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Last Updated on January 25, 2021

6 Challenges in Life You Must Overcome to Become a Better Person

6 Challenges in Life You Must Overcome to Become a Better Person

Life is an uncertain roller coaster. You can choose to embrace it and enjoy the ride, joyfully learning from your experiences along the way; or you can choose to rebel against all of life’s challenges, resenting every moment of your journey. The latter robs you of any growth or development, while the former gives you the opportunity to learn from those challenges and become a better person for having experienced them.

While “better” may be relative, one thing is certain – “better” means improved. No matter where you find yourself, there is always room for improvement. Even a monk strives daily to improve himself, striving always to become a better person.

Challenges in life are a given, and they can be used to your advantage. Each one is an opportunity for personal growth and self-improvement. Ultimately, the goal is to use what you learn as you grow to become the best version of yourself.

Here are 6 common challenges in life you must overcome on your road to becoming a better person:

1. Loss

Whether you lose your job, an opportunity, or a relationship – loss is an inevitable part of life.

Regardless of how it happens, loss is one of the life’s biggest challenges. It can feel abrupt and disruptive. However, loss gives you the opportunity to reflect on what is truly important so that you to keep moving forward.

Losing something that you had, or really wanted, can be a welcome wake up call. Loss forces you to ask yourself, “What about what I lost was valuable to me?” and “What am I willing to do to get what I want?”

Choosing to examine your loss through the lens of these questions causes you to assess the true value of what you lost, as well as why you value it. Having a clear understanding of what you value and why you value it, is key to becoming a better person because it gives your words & actions integrity.

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2. Failure

There is not a single person alive who hasn’t experienced failure. To grow, you must fail. Failure offers a natural checkpoint on your journey, one that allows you to evaluate your recent behavioral choices so that you can make improvements. When you fail, you get the chance to review your decisions and behaviors, like an athlete reviews the taped footage between games.

Reviewing the decisions and actions that lead you to fail is an invaluable exercise. Understanding how the decisions you made led to certain behaviors and actions can prevent you from making the same mistakes again. Such a review can also reveal important details you missed the first time that would allow you to take a better and more informed approach the next time.

The experience of failure causes you to develop compassion, empathy and sympathy. Your experience gives you a point of commonality with anyone who has had a similar experience. Those three emotions are essential tools on your journey to becoming a better person because they allow others to feel safe and seen around you.

3. Setbacks

They have many names: missteps, monkey wrenches, unforeseen circumstances. But setbacks are ever present on our journey to becoming a better person.

We have all experienced a slow in progress, hindrance or delay on our journey. The challenge is understanding why the delay happened. What caused our progress to slow down or plateau?

You can intellectually know all the right things to do or say, but there are those moments when your humanness gets the best of you. Despite your best efforts to be a better person, you suddenly do or say something you regret. Perhaps you react in a way that is negative or out of alignment with your desire to become a better person. ITS OKAY!

Setbacks are learning opportunities. Having a firm understanding of the types of things that slow your progress will allow you to both avoid and preempt them.

Resilience is one positive side effect of overcoming setbacks. The journey to becoming a better person requires that you be mentally tough. Setbacks are an organic way to build that mental toughness while still maintaining integrity in your actions, and a sense of emotional awareness that promotes a safe environment where others feel seen.

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4. Establishing Your Moral Compass

Distinguishing right from wrong for yourself is an ever present life challenge. You may agree with one ideology today, and another tomorrow. Changing your mind is your right, and deciding where you stand is your responsibility. The two go hand in hand.

Deciding what you believe is important on your road to becoming a better person. Self-improvement is anchored in your own personal sense of right and wrong.

Most people act in accordance with their values and beliefs. Giving yourself permission to grow as person means taking time to reexamine them both. It is possible you will discover that your values and beliefs are no longer in alignment with your end goal.

Thankfully, your assessment of the misalignment will lead you to do what is necessary to once again find your true north. The ability to self-correct will serve you on you journey.

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5. Mastering Your Mind

Your mind can be a formidable opponent on your path to becoming a better person. It can pipe up with all kinds of negative commentary when things are not going well, and can have the power to derail you with doubt and fear – if you let it. Mastering your mind is one of the greatest life challenges of all.

Your mind controls your perspective, it informs how you receive and process your interactions with the world around you. Unlike other things you can claim mastery over after a finite amount of time, the mind can take some a lifetime to master. The challenge is showing up willing to do the work of mastering the mind everyday, while having a complete awareness of the infinite nature of this work.

Where ever you go, there you are; thus it’s impossible to hide from yourself. If your mind is unruly and unkind, then it will be hard for you to become a better person, primarily because you are not being better to yourself.

Luckily, there are a myriad of ways to begin the work of mastering you mind. The key is to create space for you to be with yourself in a healthy way that promotes growth. Some common methods to facilitate focused personal time are therapy, meditation, self-reflection, prayer, intentional silence, journaling and being out in nature.

6. Overcoming Your Story

Everyone was once a child. There are things you experienced that were outside of your control, regardless of their severity those experiences stay with you. Those experiences become part of your story. Overcoming the story you tell yourself about your own experience can be quite the life challenge.

Whether you grew up poor, didn’t have a lot of love in your house, or didn’t feel seen, it affects the way you move through the world. There are the facts of these experiences and there are fuzzy edges where our minds fill in the blanks.

For Example: if you say “I grew up poor and I am always going to be poor,” that is an example of your story taking control.

Comparatively, if you said “I grew up poor, but I am working hard now. I’m doing whatever I can to make sure I have all the things I need and am comfortable”– even if it’s hard, that is still an example of overcoming your story.

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I grew up in an out of apartments, worried about money, with feelings of unworthiness because of what I saw around me. I thought struggling was normal and survival was a default mode of being – it became part of my story. Yet as an adult, I had to make a choice, either I allow the past experiences shape my current narrative OR I focus on the circumstances of the present as a reflection of my current reality.

While the choice may be clear, the action required to shift the narrative is challenging. It requires intentionality and self-awareness. You have to be willing to let go of the stories that don’t serve you anymore, in favor of exploring the present moment to the fullest. Carrying around stale, negative narratives stifles your ability engage in positive self-reflection which is the corner stone of personal growth.

When you have set your story aside in favor of embracing the present, you encourage others to do the same. Overcoming your story empowers you to embrace this moment as opportunity to write a new story – one you are in control of. On the road to becoming a better person focusing on what you can control and letting go of what you can’t control is critical.

Final Thoughts

These challenges in life are common. No matter who you are, or where you are, if your goal is to become a better person, you will encounter these 6 challenges in some form or fashion.

Fortunately, you are now prepared to overcome them with grace and strategy. As you continue along your journey to becoming a better person, remember to let go of the things you can’t control in exchange for being present in the moment, create space for healthy self-reflection, give yourself permission to reexamine your values and beliefs, embrace the resilience that comes from encountering setbacks, allow your failures to be the source of compassionate resonance, and let loss teach you about what you value.

Now that you know what you have to overcome, get out there and summit those peaks, life is waiting for you on the other side.

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Featured photo credit: Luke van Zyl via unsplash.com

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Awilda Rivera

Success Coach - Author - Speaker - Yogi - Advisor

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Last Updated on March 30, 2021

How to Build Self-Esteem: A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power

How to Build Self-Esteem: A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power

Self-esteem is a driving force behind our confidence and how we see and feel about ourselves. It encompasses our sense of value, significance, and self-worth. That’s why learning how to build self-esteem is essential to personal growth and happiness.

Research has shown that over 80% of people struggle with varying levels of low self-esteem. Yet, having a solid sense of self-esteem has the chance to positively impact and powerfully transform every area of your life – from your relationships to your career, from your health and well-being, to your fulfillment and levels of success.

A deep feeling of self-esteem is something that needs to grow and be nurtured over time. In this article I will show you the things you can do right now to learn how to improve self-esteem. Then, you will realize your hidden potential and your self-worth.

What Is Self-Esteem?

While the dictionary defines it as “confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect,” put simply, self-esteem is the overall sense or feeling you have about your own self-worth or self-value.

Self-confidence, on the other hand, is more about how you feel about your abilities and will vary from situation to situation. You can have great self-esteem (feeling good about yourself overall) but low self-confidence about a particular situation or event (e.g. public speaking). Or, maybe you’ve got great self-confidence in an area (e.g. a sport that you play) but low self-esteem overall.

A strong and solid sense of self-esteem comes from deep within, from a belief in your importance, your value, and your worthiness. The good news is that there are many ways to improve self-esteem, which we will look at below.

Causes of Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem can stem from many areas. It is largely influenced by how other people see and treat us, and our relationships, which is why the influence of our parents has the most significant impact on our self-esteem. Here are some of the most common causes of low self-esteem:

An Unhappy Childhood

Those who grew up with critical, abusive, or neglectful parents are more likely to face challenges with their own self-worth, while those who experienced acceptance, approval, and affection are more likely to have a higher sense of self-value.

Traumatic Experiences

Lower levels of self-esteem can also stem from bad experiences or traumatic events, such as being bullied or being in an emotionally abusive relationship. Essentially, it can stem from anything that has brought up feelings of shame, guilt, or worthlessness.

Experiences of Failure

For some, lower self-esteem is connected to their success and accomplishments, or lack thereof, including experiences of failure, or not achieving goals or expectations.

Negative Self-Talk

Many cases of low self-esteem are perpetuated by negative self-talk. This could be a story that you have created yourself or that someone else created for you long ago that you continue to believe, and it gets in the way of learning how to build self-esteem.

Maybe for you, like for many others, low self-esteem is rooted in your feelings about your appearance or body image. It’s not just about how you look; it’s about how you feel about how you look. We are bombarded with messages from an early age about being too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, or too much of anything, or not enough of something else.

What Happens When You Lack Self-Esteem?

Low self-esteem can lead to significant physical and mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and addiction. In fact, research shows that adolescents who suffered from low self-esteem grew up to have more physical and mental problems, higher rates of criminal convictions, lower earnings, and challenges with long-term unemployment[1].

On the flipside, a strong sense of self-esteem will help you experience greater health and well-being, better relationships, and higher levels of happiness, fulfillment, and success. One study even correlated higher levels of self-esteem with higher earning potential[2].

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Assess Your Own Self-Esteem

Individuals with low or compromised self-esteem can see themselves as inadequate, incompetent, and even unlovable. While they often know at a “conscious” level that these things aren’t true, they still feel that way deep within. That’s what makes challenges with self-esteem so tricky; it’s often not about the reality of what is, but the perception of what someone feels.

Those with low self-esteem may appear socially withdrawn or quiet, negative, insecure, indecisive, unhappy, or even angry. They are more likely to find themselves in unhealthy relationships, have a fear of failure, and worry about what others think.

On the flipside, those with high self-esteem, more often than not, feel a strong sense of self-worth and value, feelings of confidence and acceptance. They tend to find themselves in healthy relationships (and ditch the bad ones), take care of themselves, and are more resilient when faced with setbacks, obstacles, and failures. In general, they tend to stand up more for what they believe in and aren’t afraid to speak their minds.

Self-esteem can be measured on a scale of high to low: while too little has its obvious downsides, you can also have too much of a good thing. Those with an overly strong sense of self-esteem may appear cocky, narcissistic, and self-important.

Finding the balance of a strong sense self of self-worth and humility is important as we go through life, which is why it’s so important to learn how to build self-esteem the right way.

How to Build Self-Esteem (A Step-by-Step Guide)

Self-esteem issues are generally found in the gap between who you are and who you think you should be. Paradoxically, most causes of low self-esteem stem from how others see or treat you, yet the solution to increasing your self-esteem is something that needs to come from the inside out, not from the outside in.

Learning how to increase self-esteem is not an easy task. While I wish I could wave a magic wand for you, what I’ve learned is that building and nurturing your self-esteem takes time. However, it is a worthwhile investment. Once you’ve done the work, you’ll reap the many rewards and benefits for a lifetime.

Below are some great strategies to start your journey.

1. Get to the Root Cause

Identifying the real, root cause(s) for your low self-esteem is one of the most important things you can do to build it back up.

We named many reasons above. Maybe one of them, in particular, resonated with you. Perhaps your parents said you were “never good enough” or that you wouldn’t amount to anything. I work with clients all the time who share stories of their parents’ behavior and the significant impact it has had on their self-esteem.

Whatever experiences you may have had, and whatever the root issue might be for you, I strongly recommend you get someone to support you through the process to identify and deal with it. Find a counselor, therapist, coach or someone who is trained in helping uncover and address these traumas, past experiences, and root issues. These folks have proven tools, tactics and strategies – and best of all, they help you experiment in a safe space.

While you may be able to do a lot of work on your own, my experience is that if you don’t address the root cause, that feeling will creep back in over time. You can’t run away from the truth, and you can’t band-aid over old wounds. You’ve got to get to the source, which won’t be easy, but if you want to learn how to build self-esteem, it needs to be done.

For this step, Lifehack’s Free Life Assessment may help. It can show you where you feel fulfilled and where you feel you are lacking. Try it today!

2. See Yourself How Others See You

See yourself how others see you, and talk to yourself as others would talk to you. What do I mean by this? Think about the person who loves you the most in this world.

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Now, take a moment, zoom out, and imagine you are standing in their shoes and watching through their eyes. Look from their perspective and see yourself as they see you.

What do you notice about you? What would they say to you? What do they love about you? What do they see in you?

3. Do Your Best

Simple advice is often the best advice. When you do your best and place your full effort into each and every day, you start to feel better about yourself.

Now, your best might change from day to day, and some days, your best won’t be as good as it was the day before. It’s important to remind yourself that you are doing the best you can with what you have, right now, in that situation, with that time frame, your level of skill or knowledge.

When you know you’ve done your best, you have no regrets and nothing about which to feel bad or guilty. If you do your best and then someone criticizes you, it’s easier to brush off when you know you did the best you could.

I ask my clients (and myself) this question all the time, whether they’re ruminating over something they’ve said, thinking about what they could have done better, or just disappointed about an outcome they had hoped to achieve. Did you do your best? If the answer is yes, then there’s nothing more you can do – until next time.

4. Engage in Activities That Satisfy You

The key word here is satisfy. Find things that give you a deep sense of satisfaction, a feeling of fullness and purpose.

Too often we engage in activities or relationships that leave us feeling self-conscious, empty, or terrible about ourselves. It’s time to put more focus, time, and effort to do those things that feel good for your body, mind, and spirit, and to engage in things that make you feel whole and full.

Identify what satisfies you mentally (e.g. solving a big problem or creating something new), emotionally (e.g. hanging out with friends or volunteering), physically (e.g. exercising, eating right, or taking care of your body), and spiritually (e.g. meditation or going to your place of worship).

When you engage in something that makes you feel good and, even more importantly, makes you feel worthwhile, you will experience greater self-esteem.

5. Identify Who You Are and Be True to That

Self-awareness and a little soul searching are critical to your success in life and key to learning how to build self-esteem. In some cases, lack of self-esteem stems from a lack of knowing the kind of person you truly are, and the value you bring. Many of us have spent so much time trying to fit in and please others that we’ve completely lost our sense of self.Spend time paying attention and getting to know yourself. Take time to identify who you are. Some things to think about include:

  • Identifying your strengths and talents
  • Acknowledging your value and worth, and uncovering your passions
  • Understanding your values and what’s important to you
  • Thinking about how you want to serve or contribute to the world
  • Acknowledging your blind spots

6. Accept Yourself

Make the decision to accept the imperfectly perfect you. Know that regardless of what you have been told, what has occurred, what wrong you have done, or what challenges you have faced, you are enough. You are doing the best you can with what you have.

We all want to be accepted for who we are. But first, we must accept ourselves.

7. Stop Compromising Yourself

When you let others push you around, put everyone else’s needs before your own, or cave in to what everyone else wants because you don’t want to rock the boat, it lowers your self-esteem. You are putting their needs ahead of yours, and your mind thinks to itself, “I guess I’m not that important.”

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I worked with two different clients just last week on this very thing. They were both putting everyone else’s needs ahead of their own, and it was having a significant and negative impact on their health and well-being.

Now, I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t take care of your kids and spouse, meet your work deadlines, or be there for your friends. But you’ve also got to take care of you. We compromise ourselves to fit in, to be loved, and to be acknowledged. However, if you are constantly compromising yourself, you will never truly feel satisfied.

How often do you let what others think of you or need from you dictate your actions or decisions?

If you want to learn how to build self-esteem, be strong, and stand up for yourself. It’s time to identify what you need and want for your life.

Decide what is important to you. Naming these things will give you an inner compass to guide you. Then, identify your boundaries and the non-negotiables in your life. What are you not willing to put up with anymore? 

Get clear on these things now, so when the time comes to push back, stand up, or politely say no, you have the back-up and inner guidance to do so.

8. Look for the Good

We tend to find what we are looking for. Put simply, people tend to (often unconsciously) look for things that reinforce what they already believe to be true.

The same goes for how you see yourself. If you believe you are worthless or unlovable, you will find data to back that belief up. However, if you believe you are worthwhile and beautiful, or courageous and strong, you will soon find data to back that up instead.

The challenge with those who suffer from low self-esteem is that they have gotten into a habit of finding what’s wrong. Often, there is a negative message lodged in their subconscious mind. In some cases, they’ve just gotten really good at seeing all their faults and shortcomings.

The easiest way to change what you see is to change what you’re looking for. Catch yourself doing something right.

Try this: Grab a journal, and for the next 21 days, write down 3 things you value, appreciate, or like about yourself. This might include acknowledging your wins or successes, things you are proud of, or noticing what you feel good about. While it may feel challenging at first, you’ll soon start to rewire your brain to see more of what’s right and less of what’s wrong.

9. Stop Negative Self-Talk

Much of your belief systems come from the negative story you are telling yourself. Your mind believes what you tell it, and if the story you are playing (over and over again) in your mind is one of the horrible mistakes you’ve made, that’s what you will continue to reinforce and strengthen through negative thoughts, which makes building confidence very difficult.

Tell yourself you are worthless and incapable; your mind will believe that. Tell yourself you are able and awesome; your mind will believe that, too.

Catch the negative self-talk and replace it with positive self-talk today if you want to learn how to build self-esteem.

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10. Find Your Tribe

Since so much of our self-esteem is influenced by our relationships and how others see and treat us, it’s even more critical that you surround yourself with healthy, uplifting, encouraging, and supportive people.

Find people who know the real you, people who can speak to the value you bring, your talents and worth. These are people who can be real with you, sharing the positive and the constructive in an uplifting way.

11. Take Chances

Many great minds have shared that failure has been key to their success, the stepping stone to their greatness, and the catalyst to their growth. You might have heard the stories about Michael Jordan being cut from his varsity basketball team, Oprah Winfrey being told she wasn’t “meant to be on TV,” and Steven Spielberg being rejected for film school not just once, but three times.

Taking chances, experiencing failure, and building resilience is key to learning how to build self-esteem. After all, if you never take a chance, you will never know – and you’ll stay stuck in your story.

12. Find Meaning and Create Goals

As humans, we all need to learn, develop, grow, and contribute. When you are suffering from low self-esteem, this can create a vicious cycle:

You don’t feel great about yourself, so you don’t go out there and make stuff happen. Because you’re not being successful, you feel a lack of self-worth.

    It’s time to break the cycle.

    Take steps that allow you to become who you are truly capable of being. Perhaps this is about finding something that gives you meaning, or maybe it’s about the steps you need to take to get from where you are to where you want to be. For example, the act of helping others (contributing, volunteering and being kind) have shown to not only increases self-esteem, but also happiness, health, and satisfaction[3].

    Start with something small and work your way up. Each small success will bring about greater confidence and, ultimately, a stronger sense of self-esteem.

    The Bottom Line

    The journey to higher self-esteem will be challenging, but the challenge is what builds depth, strength, character and resilience. If the reward is greater self-esteem, which leads to greater relationships, a better career, increased health and well being, more success, and a greater sense of self-worth, it’s worth it.

    While you live in a society where you are constantly bombarded with messages of not being enough and how you could be better, just remember this:

    You are deserving of love, happiness, and success. You are imperfectly perfect. It’s not by chance that you have arrived here, on this planet, at this very time, and even if you feel inadequate, unlovable, or unworthy, know that you are none of those things.

    You may not be able to believe this yet, but some part of you, deep down inside, knows this to be true.

    Now, it’s time to take the steps above and realize it for yourself.

    More on How to Build Self-Esteem

    Featured photo credit: Barbora Polednová via unsplash.com

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