Self Esteem

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Poor self esteem seems to be the root of all evil these days. I sure as hell know mine has been rotten and although it's improving I wouldn't mind it still getting much better much faster. So, how to improve your self esteem.

The important thing to understand if self esteem is an issue for you, is that you still have to take responsibility for it yourself. Yeah, sorry, you don't get to use it as an excuse unless you want to live out your life wallowing in self pity and blaming the world and not actually achieving any personal growth.

So, you need to improve your self esteem, but you keep making crappy decisions and shooting yourself in the foot because of your self esteem, and your self esteem is kept low because of the continuing evidence of how terrible you are at living your life. Self perpetuating, chicken and egg, catch 22.

It is possible to interrupt the pattern, stick a spanner in the works and turn things around. It is possible to be kind to yourself, acknowledge where you've had a raw deal, a hard time, obstacles, difficulties – they can even all be not your fault – and still, at the same time, take responsibility.

You can challenge your own underlying assumptions, habits of thought, habits of action. You can let go of the past and stop the victim game cycle. You're better than that. You don't need to be a victim. You're big and tough enough to just own it now. It's ok now to just start trusting yourself, believing in yourself, and having a go.

It's totally ok to fake it. If you act as if you feel good about yourself, your thoughts and feelings will catch up. You can learn it by rote, just like the times tables. At least partly, anyway. Anything at all you can do to improve your self worth, however small, will accumulate if you keep it up, and the positive can disperse the negative like pebbles dispersing water in a bucket, each pebble added spilling a little bit more water over the rim.

In fact faking confidence is a great strategy, because how we behave in front of other people affects how they relate to us, which affects how we feel about ourselves. Think of yourself as an actor. If you can give a believable performance of someone who values their own opinion, respects themselves, has dignity, is interested in other people rather than introverted (which comes across as selfish) – they will respond accordingly, and you'll feel good, which will make it less of an act the longer you practice it.

This strategy is particularly useful when you have a responsibility to set an example, to children or employees. Modeling self respect is one of the most valuable things you can do for those who look to you for guidance.

Another thing which may be necessary in order for you to improve how you feel about yourself is to let go of some relationships, or at least minimize the time you spend around certain people, at least for the moment. You know the ones I mean, the ones who give you that feeling, the energy drainers, the subtle put downers, the chronically judgemental. Until you're strong enough not to let them affect you, avoid them. They've got problems that aren't your problem – don't let them be. If it's someone you're stuck sitting with at work, see about getting moved or transferred. If it's not such an easy situation to get out of, get some help from a counselor if possible, you're going to need it. Don't bother confronting them and trying to fix them, just keep out of their way and work on yourself.

If you find yourself frequently chastised and criticized, conduct a forensic examination of how you are relating to other people as well as who those people are. Is it not just the people you are allowing yourself to spend time, but how you behave and speak about yourself in front of those people? Are you inviting or encouraging criticism and admonishment? Find other things to say besides putting yourself down as an habitual source of conversation. You can talk about TV, movies, books, cooking, sport, holidays, cars, fashion – lots of other things besides how hopeless you are. If you catch yourself putting yourself down in conversation or portraying yourself in a bad light, STOP! Just don't do it. It's not necessary and it doesn't help. I'll concede if you're a stand up comedian doing a very funny routine which happens to be self deprecating.

Another aspect of how we present ourselves to the world is our appearance. Some might think it shallow, but I do believe that scrubbing up and looking your best makes you feel better about yourself. It needs to be to please yourself, i.e. your own personal style and sense of aesthetics, not conforming mindlessly to what you think others will like.

Keeping our belongings and surroundings in good order is also a sign of healthy self worth, so this area also warrants the fake it til you make it treatment. Basic things like clearing up after every meal and making your bed in the morning are usually not too much to expect of yourself. Push it a bit, wash the car, clean the kitchen window, or something that will give you a lift. Yes, having a clean car and a clean kitchen window makes me feel better about myself, that's normal, isn't it? Yes, of course it is, I have confidence in myself! ;-)

Here's another dead giveaway that you might have seen coming – your health. To have healthy self esteem you need to be respecting your body. That means going to the doctor and the dentist regularly, attending to any health issues, eating well, resting enough, not putting too much poison in and getting exercise. For your mental health you need some pleasure, some laughs, to show some generosity to others, and to find goodness in your fellow human beings. A nice hug is good, and smiling at people is something I also recommend.

Affirmations are a useful way to work on your self esteem. At the very least, wording them up in the first place allows you to put some thought into how you want to feel, the person you want to be. What does that person you admire, respect and love (that's you!) look like, sound like, act like, feel like? Write it down, say it out loud, tweak it. If you have trouble you can easily swipe, pinch, borrow or copy other people's affirmations. One I remember is: "I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious and happy". Might have been Louise Hay. Having some short and easy to remember affirmations up your sleeve like this can be handy for drowning out negative inner chatter that's getting in your way, a bit like turning up the radio to drown out an annoying sound.

Talking to yourself, internally or even out loud if you can get away with it, can help turn your attitude around when you sense bad thought habits creeping in. I can remember times of wandering around the house telling myself it's ok, I'm doing fine, listing small recent achievements, talking myself into tackling some small task, praising myself for getting up and dressed, praising myself for cooking a healthy meal etc. Whether your achievements are big or small today, give yourself credit for them, as overtly as you can. If you can't say it out loud, try writing it down, but saying things out loud to yourself can be quite powerful.

When you are unkind to others, this is a reflection of how you feel about yourself. Love yourself so that you may love others.



#1 Lynette 2011-03-08 04:13
I have taken a giant leap and decided to replace the carpeted areas in my home with laminated wooden flooring. Every time I looked at the marks on the carpets, I'd look at how much I would have to pack up in each room to get this job done! Well I've done it. Workmen are arriving today! I have cleared the clutter (doesn't help that I hoard everything!!) Well today is a new beginning - Clutter free home and feeling energized!


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