July/August 2011 - 6 Steps to Better Self Esteem
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How’s your self-esteem? This is one of the top reasons clients come in to my office. Low self-esteem can come from many sources and causes, some going back as far as childhood. Perhaps you were bullied in grade school, or you had a teacher who intimated you, or you lived for many years with an abusive spouse. It’s amazing how these experiences, even though often unconscious, can still be running your life! The good news is you can become a more highly confident person. Outside of hypnotherapy there are many steps you can begin taking now. I hope you enjoy practicing these 6 Steps to Better Self Esteem shared by psychologist Randy A. Gilchrist.
“Your self esteem can be thought of as the extent to which you value yourself and see yourself as a good, worthwhile, acceptable person. Low self esteem occurs when you unfairly criticize yourself, you push yourself hard with negative, critical pressure, and you believe the negative evaluations others give you more than the positive ones. Low self esteem causes anxiety and stress from two sources: 1) the negative pressure and criticism you heap on yourself, and 2) worrying too much about gaining acceptance and validation from others.
To increase self esteem (and lower your anxiety), it is important to surround yourself with positive, supportive people. However, your self esteem will be mostly made or broken by how you treat yourself. You can measure your self esteem by asking yourself: would I treat my best friend the way I treat myself? If not, some self esteem work is needed.
To increase your self esteem, consistently review and practice the following 6 Steps:
1) Stop Criticizing Yourself: Accept yourself exactly as you are and do not put yourself down.
Putting yourself down will tear down your spirit more than motivate you to change. The trade off is not worth it. To accept yourself does not mean you are not driven to improve, but that you are “acceptable” now and will be even better with additional growth and development.
2) Use Positive Motivation: For the improvements you want in your life, practice thinking about and visualizing what it will be like when you accomplish your goals. Then, add some thoughts and visualizations consisting of the steps you’ll need to take to make it happen. This change in focus will be more motivating and energizing than focusing on either a) the negative thing that will happen if you don’t change, or b) all of the hard work it will take to make it happen.
3) Praise Yourself as Much as Possible: Whenever you succeed at something, privately give yourself credit for the part you played. Be generous with yourself (but still truthful). Praise yourself for your accomplishments whenever you can to build confidence and self-worth.
4) Allow Mistakes: When you try and fail, that is a success in and of itself because the effort itself will act as learning experience to bring you closer to your goals. Be easy on yourself during your setbacks and pick yourself up. Life is a continual trial and error process. The only true failure is to give up, because then you are guaranteed failure. When you fail, give yourself a break, congratulate yourself on your effort, regroup, and try again.
5) Do Mirror Work: Practice looking at yourself in the mirror often. Look into your eyes and tell yourself whatever positive true statements you can. Remind yourself about your successes, what you are good at, what you are capable of, what positive things lay ahead for yourself, how you are improving, etc. Practice forgiving yourself and others in the mirror. Mirror work is a very intimate, vulnerable, exposing experience. This uncomfortable feeling will let you know the power this exercise has to help you change.
6) Be Happy and Relaxed NOW: Allow yourself to be happy and relaxed NOW—not after everything falls into place in your life. As soon as one anxiety or stress is taken away from you, another may soon follow. Therefore, allow yourself to enjoy life now, rather than waiting for happiness or relaxation at some mythical point in the future. Your life IS now—not later.”
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