You’ve probably already heard about the growing trend, particularly in America, of emotional support pets. And if you’ve been following us for very long you will know that Ryder is my emotional support animal. Dogs make incredibly loyal and supportive companions for those suffering from emotional challenges. But ultimately, at the heart of almost every emotional challenge is that of low self-esteem.
I know I suffer from low self-esteem. My confidence in myself is growing little by little, but it definitely not where it should be. I have had trouble with my self-esteem for as long as I can remember. It took me a really long time to learn how to literally walk with my head held high. Feeling inadequate, I have always walked with my face towards the ground.
We live in a world where so many people suffer from low self-esteem that it’s the equivalent of an emotional epidemic. It seems to have become the “norm” to have low levels of self-esteem. In the social media age, it is very easy to get sucked in and compare yourself to somebody else.
The interesting thing about self-esteem is that it must be generated. It all comes from within – it’s not something you have or don’t have, and it certainly isn’t something you can buy. You have to be the one to make it happen. You must learn to be courageous and walk with your head held high.
Self-esteem is a Practice
Self-esteem is inextricably linked with self-love and self-love is a practice just like how yoga is a practice. You don’t just do it once, and then suddenly you become flexible. You must practice.
I was an athlete growing up. My dad was my biggest coach. One of the things he always repeated was “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent.” When I didn’t quite understand, he would elaborate by saying, “If you practice wrong, you will do wrong. If you practice right, you will do right.”
That was a really big life lesson for a little girl. It took years to figure this one out. Even as my confidence grew, one day I noticed my head was still hung low as I walked. It had become habitual. Make sure you make a habit of practicing your self-esteem.
Dogs can be incredibly supportive companions, but it’s important not to rely on anything external – be that a fancy car, an intimate partner, or even a loyal pet to prop up our self-esteem. It must come from within.
Anybody with a dog knows the emotional connection, warmth, love, and support that radiates from their little hearts. Is enough to melt stone. Indeed, this love is unconditional and there’s a unique form of comfort that can be found in a dog.
Dogs are often more healing, sensitive and emotionally supportive than humans – as they are great listeners, seem to have a sixth sense for when you are upset, they genuinely care, are somewhat selfless in their ability to love. They even adorn you with licks in order to let you know you’re not alone in the world.
In return, all they really ask is that we feed them with the best affordable dog food, take them for walks, cuddle them up, leave out a bowl of water, and keep their health in check.
Can Dogs Help Improve Self-Esteem?
Essentially, dogs can help relieve the symptoms of conditions such as anxiety and depression, but they cannot generate a high level of self-worth or self-esteem for you. You have to practice that one on your own.
The benefits of petting a dog, for instance, can lead to significant improvements in your health and wellbeing; as engaging in this tactile interaction has been scientifically proven to reduce blood pressure, lower stress, relieve depression and elevate mood in both the pet and owner. Your dog can help you socialize which in turn can boost your self-esteem. But their presence alone is not the answer.
Dogs can help you get more exercise. Getting out in nature and walking each day is a great way to boost your own mood and the endorphins you receive as a result of the exercise will raise your self-esteem, but it’s important not to treat our pets as a cure-all for everything, as ultimately you need to generate your own levels of self-worth, self-esteem, and self-love by engaging in a variety of practices.
It’s therefore imperative to ensure you give back to your pet in the way he or she needs, as with any relationship, it has to be a two-way street… and the more you give, the more you will get back in return.
Dogs are vitally supportive in terms of their love and emotional support, yet try not to lean on them so much that you forget self-esteem is something you must generate for yourself. What do you do to love yourself more? Comment below.