Yes, I know I post a lot about bums and poo but I haven’t made a spelling error in the title, I promise!
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. The week intends to raise awareness of mental health issues which can affect anybody, at any time. This week is the perfect time to chat to that family member, friend or colleague who you may want to check up on. It is also time for you to give yourself a mental wellness check. How are you doing? Are you giving yourself the time to keep on top of your mental well-being?
The topic I have chosen to focus on today for my contribution to Mental Health Awareness Week is self-esteem. While not a mental health problem in itself, our self esteem is intrinsically linked to our mental well-being. Problems with self esteem can also be the pre-cursor to, or stem from, other mental health problems such as anxiety or depression.
Self DeprecatingCambridge English Dictionary
definition: trying to make yourself, your abilities, or your achievements seem less important
Us Brits are generally seen as a bunch of self-deprecators. We see it all the time amongst those around us, in real life and on social media. But when do we cross the line into self-loathing and possibly causing damage to our mental wellness? When does the joke go too far and affect the feelings we have about ourselves?
When was the last time you accepted a compliment. I mean, just graciously accepted it, and didn’t add a ‘but’.
Friend – That dress looks great on you!
You – Thanks, but it’s just from Primark and was only a fiver
Friend – I loved the article you wrote for *****
You – Cheers, I only landed the job because ***** put me forward for it
I would bet that many of you don’t even realise you have been doing it. A little self-deprecation isn’t an issue, as I said, it is deep-rooted in us Brits regardless. But if you do it often, especially when you don’t realise it, or do it for the wrong reasons, you may be at risk of developing other issues from low self-esteem.
Ive been working o both my confidence and my self esteem again recently. After a pretty shocking couple of years for my mental health, everything has taken a battering it seems. Following my previous relationship breakdown I felt more confident, alive and happy than I have ever been. For many reasons this has taken a hit of late and one thing I noticed when choosing to address these issues recently was how much I do this. It particularly alarmed me, because I have noticed the boys do it too, especially Leo and I wonder if it is something they have picked up from me. Although I would like the boys to be humble, I want them to grow up and be proud of their appearance, their achievements, their home, their life.
Noticing and admitting your self-deprecating behaviour to yourself is your first step. You need to make a decision to think more positively about yourself.
Stop comparing yourself. We have heard this a hundred thousand times and it really is one of the biggest problems people have with social media – the constant comparison of your life to someone else’s little squares that, in reality, do little to convey the truth of their life anyway in most cases. You are special simply for being you. If I was to log on to Instagram tomorrow and all my followers had decided they wanted to morph into one other, I would immediately un-follow. I want to see reality, diversity, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Put in the work. There is absolutely no shame in wanting to look nice, wearing a full face of makeup everyday if it makes you feel good, or treating yourself to nice clothes when you have the money. Be proud of the new eyeliner trick it took you a fortnight to master. Feel good about the bonus you got and that new bag you treated yourself o because of it. You earned that!
Don’t confuse confidence with self-esteem. The shyest person can have bags of self-esteem and really know their worth, whereas the loud, confident person may have little to no self-esteem at all. Being able to accept a compliment doesn’t need confidence but a belief in yourself that you deserve it.
Positive affirmations can help with changing your inner voice. Sticking post it notes with them on around your mirror where you get reedy in the morning is one of the easiest ways I find to remember to do this. There are posts all over Pinterest with a great deal of different affirmations you can use – pick ones that resonate ad suit you. They may change over time but giving your mind some time to churn out a little bit of self positivity will help it become more natural.
Fake it till you make it. It will be hard at first. You will kick yourself for realising a little too late when you have just doe it. And some days you will not feel that positive and self deprecation will feel like the way to go. Pop on a smile in your favourite lippy colour and in time you will feel better again.
Be grateful. Not just grateful to others for their compliments, which of cause you should be without needing to offer a ‘but’. But thankful for you – your personality, your talents, your work, your amazing natural eyebrows.
Finally, if you are self – deprecating in order to gain sympathy and compliment…stop! A compliment will boost your ego for a little while, but this is about how you view yourself and that won’t change unless you do. If you are struggling it is best to admit that – I feel lonely, I feel tired, I feel sick, I need help – people will respond to these sorts of feelings with things that may actually fix the problem you have.
I hope that you find something that resonates with you in this post, and some of the tips are useful. My inbox, as always is open if anyone needs to chat.
Good self-esteem isn’t all leopard print and lipstick.
It’s acknowledging your messiest, wonkiest bits and choosing to value yourself regardless.Anna Mathur