There have been a number of studies in recent years that show there are growing numbers of gay men with low self-esteem. It’s still hard to be gay in many places in the world. While we face adversity from people outside our community, gay men are not always kind to each other. How often have you walked into a gay space and felt like an outsider?
Gay men with low self-esteem
Low self-esteem can lead to higher rates of depression, suicidal thoughts, risky behavior and problematic substance use. This is not something that should be taken lightly. And it’s not something you have to just grin and bear.
There are a number of tools that can help you boost your self-esteem. Learning to tolerate and challenge negative thoughts is a good place to start. How does one begin challenging negative thoughts?
What are negative thoughts? They are the work of a tough inner critic. They say things like:
You’ll never be good enough.
No one thinks you’re hot.
Why are you such a loser?
Affirmations can be a powerful way to challenge that inner critic and change your perspective. What is an affirmation? I’m referring to short and powerful positive statements that you can repeat to yourself in order to challenge negative thought patterns.
You can use affirmations in a variety of ways. I recommend brainstorming a list of 10-20 that feel meaningful to you. Think of statements that empower you and make you feel good about your strengths. If you’re struggling, I’ve included a list below that you can use as a starting off point.
How to use affirmations
Once you have a solid list of affirmations, pick 5 that resonate the most with you. Then repeat them to yourself or say them outloud several times throughout the day. You can add calendar reminders in your phone or post up a list by your mirror. The point is to repeat the positive statements often enough that you begin to form new neural pathways and actually rewire the way your brain works.
Here are 10 examples of positive affirmations that you may find useful.
- I deserve to have a supportive, loving and kind partner.
- I am enough, just as I am today.
- I accept my body as it is right now.
- I’m a compassionate, caring and strong person and I want to share those qualities with other people.
- I will forgive myself for any mistakes I’ve made in the past.
- I have the courage to be open and vulnerable.
- Asking for help makes me stronger
- No one, including my inner critic, has the right to make me feel unworthy.
- It’s enough to simply be present in the moment.
- Success is mine to define.
Which affirmations speak to you? Print this list out or create one of your own. Make a commitment to try saying these affirmations everyday for at least a week. Check in with yourself after the week is up and notice if anything is different? You can change the affirmations daily or stick with the ones you find most powerful. It will take time, but you can make positive changes.