The most powerful thing you can do is love yourself, and not just your average sort of self love, but love yourself enough to know when you deserve better and more. But of all the questions I receive from readers, the number one self care question is about esteem. Women everywhere are suffering from a poor self image and low or non-existent self esteem. Women everywhere are settling for relationships, friends, and jobs they hate because they don't think they deserve better, or have what it takes to obtain it––and they're right. None of us will have what we truly deserve and are capable of unless we, first, believe we can and will. Lack of a positive esteem is the basis of settling, and the fact of the matter is that most people are living lives they never wanted, lives they hate, all because they've settled. It's a sad fate, but one each of us can easily avoid.
You Are Who You Are, Already:
The first key to loving yourself is acceptance, but if everyone knew how to do that in the first place, self esteem would be easy. The problem is that most of us are taught from the time we are children that there is something wrong with us, with our decisions, actions, looks, and more. We are raised in a society that creates and feeds insecurities, especially in women, and to reverse that is a task. If you were never taught to feel bad about yourself in the first place, you would never have to learn how to feel good about yourself––it would be autonomous.
Here is what I know for sure––you are who you are and there is no one outside of you who can change or improve upon that. Sure, there are things we can all change about ourselves, but who we are at our core has already been decided. Our spirits already exist, have always existed, and always will. We can color our hair, gain or lose weight, buy a new wardrobe, change the way we talk, expand our education, and progress professionally, and none of it will change our spirits.
Finding Your Highest Self-Esteem:
One of the best tests to finding out if you are completely comfortable in your own skin, is to spend as much time alone with yourself as you can. Many of us can't fathom the idea of going anywhere by ourselves (or rather, with ourselves), having dinner for one in a crowded restaurant, going to the movies alone, or just spending the day with ourselves, doing the things we enjoy, not checking our phones every few seconds for validation.
You will find your highest esteem when you are alone. This is when your true comfortability with and acceptance of yourself becomes most evident. Resist low self-esteem by challenging yourself to spend more time with yourself, being comfortable with and fully enjoying it. Loving yourself, treating yourself to evenings out, afternoon matinees, or quiet nights at home with a glass of wine and a good book, all without reaching out for someone else to fill some sort of void.
Fill the Void to Avoid Settling:
When you are comfortable being alone and don't seek fulfillment in and from other people, you become capable of filling your own voids. Sometimes, it begins to feel like other people actually drain you versus filling you up, so you pick your spots. You will choose your company and the time you spend with them more wisely, and really enjoy disconnecting from others while connecting more deeply with yourself. This is when you will avoid settling.
People tend to settle for the company of and relationships with others they really don't want to be with when there are voids they fail to fill themselves. In general, people also tend to settle when they feel there are no better choices or that better choices are for other people. Whether in our friendships, relationships, interpersonally, or professionally, we have the ability to find, acquire, and maintain our highest esteem.
While part of finding and maintaining that esteem will always be acceptance, part of avoiding settling will always be change. We are who we are at our core, but we have the power to change direction, to fill our own voids by giving ourselves what we truly desire and not waiting for someone else to do so. When you master this, my love, you will master your esteem. When you learn to give yourself everything, nothing is out of reach, there is nothing you can't do or be and knowing that is pivotal to your esteem.
New York Times bestselling author and founder of The Gorgeous Girl's Guide, Steffans Publishing Enterprises, and Karrine & Co.