The good news is that you don’t have to suffer from low self esteem for the rest of your life. Today you can begin to do something about it. It is an “inside job” – not one that can be fixed with a nose job, good makeup or a better haircut and you are the one who can make it happen. Six things you can do to improve your self esteem are:
1. Become aware of your thinking? Most of our poor self esteem comes from our own thinking. Do you know what your thinking patterns are? Most of us do not. So begin to monitor your thoughts – act like a witness on the outside looking in. Are your thoughts about yourself primarily negative? Do you play the “poor me” game or the “I’m a victim” role in you life’s drama? Most of us are not aware of our thinking patterns and, when we tune in, are surprised to discover how negative our thinking is about ourselves. Once you are aware of your thought patterns you can begin to change them. If you notice you are saying things like “If only I…,” I can’t, I don’t, I won’t, I should, If I could, etc. you have a perfect clue about where you need to start. Work on your thinking until it is reflected by statements that say, “I can and I will.”
Video: 10 Tips for Improving Self Esteem
2. Change your self talk. This goes hand in hand with changing your thinking patterns. What is your self talk when you make a mistake? Do you think, “How can I be so stupid?” or “I’ll never get it right?” or “I knew I’d mess it up?” We all make mistakes. The next time why not try saying something to yourself like, “You messed up. but you did the best you could and the next time you’ll do better.” When you look in the mirror what do you think and what do you say to yourself? Do you call yourself ugly? Do you ever like what you see and tell yourself, “Hey, you look awesome today?” Why not? Do you speak as kindly about yourself as you do about other people? If not, start today paying yourself compliments. You’ll be surprised at how nice it is and how good it makes you feel. The most important person you have to please is you.
3. Make lists. Not just any list. Make a lists of your strengths, of the things you enjoy, and of things you appreciate or that you’re most grateful for. This will help you dwell on the positives in your life. If you are thinking about the good things about yourself and making a list of everything you have to be grateful for, it’s harder to return to self deprecating thoughts and behaviors. Changing your thinking in general from negative to positive will create dramatic change in a relatively short period of time. Get yourself an inexpensive notebook – perhaps a spiral notebook with several tabs – and begin to fill it with your positive lists. Write in it before you go to work in the morning and before you go to bed at night. This begins and ends your day on a positive note.
4. Know what you believe. What do you believe that you have thought through for yourself and wholeheartedly accepted? What do you believe about God, about religion, about government and politics, about the purpose of life, about beauty, about education, about the roles of men and women, about love, about marriage, about goodness, about morality? You know – those things? My mother did the best she could and she was a great mom. But she taught me things that simply don’t apply today. For instance, women can only work in teaching, nursing and secretarial roles and should stay away from men’s jobs. Some people still believe that but I don’t. Do you? She totally subscribed to “Children should be seen and not heard,” but I have learned some very wise things from my six year old grandson. I was taught that you went to church absolutely every Sunday and that there was only one right way to worship. That teaching doesn’t work for me any more. Sort through the things you were taught about you that don’t apply any more but still lurk in your subconscious mind. Was “You’ll never amount to anything?” one of the things you were taught? “You’re just like your father and you’ll never…” needs to be examined and rejected.
5. Be realistic. There are some things you can change and some things you cannot change. – although in these days you can change everything from the size and shape of your nose to your gender. There are things that you may need to simply accept about yourself and move on. Most of the trouble we have with ourselves stems from our thoughts and beliefs about who we are. The externals can be amended. Accept the fact that there are many good things about you. Learn to accept compliments. They are true. Perhaps, in the beginning you need to make a list (see #3) of the compliments you receive until you can accept them as true and store them for a time you need to remember them. This is not that old pride thing – you know – the one that goes before a fall. This is being realistic and honest with yourself.
6. Do something for someone else.There is nothing on this earth that I know of that boosts your self esteem more than doing something good for someone else. It doesn’t have to be a huge thing. Look for things that happen around you. Pick up something someone has dropped, volunteer to go get the coffee, babysit for a single mom now and then so she can run errands or just have some “me” time. Go to a nursing home and visit the elderly who have no family and no living friends. Go to the VA hospital and talk to the veterans who feel isolated and alone. Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity or the Boys and Girls Club, or the local hospital or… Look around you. There are opportunities everywhere. You will get your mind off your poor, miserable self for a while and make life better for someone else. How great is that?
These six things are not a “quick fix” but they do work. Each of us is unique, special and gifted. Through changing your thinking about yourself from positive to negative, speaking kindly to and of yourself, filling your mind and emotions with appreciation and gratitude, knowing clearly what you believe, being honest and realistic with yourself and reaching out to help others your self esteem will climb. One day you will look back and wonder how you could have every felt so negative about someone as nice as you.
Irene Conlan has a master’s degree in nursing, with a major in nursing administration and a minor in psychiatric nursing. She taught nursing at Arizona State University, served as Director of Nursing Administration at St. Luke’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix and served as Assistant Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services for the Division of Health Care Facilities and Emergency Medical Services. She is also a certified hypnotherapist with a practice in Scottsdale, AZ.Irene lives in Scottsdale AZ and has two sons and three grandsons. She is an avid blogger and manages http://www.theselfimprovementblog.com.