How to Develop a Healthy Self-EsteemMarch 29, 2019
Esteem is the worth and value that we place on people, places, and situations. We have esteem for our world leaders. We have esteem for places of worship. We have esteem for an exemplary performance, whether it is in sports, movie, or simply doing the right thing. But the most important place we need to apply esteem is on ourselves. We must maintain our self-esteem in order to place appropriate value on ourselves as a worthy individual. Self-esteem can affect every part of our lives. If that esteem is low, our lives will be dull and gloomy.
Developing a health self-esteem could very well be the key to happiness in life. Most people’s feelings and thoughts about themselves fluctuate somewhat, based on their daily life experiences. The grade you get on an examination, how your friends treat you, and the ups and downs in a romantic relationship can all have a temporary impact on your wellbeing. Your self-esteem, however, is something more fundamental than the normal “ups and downs” associated with situational changes.
For people with a good self-esteem, the normal “ups and downs” of life may lead to temporary fluctuations in how they feel about themselves, but only to a limited extent. In contrast, for people with poor self-esteem, these “ups and downs” may make all the difference in their lives. People with poor self-esteem often rely on how they are doing in the present to determine how they feel about themselves. They need positive external experiences to counteract the negative feelings and thoughts that constantly plague them. Even then, the good feeling (from a good grade, etc.) can be temporary.
Healthy self-esteem is based on our ability to assess ourselves accurately and still be able to accept and value ourselves unconditionally. This means being able to realistically acknowledge our strengths and limitations (which is part of being human), and at the same time, accepting ourselves as worthy and individuals without conditions or reservations.
This audio-book can help you raise your self-esteem to levels that will enhance your life and the way you view life generally. It can make a tremendous difference in your quality of life. Learning techniques to raise self-esteem can be taught and put into practice in just a few days. However, it will take practice to keep your self-worth at a healthy level. You will learn how to improve your self-esteem within a short space of time.
Some people think that self-esteem means confidence. Of course confidence comes into it, but it is more than that. The fact is that there are a lot of confident people who can do wonderful things but who have poor self-esteem. Many people in the public eye fall into this category. Actors and comedians and singers in particular can seem to glow with assurance ‘on stage’, and yet off-stage many of them feel desperately insecure.
An individual can be strikingly attractive and world-famous, and seem poised and perfect, yet, deep down, still finds it difficult to value themselves. Public admiration is no guarantee of self-belief. So, if self-esteem is not quite the same thing as confidence, what is it? Well, the word ‘esteem’ comes from a Latin word which means ‘to estimate’. So, self-esteem is how you estimate yourself. And to be able to estimate yourself accurately, you need to ask yourself certain questions, such as:
- Do I like myself?
- Do I think I’m a good human being?
- Am I someone deserving of love?
- Do I deserve happiness?
- Do I really feel that I am an OK person?
People with low self-esteem find it hard to answer ‘yes’ to these questions. The concept of self-esteem can be summed up as: Confidence in our ability to think and in our ability to cope with the basic challenges of life and confidence in our right to be successful and happy, the feelings of being worthy, deserving, entitled to assert our needs and wants, achieve our values and enjoy the fruits of our efforts.
We also think that self-esteem is only about how we feel about ourselves at any particular point in time. While seemingly existing in degrees, we tend to believe that we have positive or negative self-esteem and that we make that determination simply by how we feel about ourselves. However, our feelings or emotions do not exist alone. We do not just simply feel. Instead, for every feeling or emotion that we have, either positive or negative, there is a corresponding thought that we have about ourselves that generates the experience of self-esteem.
Whether positive or negative, self-esteem is merely how our psyche experiences the thoughts that we have about ourselves. If a person has positive thoughts about himself, he will experience positive or good self-esteem. On the other hand, if the individual has negative thoughts about himself, then he will experience poor or negative self-esteem. Therefore, to truly understand what self-esteem is all about, and more importantly, to be able to alter it when necessary for one’s wellbeing, we must first understand that self-esteem is really about our thinking, and more specifically about the thoughts that we develop or create about ourselves. The thoughts or beliefs that we have about ourselves are crucial in that they determine the structure of our experience of self-esteem and the various emotions associated with it.
We also tend to think of our self-esteem as being something that is shaped by the events that take place in our life, particularly those from our past. We tend to believe that who we think we are and how we feel about ourselves is merely the product, effect or caused by the experiences that we have had in the past – it says that we are who we are by virtue of what has happened to us as human beings. More specifically, we tend to think that the cause in the matter of whom we think we are and our self-esteem is due to circumstance, situation or others, people, places and things. We do not tend to think that our self-esteem is something we actually developed or created. Our personal self-esteem is shaped by our past and the experiences we have had in our lives.
We created our thoughts and with it our emotions from the meaning that we gave to the events that took place in our life, especially at an early age. We give meaning to everything in our life including and most importantly to ourselves. At an early age the meaning that we give an event tends to be made out to be all about us. While events do happen it is not the events that are important but rather the meaning that we give them and especially how we made it out to be about our identity.
Living in a state of low self-esteem can be very damaging to the quality of life you lead on a daily basis. Your self-esteem is YOUR opinion of yourself, but far too many people allow others to influence or even make up their opinion for them. It sounds so very silly, but if you think on this you will realize how certain events, comments and encounters helped to “make or break” your self-esteem.
How to Raise Your Self-Esteem
- Try to stop thinking negative thoughts about yourself. If you’re used to focusing on your shortcomings, start thinking about positive aspects of yourself that outweigh them. When you catch yourself being too critical, counter it by saying something positive about yourself. Each day, write down three things about yourself that make you happy.
- Aim for accomplishments rather than perfection. Some people become paralyzed by perfection. Instead of holding yourself back with thoughts like, “I won’t audition for the play until I lose 10 pounds,” think about what you’re good at and what you enjoy, and go for it.
- View mistakes as learning opportunities. Accept that you will make mistakes because everyone does. Mistakes are part of learning. Remind yourself that a person’s talents are constantly developing, and everyone excels at different things — it’s what makes people interesting.
- Try new things. Try experimenting with different activities that will help you get in touch with your talents. Then take pride in new skills you develop.
- Recognize what you can change and what you can’t. If you realize that you’re unhappy with something about yourself that you can change, and then start today. If it’s something you can’t change (like your height), then start to work toward loving yourself the way you are.
- Set goals. Think about what you’d like to accomplish, and then make a plan for how to do it. Stick with your plan and keep track of your progress.
- Exercise! You’ll relieve stress, and be healthier and happier.
- Have fun. Ever found yourself thinking stuff like “I’d have more friends if I were thinner”? Enjoy spending time with the people you care about and doing the things you love. Relax and have a good time — and avoid putting your life on hold.
- Use the 10 minute technique. People with poor self-esteem often fail to give themselves enough time and space. So find 10 minutes every day to be alone and to just sit and do nothing. Some people find it helpful to close their eyes and imagine a country scene or the sight and sound of waves gently lapping against the seashore. During these 10 minutes, allow yourself to feel peaceful and happy. Enjoy this time. It is yours – and yours alone. And you deserve it. Finding 10 minutes for you is a caring thing to do and you will feel better for doing it.
- Act confidently. People will sense your self-confidence and respond positively to you, strengthening your image and self-image all at once.
- Practice breathing easily, freely and deeply and then think of it. It implicitly says you should believe in yourself and do it without any help from others, this in turn enhances your self-esteem.
- Think back to when you did something new for the first time. Learning something new is often accompanied by feelings of nervousness, lack of self-belief and high stress levels, all of which are necessary parts of the learning process. The next time you feel under-confident, remembering this will remind you that it’s perfectly normal – you’re just learning!
- Do something you’re good at. How about swimming, running, dancing, cooking, gardening, climbing, painting, writing… If possible, it should be something that holds your attention and requires enough focus to get you into that state of ‘flow’ where you forget about everything else. You will feel more competent, accomplished and capable afterwards, great antidotes to low self-esteem! And while you’re at it, seriously consider doing something like this at least once a week. People who experience ‘flow’ regularly seem to be happier and healthier.
- Stop thinking about yourself. This may sound strange, but low self-esteem is often accompanied by too much focus on the self. Doing something that absorbs you and holds your attention can quickly make you feel better.
- Remember everything you have achieved. This is where your journal can come in handy. This can be difficult at first, but after a while, you’ll develop a handy mental and written list of self-esteem boosting memories that you can refer to often. And if you’re thinking “But I’ve never achieved anything”, I’m not talking about climbing Everest here. They can be things like passing your driving test (despite being nervous), passing exams (despite doubting that you would), playing team sport, getting fit (even if you let it slip later), saving money for something, trying to help someone (even if it didn’t work) and so on.
- Choose something that brings about a good thought and focus on it when you are feeling blue. Country singer Clint Black wrote a song that included the lyric “Isn’t it funny how a melody can bring back a memory.” It doesn’t have to be a song, though, it could be the smell of a certain perfume that reminds you of a special person or even a piece of clothing that you were wearing during an especially wonderful time. Use this stimulus and focus on it. Let those good feelings wash over you and chase away those “I’m no good” blues.
- Clear out the junk. This means anything hurtful and nonconstructive that you’ve been told by someone you care or cared about (or even some you didn’t) is to be taken with a grain of salt. It is one thing to be given constructive criticism in life, but quite another when people are downright mean about it. Remember it’s the offending party’s issue. NOT yours.
- List first why you believe the negativity you tell yourself (i.e., I’m too old. I’m too fat. Nobody loves me. I’m never good enough. etc.); laugh at that piece of paper you just wrote on; THEN tear it up and move on to the next strategy.
- Count your blessings, which can include things people actually take for granted, such as food and shelter, access to a computer, etc.
- Make a list of what you love to do, starting from childhood until now and try to find time to do it at least once a week, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
- List at least three things that you would love to have the courage to do. Then formulate a plan to actually do them. You may not be able to at first, but know that if there are other people out there who can and do, you can too.
- Realize once and for all that your self-worth and self-esteem is defined by you and only you. You cannot rely on someone else for your happiness. Another person’s view of you is immaterial. Where happiness and self-esteem comes from is inside of you. Once you embrace that fully, the transformation will begin!
- Choose to be happy. Happiness is a state of mind. The Dalai Lama says that the very purpose of life is to seek happiness. He believes that if you train the mind to be happy, you will be. Likewise, you can train yourself for higher self-esteem.
- Be passionate about something. This can be anything. Be passionate about yourself. Be passionate about your hobbies. Be passionate about raising your self-esteem. Passion takes hold of you and feels like “fire in the belly.” It is a source of power that enables you to get fired about life and make a difference. The more passion and zest you feel the more alive and brightly lit you are.
- Reward your successes. Set yourself up for success by breaking big goals into daily action steps and take time to acknowledge and celebrate the small successes. This will feed your need for recognition and provides the extra push to keep you moving forward. Rewards could be as simple as that delectable piece of turtle cheesecake you saw in the bakery or as huge as a dream vacation. Either way, you deserve to celebrate your successes. When you do, you’ll be rewarded in many more ways than just materially!