When I lost my dad I definitely felt as those I had lost half of my foundations. I often relied on him for reaffirmation, confidence and support and although my mum did her absolute best to fill this gap, she couldn’t be provide the love of two people. Growing up I have found that I have been searching for myself, by relying on a response from my mum that she simply couldn’t achieve, because I wanted her to support me and love me and be proud of me on behalf of herself and my dad. And only now, I realise how impossible I made life for her and for me! It’s not that I couldn’t please my mum, it’s that I couldn’t please myself, because I didn’t know who I was. The trauma of losing my dad had left me unsure of what made me a ‘good daughter’, and in turn my focus was on pleasing mum, instead of pleasing me. This relayed itself in work, in romantic relationships, in friendships and it is still a major obstacle for me today.
This, for me, has been a learning curve that taught me, that in grief, even in the biggest loss, the loss of self can be an even bigger part of the struggle and process. I didn’t expect that, and for years I didn’t even realise I had a problem with self-esteem, but I did and I do. I am anxious, stressed, depressed and angry at myself and at others, for not feeling good enough and for not having a clear direction.
Here are 4 ways that you may be able to rebuild self esteem:
1. Cultivate relationships with yourself and with others who affirm who you are
2. Are you often self-disparaging? Try writing down a list of self-affirmations to substitute your negative thoughts for positive ones.
3. Prioritise your actions – if you make a decision or have an idea, act on it .
4. Take your own dreams and wishes seriously.