The gay culture of living the expectations rather than your own identity is somewhat difficult to process. Growing up, gay men are faced with a lot of negative messages which, take their toll not only in their childhood but adult years too. Interestingly enough, gay men (and women) aren’t only faced with the criticism coming from straight people but usually from their gay fellows as well. There is a bar of expectations set for every gay man out there – in terms of how to look, behave, who to hang out with, what careers to chase, how much money to have, etc. – and it often feels like too much. Because of this, it is not uncommon for people to have a poor self-image and end up with low self-esteem and low morals.

Rebuilding yourself is a very demanding process but worth every single moment you invest in it. The change doesn’t happen at a steady pace and is a very individual process.

If you’ve been feeling down or have recently realized your current behavioral patterns aren’t really bearing any fruit, here are some key aspects that can introduce a change in your life.

Stop comparing yourself with other people. There will always be people who have more than you and some who have less. If you play the comparison game, you’ll run into too many components you can’t defeat.

Stop putting yourself down

Often, self-hatred develops in the early stages of childhood and it is frequently connected to a child’s relationship with the parents, their social interactions, economic status, gender confusion, different physical appearance to the other children or lack of potential to fashion relationships with kids their age.  Later on, this form of behavior develops into a pattern which can jeopardize your life and future relationships.

You can’t develop high self-esteem if you repeat negative phrases about your abilities and yourself which is why you need to eliminate this behavioral pattern from your life. Whether speaking about your potentials, talents, appearances, your relationships, career, your financial situation, or any other aspects of your life, try to avoid self-deprecating comments for two reasons: 1) you’ll start believing (on some level you already do) that you are a failure and good for nothing 2) you will be sending the same message to people around you.

Accept all compliments

One of the ways to build a positive personal image is to stop deflecting compliments but rather accept them with a “thank you” and a smile. Each time you reject a compliment, you are sending a message that you are not worthy of praise. This is why you should learn to accept praise and grow proud of yourself and the actions behind those compliments.

Work on your physical appearance

In today’s climate, one of the most common reasons for self-doubt is our physical appearance. Regardless of our sexual orientation, we’re expected to look flawless at all times of day, every day. Naturally, to everyone who has a job, a family, after work activities, etc. achieving the Instagram model of beauty is impossible. However, you can introduce a healthy change in your life for yourself. Start working out, spice up your hairdo, freshen up the wardrobe, get your skin cleared and nurtured, have your teeth fixed, be sharply dressed so much so that, when you look yourself in the mirror, you fall in love with you. Is the gym too expensive? Go for a run around the block! Or maybe even invest in some equipment to workout at home. You can’t afford the dentist? Easy!  Invisalign in Sydney has become the latest trend of the young, allowing their teeth to look amazing without breaking the bank. Need help with your fashion style? Consult with one of your fashionable friends! See? It all has a solution.

Stop comparing yourself to others

No one is (like) you, and you are (like) no one else – and, that’s the beauty of life. You’re blessed with a life that’s giving you the opportunity to live uniquely, to build a world you’ll be proud of. Use it! Instead of spending days lamenting over the fact you can’t afford a boat, Santorini or a 14000$ fur coat, focus on what you can afford, who loves you and ways you feel you can grow. Use affirmations to enhance your self-esteem and include an LGBT aspect of it in them. A simple act of saying (and believing it) a sentence like “I like and accept myself” every morning will do wonders. Try it!