are. You could be surprised and enlightened by their answers! You can also take personality tests online to come to understand yourself a little bit better. Read books, be yourself, and follow paths that make you happy. All these avenues can lead to finding your unique gifts.
2. Use Your Strengths. Do Not suffocate them.
One of the most inspiring stories I’ve ever heard involves Ludwig Van Beethoven, the famous composer. He created amazing works throughout his life, many of which are recognized by people around the world today. However, one of his most creative compositions, Symphony #9, was written while Beethoven was almost completely DEAF! Can you believe that? Despite a great ailment, Beethoven was still able to use his gifts to create a work of art so impressive, it is still known as one of the greatest compositions of all time today. He could not hear what he was playing, and he could have easily allowed himself to quit working, but he loved what he did and continued to create beauty despite great hardship.
If he can do that, we can learn to find our talents and strengths and let them radiate among our peers. We don’t have to be afraid to share our gifts! Allow yourself and others to feel uplifted and edified by your unique strengths. You are given them for a reason. Take the challenge to find out what they are and embrace them!
3. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
I heard a great quote once, and unfortunately I don't know who it's by, but it says
Another one of my favorite quotes is
I think these quotes really speak for themselves, but I say again, BE YOURSELF. It can feel so cheesy to say that sometimes, but seriously just do it. We compare ourselves to the people around us too much, and most of the time it just makes us feel worse about ourselves. Learn to focus on your positive traits and be grateful for the unique opportunities you have to spread joy among the people around you. We can’t all be superheroes…. We simply can’t do everything, and we just have to know that’s okay. We can always be learning new things and we can continually be improving our lives, but we need to do it while feeling content with our weaknesses and focusing on our individual strengths.
Let yourself be powerful! Allow yourself to feel joy and liberate yourself from the burdens of negativity. You can be happy!!! Take the steps to find out what makes you unique and run with it!
When have you used your personal strengths for good? Let us know in the comments!!
K cool, see ya next post!
- Holly B.