Visit Angelica Williams-Rice’s Facebook page and you’ll find an abundance of “selfie” photographs, pictures documenting her weight-loss progress, healthy dinners she’s made or her children’s achievements. She doesn’t post them for shock value or praise, but because she wants to send her friends positivity through her images.
“I love taking selfies. Half of the pictures I take I don’t even put on Facebook,” said Williams-Rice. “I want to show people how to take negativity and flip it into something positive.”
Williams-Rice said nurturing her self-esteem began in her youth with positive affirmations from her mother, Victoria Williams. Following her mother’s death and her own divorce, Williams-Rice sought the help of a life coach to revive her self-esteem.
“I tend to focus on good things versus the bad. Like Louise Hay says, ‘you are what you think,’” said Williams-Rice. “I look at the laws of attraction. I want positive things to come my way so I have to speak positive things out into the air.”
When Williams-Rice is feeling down, she prays and tells herself positive declarations such as “I am loved,” “I am beautiful,” “I am more than a conqueror,” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
These aren’t empty phrases Williams-Rice repeats to herself. She’s seen the results of intentionally practicing high self-esteem.
“If you look at old pictures of me then and pictures of me now, you can tell I’m more confident. At one point in my life, I cared a lot about what people said, especially church people. Eventually I came to the realization, ‘I’m me.’ I’m more comfortable in my own skin now,” she said.
In addition to spreading the love on Facebook, Williams-Rice ensures a positive sense of self within her four children. She knows they’re not going to be perfect, but strives to mother “wonderful children.”
“This has been a huge spiritual journey to get to where I am,” said Williams-Rice.
Joan Breiner, vice president of the National Association for Self Esteem said like Williams-Rice, people with high self-esteem share one thing in common.
“They have the ability to navigate life’s ups and downs. They think they deserve to be happy – they have an expectation of satisfaction,” said Breiner.
She said on the contrary, people with low self-esteem don’t believe happiness is possible for them; think they are unworthy of happiness; and believe life will not work out for them. They also let others’ opinions drive their self-worth and over time, can become comfortable in their misery.
Turn on the TV, open a magazine or read social media and it may appear that society is full of self-loving people. Joel Davis, personal and professional development coach at the Coaching Cabin located in Indianapolis’ Broad Ripple area, said people shouldn’t confuse ego with self-love, adding that society has gotten good at the pretense of self-love.
“You may see individuals project themselves as confident and have high self esteem, but underneath, that is not always the case. People pretend to be happy at work, happy in relationships, pretend to be interested in things. We’re good at faking it and at some point, it collapses and comes out,” said Davis.
Due in part to the violence communities are facing, Pastor Claude Robinson, senior pastor of Greater Northwest Baptist Church, believes people are out of touch with the concept of love period.
“It goes back to the home. Kids aren’t being taught at home how to love. But the Bible tells us to ‘train up a child in the way he should go and when he’s old, he won’t depart from it,’” said Robinson.
Breiner knows there are individuals who have internalized negative messages they’ve received from family, relationships or society. However, she strongly believes boosting one’s self-esteem can be developed and begins with changing one’s mind.
“High self-esteem is a choice. Choose thoughts that support your wellbeing. Every time you do that you reinforce that muscle that says ‘I value myself,’” said Breiner.
Positive thinking isn’t easy, especially if low self-esteem is deep seeded, but Breiner said boosting one’s love of self is certainly possible.
“You cannot do it unless you are ready to decide to make a different choice,” said Breiner.
She also suggests practicing meditation and intentionally thinking about one’s successes each day.
“It could be as simple as brushing your teeth before bed even though you were extremely tired. When you start to make simple choices that support your wellbeing you build on that,” said Breiner.
Williams-Rice said she oftentimes tells people to affirm themselves aloud.
“Every day, look in the mirror and tell yourself you are beautiful and you are loved at least seven times. If you have to say it more than that, then say it,” said Williams-Rice.
Davis said individuals have the capacity to love themselves and finding and nurturing that self-love isn’t a “one size fits all” kind of practice. He suggests letting go of falsehoods we believe about ourselves; finding a healthy way to become better individuals; and working at it daily.