Postnatal depression, anxiety and many other mental illnesses can cause our confidence to dip, or disappear all together. Even if you haven’t experienced a mental illness, sometimes the changes (physically and mentally) that occur when we have a baby can make us feel self conscious.
We can also, sometimes, feel invisible once baby arrives. Many people will have lots of lovely visitors arriving when baby is born, only for these visits to slowly fizzle out. Understandably, people will want to see your new baby, but sometimes you long for someone to talk with you too. I have three young children and had occasions where I felt I could leave the room and no one would notice. This added with toddlers and children who never listen to a word we say we can often be left feeling deflated….of course this isn’t the case for everyone, but for many mums I have met over the years, this seems to happen often.
Struggling with self doubt or low self esteem can cause us to feel depressed, angry, hurt, and guilty. We can often become self critical too, thinking “I’m not good enough”.
Low self esteem often leads to “black and white thinking” and something described in therapy as “mind reading” for e.g., when you see someone you know in the street and wave or smile, but they don’t respond. If you’re struggling with self doubt you may start to worry you have done something wrong, upset them or they’re angry at you, whereas (and most likely) they may have simply not seen you.
When low self esteem is becoming an issue people can begin to feel shy and avoid situations, often leading to isolation, which can in turn fuel depression.
We can begin to neglect ourselves, by physically not taking care of ourselves or by being negative and blaming ourselves for everything.
Poisonous Parrot – this is an example given to me by the therapy team when I was unwell. It was an example of the way I spoke to and about myself and the negative impact it can have.
So how can we help ourselves?
Firstly we need to identify what contributes to our own low self esteem. What is it in our lives which may be influencing it and what positive changes can we make?
When you notice the negative thoughts, or self doubt creeping in try these tips –
– STOPP I shared this exercise before and it’s one which can be applied to many areas, including depression, anxiety and also low self esteem. Follow the link to learn more.
– Is this your “poisonous parrot” talking?
– Is your thought true? Is it helpful?
– Can you look at this situation differently?
– Do you have a negative filter at the moment (only noticing the negative not the many positives)
– What would you say to a friend? Think about what you’re telling yourself, would you say it to a friend? What would you say to your friend if they said these things about themselves? Treat yourself with the kindness you would a friend.
– What can you do to help yourself now, in this present moment?
I also found it useful to write a list of all my good qualities. Just as I found looking at the positive things in my life when I was feeling low, this helped me focus on the good things about me….and there are many good things you can add to your list.
Ensure you communicate with those around you who you trust. Surround yourself with empowering, supportive people.
Set yourself some realistic, achievable goals. Doesn’t matter how big or small they are, ticking tasks off will help you – be sure not to beat your self up over any left undone. You are enough.
Visualise. Think about how you want to feel and what you wish to achieve. Sometimes creating a vision board can help. Cut out or print pictures of the positive things you have and would like and use it as inspiration.
Self Care – yes my favourite thing which helps so many people. What ever brings you joy, do that and keep finding time to do it. It will inspire you to keep doing things that make you happy.
Affirmations. These aren’t for everyone, but many find reading and repeating positive, encouraging affirmations helpful. Search for some online and give it a go!
Be Kind to Yourself …. Being compassionate to ourselves will naturally increase our self worth.
It takes time to improve our self confidence, and so often we are so quick to talk down to and about ourselves. My good friend Laura at The Butterfly Mother will tell you, I’m often talking down about myself, and she’s always telling me off for it! It’s habit, and I will admit I have times where I struggle with it, but with the above tips I’ve found I can get a hold of it and give myself a much needed self confidence boost! You can read more about overcoming that negative voice here.
We are surrounded by messages constantly telling us we need improving, what we need to look, act, think like to fit in and be accepted. But being our true, authentic selves, and loving that version of ourselves is important. We should be encouraged to embrace our differences, love the individuality of ourselves and be comfortable with who we are. We are often battling against much in the world and media which tells us otherwise but remember, you are perfect as you are, you are good enough, you are important and so loved.💖