New year, same me

It's 2018, which means you may have already begun to hear people claiming how the switch from December 31st to January 1st means it’s a 'new year, new me'. As if, miraculously, it is possible to change every aspect of yourself and your personality. Maybe you made a promise to yourself to be a more understanding, relaxed person, maybe your New year's resolution is to quit smoking and exercise more. Does this mean that as soon as Big Ben strikes midnight you'll become a completely new person? No. You are exactly the same person as you were the day before. Your motivation might improve as it is a ‘new chapter' and that does seem to help motivate people. There is always room for self-improvement. We all have something we’d like to change about ourselves, but by creating a ‘new you’, where does that leave the 'old you'? What about all the bits of you that you actually liked!

So, instead of changing yourself, better yourself!

If you feel as if you would benefit from going to bed an hour earlier or saving an extra few pounds a week, then make a note of these things - but don’t focus on them. There is something that you should really be focusing on, not just in the New Year but all year round: yourself. So many people tend to put others' happiness and well-being before their own and so few people prioritise themselves. You are the only person who is there for you every single hour of the day, you deserve to like yourself as a person! So, instead of listing point after point about what you think you need to change about yourself. List one thing: 'accept myself'.

There are people in this world, no matter who you are, that probably don’t like you very much - don’t be one of them! By building your self-confidence and how you feel about yourself, you will find yourself in a much better place. I’m not going to suggest that you stand in front of a mirror and say out loud everything you love about yourself because, let’s be honest, nobody is going to do that. I will suggest you take some time out to get to know you and learn to appreciate how truly unique you are as an individual. This is not something that can be done in a day, a week or even a month; it’s an ongoing project that can take years, but the results will always be worth it.

Low self-esteem can play a key part in negative mental health and well-being such as anxiety and depression. Dr. Kevin Solomons, who wrote the book Born to be Worthless: The Hidden Power of Low Self-Esteem, quoted on Psych Central suggests that a fairly high self-esteem typically leads us to making healthy life decisions. By this logic, does low self-esteem result in destructive life choices? These can range from self-harm to using drugs to bullying others. In many cases people do these things to try to feel less worthless.

Given this, self-worth is clearly an important issue, which should be addressed. Here are a few ways to begin improving your own confidence, self-esteem and self-worth, either as a New Year’s resolution or from today!

  • Stop being your worst critic - Learn how to replace those negative thoughts you have about yourself. You can try cognitive behavioural therapy to think about things in a more positive way. For example, instead of thinking that you don’t look great wearing something, think of the outfit you do look good in! At the end of the day, at least you have clothes.

  • Stop comparing yourself to others - By comparing yourself to others, you will typically always find something they have that you don’t. The jealousy you feel will lead to insecurity and this insecurity will lead to low self-esteem. Instead, appreciate that every person is different in their own way and that is something that should be valued, not compared.
  • Build positive relationships. Seek people that know your worth. If somebody is constantly trying to make you feel as if you are not good enough or bring you down, they may be going through their own problems. If you can help them, do. If at the moment you cannot, don't feel guilty about cutting ties. If you appreciate yourself and you help others, others will in turn appreciate you. If you are kind and compliment your friends, they will treat you in a similar way.

  • Start saying no. People with low self-esteem often feel as if they have to say ‘yes’ to anything and everything. It is good to be helpful and do things for your loved ones, but agreeing to everything will just leave you feeling overworked and burnt out - some people may even take advantage.

  • Challenge yourself. Having self-worth is all about believing in yourself and your abilities. By doing new things, even things that scare you, you will feel a sense of achievement, which in turn will improve your confidence. People with a healthy level of self-esteem won’t usually let the idea of something being new stop them from doing it. Take a risk!

So remember, you can set as many New Year’s resolutions as you’d like, you can tell the entire world that 2018 will be ‘your year’ and that from the 1st January it will be a ‘new year, new you’ - but, don’t forget to accept yourself first.

Sam GlassComment