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Individual Counseling, Couples Counseling and Sex Therapy

14 Essential Steps To Building Self Esteem

So many times in my office I hear about low self-esteem.  When I was reading one of Tara Richter’s books, 10 Rules To Survive The Internet Dating Jungle, I ran across a very interesting list of creative ways to increase self-esteem.  After looking up the original source online, I then added my own thoughts to create this final list:

  1. Create a Compelling Vision – Use the power of your imagination. Create an image of yourself as the confident and self-assured person you aspire to become. When you are this person, how will you feel? How will others perceive you? What does your body language look like? How will you talk? See these clearly in your mind’s eye, with your eyes closed. Feel the feelings, experience being and seeing things from that person’s perspective. Practice doing this for 10 minutes every morning. Put on music in the background that either relaxes you, or excites you. When you are done, write a description of this person and all the attributes you’ve observed.
  2. Create Goals – Use your compelling vision to create goals for yourself. According to a study done at Virginia Tech, 80% of Americans say they don’t have goals. And the people who regularly write down their goals earn nine times as much over their lifetime as people who don’t. Start by giving yourself credit for the things you are already doing that support your vision. Then, ask yourself: what is different about the imagined you and the real you? These are your goals. As your write your goals down, make sure they are SMART goals- specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.
  3. Start Small – Start with something you can do immediately and easily. Of the list you just made, which could you accomplish within the next hour? When we start with small successes, we build momentum to gain more confidence in our abilities. For example, if your compelling vision was to be more organized, and organizing your office is one of your goals, start right now by organizing the top of your desk. It will energize you!
  4. Do Something You Are Good At – What are you especially good at or enjoy doing? Regularly doing things that you are good at reinforces your belief in your abilities and strengths. This will also give you more energy to accomplish your more challenging goals.
  5. Get Motivated – Read something inspirational, listen to something empowering, talk to someone who can uplift your spirits, who can motivate you to become a better person, to live more consciously, and to take proactive steps towards creating a better life for yourself and your family. For example, I limit my exposure to naysayers and whiners. These types of people sap my energy and motivation. Rather, I surround myself with positive and supportive people, people who have at least one quality that I admire and want more of.
  6. Set Boundaries – In order to surround yourself with motivating people, you may need to clean out some of the dead wood from your life. Limit your exposure to aforementioned negative people, or people who make you feel bad about yourself. Start saying “no” to requests for your time. Remember that “No” is a complete sentence. By freeing up your time and energy in this way, you will be able to fill it with more positivity.
  7. Honor Your Feelings – In order to set boundaries, you have to be aware of your own feelings. Feelings are a wonderful “first alert” system that can give you additional information about your environment very quickly. But many people with low self-esteem think that their feelings don’t matter, so they ignore them. Change that. Keep a feeling list handy, and on a regular basis try to identify what it is that you are feeling. Also write down who you are with and what you are doing. This will also help you recognize when it’s time to set boundaries.
  8. Socialize – Developing intimate relationships with people will help improve your self-esteem.  Get out of the house or set up a lunch date with a friend. Socializing with others will give you opportunities to connect with other people, and practice your communication and interpersonal skills. No friends? Get out and meet people by doing volunteer work, or visiting meetup.com to find a group with similar interests.
  9. Help Others Feel Good About Themselves – Help somebody or teach them something. When you help other people feel better about themselves and like themselves more, it will make you feel good about yourself. See what you can do to make others feel good or trigger them to smile. Try giving them a genuine compliment, helping them with something or telling them what you admire about them. This suggestion is also a great way to build relationships.
  10. Get External Compliments – As funny as this may seem, go find a friend or family member and ask them “What do you like about me?” “What are my strengths?” or “What do you love about me?” We will often value other people’s opinions more than our own. We are the best at beating ourselves up for things not done well, and we are the worst at recognizing where we’ve done well. Hearing from another person relay our strengths and positive qualities helps to build a more positive image of us. But don’t just rely on external compliments…
  11. Make Internal Compliments – Write a list of things that you like about yourself. Then, expand upon it by considering what others have said about you. If you have trouble with this, start with your accomplishments, then ask yourself “What qualities does a person have to have in order to be able to do this?”
  12. Fix Your Negative Talk – Start becoming aware of any negative things you tell yourself about yourself. Write them down. Once you have done this for a day or so, go back and review your list. For each negative thing you have written, replace it with something positive. For example, if you constantly tell yourself you are lazy, say instead that you have been far too effective at conserving energy, and it’s time now to expend some.
  13. No More Comparisons – Stop comparing yourself to other people. Low self-esteem stems from the feeling of being inferior. For example, if you were the only person in the world, do you think you could have low self-esteem? Self-esteem only comes into the picture when there are other people around us and we perceive that we are inferior. Don’t worry about what your neighbor is doing. Accept that it’ll serve you more to just go down your own path at your own pace rather than to compare yourself. Pretend you’re starting over and begin immediately with the smallest step forward.
  14. Nurture Yourself – Last, but certainly not least, nurture yourself physically. Taking the time to focus on personal nutrition and fitness can be a daily reminder to yourself that you matter. Make taking care of you a priority, and others will too (If they don’t, see #6). Feeling good physically will also carry over into your emotional and mental domains and help you feel more confident!

*Adapted from 10 Rules to Survive the Internet Dating Jungle by Tara Richter, Certified Dating Coach, Author & Radio Show Host, http://www.tararichter.com

Original source: Jae Song & Tina Su on http://www.thinksimplenow.com

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