August Journaling Day 17: Self-esteem

So I gotta admit, after the last couple of topics, this one I’m more excited to write about tonight because it’s been a central focus of mine the last year or so. I mentioned in the therapy blog that I haven’t done therapy in a while, but I did a while back make a conscious decision to try and work on my self esteem. I’d been doing better in most avenues of my life yet I still found myself constantly doubting myself, putting myself down, and sometimes loathing myself. So I read a book on self-esteem. It was an enjoyable read and it had a lot of practical exercises and ways to try and reframe how we think about ourselves. It is a little bit of ‘fake it until you make it,’ and I feel like I’m still faking it, but I’m closer to making it.

What I mean by that is I generally do think I’m becoming better at accepting myself, caring for myself, and loving myself. But I’m not all the way there yet. I do still find that I’m being hard on myself when dealing with rejection. It’s like I need to affirm someone’s rejection of me by piling on. If they somehow don’t think all that much about me, then they must be right and I am awful and on and on and on. Some recent examples would be someone saying I’m bad at my job or asking someone if they had interest in a date and them saying no. Neither ones should be taken as total indictments on me, they’re just someones opinion or answer. Yet I would still find myself afterward beating myself up and talking down to myself. So that’s something I’m still trying to work at in regards to self-esteem.

Where I think I’ve really made strides though is how I view myself and react when I make a mistake or just am assessing where I might be with something in my life. Like with work, when I first started announcing I would get really down on myself when I would make a mistake in a racecall. And it would rattle me for a while and i’d be even more susceptible to making mistakes. Which looking back seems ridiculous because 1) it’s a job that things happen very fast and it’s quite easy to make mistakes and 2) I was still young and learning, I should have accepted mistakes as part of the learning process. Now I make a mistake in a race i’m pretty good about shaking it off. If I miscall a horse in the stretch or make a mistake because maybe I was lazy in my preparation, then I might get more miffed. But little stuff or a stumble or something, water off a ducks back. I think I just try to allow myself to be more forgiving when I make mistakes. Calling races isn’t easy and mistakes are going to happen sometimes. I’m human and I’m not Tom Durkin. And even he made mistakes!

Another area I think I’ve improved my self-esteem is in regards to my weight loss. Not the results per se, but more just the fact that at this point it’s coming off pretty slowly and I’m not getting frustrated or mad at myself. Or mad at just the results not happening faster. I’m sticking to my processes and what has worked and what is still working, it’s just not working as fast as I wish it did. But I’m proud of myself for sticking to my goals and continuing to do the work. And when I have a hiccup on the diet side of things, I’m getting back to my program very quickly. In the old days once I fell off the wagon, within a day or two I’d be eating everything in sight. I think though that with a better attitude about my processes and a more forgiving attitude when i fall out of line with them, I’m able to more quickly get back to the path i want to be on. Plus the occasional treat should be a good thing, not looked upon as a failure.

The one thing I got out of that self-esteem book and that I’m finding in my real life is that self-esteem actually takes work. It’s not something you just have or get. Well maybe people with nice supportive parents do. But I think it really does take work. I think by doing things that are nurturing and beneficial to our lives, we’re able to feed the positives in our lives and in turn feel better about ourselves and what we’re doing.

I hope to continue working on being better about dealing with rejection like I talked about above. I don’t think that means not feeling anything when I’m rejected in some way. I think that’s natural and ok. Where I want to improve is how I talk to myself and treat myself following those rejections. I don’t need to add to the bad feeling. I don’t need to pile on. I need to keep perspective of who I am and what I’m working on and what I’m working towards. And I do think I’ll get there with that. Like I said, I feel like I’m getting closer.

obligatory smiling photo for blog about self-esteem