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Someone brought to my attention recently that February is International Boost Self-Esteem Month, so it’s been on my mind ever since, making me extra aware of the struggles we have with it. I’ve been narrowing my thoughts to a couple things.

One, we all struggle with self-esteem at some point in one way or another. Whether it be with body image, the friends we have, money, power, knowledge, triggers from the past…struggling with negative self-esteem plagues all of us at times. And two, we can all name a list of things we know we could do to improve our self-esteem — positive self-talk, setting realistic expectations, don’t compare, accept yourself as you are, be kind to yourself, have positive role models…the list goes on.

So, if we know all these things, why don’t we do them. Easier said than done, right? We get busy. We forget. We get distracted. We get discouraged. I was having a conversation the other day about change; if we really want to change, the change must be internal. I realized that while I know this, I often need reminders to continually apply it in my life. While we know practices we can use to improve our self-esteem, we often need reminders to get back on track and apply them in our daily living.

I think the first step in boosting self-esteem is being aware. If we are not aware of our struggles we will not be able to take the steps to tackle them. So many of us lie to ourselves, pretending we are the person we want to be, when we are not, because it seems easier. And while it may be easier in the short term, it will only make things more difficult in the long run. So first, be honest with yourself about who you are, what you are good at and what you are lacking, where your strengths are and what you need to work on. If we are honest with ourselves about what we need to change, only then can we do something about it and improve our self-esteem.

Once we allow ourselves to be aware and acknowledge our struggles, we then put ourselves in a place to move towards positive change. For me, the first step in improving self-esteem is to get back to the basics. This has been a theme in my life this year, both professionally and personally. If you feel off track, go back to the basics. In looking at self-esteem, I think the basics are in simple self-care — exercise, eat healthy, drink water, sleep, appreciate what you have, nourish healthy relationships. As I’ve worked to build these habits into my day I’ve found much more balance in my life and feel better about myself, both healthier and happier.

Once you have the foundation of basics down you can build upon that sturdy foundation with all those things we know we could be doing to improve our self-esteem. When you are aware and honest about who you are, you can then make realistic goals to work toward who you are and where you want to be. We just need to remember to take time to check in with ourselves each week to make sure we are staying on track.

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