On International Women’s Day, Improve Your Self-Esteem by Correcting These Four Mistakes

As International Women’s Day 2022 approaches, I’ve been thinking about what to write to mark this important occasion. We’re living in such dark times that I didn’t want to write a blog outlining all the challenges women face these days. The challenges are real, but today I want to focus on solutions.

As IWD arrives, I’m thinking about how women can have greater self-esteem. I think that as women, we make four fundamental mistakes that prevent us from having good self-esteem:

1. We’re too attached to the male gaze and too fearful of being intimidating to a man.

2. We go after the superficial when we need to pursue the meaningful.

3. We’re too caught up in perfectionism.

4. We try too hard to please, instead of choosing to be kind.

Photographer: Carlos Martinez | Source: Unsplash

In 2022, we need to stop pandering to the male gaze

One of the things I’ve been noticing for a long time is how women continue to pander to the male gaze, as though we’re convinced that our value depends on whether or not men find us attractive.

I watch movie premieres and see women wearing skimpy dresses and stiletto heels, freezing in the cold night air, while the men next to them are in sports jackets, long trousers, and comfortable shoes. The women are trying to look cute and sexy, while the men are dressing to be presentable, but comfortable. It would be different if everyone’s goal was to be cute and sexy, but it’s almost always just the women.

It makes me sad that after everything women have accomplished over the years, we’re still worrying about whether a man will find us desirable. I have nothing against being cute or sexy — I just don’t think our value should hinge on these things alone. I think that a woman’s self-worth should come from a lot more than her appearance. It should come from a foundation of self-acceptance and self-love.

A woman should feel good about herself because she’s smart, curious, passionate, ambitious. She should be proud of her accomplishments, her career, her family. A woman should love herself because of who she is and what she does; not because some man finds her attractive.

Source: Pexels.com

Our confidence needs to come from a real place

Life is more challenging than ever. Our stress is at an all-time high. As women, we need more confidence, coming from a real place. Sure, we could pose for some vapid bikini shots, but what does that mean? Anyone with enough money can afford the requisite plastic surgery to look good in one of those photos — or they can get the images photoshopped to make themselves look amazing.

Unfortunately, the emphasis on the superficial is deeply unfulfilling and will leave you feeling empty, because it has nothing to do with the real you. Also, it won’t boost your self-esteem because, in this Insta-world, there will always be another woman who looks better in her bikini than you do. Comparing yourself to others is not the way to build up your confidence.

With all the problems we’re facing these days, we need more than ever to reject the superficial and look to the meaningful. One of the best ways a woman can boost her self-esteem is by contributing to society. This can be through social activism, volunteer work, contributing to a charity, or making art that speaks out against corruption and injustice.

Another way to improve your self-worth is to throw yourself into a passion project. It can be any type of endeavor, be it athletic, creative, professional, educational, spiritual, or personal. Working hard on something you’re passionate about is as deeply fulfilling as posing for Insta-stories is not. And the sense of accomplishment you’ll have when you arrive at your goal will be amazing.

Some women are afraid to call attention to their intelligence and accomplishments for fear of coming across as intimidating to men, but any man who can’t handle your greatness really doesn’t deserve you.

Source: Pexels.com

We’re way too demanding toward ourselves, but let others off the hook

One of the mistakes women make is that we’re too hard on ourselves. To have better self-esteem, we need to let go of perfectionism and recognize that we’re always growing and learning. It should be enough to be doing our best. We’re willing to cut everyone else some slack, so why not ourselves?

Some women get their self-esteem from being nice and pleasing to others. They give and give and are exploited by family, friends, romantic partners, bosses, and colleagues. They believe that being a people-pleaser is the same as being a kind person, but they’re wrong.

Photographer: John Cameron | Source: Unsplash

We need to switch out being too nice for being truly kind

Being a people-pleaser is about doing everything for everyone and nothing for yourself, in the hopes that others will like you and that this will boost your self-esteem. Being kind is acting from a deep compassion for others, but also having good boundaries. It’s knowing when to say “no,” and when to set limits on other people’s behaviour.

The people-pleaser is exploited and disrespected and is never there for herself. Her self-esteem doesn’t improve because she’s not being authentic in ingratiating herself to everyone. She knows that any positive responses to her actions are not for her genuine self. She also feels a bit humiliated, deep down, for being such a doormat.

The kind person is as loving to herself as she is to everyone else. She feels good about herself for behaving compassionately toward others, and she feels uplifted and empowered for taking care of herself in her dealings with others.

Source: Pexels.com

To sum it up, there are four mistakes women must correct in order to improve their self-esteem:

1. Stop being so invested in the male gaze. Be cute or sexy if it makes you happy, but not to get a man to validate your worth. And never hide your light under a bushel.

2. Contribute to society and/or invest in a passion project. Seek meaningful activities and accomplishments, as opposed to empty, superficial pursuits.

3. Let go of perfectionism and know that doing your best is always good enough.

4. Be kind, but not a people-pleaser. Share your compassion with the world, but never be a doormat.

In 2022, women need to give up these four bad habits. Great self-esteem is available to all of us, right now. What are you waiting for?

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Marcia Sirota

Marcia Sirota

Writer, speaker, MD, and author of the Short & Sweet Guides to Life book series