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3 ways to overcome negative self-image (and get unstuck)

overcome negative self-image - woman in bedroom

It’s human nature to get stuck sometimes. Stuck at a job we don’t like in a town we would rather leave, stuck in bad relationships or toxic, destructive thought patterns.

While it might seem obvious to just walk away from that job or that town or that relationship, the reality is, no matter what changes we make on the surface, (even though those can sometimes be the best decisions we will ever make) the biggest, most important step to getting unstuck, is to begin with the mind.

To overcome low self-esteem, you must become more mindful.

Often, the reason we settle for the job we are over-qualified for or the partner who doesn’t respect and value us, is because we are stuck in the grips of our own negative and disempowering thoughts.

When we experience setbacks and blows to our progress and self-esteem, it’s natural to want to take a step back and go into hiding.

I’m incredibly guilty of this, myself. But staying in that safe place where nothing bad ever happens to us isn’t doing ourselves, or the world around us, any favors. When we feel hopeless, unsure, confused, frozen in place, unable to make decisions or take a leap of faith, it’s a clear sign that there is work to be done internally.

The good news is that we all come equipped with the tools to get unstuck; we just need to make to the first move and the universe will follow our lead. Several factors contribute to feeling stuck; low-self esteem, negative self-image, and poor habits to name a few, but with a little self-evaluation and self-care, transformation is possible.

Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.” -Mandy Hale

Here are 3 ways to get unstuck and better yourself by overcoming low self-esteem.

overcome negative self-image - girl looking at camera

1. Evaluate your self image.

Negative self-image has the ability to destroy us from the inside out, if we allow it. Do you ever catch yourself literally hearing your own voice in your head criticizing you and cutting you down? Ask yourself where this is coming from. Is it the voice of a parent or teacher from your childhood who once projected their insecurities on to you?

Our minds are incredibly sneaky and have great success at tearing us down when we keep those thoughts silently to ourselves. But when we share them aloud, we take away their power. Make an agreement with yourself that when you hear those negative thoughts rolling around in your head, you will call a friend or write it down in a letter to yourself. Would you call up a friend and tell them how stupid and ugly and boring and nerdy you are? Would you journal about all the excuses your subconscious mind feeds you as to why you’re not good enough? Negativity is a silent killer, and it loses its power when we don’t allow it to eat away at us.
So when you find yourself in that situation, you have two choices: share those thoughts out loud, OR, find a way to change them. Sometimes calling a friend and sharing your pain is a great way to flip the dialogue and get some positive feedback, and other times, just the thought of calling them up and telling them how awful you think you are is all that you needed to make yourself realize that its all lies. By changing your thoughts and forcing yourself to see the good, you are bringing light to a dark place. The more you are able to utilize this practice, the brighter you shine from the inside out.

Whenever you notice your thoughts detour in to attack mode, say out loud or to yourself: happiness is a choice I make.” –Gabrielle Bernstein

2. Make intentional choices.

The other day I went and saw a speaker named Joshua Reeves give a speech called “The Power of Yes”. He said that every day, the average person makes somewhere around 30,000 decisions.

These decisions range from small ones, like which foot to place on the floor first, to big ones, like whether or not to sell off all of your possessions, move to another country, and become a monk. But with every moment, therein lies an opportunity to choose. And not every choice is a choice between something “good” or something “bad”, but every choice we make, whether it’s a conscious choice or a subconscious choice, alters the flow of our lives.

When you feel overwhelmed with decisions, it’s helpful to break it down in to smaller pieces so you are able to more easily digest the flow of life. Take a moment to slow down and make intentional choices. What are you saying yes to? Are you saying yes to growth, or yes to destruction? Which choice will bring you closer to your goals? Closer to yourself? Closer to the light you wish to emanate? Or as Oprah says, “what is the next right move?” What can you let go of that will allow you to chose the path of highest integrity?

Being conscious of the choices you make gives you power, and the more powerful you feel, the more confident you become and the more capable you are of getting unstuck.

It only takes one spark to light up the dark” –MC Yogi

3. Get moving.

Our emotions are stored in every cell of our bodies. Prolonged negativity can lead to illness, chronic pain, weight gain, and disease, to name a few. There is no separation of body and mind when it comes to our emotions. Sitting stagnant on the couch or at a desk trying to think of solutions is like sitting on the shore of a lake without a pole, hoping a fish will jump out and land in your basket. You have to cast the line.

You have to make a move. Movement creates flow not only of our blood, but also of our thoughts and our creative juices. Go for a walk, do some yoga, walk amongst the trees. Some of my greatest ideas and revelations have come to me when my thoughts were silenced and I was focusing only on the physical task at hand. Bringing awareness to your breath and to your movements forces your mind out of the hamster wheel of negativity and in to a place of receptiveness. Putting one step in front of the other, one dance move before the other, or one breath in front of the other opens your mind to the endless flow of ideas and possibilities available to you.

The important thing is this: to be able, at any moment, to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.” –Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Overcoming negative self-image and low self-esteem is possible. When you find yourself feeling stuck, ask yourself to be the representation of love. Choose the most loving voice in your mind, to be the most loving voice in the room, and the most loving voice in the conversation. Let go of the inner conflict and anxiety and intentionally choose the path that leads you to your highest self.

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Written by Sarah Mickulesku

Sarah is the founder and curator of AmongtheRoots.com. She received her BA in Journalism from Metro State University and is the author of the children's book, "The Woodchuck That Could Chuck". Sarah is a minimalist, rule-breaker, adventure-seeker and non-conformist. She currently lives in Denver where she spends most of her time immersed in the woods with her two children and her dog.

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