Ben Bidwell, life coach, personal trainer, speaker, NLP practitioner, and co-host of ‘The Naked Professors’ podcast, answers your questions on self-esteem
I was bullied throughout my childhood. I’ve moved on, but whenever I’m stressed or under pressure at work, I fall back into those feelings of doubt, self-hate, and worthlessness. How can I get past this?
The role of our mind is to keep us safe. When those feelings of doubt, self-hate and worthlessness come up, understand that our mind is simply trying to keep us safe. Your freedom will come when you acknowledge what your mind is trying to do, but explain to it that you are safe, and are not under threat. Your goal is to counteract the negative self-talk with words of resilience, strength, and of how much you’ve grown since this experience.
I’m worried about a friend. More and more often she is avoiding coming out with us or not joining in conversations. I know she thinks she’s not interesting, but I’m worried she is going to push everyone away. What can I do to help?
The more you love yourself, the more you will allow yourself to be loved by others
Find a way to get time with her, give her space to talk to you, and ask open questions that invite her to explain more about how she is feeling. Be compassionate and empathetic with her, let her know you understand, that you are there for her, and that you are not judging her.
Be patient, kind, and curious; you are interested and she is interesting. From there, see if you can get to the bottom of her challenges, and reassure her that you understand. Build her trust and help to rebuild her confidence. Look to do small things with her where she feels comfortable, and slowly build on that.
I came out of a long-term relationship recently and I’m struggling with dating. I love the closeness of being in a relationship, but don’t feel good enough for a new love interest yet. How can I move on?
Sometimes we do need time. Don’t force yourself to feel differently if you don’t feel ready. While you sit in this space, use the time to fall in love with yourself. The more you love yourself, the more you will allow yourself to be loved by others and have a healthy, fulfilling relationship. Learning to love yourself starts with getting to know your deepest values, then aligning your behaviour with those values. A healthy relationship starts with the one you have with yourself – get that right and the rest, including healthy relationships, will follow.
My dream is to quit my job and start my own business, but how do I know I’m good enough, or if it will be successful? I’m so scared of failure and I don’t want to let people down...
It’s very likely you will never feel truly ready, or truly good enough, that is your mind doing its job of trying to keep you safe. According to your mind, it’s safer to stay in the job you have that’s got you to where you are and kept you alive so far. The challenge comes because our soul’s energy often craves more than just being safe.
If you want to live a fulfilled life you need to be brave enough to overcome the self doubt, get out of your comfort zone and take calculated risks, whilst making sure you still safe. In this case, the best way to do that is to work as hard as you can to create a vision and an actionable plan for your business whilst still in employment. It may never feel like the perfect time but once you’ve gone as far as you can and, despite the fear, you can also see the potential and clear possibility for your business, then be brave enough to take the plunge and go chase your dream having minimised the risk as much as possible. It would also be beneficial to look to a business coach for professional advice on the feasibility of your business.
I’m back at work after a year away and I’m really struggling to get back into the swing of things. Things have changed so much. I used to love my job, but now I feel left out and dread going in each day. Is there a way to stop feeling like this?
The thing for you to establish is what exactly has changed. Is it the job itself, your values or simply your attitude? If it’s the job or your values, then perhaps it’s no longer the one for you, and you need to consider if it could be a better move (emotionally and financially) for you to be doing something else.
Alternatively, check in with yourself to see if you’re are becoming complacent and envious of the things you dont have, rather than grateful for the things you do. The way we think and perceive things is everything, some people could have the dream job and still become complacent, we must remind ourselves to appreciate what we have. At the same time, you will always struggle to feel fulfilled if your job is out of sync with your deepest values. Establish where you believe the issue lies and take action from there.
Ben's tips for improving self-esteem
- Connect with your deepest values, then live by them.
- Don’t sacrifice what you want most, for what you want now.
- Do what makes you proud, fall in love with yourself.
- Get out of your comfort zone. When you do you’ll become proud of your achievements, and realise how uncomfortable it was to stay the same. Be brave, explore what excites you, and don’t be scared to fail.
- Live to please your own soul, not your ego or other people.