Have you ever felt like you're just not good enough? No matter what you do, everyone is smarter than you, prettier than you, or have a better job, lifestyle, or even better behaved kids?
You are not alone. My journey to a positive self-image has been challenging, a daily struggle of one step forward and two steps back.
After years of having a negative self-image, I learned some valuable lessons. There are important steps you can take right now to break the negative dialog in your head.
Step 1: Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
One day I was at school with my 5 children waiting to begin the parent teacher conferences. Dread had already crept over me, as I looked at all the other parents.
There was a small group huddled in the center. One mother was absolutely beautiful. She was a size 2, perfect hair and make up, wearing high heels and a tailored suit. She had a latte in her hand. I compared myself to her.
I had thrown on the first thing that fit, which were old jeans and a sweatshirt that covered up the 10 pounds I still couldn’t lose. I had no make-up on (I never wear make-up) I had no Latte (I hate coffee) I wore flats (I hate heels) but still I wanted to be just like her! Oh she must have it all together. If I could just look like her I thought to myself.
Somehow I had forgotten about all the amazing things I had accomplished. That’s what comparing yourself to others does to you.
A few days later I learned that this very woman who I compared myself to had been admitted to the hospital with a severe eating disorder. You have no idea what people are dealing with. Don’t create stories about others as a measuring stick for personal success; focus on what’s real in your life.
Step 2: Set Realistic Goals and Assess Them Often
This has always been my challenge. I have been known to set unrealistic goals then fall into self-loathing when ultimately I cannot attain them. I have learned to set daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals. I love lists! I write down all my goals. I set the bar high, but you know the saying:
“Life happens when you are busy making other plans”
It is very important to set goals. The catch is, they need to be realistic and achievable. If you are struggling to reach a goal you need to reassess the situation. Figure out why you are not getting there. Maybe you need to adjust your timeline. Maybe you need to tweak your approach. Is the goal too broad? Break it down in to smaller steps.
Most importantly, forgive yourself when things don’t go as planned. The lessons you learn are just as important. If I’m experiencing a period of stress, I focus on one or two small goals for the day or week. When I accomplish them, I feel good and it motivates me to keep going.
Step 3: Celebrate Small Successes
This truly is a game changer. I always have my eye on the prize and I can forget to celebrate the small successes. If I didn’t get that one new account I’d get so upset and forget about the 20 accounts I did get! I’m grateful to have colleagues that remind me when I start getting frustrated and doubt my own abilities.
What are your small successes?
Did you read your child a story after a crazy day? Maybe you choose fruit instead of chips for your snack today. Get a new client? 100 likes on Twitter? Whatever the success, celebrate it! You are one step closer then you were before, and you are deserving of praise.
Step 4: Read Something Positive in the Morning
It is important to start your day of on the right foot. Reading negative news feeds in the morning can set you of on a dark path for the rest of the day. Whether you spend your mornings reading a devotional or a book of affirmations, spend part of your morning receiving positive messages.
Reading out loud helps to create positive associations. The book Morning Miracle by Hal Elron offers a system to start your day on a positive note. I find that when I read something positive in the morning and set my intentions it helps move me forward throughout the day.
Have you ever woken up in the morning and it immediately started off negative? Maybe you slept in or stubbed your toe on the way to the shower. Your whole morning seems to follow that horrible trend. You get stopped at every red light, spill your coffee, arrive late to a meeting, you get the picture.
When you start on a positive note you find yourself "in the zone" immediately you are just working with the universe.
Step 5: Surround Yourself with Positive Supportive People
This one seems obvious but it is incredible how many times we put ourselves in a negative environment and stay there. Do you have a co-worker or even a family member that no matter what you say or do they give a negative response? I have had to separate myself from these people in order to not get drawn in by their energy.
If you’re in a relationship, genuinely compliment your partner everyday. You will love how it naturally comes back to you. Take an inventory of your family and friends, and think about how they make you feel.
When you are feeling down or you are experiencing a stressful time surround yourself with those on the list that will bring you up and take a little break from those who are not able to share positive vibrations. You will be amazed the difference a few kind words from a friend makes on your journey to positive self-image.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. – Lao Tzu
Perhaps the most important piece of advice that I can offer from my own experience is to take things one day at a time. Do your best today. And if you don’t succeed, try again tomorrow.
Inspiring and empowering others comes from sharing stories. What do you do to promote a positive self image in your life? We'd love to hear from you. Comment below or connect with us on social media.