Start by focusing on positive self-talk, building your mental fitness, and celebrating small wins and successes.
Studies show that, whether big or small, celebrations matter because they offer opportunities to reflect and show gratitude. Enjoying big and small celebrations adds a little ceremony to life. Even our birthdays matter, because they signify your beginning and the joy of your life. With our birth, we are given a chance to fulfill our unique purpose, and those moments are worthy of recognition. And it is the collection of thousands of small cheerful observations that build the habits to celebrate our wins and successes, which in turn helps to hardwire these virtues and values into our being.
Though our environment can fuel motivation because it may offer praise, not everyone will receive that recognition or be in supportive environments that salute them. Therefore, it is essential that you have self-affirmations and pride in yourself to boost your self-esteem and improve your self-efficacy—that is, your capacity to create change outside of yourself. Celebrating and honoring yourself will put you in an ideal position to feel good about yourself, conceptualize ideas, and feel capable of leading initiatives. Feeling like you are a person of worth—having good self-esteem—is essential for all of us, and especially for women.
Having high self-esteem gives you the confidence you need to be joyful, which in turn helps you feel powerful enough to want to change the world. Think about it. As a very young girl, you may have had a high perception of yourself which declined over time. Do you now have difficulty identifying and naming the things you are good at and the things that you like about yourself?
As a child in elementary school, I remember being able to, without shame and with much pride, quickly and easily respond to questions about myself. “I am a really good at reading.” “I am good at spelling and math.” “I am friends with most everyone.” “I am really smart.” “I appreciate every one of my friends.” I enjoyed and celebrated myself consistently.
As I moved from elementary to junior high (middle school) and on into high school, my positive self-image declined; my self-esteem decreased. I become more self-critical and more aware and cautious of the ways I was perceived by others. I was especially focused on my looks, rather than the things that I was really good at, because I was an overweight girl. I was concerned about being seen as too self-congratulatory, so I waited for others to recognize and congratulate me. The internal power I had when I was younger began to wane as external evaluations by others began to have more value.
This process continued as I got older and by the time I got to high school, I had to be reminded that it’s okay to feel good about my own skills and talents. Though my self-confidence plunged, I continued to outperform boys academically. Consequently, many people mistook my success for confidence. What helped me start creating more positive self-talk and rebuild my confidence? I was fortunate to be surrounded by other women and teachers who supported me and who helped me create more positive self-talk.
I remember one teacher who focused on helping me develop and choose affirming and motivational mantras I used throughout the day and at again at night. They were simple, private declarations; “I am powerful”, “I’ve got this”, “I am a good and loving person” “I am a child of God”, “I am happy and cheerful” and encouraged me to at the end of each day share something about myself that I was proud of – I wrote these in my diary. Creating routine around these small celebratory moments and ‘wins’ made such a difference! I started sharing with others around me that I felt proud of myself…asking if they wanted to hear what I did today. These moments were focused on identifying and recognizing the power of myself and my ability to overcome real or imagined obstacles.