self care

Increase Self Esteem

What Is Self-Esteem?

 

Self-esteem literally means to esteem, or respect, yourself. Having high self-esteem means that you have a positive image of yourself. Let's look at where such a positive self-image comes from.

 

In her classic book Celebrate Yourself, Dorothy Corkville Briggs makes a distinction between the real you and your self-image. She says that the real you is unique and unchanging. Most of your self-image-what you think is true about yourself-is learned. It is not necessarily accurate at all!

 

Where are your beliefs about yourself drawn from? Where did you learn them? If you think about it, you'll see that they came from:

 

·    What others said about you

·    What others told you

·    What others did to you

 

Your self-image is the result of all the messages you heard about yourself as a child. These messages added up to a set of beliefs about who you are. It may have nothing to do with who you really are.

 

For example, you may believe things like:

 

·    I'm not very smart.

·    I'm naturally passive.

·    Girls aren't any good at math.

·    I'm too old to start over.

·    All of the women in the Breski family become doctors.

·    I'm painfully shy.

·    The Hurleys never lie.

 

In addition to learning to believe certain things during our early years, there are certain situations that make most people feel inferior or lacking in self-esteem.

 

Some examples are:

 

·    Being criticized

·    Not being loved

·    Being rejected

·    Experiencing failure

 

What Low Self-Esteem Feels Like

 

In situations like these above, it is not uncommon to feel emotions such as:

 

·    Sadness

·    Inferiority

·    Anger

·    Jealousy

·    Rejection

 

Cognitive Therapy

 

Cognitive therapy is one of the most successful methods for helping people feel better about themselves. Cognitive therapists help depressed and anxious people feel better by identifying how faulty ways of thinking are making them feel bad. They believe that faulty thoughts cause us to feel bad, which makes us feel bad about ourselves.

 

Cognitive therapists call these faulty ways of thinking "twisted thinking." Cognitive therapy is a process where the client analyzes his or her thoughts and beliefs, and learns to substitute more healthy ways of thinking and believing. These therapists help their clients feel better in four steps: First, identify the upsetting events that cause bad feelings; second, record your thoughts about the event; third, identify the distortions in your thinking process; and fourth, substitute rational responses. When the client successfully completes these four steps, the client usually feels better about him- or herself.

 

Thinking the right kinds of thoughts is one way to feel good about yourself. Now let's talk about a second way to increase your self-esteem: by taking a look at your life environment and seeing whether it supports you feeling good about yourself. You may find that some nourishing elements need to be replenished. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

 

Do you have people in your life who:

 

    1.    Treat you with love and respect?

    2.    Encourage you to do and be anything you want?

    3.    Help you find out what you want to do, and how to do it?

    4.    Encourage you to explore all of your talents and interests?

    5.    Are thrilled when you succeed?

    6.    Listen to you when you need to complain?

    7.    Help you bounce back from failure without making you feel bad?

 

Take a moment to think about each of the items on this list. Note where your environment is providing adequately for you, and where it is lacking. This can give you clues to how to build your own self-esteem.

 

 

 

Strategies for Esteem Building

 

1.    Pay attention to how you are feeling from moment to moment. Tune in to what your five senses are experiencing. Take it down to the most basic level of "I feel warm right now," "I feel light-headed," "I feel a tightness in my stomach."

   

2.    Revisit your interests and goals. Make a list of things you'd like to do and learn. Today, take one step toward learning more.

   

3.    Spend less time with critical people and more time with those who appreciate you.

   

4.    Spend some time with yourself at the end of each day. Review what happened and how you were feeling. Write about it in a private journal.

   

5.    If you are feeling bad about yourself, consider finding a therapist to help you get your life on a positive track.

Journaling For Self Discovery

33 Ways to Use Your Journal for Self-Discovery and Self-Expression

 

As a therapist, I often suggest to clients that they explore their feelings and thoughts by keeping a journal. Sometimes clients ask for a bit of direction with this process. Here are some journaling ideas if you're not sure where to start:

 

1.    Write down what happened today and how you felt about it.

   

2.    Write a letter to a person you are angry with. Say everything you are feeling and wish you had the nerve to say.

   

3.    Draw a picture of the person you wrote the letter to in #2.

   

4.    Make a list of all the things you are grateful for. List all the big things, all the small things, and everything in between that you can think of.

   

5.    Circle the three most important things on the list you made in #4. Write a paragraph for each, expressing your appreciation to the person who had the most influence over it. If possible, turn this into an actual letter and send it.

   

6.    Make a list of the things that you feel upset about right now. Write down as many as you can think of until you can't think of any more. Then choose the top five.

   

7.    For each of the top five things you identified in #6, list 10 things you can do to gain control of the situation. Circle the top three from each list.

   

8.    Make a timeline that represents your life. Fill it in with the most significant events that have shaped you: your early years, your teen years, and each decade that has followed. Draw pictures or icons next to the most important events. Use crayons or markers if you wish.

   

9.    Write a few pages about your feelings about the timeline.

   

10.    Describe how your life would be different if          had or had not happened.

    Here are some examples:

a.     If your parents had divorced

b.     If your parents had remained married

c.     If your parents had been married

d.     If your mother hadn't passed away

e.     If you hadn't moved to    

f.     If you had gone to college

g.     If you hadn't gone to college

h.     If you had gone to      College

i.     If you had never met        

j.     If you hadn't broken up with            

11.     Make a list of all the things you wish you could do before your life is over.

   

12.     Make a list of the things no one knows about you.

   

13.     Write about your junior year in high school.

   

14.     Write about what life was like before you became a parent.

   

15.     Write about what you wish you had known before you became a parent.

   

16.     Make a list of the things you still want to learn about being a parent.

   

17.     Describe what it was like when you first met your partner.

   

18.     Write about what you wish you had known about your partner before you married him/her.

   

19.     Write about what you wish your partner had known about you before (s)he married you.

   

20.     Write a letter to yourself as you were at age 10. Tell yourself:

a.     What your life is like now

b.     What you have learned since you were 10

c.     What you want him or her to know

d.     What you want him or her to beware of

e.     What you want him or her to enjoy every moment of

21.     Write a letter to your own parents. Tell them what your life is like now.

   

22.     Write a letter to someone from your childhood or adolescence who didn't appreciate you or who misunderstood you. Tell the person what you want them to know and how you feel about the lack of connection between you.

   

23.     Think of someone you never acknowledged for something important. Write that person a letter and acknowledge him or her.

   

24.     Think of someone who never acknowledged you for something important. Write them a letter and tell them what you want them to know.

   

25.     Make a list of five miracles you want to happen in the coming year. Write a paragraph or two describing each one and how your life will be better if it happens.

   

26.     For each of the five miracles, make a list of:

a.     Five barriers or forces that block or prevent it from happening

b.     Five positive influences, things that encourage or support its happening

c.     Five things you can do to reduce the barriers and strengthen the positive influences

 

27.     Write about the five things you most like to do.

   

28.     Write about the five things you most dislike doing.

   

29.     Make a list of five places you'd like to visit. Describe what you imagine them to be like.

   

30.     Write about three things you most regret doing or not doing. Describe what happened and how you feel about it.

   

31.     Write a letter to your children, even if they have not yet been born. Tell them what you want them to know about you.

   

32.     Write a letter to your grandchildren, even if they have not yet been born. Tell them what you want them to know about you.

   

33.     Write a letter to your descendants one hundred years from now. Describe what your life is like today.

   

34.     Add your own ideas here: