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To ask if you've improved your self esteem, how you did it?

(69 Posts)
Housesellerihope Sat 19-Oct-13 18:32:47

I would rally like to be able to be respected for my opinions and behaviour at work in my professional job - think solicitor although it isn't exactly that as I don't want to out myself. However, I was badly abused as a child and have an anxiety disorder and low self esteem as a result. I also have bad posture due to a skeletal deformity that causes lumbar lordosis so hunched shoulders, etc. plus I'm short and can't wear heels due to said deformity.

I really know my stuff at work and my written reports are very good. But in discussions and meetings I either clam up or sort of lash out nervously. So i come across as knowing a lot less than i do. Although I get on well with my immediate colleagues the ones who don't know me tend to think I'm a bit weird at best and incompetent at worst.

So... AIBU to ask if you've had ishoos in the past with self esteem and self presentation? And if you've managed to get beyond them what did you do?

Sophiathesnowfairy Sun 20-Oct-13 21:36:20

I left my husband, helped enormously not having someone not telling I was shit and crap at everything everyday.

I still have low self esteem days. I just want to cry and hide all day. I think I am worthless. But generally, and please don't flame me for this, my faith has really helped me. I am made unique and who I am and I'm ok.

justmyview Sun 20-Oct-13 23:21:19

Small talk is over-rated

Ditto high heels (from your OP)

Talk about what interests you, show genuine interest in other people and be natural

Really interested how many people here are saying they felt more confident as they got older - I thought that was just me, obviously not

Financeprincess Sun 20-Oct-13 23:33:23

Spend time with fun, positive people who know how to be silly. Being with them will help you to think,"what the hell!" when you're worrying about doing something, e.g. speaking up in a meeting.

I didn't get confident until my thirties, so I agree that this sort of thing comes with age.

When I'm with nervous colleagues, and we're about to go into a meeting with third parties, I remind them that they are professionals, experts in their field, and more than the equal of whoever we're about to talk to. Try telling yourself that. Good luck!

howtoboilanegg Mon 21-Oct-13 00:12:51

Would like to echo the advice to meditate! I do yoga, and I have found it teaches me to concentrate on myself and what I can do and push myself at. As you grow more accepting of yourself, anxiety and worry about what others think fades. You grow stronger, mentally and physically.
A sense of humour or a twinkle in your eye helps build rapport with other people. And always always remember that it's like looking at your own reflection in the mirror or photograph - you are always much much more critical of yourself than anyone else is with you.
Age undoubtedly helps, and if you are comfortable in the clothes you wear too. Becoming a mother taught me that the big things matter and not to sweat the small stuff.

WilsonFrickett Mon 21-Oct-13 00:34:51

- fake it till you make it - I can be absolutely dying inside/completly out of my depth but I never let it show
- Learn how to accept a complement, then learn how to believe one
- learn to accept that not everyone will like you/be impressed with you/ give you the reaction you want. This is a big one. If 9/10 people love you, that's a win. When I had lower self esteem I would have focused exclusively on the 1 who didn't.
- trust your friends/partner/colleagues' judgement. They keep liking you/loving you/paying you - so are you so arrogant as to believe they are all wrong/stupid/deluded? Of course they aren't - they're right!

Finally - and this is to sugarmouse too - our society and culture prizes extroverts. But that doesn't mean our society and culture is in the right.

sugarmouse I'd be interested to know what the performance measures and competcny levels were for 'bubbly' and if any men have been sacked for not being bubbly enough?

Oh and feminism raised my self esteem too grin

conquita Mon 21-Oct-13 00:43:07

For me it has been a combination of all these listed below:
*Turning 40
*Speaking to a pysch about my childhood and realising how anxiety became my coping mechanism
*20mg a day of fluoxetine, taking this has changed my life. Particulary in social situations where I would constantly be thinking to myself 'am I talking too loud' 'Did that person just look at me funny?' 'am I talking too much about myself?' etc etc. Now, after 10 weeks of this medicine kicking in, I can embrace social situations with more confidence and 'trust myself' that if someone has a problem with me, then so be it, it is their problem not mine.
*Pilates classes once a week. I have been doing this for the last year and my posture has improved incredibly so, this has lifted my self esteem.
*Walking for an hour every day.
*30 day Shred when can be arsed
*And finally this book - which with all the above has totally transformed my way of thinking and made me a much better personwww.amazon.co.uk/The-Mindful-Way-through-Anxiety/dp/1606234641/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382312443&sr=8-1&keywords=anxiety+chronic+worry+mindfulness
Best of luck OP, more importantly you should be proud of all you have achieved in life.

YukonHo Mon 21-Oct-13 00:49:27

A good friend told me that she'd become a lot happier when she realised that most people's reactions to and behaviour towards her were FAR more about who they were than who she is. It really resonated with me. I realised I had actually been quite egotistical my whole life,believeing that if someone was a bit off with me it was because of something I had done wrong, rather than just that they were having a shit day/week/life.

That and a confidence coach I know turned to me and asked me why I was so damn HARD on myself and expecting perfection from myself and in turn everyone around me.

Now I care less and am happier. smile

HicDraconis Mon 21-Oct-13 04:44:42

Fake it till you make it - good in theory but can leave you feeling terrified inside in case someone twigs to the "fake" aspect and exposes you.

I took up karate smile there's a big spiritual background to it and one of the most important things they teach is self esteem. You have to feel good about yourself to want to defend it! Plus it helps when jumped up juniors are trying to patronise me (short/fat/female) knowing that a) I'm waaaay more qualified and better at my job than they are at theirs and b) my roundhouse kicks could send them into a heap smile

I have had many decades of non existent self esteem issues, both at work and in every relationship I've had.

Somehow out of absolutely nowhere I turned a cornee this year, counselling helped (2years worth!) which validated many feelings I had and made me realise the severity of abuse suffered as a child. The real moment was stopping all contact with my mother and sister and recognising my happiness is my responsibility.

Since I ditched my toxic family my self esteem has recovered to about 80% of what I think it should be. I still have some way to go, but my more positive approach is paying dividends in my relationship with my husband, we're happier together than we've ever been.

ILoveMakeUp Mon 21-Oct-13 05:23:43

Something that someone said to me once: "you know, we spend so much time trying to impress people, but actually those people couldn't give a fuck. They are too wrapped up in themselves to care about what you're doing".

So true. And when I stopped trying to impress people, my self-esteem improved immensely.

And work hard at what you do, be it a day job or SAHM or whatever. Hard work is great for improving your self-esteem and I'm a lazy bugger naturally.

daisychain01 Mon 21-Oct-13 05:30:44

Wonderful thread, very inspirational

Just to say, the reference to a woman needing to be "bubbly" makes my skin crawl, it is so sexist!! Reminds me of those job adverts for receptionists and secretaries, back in the dark days, who always have to be bubbly.

Men are evaluated on their skills, ability to seal a deal, manage 20 people, women have to be bubbly. Eughhh!

Houseseller (and all others on here), you make me proud to be a woman, keep up the self esteem, it's great!

binger Mon 21-Oct-13 09:17:54

I also suffered abuse and neglect with resulting crippling anxiety and low self esteem. I went for hypnotherapy. It honestly changed my life. It changed my negative thinking pattern and I learned to love and accept myself.

I still suffer with anxiety but I can manage it with propranolol when needed.

DressingGown Mon 21-Oct-13 09:26:45

Have been watching with interest as I have a lot of the same issues. But we can surprise ourselves with how brave we can be sometimes.

WilsonFrickett is spot on about the introvert/extrovert thing. You might be interested in adding Susan Cain's "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" to your growing reading list. Whilst a lot of us introverts have to live in a world that values extroverts, and that means learning to flex our personalities to fit in and keep up, it's important to remember and focus on our strengths. The things we are good at exactly BECAUSE we're not like everyone else. By all means work on the bits you think you can improve on, but please remember all the stuff you are great at.

Oh and help with the small talk?
I had a role that for a while needed a lot of networking/socialising/small talk. I was worries about it so approached it like an assignment. Did some homework - a bit of preparation. Armed myself with stuff in a small talk "library".

Visit the library and have a biography or autobiography (I find autobiographies more interesting as you see what the individual wants to say about themselves/how they see themselves). Not only will it show you (as lots of PP have said) that people are often so wrapped up in what they think about themselves they do not have the space to judge you. But also it builds up a bank of interesting snippets about people. Observations about events in their lives, how they approached things. I found people like John Humphiries, Kate Adie, John Simpson etc really interesting to read about. And then also gave me something to talk about. But pick your interests. You like film? Read about Barry Norman, James Cameron etc

In addition use a bit of University of YouTube. Think about something you are interested in. Or may be relevant to your career if possible. Or if not feasible (or too dry) pick something random. Kite-flying. Experiments using ice. And YouTube "how tos". Interesting, shallow, sometimes a bit odd and quirky. Perfect for small talk grin. Or watch "Mythbusters" on the discovery channel - they take a "myth" such as every car that drives over a cliff in a film explodes spectacularly....and test this myth. THey drive cars off cliffs. And found it was really difficult to get them to explode! Stuff like this to talk about is universally cool for small talk.

And yyyy....if someone is a bit odd with you one day it is 99% likely to be they are thinking about stuff in their lives. Not you.

TeamEdward Mon 21-Oct-13 10:11:25

ILoveMakeUp
This needs to be on a fridge magnet >>> "you know, we spend so much time trying to impress people, but actually those people couldn't give a fuck. They are too wrapped up in themselves to care about what you're doing".

MadAsFish Mon 21-Oct-13 14:43:47

SugarMouse, snap. I got sacked by email on Friday, six weeks into my probationary period.

SugarMouse1 Mon 21-Oct-13 23:28:06

Thanks everyone, sorry to hijack the thread

The job was as a waitress/bar person/barista in a posh exclusive health club. So not a tv presenter or anything.

MadAsFish, hope you are okay, it was good to hear I'm not the only one in this boat, ok if I PM you?

WilsonFRickett- no performance measures the manager just constantly compared me to my two female colleagues, Anna and Claire. (there were also two guys working in the same job, but he never, ever mentioned the) he just constantly said, 'Anna got a nice email sent in about her' ,and 'Claire is better at such and such than you' etc. He totally ignored there faults and blatant rule breaking- they both used to go for 10 + fag breaks a day!

Trying to decide whether to complain to HR, or see if ACAS can advise/ help me.....

SugarMouse1 Mon 21-Oct-13 23:31:00

Also, I agree our culture prizes extroverts and isn't necessarily right. It prizes a lot of things that are not right, like sexism.

I would love to move to a culture where this is not the case if there is one.

man4live Wed 23-Oct-13 10:42:58

Irony know if this will help but over time I have persuaded my girlfriend to change her tthinking from an assumption that she needs to be liked by everyone else and therefore if anyone doesn't like her assuming it to be her own failing, to approaching situations with an internal voice asking do I like this person? And accepting that not everyone gets on but that's as it shouof be.
Her general confidence has improved dramatically in recent years.
good luck!

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