Whilst I talk a lot about my Golden Rules for better self-esteem, the one thing I couldn’t use them without is a knowledge of what starts me off thinking bad thoughts (and indulging in negative behaviours as a result). Without this, I wouldn’t even have been able to create the rules, let alone put them into practice and make things better for myself.
The Golden Rules are general and I feel they’ll work for most people, but the root triggers behind the things we do are of course unique. Some may be the same, some may be slightly different, some may be the complete opposite. So I wrote this post to discuss why knowing your triggers is so important, and how you can identify them so that you can use the Golden Rules more effectively and start your journey to better self-esteem and body confidence today.
What are my triggers?
As you can see, I know most of my triggers now – and that allows me to know what to avoid. But sometimes I don’t realise and I either have to remind myself, or I have to come up with a new coping strategy or put other things in place so that I can live with myself day-to-day much better without bad thoughts or harmful behaviours getting in the way.
Social media is a trigger for me – along with photoshopped images and selfies. When I talk to other people I find they struggle with the same things, or perhaps a blend of others. For example they may have one friend in particular that they envy, or have people who are nasty and no good for them in their lives (including partners, friends and family) who fuel their insecurities.
How can you identify your triggers?
To identify your triggers, you need to realise firstly when you’re thinking or doing things which are harming your self-esteem. For example, beating yourself up over the advert on the television. Considering a new diet. Feeling bad because you’re not the ‘ideal weight’ you want to be. Sometimes these can be individual situations, but sometimes they can actually be a chain of events all leading from the same source – for example, you could see the advert then feel as though you don’t measure up, so you go on a diet.
Once you see this happening, stop for a second and ask why. Why am I doing this? Why am I feeling like that? Was it a comment someone made? Was it a habit of weighing yourself (more about this here, here and here). Was it an image on social media that made you feel inadequate? Sometimes it’s surprisingly easy to see the root cause behind what you do and say and feel – at other times you might have to dig a little bit deeper. Then you can set appropriate boundaries to protect yourself from the things that harm your self-esteem – and that’s what the Golden Rules are all about.
Adapting the Golden Rules to fit your triggers
I made the Golden Rules using my own triggers, selecting the ones which most people identify with and tell me they also struggle with. So using the examples above, here’s how you’d apply my Golden Rules:
“Someone made a comment about me”
Golden Rule – Don’t give a shit about what other people think
How to deal with it: If the comment was purposefully malicious then you have to ask why that person wants to make you feel bad. Usually it’s because there’s something they’re dissatisfied with about themselves, so they feel the need to point out ‘flaws’ in other people (rightly or wrongly) to help them to feel better. This is just one reason why listening to comments other people make (and worrying about what they think) is futile – because not everyone is going to think you are amazing (and that’s okay). Remember also that often when we have low self-esteem we can even take compliments the wrong way if they don’t fit in with our ideal self – or simply feel that someone has said something negative about us when in fact they haven’t because our insecurities fill in the blanks.
“I weigh myself regularly and today I’m a lb over. Now I feel fat.”
Golden Rule – Stop weighing yourself
How to deal with it: I’ve been here. The solution? I stopped weighing myself (you can read more about that here). That’s probably not what you wanted to hear, but it’s one of the best things I ever did and I’m sure it’ll help you, too. Remember right now that weight means nothing – more on that and why you shouldn’t worry about that 1lb here.
“An image on social media made me feel bad”
Golden Rule: Avoid Social Media
How to deal with it: Again, a simple solution here. Cut it out! More here.
“I’m self-conscious about the size of my legs and I see girls everywhere who have slim, long legs. I wish I had legs like them.”
Golden Rules: Stop comparing and Find something you like
How to deal with it: Clearly this one thing about your legs consumes you. Perhaps you have body dysmorphia, or maybe you’ve become obsessed with looking like someone else. I had the same thing with various parts of myself (all of which I’ve come to accept), including my hair, my stomach, my legs, my boobs. At the end of the day we can’t change who we are, and we shouldn’t (link), but also we need to recognise that comparison achieves nothing (other than making us feel bad). It’s been proven that we rarely come off better when we compare, so it’s best to try and squash that habit. I also talk about self-acceptance in my books and in the Golden Rules – and to do this you can find one thing you like. So you don’t like your legs, but do you like your eyes? Your nails? There will be something.
If you’re struggling with any of these and haven’t already, take a look through my Golden Rules for better self-esteem here.
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