November 10, 2016

How To Improve Your Self Esteem and Become Confident

How To Improve Your Self Esteem and Become Confident

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along."

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

# 1. Practice acceptance, forgiveness, and kindness

Are you hearing voices?

No, not the kind of voice that tells you to walk around wearing a tinfoil hat.

I mean the self-talk tape that runs in our heads, seemingly on a continuous loop. It’s the voice that says “you’re not qualified enough” when we’re considering applying for a new job. It’s the voice that says “you’re not lovable” when getting dressed for a first date. It’s the voice that tells us we’re not (fill in the blank) enough in general.

Have you ever thought to question whose voice this is?

Who is it that’s actually speaking?

We weren’t born assuming that we are “less than.” At some point, we must have internalized these messages from our family, society, media, our classmates, employers. Why did we believe these things about ourselves and why are we continuing to play these self-destructive tapes when the original source may not even be part of our lives any longer?

When we start to notice these internal messages, we make them conscious. We can start to challenge their truth, and break free of the negative bias. We can turn a habit of negative self-talk into an opportunity to increase the flexibility of our thinking.

In practical terms, this means:

1. Stop yourself when you notice that voice pulling down your self-worth.
2. Don’t judge the voice. Just notice it.
3. Identify whose voice it really is. Your mother? Your ex? Someone else?
4. Dismiss it gently, returning it to its rightful owner.
5. Replace this voice with your own. What truthful and kind message can you feed yourself in place of another’s hurtful words?

Marnee Reiley, LMFT – www.YourOCTherapist.com

# 2. Practice mindfulness and meditation

We all have an inner critic. For most people this voice is relentless. Otherwise known as the superego, it is the internalized voice which lets us know where we don’t measure up!

However, this voice comes from the process of socialization which we experience in order to become ‘civilized’ and it is designed to make sure we don’t attract attention or are protected from real and often imagined risks. It is necessary for adults and other caregivers to teach us but long after this teaching has become useful we can be driven even in adult life by this critical part.

The key is to recognize when this is operating and to know how to defend against it.

By knowing it is normal and by recognizing when it is operating we can develop compassion for ourselves and start to get some space from the inner critic.

Mindfulness and meditation are very helpful here.

Even 5 minutes a day has been shown to have demonstrable results as we start to witness our thoughts and learn to pause as we ‘unhook’ from unhelpful stories.

When we detach from the stories we tell ourselves such as “I’m not good enough, I’m not enough, not successful enough, clever enough, pretty enough, funny enough….the list is endless, we can start the process of being with ourselves with compassion just where we are.

Taking a deep breath and being in the present moment, is often enough to recognize that in this moment which is all we have, we are ok.

Margie Ulbrick, LLB/BA/GD SOCSCI – www.margieulbrickcounselling.com

# 3. Focus on what makes you happy on the inside

In today’s society, with all the focus on the way that we look, materialistic possessions and sex can have a huge hit on our self-esteem. The media’s focus on superficial factors works to brainwash us into thinking there is a specific way we should look.

When we base our happiness on external factors in life (i.e., expensive possessions, the ideal job, or a perfect appearance), we are setting ourselves up for disaster. As we all know, we can’t control external factors in life. So, when we base our happiness on external factors, and then things don’t go as planned, we feel as if we have failed and this causes insecurity and this diminishes our self-esteem.

The key is to focus on what makes us happy on the inside.

As cliché as this sounds, real happiness comes within, due to the fact that we can ONLY control ourselves. Also, we can control what we tell ourselves and we control how we value certain things in this world. When we make ourselves the most valuable possession, we tend to appreciate ourselves more.

Change your thoughts, change your feelings.

How many times a day do you tell yourself something negative? Now think about how you feel when you tell yourself something negative, I’m sure it doesn’t feel good.

Now imagine if instead of telling yourself something negative, you told yourself something positive. How would you feel?

Try to pay attention to your negative thoughts, catch them right when you think of them, and replace them with a positive one. Then notice the change you feel inside.

Stop with the comparison

You are unique and wonderful just the way you are, yes you! Start your day with looking in the mirror and say to yourself… “Love yourself!”

Madlen Pashinian, Marriage and Family Therapist Intern – www.marriagefamilytherapist.net

# 4. Follow the 3 tips below

Many factors can result in feelings of low self-esteem from suffering with depression, anxiety, mood disorders, a connection to stress and other conditions. We are born whole, and the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts. Our wholeness is based on the following levels; mind, body, spirit and emotions. When we are physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually healthy, we are whole and our self-esteem is good. When we experience an imbalance in any of these areas our self-esteem tends to be lower and our lives compromised with challenges that lead to increased stress and feelings of inadequacy.

So much of how we feel about ourselves stems from what programming we had when we were young. We may have received messages that we are not good enough,smart enough, etc. and we internalized those messages and learned not to feel worthy.

So how do we begin to build our self-esteem?

The following suggestions can get you on the path to feeling better each day and truly liking yourself:

1. Choose one goal a day with specific action steps to help you achieve your goal. It may be choosing to read, exercise, go out in nature, sit in silence and focus on your breath (present moment awareness), volunteer or talk with a friend or support person.

2. Give and receive compliments. It feels good to spread kind words to others and when you receive a compliment, really receive it as truth instead of dismissing that the person really didn’t mean it.

3. Write your own positive affirmations. While it may feel uneasy initially, once you read the affirmations and internalize them, you will begin to feel good and worthy of whatever you desire and you will start to manifest what you want in your life.

4. Choose positive self-talk. It’s way too easy to be down on ourselves and get into a negative self-talk mode. This only perpetuates low self-esteem. We become our thoughts and what we focus on expands. So why not expand positivity? It is contagious and positive thoughts will deplete any negativity.

Feeling good about who you are and having that healthy amount of self-esteem will help you with living a happy and more successful life. It’s a process and well worth it when you can awaken each day with gratitude and self-love.

Connie Clancy Fisher, ED.D. – www.drconstance.com

# 5. Tap into the power of affirmations

From a young age, even before we learn how to talk, parents and caretakers lay the framework for how we begin to synthesize all of the signals we are bombarded with.

In most homes these days you can’t go twenty minutes without hearing, “Oh good girl,” or “Bad boy!”

Sadly for the development of self-esteem, these summaries of our worthiness begin to create a pattern of seeking external affirmation in order to guide how we create our self-image. Not only is our entire self-image based on what we do (problem #1), but we begin to constantly check in with others for their approval of who we “are” (problem #2).

We need to spend more time and energy encouraging the younger generation to turn inward: “You did that just how you wanted to;” “You made a plan, followed it through, and now you are proud of what you did!” This way, young people can dream up whomever they want to be and can build upon their personal strengths of character without the fog of outside voices.

As a Play Therapist, Family Therapist, and Yoga Instructor for kids and families, I have also witnessed the power of using affirmations to develop strength of character and facilitate a healthy level of self-esteem. We do the “Warrior Chant” which is simply holding a pose or posture while reciting: “I am strong. I am brave. I am peaceful.” [Warrior 1, Warrior 2, Reverse Warrior- 2 times each.] Most kids catch on quickly and begin to really feel these qualities in their bodies. They enjoy even making up their own postures and affirmations to go with them!

Other times, we will rest in a comfortable position and begin to think of a color. I ask each what the color makes them feel, and then when they rise, they color in an outline of a person with that color; finally writing their affirmation on it: “I am____________.”

These and similar exercises work for people of all ages (2.5- adult) and they encourage a more internal locus of control and increased sense of self-worth!

Jillian Chapman, MA, NCC, CCA – www.comeasyouarecounseling.com

# 6. Follow the 4 tips below

The term “self-esteem” is a widely used expression for assessing an individual’s psychological well-being. So what is it and how does one develop it? Self-esteem is what we think about ourselves, our level of confidence, and determines how we allow others to treat us. I have often told my clients that our parents are our first teachers. Our parents teach us who we are in the world by mirroring their perceived value or beliefs about our worth. For example, if your parents told you that you are smart, wonderful, attractive, and the next greatest thing that is what you will believe about yourself and what you will present to the world. The same is true for the opposite.

Self-esteem exists on a continuum from high to low. Depending on where you fall on the continuum, you will most likely experience varying degrees of psychological problems. Individuals with low self-esteem experience significant emotional and mental pain with high rates of depression, guilt, self-blaming, anger, social isolation, and physical health concerns. Individuals suffering with low self-esteem rarely remember where and when these feelings started because most the negativity has become integrated into the fabric of how they view themselves. When making the decision to improve your self-esteem, I recommend several actions:

1. Think about whose voice you are hearing during your negative self-talk

Negative self-talk is all of the bad things you say to yourself about who you are or what you are capable of doing. Most people tell me that they hear their own voices. If you listen carefully, most likely you are hearing the same things your mother, father, grandparent, siblings, or friends have said to you? Consider writing down a few of the negative things you say or think about yourself. Next, write down who you have heard say similar things in your life. It has been my experience that most people can trace their negative thinking back to its origin. Regardless of who said it, it doesn’t make their assessment of you or your situation true. It is difficult for most people to understand that the adults in their lives were just humans with flaws. Regardless of who said these toxic things to you, you don’t have to accept it as the truth.

2. You are not your past.

Many people have experienced difficulties in their lives, but the difficulties don’t have to define you. People will use their histories of abuse, abandonment, molestation, abortions, poverty and so many other things to define themselves and justify why they are not living happier lives. Holding on to the pain of your past interferes with you creating a brighter future. Forgive the people who allowed their pain and sicknesses to cause the pain in your life. They were not in a position to give you anything better because they didn’t have anything better inside of themselves to offer you. If are holding on to something you regret, forgive yourself because at the time you were not able to make a better choice. Forgive others, forgive yourself, and let it go.

3. Rewrite your story.

The way your life looks tomorrow, next week, and for eternity is up to you. What have you dreamed of becoming? What are you good at doing? How do you want to serve the world? What are you gifted at doing? What comes natural for you? What gives you joy? This is how you start to rewrite your story. It can look any way you want it to look. Will it require you to go back to school? To find an internship or volunteer with an organization where people are doing what you want to do? Be willing to ask for and expect to accomplish what you want for your life. The only way to rewrite your story is to do something different than what you are currently doing. Make a change.

4. Believe anything is possible.

Nothing will change about your life unless you believe it is possible. I believe in daily positive declarations which are called the “I Am” statements. Write down 5 positive things that you are willing to believe about yourself and say them several times everyday. When you first start saying your new statements, it may feel like false prophesy. However, within a short time you will feel, think, and behave in the ways you have declared. Once you have mastered your first 5, work on 5 more and so on. Your words and thoughts have the greatest power to change your life. Own your own life and story.

Dr. Imani Price – www.womensinnerfitness4health.com

# 7. Practice mindfulness

What am I worth? Am I good enough?

Unfortunately, many of us find ourselves basing our self-worth on a set of measurements, rigid rules and expectations…“if_____(I’m smart, thin, successful, in a relationship) than I’ll feel ok, good enough, HAPPY”.

The problem with this formula is that it often only results in more suffering, low self-esteem and feeling more disconnected from yourself, the people in your life, and the world around you.

When we are caught up in always striving to meet our expectations to “feel good enough”- our pleasure and relief comes at a steep price that you must work hard to continue to achieve. No wonder so many of us struggle with depression, anxiety, and addiction.

Freedom lies in accepting rather than fighting these feelings. We have become masters of avoidance and resistance- who wants to feel worthless?

Not good enough? So, instead of focusing on pursuing the things that matter to you, your relationships and being the person that you really want to be- you spend all of your energy trying to fight these uncomfortable feelings and end up feeling less confident and more stuck- your world becomes incredibly small and limited.

Ready for a change?

You may be thinking that “accepting these feelings” sounds great- but how? The answer: Mindfulness- which is connecting to exactly what is happening and how you feel right NOW with flexibility, openness, and acceptance.

Put out your hands and imagine that your hands represent the thoughts, beliefs and difficult feelings that are associated with your low self-esteem and lack of confidence. Notice how you can see your hands as well as the room around you clearly. Now begin to move your hands closer to your face and notice how it starts to blocks your view. This is what it’s like to live caught up in your struggle with low self-esteem and believing you are not good enough.

Mindfulness, being in the now, allows us to live in a place of expansion, engagement, and fulfillment instead of avoidance. This doesn’t fix your low self esteem, change your thoughts or make them go away but it’s possible to have these thoughts but not believe them, be limited by them, or fight them. In turn, you can live a rich, full, and meaningful life by doing what’s important to you, feeling connected in your relationships and be your best, most authentic self- imperfections and all!

Ashleigh Peterson, MA, CAC – www.liveinspiredcounseling.org

# 8. Follow the 4 tips below

Self-esteem is something that comes from inside, but we often look to outside sources to confirm our ideas about ourselves or to see what we can’t see. What we don’t often take into consideration, however, is that other people have their own motives for reflecting us back to ourselves. Maybe they are jealous of us or are angry with us over some past perceived slight they haven’t gotten over entirely.

Maybe they feel badly about themselves and don’t know how to make others feel better. Maybe they think that by helping us they will lose something important for themselves. Maybe they are struggling with things in their own lives and project them onto us. Whatever the reasons, other people don’t often see us any more clearly than we see ourselves, and we are all always interpreting things through our own lens.

Improving self-esteem must come from inside of us, too. Compliments from others are fleeting, but our knowledge of ourselves and what we do well is something that no one else can give or take away. Don’t allow others to have that much power over you. Here are some simple ways to improve your self-esteem:

1. Compare yourself only to yourself (not others). Are you doing better than you were yesterday or last week? Are you working towards the goals you have set for yourself? Are you stronger, slimmer, or more focused than you used to be because of that new diet or workout program or online training that you are doing? That’s the only true comparison you can make.

2. Never let yourself down. If you promise yourself or others that you will do something, follow through on it, even if it’s difficult. By doing your best and living up to your own expectations, you show yourself and the world that you’re worth it.

3. Release yourself from the expectations of others. Anything you think you “should” do is something to examine. If you really want something, you either are doing it or preparing yourself to do it. If you keep putting things off, ask yourself if it is something you really want or if it’s an outdated idea about yourself that you no longer need.

4. Compliment yourself every day. Replace negative self-talk with positive ideas. Notice what you are doing well and reward yourself. Be your own best friend.

Becky Bringewatt, MA, LPC, NCC – www.mantiscounselingandcoaching.org

# 9. Follow the 8 tips below

Every act, word, thought and decision we ever make will directly pass through the filter of our worthiness or the filter of our unworthiness.

All that we do and do not do in life is in direct proportion to our self-worth.

In order to behold a splendid life and manifest our dreams, it is vitally important to heal our self-worth first!

If you have noticed repeating themes/patterns in your life and cannot seem to figure out what is going on, I’d bet the farm that there is a hiccup in your self-worth that desperately needs your attention.

This was me. And in 2010 I set course to heal my wounds once and for all so that I could live the brilliant life I had always dreamed of. The results were so remarkably profound, that my work later became my first book!

Healing our self-worth takes courage, diligence and time. No magic pill here! However, once you’re on path, change happens quickly and soon enough you will know precisely why you embarked on this journey!

Eight Practical Strategies to Healing Your Self-Worth:

1. Mind your inner dialogue– Everything we think or say about self is what we will become. Become aware of your inner voice and change all negative statements into gentler, loving ones.

2. Take your power back– YOU are your own authority. There is no one who can tell you what is best for you, but yourself. Trust your soul knows what is best for you and be willing to live it!

3. Cultivate your authenticity– You were uniquely designed for a reason. When we act from our authentic center, we attract people and circumstance that support and celebrate our splendor. We have enough imposters on the planet. Show us what you got!

4. Build a supportive community– Surround yourself with people who are willing to encourage and support your evolution. We are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with. Choose wisely.

5. Set solid intentions– When we speak solid intentions to the universe regarding what we’d like to manifest/experience in our lives, we align ourselves for the receiving of those things. When we speak in defeat, victimhood and lack, we will continue the cyclical pattern we are trying to break free from.

6. Meditation– A quiet mind cultivates truth, awareness, intuition and peace. We make amazing choices when we quiet the chatter that typically plagues a disempowered mind. Make a daily practice of slowing down your thoughts and making space for your higher guidance.

7. Stop compromising self– Teach others how to treat you by the way you treat yourself. Learn your value as a priceless human being and live from that place. You MATTER.

8. Set solid boundaries– Boundaries are a way of setting limits with others that clearly shows them what is unacceptable for us. When we don’t express our limits, we are open game for others to trample on.

And one more thing… Be gentle and forgive yourself easily. You are a magnificent work in progress!

Kristen Brown, Author of From Doormat To Sweet Empowerment – www.sweetempowerment.com

# 10. Follow the 6 tips below

Did you know that self-esteem and self-value are the foundation for all other things in your life? It molds the way you see yourself, the way you see the world, and the way you interact with others. So how do you increase your positive sense of self?

1. Understand that it will be a challenge– We live in a “do more”, “be more” society. The messages that are thrown at us on a daily basis from the world around us implant the idea that we will never be “enough”. Recognizing that it will be a constant, conscious, battle to fight these messages that are being thrown your way will help to better prepare you for the challenge.

2. STOP comparing yourself to others– Part of our norm today is that we are constantly involved in social media. This creates a consistent opportunity and platform for you to compare yourself to others. The problem is, you’re not really comparing yourself to the other person’s “real life”. You’re comparing yourself to their “ideal” life, which is what their posts are all about. This also causes an epidemic of people who isolate themselves because they only want others to see their “ideal”. It really leads to an inability to be authentic and embrace the sometimes messiness of ourselves and the real life.

3. Gain awareness of your past– Take the step to dig in deep and understand where your messages to yourself come from. What causes you to feel the need to be “more” or “perfect”? A lot of times we receive messages starting at a very young age that aren’t positive. It’s important to take a look at these messages and learn to deprogram them. Counseling is a wonderful way to gain insight into these areas of your past with the guidance of a neutral, supportive person.

4. Take a good look at your expectations– So many of us get stuck in the “shoulds”. I should be folding the laundry, I should be going to that birthday party, I should… You fill in the blank. My question is why should you? Are these expectations you are putting on yourself? Or are these expectations that others are putting on you? Learn what you’re expecting of yourself and what expectations are realistic in order to be able to let go of the idealistic ones.

5. Practice self compassion– Give yourself permission to be imperfect. Give yourself permission to be a human being instead of a superhero. Realize that there is only so much you can do and let go of the rest. Prioritizing a list of things that are most important in your life is a good way to put things into perspective. If you concentrate on what is most important to you, it’s easier to cut out the other things and be kind to yourself about it. You are only one person and you deserve to be taken care of too!

6. Get to know yourself again– Many times when we have a low sense of self value, we base our worth on other people and totally lose sight of ourselves. Concentrate on getting to know who YOU are and what YOU want out of life. Revisiting what’s important to you and not everyone else. Take the time to get acquainted with yourself. You might learn that you’re actually a pretty unique and wonderful person!

Sarah Higgins, MA, MA, LPC – www.chrysalisfamilygrowth.com

# 11. Follow the 4 tips below

“You have to learn to love yourself before you can love anyone else” is a common phrase that most of us have heard throughout our lives. The reason we have all heard it at various times is because it holds a lot of truth. How you love yourself sets the foundation for the decisions you make about your life, your relationships, your parenting, and your overall happiness. Loving yourself can prove to be a challenge as many of us weren’t taught to love ourselves growing up, or weren’t valued and nurtured by the caregivers in our lives. It’s easy to adopt the negative messages that so many of us were given as children and sometimes as adults. Many times it’s believed that in order to love yourself, everyone needs to think you’re great and you must be close to perfect. If you do things purely for yourself then you’re “selfish”. SO NOT TRUE!

Be mindful of the negative message you are giving yourself. Whether they are messages that come from within you or messages you have heard from other people, learn to challenge those negative beliefs. Create a new pattern of communication with yourself. Take a good look at what other people say to you and filter it, rather than taking it all in as “truth”. Practice replacing the negative messages with positive messages and affirmations on a regular basis. The more you’re able to challenge the negative, the more you will learn to believe the positive and practice self-compassion.

In order to love yourself you have to learn who you are. Pay attention to yourself. What are your needs? What do you want? What are you passionate about? It’s easy to fall into the trap of putting everyone else’s needs above our own and totally lose sight of who we are. Once you take the time to get to know who you are, make sure to prioritize yourself. Take time to nurture yourself. Set aside time to do what you like to do and what you’re passionate about. Take care of yourself and your own needs rather than putting yourself on the back burner, or totally off of the stove all together. Understand that it’s good to set boundaries! Boundaries are a requirement in order to make time for yourself. Sometimes boundaries are required to cut out some of negative influencers in life.

Reach out to others if you are having a hard time mastering these skills and need support from a trusted friend or counselor. When you are happy within yourself and truly understand that you are loveable and have value, you will be able to clearly see who you are and love who you are. It will be easier to set appropriate boundaries because you will understand you deserve to have them. When you love yourself, then you will be able to experience fuller relationships. You will be that better parent or partner because you will happy within yourself. You absolutely need to build your foundation first.

Remember, the foundation is loving YOU first!

Shannon Elhart, Mindfulness expert – www.greenheartmindfulness.com

# 12. Follow the 4 tips below

Self- esteem is one of the most significant factors that determines the quality and shape of our lives. When we are growing up, the messages we receive from parents, peers, and the media help us develop a sense of our worth. As we are developing, our internal voice mimics those of our caretakers, as we gage how to regulate ourselves in the world. When parents are overly critical, we often believe that there is something inherently wrong with us, for example. Although low self-esteem can be quite easy to develop in our society, especially with social media’s influence, it can be extremely difficult to overcome.

Never before in human history have we had so much access to information, and ways to compare ourselves to others. Of course we see only the limited tidbits of other’s lives that they want to share. Then, we create the rest of the story and fill in the blanks, about how perfect other’s lives must be.

The first step to overcoming self-esteem is to stop comparing.

We all have different strengths, weaknesses, gifts, and shortcomings. As a licensed therapist, I see my clients struggle daily with their envy and projections onto others. Things are never what they appear to be from the outside. All human beings suffer. Even beautiful, wealthy celebrities, who travel the world in private jets, lose parents, have divorces, get sick, and face their demons. You never know what goes on behind closed doors. So, stop hurting yourself by comparing yourself to a fantasy that does not even exist.

1. Instead, focus on your strengths, and past successes. If you are having a tough day, make a list of all of the issues or difficulties you have overcome, and all of the successes you can think of. Then, make a list of all the qualities you do like about yourself, and your own unique gifts in this world. Set new attainable goals for yourself and achieve them. Realizing that you are capable of success increases self-esteem. Work on improving and growing your strengths. If you can carry a tune, take a singing class or join a choir. If you want to learn to speak in groups more comfortably, take a public speaking course. Work on things that are enjoyable and make you feel good.

2. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people. Release the toxic, negative people from your lives. People that believe in you, appreciate you, get you, and make you feel special are the only ones that should be allowed in your lives. Make sure you feel inspired by the people you are close to.

3. Spend time connecting to your own source of peace or higher power. Do this through prayer, meditation, yoga, walks in nature, or quiet time alone. Realize the vastness of this universe and complexity. There are no mistakes, and you are perfect exactly how you are. Can you improve in some ways? Sure. But, you are meant to be who you are, and to contribute your own unique gifts. Practice positive self- talk and affirmations from this place.

4. Finally, take on new challenges. Perhaps there are areas of your life that are very difficult. Decide that you will take baby steps to improve them. Don’t raise the bar to unrealistic standards. Set goals you know you can attain, to increase self-esteem. Volunteer to help others who are in need. Opening your heart, feeling compassion, and generosity, increases love for others, and self-love. A wise man once said, “To increase self-esteem, do esteemable acts.” This summarizes it. Instead of wasting time complaining or putting yourself down, decide that you will be the person you want to be. Take action, and remind yourself that you are worth it and you deserve it. And the world will mirror that back to you everyday.

Alisa Ruby Bash, LMFT – www.alisarubybash.com

# 13. Follow the 3 tips below

Each of us carry internal messages that we received from family, friends, and society as a whole. These messages often strive for perfection in whatever we may say and do. However, these messages are often someone else’s idea of how life should be lived.

The challenge is finding our own voice.

As we begin to find and listen to our own voice we realize that we continue to embrace the critical messages that have been part of our growth and development. If you can imagine, the critical mind is an accumulation of generations of thoughts and ideas, like a snowball collecting snow as it rolls down the hill, we unconsciously take on all these messages and add to it with greater depth and vigor. To begin to decrease this momentum we must cultivate conscious awareness. Without conscious awareness we are unconsciously contributing to the critical mind’s excessive stories. This in turn contributes to how we feel about ourselves. Here are a few ways to address the critical mind;

1. Through meditation begin to develop a detached, but accepting relationship of the critical mind.

Take time each day to be still. Perhaps begin with 5 minutes a day and build to longer periods. We are so busy in our daily lives that we are often on auto-pilot. Taking time for stillness invites an opportunity to learn more about self. Meditation creates space to step back from the “story” with compassion.

2. Create a compassionate, kind, loving mantra (sayings) when you notice the critical mind is present.

Sayings such as “I am enough,” “It is okay,” or, “I embrace all that I am.” These mantras provide an opportunity to notice the critical mind and your relationship to it. Instead of fighting the critical mind which only feeds it, notice it, and, perhaps say, “ah, critical mind is back.” You can notice the critical mind is present without engaging in the story. Without a storyline the critical mind shifts and moves (sometimes quickly, but often slowly).

3. Embrace imperfections.

What is perfection; except some idealized notion of how to live life. I often find myself embracing Pema Chodron message she gave at a commencement speech to students, “to not be afraid of failure and to embrace each failure, as it brings learning and experience.” Being human is embracing all that we are – we are enough.

Kim Bundy-Fazioli, Ph.D., LCSW – www.mindfulnessmattersinstitute.com

# 14. Be kind to yourself, be honest with yourself, and keep your commitments to yourself

The best way to increase your self-esteem is to consider what increases your esteem – or respect and regard – for other people. Most likely you esteem people who are thoughtful, have integrity, and walk their talk. That right there tells you how you can feel better about yourself: be kind to yourself, be honest with yourself, and keep your commitments to yourself.

What this translates to, first and foremost, is treating yourself kindly and compassionately.

Even if you don’t like yourself very much, you can feel better about who you are by striving to always focus on what you’re doing well, rather than beating yourself up for what you’re not so good at. Find something – anything – positive to focus on, reward yourself with breaks and treats for even the tiniest goals accomplished, and I promise that your self-esteem will start to grow.

What’s also important if you want more self-esteem is to be as honest as you can about who you are and what you need and want.

This means slowing down, getting away from the cacophony of modern life, and thinking through what’s essential for you to be healthy and fulfilled, then making choices – everything from what to watch on TV and hang in your closet to where to work and who to spend time with – with great discernment. The more you winnow your life down to essentials that absolutely resonate, saying no to anything less, the better you will feel.

The third step to building self-esteem is to keep your promises to yourself.

This involves following through on your intentions to be a great friend to yourself. Going to the gym when you say you’re going to the gym, eating healthfully when you say you’re going to make better food choices, looking at your phone less when you say you want to curb your technology fixation. When you stick to the goals that are important to you, even when it’s really hard, your self-esteem begins to skyrocket.

Ultimately, building your self-esteem comes down to working on your relationship with yourself. Rather than look to others to make you feel secure and successful, ask yourself what you need from other people – kudos from your boss? attention from friends? adoration from a significant other? — to be more confident, and then give that to yourself.

Dr. Amy Wood – www.amywoodpsyd.com

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