Having a low self-esteem was the foundation that my mental health disorders were built upon. I didn’t realise this when I started to attend therapy but after the first few sessions it became very clear that my suffering didn’t just start from nothing. They had been built over a number of years until I reached breaking point.
Growing up I was always a boy low on confidence, but I wasn’t born that way. It all stemmed from a series of aspects of my life that gave me such a low self-esteem that I stopped approaching things with confidence, which, in turn, gave me a very bleak outlook on life.
All of these moments ultimately fall into the category of giving me the idea I wasn’t good at anything, so I stopped bothering. At Secondary School you had the brainy types who would go to Oxford or Cambridge and become Lawyer’s or Doctors, then at the other end of the spectrum you had the not so book smart people who would attend college once a week to study construction or electrics, they would become our tradesmen.
Then there was that little grey area in the middle and that was where I operated. Ultimately they thought I’d get the relevant GCSE’s in Maths and English and go to the Sixth Form to further my studying before deciding on University where I ultimately decided not to go. But any problem I had at school just never got dealt with. It simply got brushed under the carpet like they would do to me when I left, not my fondest of memories.
Others include my constant dismissal from the local Sunday League team which came as a bit of a double whammy because all my friends got picked to play every weekend. Meaning it felt like instead of just being told I wasn’t good enough to play it felt like I was being told I couldn’t hang out with my friends either.
Similar incidents happened with the school football team. One incident that stands out in particular is when I was actually selected for a game. My name was there on the sheet of paper on the notice board in the PE department, I was ecstatic. On the day of the game I walked into school via the noticeboard to see that my name had been crossed out, not with the same black pen it was written in, but with a pencil, so my name was clearly still visible. As I took a double take the PE teacher walked past and just said I wasn’t needed anymore before carrying on with his journey. I stood there for a while with tears in my eyes before another PE teacher walked past and saw. I showed him what happened and he agreed that it was unacceptable and confronted the PE teacher who did it and went mad at him before I was ultimately told I was selected again, but that’s against the point, the damage was done.
There you have just a few short examples of the contributing factors to my low self-esteem, after constantly being told I wasn’t good enough for most things I tried, I simply started to believe it. I began to believe that there was no value on my life.
But sometimes you need a hand or a shove. Luckily I got both and began to see the light and learnt how to rebuild my self-esteem, piece by piece. So lets take a look at how I did just that.
The importance in self-belief on our mental wellbeing is huge. From those few examples I mentioned earlier on with my PE teacher and old football coach its was pretty evident that growing up I didn’t have a lot of that.
Everyone remembers the story of Leicester City’s title triumph from the 2015/2016 season. For those of you that are not aware, Leicester City started the season as relegation favourites and were a crazy 5000/1 to win the Premier league, and thats exactly what they went on to do, losing just three games along the way to achieving football’s greatest fairy tale.
I can remember when I first started to believe they were going to do it. 06/02/2016, just three months before they would lift the trophy. I wasn’t the last person to think Leicester would win and I definitely wasn’t the first. The first person to believe they could win the league was manager Claudio Ranieri, soon to be followed by the players of Leicester City and I believe that the self-belief within that squad played a huge part in their title triumph.
I’ve had to apply that self-belief to some my own triumphs before, obviously not on a scale as large as Leicester City winning the Premier League but I can remember when people first got word that I was going travelling by myself, and their were some doubts amongst people that I could do it, and the type of person I was back then I can see where this doubt came from. But I had the self-belief that I could do it, that I could have a good time and that I could get the most out of my first backpacking trip. And all of those things did happen, and when I went on my second and third backpacking trips there was very little doubt from anyone, and it all started with the self-belief I had in myself.
Running a marathon is one of the things i’m desperate to scratch off my bucket list and i’m very hopeful of doing just that in April 2019. However, as it stands, there is no way I could run a marathon, but thats not to say I won’t be able to on the final Sunday of April 2019.
Starting with the baby steps. As it stands I can comfortably run 5k and with a few weeks training I could double that to 10k. From there I will build and build and introduce the half marathon and keep training until i’m prepared enough for the big day. If I have enough respect for the event it will return the favour i’m sure.
I believe you can apply this logic of starting small to a lot of things. Early examples of solo travel I did consists of travelling up north to Manchester to visit a friend who lives that way. That slowly grew until I flew home from Mexico by myself and before long I was travelling the globe by myself. And it’s from there I began to realise that a lot of the things I want are obtainable, there may be the odd set back, whether that be an injury while training for a marathon or a place I really want to travel to isn’t financially justifiable. I just have to start small, as we all do.
Don’t feel bad about doing things for yourself
For a long time I was put off the idea of doing things for myself because I thought it would come across as selfish, which sometimes they can do. You have to take this with a pinch of salt, because if people didn’t do things for themselves, well then everyone would be miserable all the time.
There’s a simple reason why I do what I do, why I go to the gym when I do, why I go to West Ham games and why I decided to sell my Foo Fighters ticket in favour of seeing Taylor Swift, because I wanted to. There’s nothing selfish with those things, that’s me taking a note of what I want to do to keep myself happy.
Selfish would be if I didn’t give up my seat on the London Underground on the way to a West Ham game for someone who needed it more because my legs were tired or if I got hold of all the weights in the gym because I would need them later on in the session and didn’t want someone else to be using them when I needed them.
There’s a huge difference between doing something for your own happiness and selfishness, and it’s important to not let the fear of selfishness get in the way of you doing things for your own happiness.
Accept that you can’t please everyone
People often tell me they don’t know why I put money into going to watch West Ham or question why I want to run a marathon. Whatever I do will always draw some level of criticism from someone, somewhere. There is simply no pleasing everyone. Once I began to accept that I couldn’t please everyone I found it easier to do things for my own self-esteem and it’s something I look forward to taking with me in all walks of life.
I take a lot of pride in the transformation i’ve gone through with my self-esteem these past four years. Although I may not be entirely where I want to be right now, I know that i’m getting closer and closer every day, and the key to that is everything I have spoken about in this weeks blog post.