Self-esteem is an emotional appraisal of your own worth which can be related to your age, body, gender, ethnicity and mental health. It is about how you think and feel about yourself. The levels vary in different stages of life and can improve or diminish with experiences and life situations. Being self-confident on the other hand is more about belief in your abilities to do something. You can be self- confident and still lack in self-esteem.
High self-esteem is generally associated with goals, coping mechanisms, expectations and behaviours that facilitate productive achievement. Whilst low self-esteem is negatively associated with mental and physical health problems. It can result in self-criticism, hypersensitivity to criticism contributing towards anxiety and depression. The impact of low self-esteem on relationships can be dire with a danger of getting caught up in coercive controlled relationships where a person will tolerate abusive treatment rather than take action, feeling underserving of love and happiness.
In collectivist cultures of ESEA communities however the individualistic notions self-confidence and self-esteem are not necessarily emphasized, socialized more towards virtues of modesty and conformity. These cultural differences and values have had bearing on how individuals from those communities have responded to the trauma of Asian Hate crimes. However the tide is turning away from self-silencing as the second and third generation youth of the ‘model minority’ communities are finally using their voice to fight back and make a difference.
Be Proud of What Makes You Different
Racial micro aggressions such as being shouted at with racial slurs or probing questions about ethnicity can their toll on your self- esteem making you question your identity and self- worth resulting in feelings of shame and loss of confidence.
When you hear or read about a stereotype, learn to critically recognize it and then use it as a reminder to yourself to focus on the things that you love most about your culture.
Take time to find about your natural talents and evaluate your skills that can help you to feel good about yourself.
Realise that you are not your circumstances.
Racism hurts. Discrimination hurts and it’s real.
Feeling low is the time to acknowledge your feelings and remember your values of what is important to you and what you want in life. Be sure to recall your strengths that come from your culture.
Remember, sometimes people lift themselves up by putting others around them down.
You shall not diminish despite this experience.
Talking & Listening
Reach out to your friends and family who you know might be hurting. Listen and learn from to their stories. Have those uncomfortable conversations with your loved ones and colleagues.
Gain support from your community linked organisations by sharing your story.
Be mindful of your own self-talk and realize when you might be repeating negative messages absorbed from the outside. When feeling anxious and caught up in negative self-talk, focussing on your breadth can help you to come back to the present.
Regular meditation can help you to observe your thoughts and help when feeling overwhelmed. Ask yourself “Where is this thought [or feeling] coming from?” You are not your thoughts.
You are unique. Comparing your internal thoughts to outside images of others can be toxic lowering your self-esteem and self-confidence.
Life is not a competition.
Hearing your Inner Critic
Low self-esteem is influenced and created by the things we are told and what we experience from the time we are born. “I am not good enough” is a familiar voice of the inner critic that haunts even the most successful and wealthy.
Write down your own voice of inner critic. Explore what the opposite thought or belief might be and rewrite what you wrote. Remember, changing internal negative voice is a process that takes time.
Be self-compassionate and forgive yourself about your negative beliefs that can boost your self-esteem.
What are your Esteem-able Activities?
Doing something for yourself and for others can increase the ‘feel good’ factor impacting on your self- esteem.
Activities as going to the gym, having a beauty treatment, reading a book, or helping someone can give you a ‘feel good’ factor nourishing your self-esteem.
Make a habit of doing one esteem-able activity a week and explore new ones.
If you are looking for more ways to boost your self-esteem, this may be helpful:
Written by Dr. Chandrika Patel.
Dr. Chandrika Patel is a freelance writer, playwright, meditator and traveller. Happiest when in nature and at home.
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This article is part of our #StopAsianHate series in partnership with ASOS. Visit our hub for more info, tools, tips and ways to take a stand against Asian hate.