Question: “How can I learn to love myself? I have a low self esteem and I’m insecure and I feel like I’m not worth anyone’s time. This causes a lot of problems for me.”
I know the feeling. I think everyone goes through this at least once in their life. Everyone gets out of this rut differently. For me it was coming to the conclusion of, “Who gives a shit?!” I looked upon these feelings and concerns and then looked at the concerns of others in the world, and thought to myself, “wow, I feel bad because I look at myself and see nothing, but there are kids in third-world countries who are starved, diseased, and people looking at them in disgust, and I’m worried about myself?”
This was a few years ago and not long after my realization that I came to another realization of this “self,” this body I call my own, this body that’s been called this name all my life.
You can ask yourself, “Why do I care?” Why do you care? Are you not getting enough attention? Do you look like a stereotypical wicked witch? Are you being a cry baby because no one is stroking your ego? What is it? What is making your not love yourself, what’s giving you low self-esteem and insecurity? Meditate on that. Psychologically, it’s usually because of your egotism, low caring parents growing up, or some other traumatic life event.
In Buddhism, it’s important to love yourself. Because that’s the only way you can love and help others. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, how can you help others find their own confidence? And that’s the key word here: confidence. You have to have confidence in yourself, you have to believe in yourself.
Whatever you can do to help yourself, do it. I put sticky notes on my bathroom mirror with inspirational quotes, or words or phrases like, “Beautiful,” “wake up,” “everything happens for a reason,” “you are your own happiness.” Whatever you have to do to remind yourself to smile and laugh, do it. There’s no such thing as having low self-esteem and being insecure. Why have it? What and how is that benefiting you? It’s not.
The Buddha didn’t sit under his Bodhi tree and tell himself, “Ah man, I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know if I can reach enlightenment. I’m not sure if I’m capable and worth it.” No! The Buddha sat under that tree, touched the earth and made a vow, “As Earth as my witness, I vow to sit under this tree until I am enlightened!” He had confidence! He knew no matter what demons haunted him or what the other ascetics said about his path, he knew, he had confidence, that he would find the truth. And you must do the same!
Smile and be well!