The oppression and negativity shown by society towards LGB&/T people affects the way we see ourselves and can cause a low or negative self-image and low self-esteem.
Low self-esteem can lead some people into:
- Exploitive relationships
- Risky sexual behaviour
- Alcohol and drug misuse
- Eating disorders/problems with food
- Body dissatisfaction- e.g. steroid abuse
How can you increase your self-esteem?
1. Stop comparing yourself with other people. There will always be people who have more than you and some who have less. If you play the comparison game, you’ll run into too many components you can’t defeat.
2. Stop putting yourself down. You can’t develop high self-esteem if you repeat negative phrases about yourself and your abilities. Whether speaking about your appearances, your career, your relationships, your financial situation, or any other aspects of your life, avoid self-deprecating comments.
3. Accept all compliments with “thank you.” Ever received a compliment and replied,”Oh, it was nothing.” When you reject a compliment, the message you give yourself is that you are not worthy of praise. Respond to all compliments with a simple “thank You.”
4. Use affirmations to enhance your self-esteem. On the back of a business card or small index cards, write out a statement such as “I like and accept my self.” or “I am valuable, lovable person and deserve the best in life” or even “I am proud to be LGB&/T”. Carry the card with you. Repeat the statement several times during the day, especially at night before going to bed and after getting up in the morning. Whenever you say the affirmation, allow yourself to experience positive feelings about your statement.
5. Take advantage of workshops, books and CD programmes on self-esteem. Whatever material you allow to dominate your mind will eventually take root and affect your behaviour. If you watch negative television programmes or read newspaper reports of murders and business rip offs you will grow cynical and pessimistic. Similarly, if you read books or listen to programmes, that are positive in nature, you will take on these characteristics.
6. Associate with positive, supportive people. When you are surrounded by negative people who constantly put you and your ideas down, your self-esteem is lowered. On the other hand, when you are accepted and encouraged, you feel better about yourself in the best possible environment to raise your self-esteem. Visit our dropin and meet encouraging and supportive LGB&/T people.
7. Make a list of your past successes. This doesn’t necessarily have to consist of monumental accomplishments. It can include your “minor victories,” like learning to skate, passing an exam, receiving an award or promotion, getting the courage to visit a gay bar or gay support group, etc. Read this list often. While reviewing it, close your eyes and recreate the feelings of satisfaction and joy you experienced when you first attained each success.
8. Make a list of your positive qualities. Are you honest? Unselfish? Helpful? Creative? Be generous with yourself and write down at least 20 positive qualities. Again, it’s important to review this list often. Most people dwell on their inadequacies and then wonder why their life isn’t working out. Start focusing on your positive traits and you’ll stand a much better chance of achieving what you
wish to achieve.
9. Start giving more. I’m not talking about money. Rather, I mean that you must begin to give more of yourself to those around you. When you do things for others, you are making a positive contribution and you begin to feel more valuable, which, in turn, lifts your spirits and raises your own self-esteem.
10. Get involved in work and activities you love. It’s hard to feel good about yourself if your days are spent in work you despise. Self-esteem flourishes when you are engaged in work and activities that you enjoy and make you feel valuable. Even if you can’t explore alternative career options at the present time, you can still devote leisure time to hobbies and activities, which you find stimulating and enjoyable.
11. Be true to yourself. Live your own life – not the life others have decided is best for you. You’ll never gain your own respect and feel good about yourself if you aren’t leading the life you want to lead. If you’re making decisions based on getting approval from friends and relatives, you aren’t being true to yourself and your self-esteem is lowered.
12. Take action! You won’t develop high self-esteem if you sit on the sidelines and back away from challenges. When you take action – regardless of the ensuing result – you feel better about yourself. When you fail to move forward because of fear and anxiety, you’ll be frustrated and unhappy – and you will undoubtedly deal a damaging blow to your self-esteem.