COVID-19 and My Self-Esteem

This sucks. Not all of it sucks, to be fair. There are some good things that have come from this pandemic and quarantine, but there are a lot of things that suck about it too.

First, let me say that I am posting this from the perspective of a person who has not had to be on the front lines dealing with this virus, or had any person in my life significantly impacted by the virus. This post is coming from a person who is sitting at home, trying not to go nuts because this is very different than the normal life she has been living. I am in no way trying to say that my experience has been awful but I believe that a lot of people are feeling similar to me and wanted to post for them.

I’m on day 47. I came home on March 19th from a possible exposure and my extroverted life just died. Eight days later I found out that I had not in fact been exposed but I stayed home anyway. They shut down the schools and closed everything down and that was that.

The first few weeks were filled with enormous amounts of anxiety. I was glad to be home and have a home to be in. But I was afraid. I was afraid of getting sick. I was afraid of having to face death isolated from people I love, alone. I was afraid of getting someone else sick because I was carrying a virus I didn’t know I had. I was afraid we were going to run out of food. I was afraid.

One minute I’m like this…

Then I saw some good things peaking through. I was able to spend time with my husband and niece (who lived with us at the time) without having to worry about where I had to be or what I had to do. We laughed. We danced. We sang. We played the Atari and realized how far we’d come. That lasted for about 20 minutes because it was super boring. I sat in the grass. I got to sit in the sun on a Tuesday. I made new recipes. I cleaned out the closets and organized my house. There have been some good things.

But my self-esteem has been impacted in waves. I’m not sure if the shifts in the self-esteem are a result of the the waves of emotions that hit (anxious, okay, worried, happy — they just come crashing in so quickly during all this) or if it is a stand alone issue.

The next minute it be like this…

At the beginning of all of this, I asked people on Instagram how the lock down was impacting their self-esteem. Some people said they felt bad about themselves because they couldn’t control their quarantine snacking. Others said they felt bad that they saw others being productive and did not have the drive to do anything themselves. Since then, some people have been “quarantine shaming” others by telling them they have to be using this time to do something productive, but I’m here to tell you that not all of this time can be used in that way.

We are dealing with a whole host of emotions and there are going to be times and days when you can’t just get up and be a superhero. There are going to be days that if you make it out of the bed, you’ve accomplished something really big. Some days we are just going to be surviving this. And while that is okay, living like that does something to your self-esteem for sure.

Let me say this: Comparing yourself to someone else will, more often than not, cause you to feel bad about yourself or your circumstances. Do not compare your day, or your hygiene, or your diet, or your activities to what you see others doing. Set a goal for yourself and do that. Monday my goal was that I was going to be thoroughly unproductive. And so I was. Last week, I had a day where I couldn’t make it out of the bed. I couldn’t even set a goal. I just slept to avoid all the anxiety and sadness I was feeling. And then other days I have done craft projects, cleaning, organizing, homework and worked on stuff for work.

Here are some things you can do if your self-esteem has COVID-19:

  • Give yourself a break. Realize that we are experiencing that none of us have ever experienced and it is tough. You don’t have to be amazing right now. You just have to do the best you can. Stop talking so negatively to yourself and about yourself. If you wouldn’t say that about someone else, don’t say it about yourself.
  • Write yourself a note of encouragement. It doesn’t have to be something fancy. It can just be as simple as “This won’t last forever. You are doing a good job and you’re going to be okay.” Then post it somewhere you can read it each day.
  • Write someone else a note of encouragement. A lot of times, when we turn our attention from ourselves to others, we find a sense of relief. Some of this may be that we are spending too much time thinking about our own situation and our own issues.
  • Ask for help. Reach out and talk to someone. Talk to a friend or loved one. You don’t have to open up about all of it (although you could), but you can start with “I’m having a rough day” and go from there. In my experience people want to help the people they love and asking for help does not mean you are weak. If you feel like you don’t have anyone to reach out to, I’m here. Send me a message and let’s connect. I’d be happy to help encourage you!

We are in this together! Sending you all peace, love and happiness!

Just Do It … Who Cares?

Over the past few weeks, I have been talking with a lot of people about this idea of following your heart, doing what you want… despite how you think that other people may perceive it: singing karaoke, wearing a certain style, jumping in mud puddles, or becoming a stand up comic, to name a few!

Saturday I went to the park and borrowed the bicycle of one of my young friends… It looked like this:

Needless to say, I got a lot of laughs and I was having a blast! Let’s think about what stops us from doing some of the things that our childish side urges us to do. Fear? Fear someone will laugh? Fear someone will judge? Fear you will be terrible at the thing and thus be viewed as a failure?

When we boil it down, it’s fear. At it’s root – it is fear. Now, let’s consider how that fear is impacted when you are alone and no one is watching. I bet most of you sing at the top of your lungs when you’re alone. Perhaps, those same people wouldn’t be caught dead singing at karaoke. I bet most of you have had the urge to go play in the rain, but have subverted it… “what if someone sees?” How is it that we can be comfortable doing things alone but as soon as someone may be watching we are afraid?

Rocking it out to Chumbawamba at Jeff’s Bucket Shop (Charlotte)

It boils down to how we believe other people will think of us. And that my friends is due to not loving yourself enough to play like you are loved!

The first, second and third time I did karaoke I was petrified. Let’s get something straight: I am a terrible singer! I do a lot of things well, but singing is not one of them. But, I LOVE IT!! So, eventually, I just said, screw it! I’m going to do it. And eventually, I had a great time. Now, I don’t care at all! I’ll sing pretty much anything.

Kiss a Dragon!

I’ve had people approach me after singing karaoke (multiple times) and tell me that my being up there helped them to find courage to get up there themselves.

I suppose they are thinking, “Well she did it and didn’t die, maybe I can try.” Maybe it’s “wow, they clapped for that? I’m not nearly that bad!” Whatever it is, that’s what it really takes: just a little bit of courage. Okay… maybe a whole lot of courage. But each time you do the thing, you get a little braver!

Pose however you want to!
Dancing the Macarena

So, take a chance! Sing the song! Play in the rain! Do an open mic night! Kiss a dragon! Pose however you freaking want to! Dance the Macarena with some waiter named John!! Have the courage to listen to that little voice inside that says “do it!” And in doing so, you will also be loving yourself. Because in the end, it doesn’t matter what they thought about you — it matters what you thought about yourself. *MIC DROP*

Self-Esteem Boosting Affirmations

I’m sure you’ve heard all the hype about affirmations — positive statements about yourself or the future that can change your life. Some people believe affirmations are nothing more than a load of BS… but there is research out there that would suggest otherwise.

Recently, I was listening to a report on NPR about a study that was conducted regarding the power of the mind in the production of hormones that were not naturally present in the body. Essentially, the people who had the hormone present were told they didn’t have it and the people who didn’t have the hormone were told they did. What happened was that their bodies responded to this new information in their minds and the mere belief that the hormone was present resulted in changes in their physiology!! The people who previously had the hormone and were told they didn’t have it, stopped producing it! And vice versa! So, the belief that this hormone was present or not present resulted in changes in their body that mirrored what they perceived in their minds!

In short, what you tell yourself matters on so many levels. Emotionally and biologically! Why not give affirmations a shot?

Where do I start?

If you’re new to this, or your new to the self-esteem affirmations you may need some guidance. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, let’s start by picking one or two things you like about yourself and write them down. We will focus on present beliefs and the development of future beliefs about yourself. Answer these questions and write the answers down:

  1. What physical attributes do I like/love about myself?
  2. What personality characteristics do I have that I like?
  3. What compliments have other people given me? (Often times, people see more positive things in us than we are willing to acknowledge in ourselves. If you are complimented often about your eyes, or your hair or your kind spirit, these people are on to something.)

Future-Oriented Affirmations

Now that you’ve got down the current things you can acknowledge, it is important to focus on the future. By talking about what you would like to feel about yourself in the future as if it is already happening, you can strengthen those beliefs. For example, one of my future-oriented affirmations is “I am enough.” My brain likes to throw up this old belief that I am somehow not good enough, smart enough, successful enough… blah blah blah. So by telling myself in the present “I AM ENOUGH” I learn to believe it. When those other thoughts pop up, I can fight back with “I AM ENOUGH!!” Ask yourself these questions and write the answers down:

  1. What physical attributes about myself would I like to feel good about?
  2. What characteristics would I like to develop?
  3. What would I like to believe about myself?

Excellent job!! Now that you’ve got all those written down, simply put “I AM” in front of each of them. Bam! Self-esteem affirmations! It’s hard. I know. But tell those things to yourself every day and you will begin to see the truth. That you are beautiful. That you are strong. That you are enough!

If you need some additional help, here are some great examples from Affirm Your Life — my favorite spot for affirmations on the web:

By loving myself, I allow others to love me as well.

Every day I appreciate myself more and more.

Feeling appreciated is one of the top priorities in my life, and I practice this feeling every day.

I accept myself for who I truly am, and give myself permission to grow beyond this.

I acknowledge all I have accomplished and am proud of my achievements.

I am a beautiful person.

I am a good person just as I am.

I am a magnificent, radiant being.

If you like those, it’s just the beginning. There are thousands of affirmations about so many topics! Go check out more affirmations from Affirm Your Life! They even have an app!

Learning to Love Yourself

Learning to love yourself is not an easy thing to do. It may be one of the tougher things, if not the toughest, you do in your whole life. We put ourselves at the bottom of the list almost every time. When things are piling up, we sacrifice so others don’t have to go without — we eat poorly, we stay up too late, we run ourselves ragged — and this seems to be a reflection of how we feel about ourselves as compared to how we feel about others around us.

Last night, in sharing some wisdom with my beautiful niece, I recalled the first moment (after my self-esteem tanked in middle school) that I realized that maybe I was not 100% disgusting/ugly/fat/bound to be rejected for the rest of my life. It was 10th grade. But first, let me give you some context.

7 year old me

I grew up with teeth that I inherited directly from my father.

I’d call them quite “gappy” and on top of it all, I sucked my middle two fingers until I was 12 or something absurd like that…

11 year old me

So, I had a gap. I was very sensitive about this gap and I don’t know why. I can’t actually recall anyone making fun of it. But many of the pictures I looked through show me with a closed mouth smile — even today that’s my go to smile. Anyway… I digress. By the time my 12 year molars started coming in, the gap started closing – as you can see in the 2nd picture. But in my mind my teeth were still a train wreck, until that day in the 10th grade.

I was sitting in geography class beside this guy who I thought was super hot. He had braces and said something about how much he hated them. I made a comment that he was lucky to have them (because my mom could never have afforded braces for me) and that I wished I had braces. He looked shocked and said back to me “your teeth are perfect!”

Then I was the one who was shocked. You mean to tell me that other people can look at me and see something pleasant or perfect even? Even if it’s just my teeth… That’s somewhere I could start. So I began gently, by finding what I liked about myself. It’s hard. It’s almost excruciating to sit down and make a list of what you love about yourself. But do it anyway. I started with the fact that I liked my cute little nose and my pretty feet. Then I grew to find qualities about myself that I liked — I am kind, I am funny, I am loving.

As I acknowledged these things about myself, it became easier and easier to find other things about myself that I liked. Eventually, I began to believe my whole face was pretty. Not just my teeth and my nose. Recently, I have been able to feel like my entire body is beautiful (thanks to the others in the body positive movement).

Last night, I told my niece I loved her out loud. Then I told my mom. Then I told myself. Out loud. So other people could hear… that I loved me. It was a little funny but super important. And powerful. And it felt really good!!! Have you ever said that to yourself? “[Your name here], I love you!” Try it.

It’s not an easy process. It’s a long process. It’s been 23 years since the 10th grade… wow. But I’m here. And I love me. And if I can get here, so can you! Start with a list of just few things you like about yourself. Maybe you’ll struggle to find even one… but find it. Then look in the mirror everyday and acknowledge that you like it. Then listen to the people that love you and acknowledge in yourself what they acknowledge in you. Start praising those parts of yourself too. Eventually, you will start seeing more of what you love about you than what you don’t love about you. And eventually, you will start treating yourself as if you actually love yourself like you love those around you.