Many of us may experience low self-esteem at some point in our lives.
We have all had times where we have felt unworthy, inadequate and questioned our ability.
These feelings of inferiority and disbelief in oneself can extend into all areas of our life; our work and home relationships and interactions, and can even cause anxiety and depression.
There are multitude of reasons why a lack of self-esteem arises, but what we want to address in this article is how meditation can help mitigate feelings of self-doubt and low self-confidence, and foster feelings of self-respect and trust in oneself.
Meditation is a very powerful tool which affords us to meet, greet, and make friends with ourselves. A meditation practice invites us to meet ourselves just as we are, with acceptance and kindness, dismantling self-judgment and all related negative feelings into positive ones.
A meditation practice cultivates concentration and awareness, while offering us a clearer and deeper perspective about who we really are and what we truly want. So we are able to recognise and catch ourselves when negativity spirals and inhibits us from moving forward. We are capable to remain more calm and aware when facing our reactions and other people’s reactions. This generates lucidity, equanimity and the ability of not taking things personally. As we realise that our worries and anxieties are merely on the surface, we then start to rediscover a deeper sense of self-confidence, self-worth and trust in one’s own ability.
So where would one start without having any previous experience of meditation or mindfulness? Of course there is no substitute for finding a good teacher, and attending classes or workshops, however if that is not possible, you can start a simple meditation practice NOW. The key is making it regular and consistent, you do not have to sit on a mountain for 8 hours to get the benefits, just 5-10 minutes a day could help quiet that inner self-critic. Here is a simple routine you could try:
- Sit with the feet on the ground and back straight, shoulders relaxed
- Close the eyes
- Breath through the nose
- Just start to be aware of the breath, do not try to modify the breath
- Sense the touch of the breath flowing in and out of the nostrils
- If and when the mind wanders away from the breath, gently anchor the awareness back to the breath
- Continue for 3-5 minutes, practice longer if you desire
Such practices, when done regularly, allow us to remain non-judgemental when feelings of inadequacy arise, in the same way you remain aware of your breath in meditation. This creates space and perspective around the challenging situation and the freedom to move beyond automatic reactions. Through the stillness that meditation cultivates, the realisation of our inherent value naturally arises, and a knowing that what we do does not define us. This can translate to a life situation, for instance, when we have done our best, and had the courage to do or say our truth, we can walk away from the situation lighter, without any attachment to the outcome.
Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves, and is improved through facing and overcoming the challenges we meet with awareness, trust and patience. Such qualities are enhanced as we sit in meditation, connecting with a sense of our innate worth. This increased self-respect supports our ability to let go of others judgments, as we finally allow ourselves to live an empowered and successful life.