Self-esteem: how to improve
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Graeme Orr MBACP(Accred), UKRCP Reg. Ind. Counsellor
13th October, 20110 Comments
Do you like yourself? Are you someone who deserves happiness? If you find these questions hard perhaps you suffer from low self-esteem. Self-esteem is that value that we place on ourselves; often it is determined by our actions and how we perceive them.
Yet even as we judge ourselves, often we apply higher standards to ourselves than we do to others. We expect ourselves to have unreasonable powers. ‘I should have known he was thinking that!’ Perhaps in this fast paced society there is no room for Mr and Mrs Average, perhaps we all have to be perfect. Yet that seems an unrealistic target so how do you raise your self-esteem yet acknowledge your need to grow and improve.
If you make a mistake or an error of judgement it is often embarrassing or perhaps you may feel guilty but it is rarely the end of the world. Thus someone might think I am no good at Maths so I will fail the exam. If I fail the exam I won’t get into University and I won’t get a good job so I will have failed all because I am stupid at Maths. This sort of thinking could be challenged so that you take on others perspectives. I am not good at Maths, but I can do trigonometry so perhaps I could do those questions, if I study hard then I only need to pick up a few more marks for a pass. There is more realism, more living in the moment with the second scenario. Perhaps the key point is self-acceptance that you are not perfect yet can still succeed.
Project the person you want to be
Be real, perhaps you could smile more, have a few open questions that you can ask people when you meet them. People will respond because they find you open and approachable and you in turn will begin to believe what was always true that people enjoy being with you.
Wake up and walk out of your past into your future
The past is fixed, however hard or embarrassed or guilty you feel when looking back. You can choose now what your future will be don’t be held back by your past. Examine it honestly learn any lessons and move on. Worrying about what happened in the past won’t change it and it will get in the way of moving forward.
You are unique you are the best at being you
It seems in our nature to compare ourselves to others. Yet everyone is different, everyone has skills and talents. Remind yourself of what you can be not what you can’t. So he’s a good artist I bet he wishes he could play the piano like me. If there is something you want to be good at perhaps you could take a class, perhaps you could just enjoy it without being the best.
Many studies over time have shown that we feel good about ourselves when we help others. That satisfaction that you have made a difference to another person becomes almost addictive. You also get skills from the practice and it has helped people get jobs or change career
Accept compliments don’t brush them away, judge yourself kindly. So often we brush away compliments, Oh it was nothing. Yet that is to ignore the other person’s opinion that it was something and they are trying to thank you. So next time bathe in the glow and say thank you.
The mistake most people make is to be paralysed by fear, fear of getting it wrong, fear of rejection. Yet if you don’t change something why would anything change. Take the first step in faith you don’t have to see the whole staircase.
Finally, you are going to make mistakes that’s the way we learn how to do things better. When mistakes happen, and they surely will accept the opportunity to learn and come back stronger and more determined next time.
About the author
Graeme is a counsellor and author living and working on the south side of Glasgow. In his practice he sees a number of clients with emotional, anxiety and self-esteem that have relevance to us all. His articles are based on that experience and are offered as an opportunity to identify with, or to challenge you to make changes in your life.
Related articles from our experts
- Identifying low self-esteem thoughts and behaviours
Claire Black - MSc, BSc, Dip. MBACP17th October, 2016
- The pursuit of high self-esteem: Part 2
Dr Sarah Jane Khalid12th October, 2016
- A picture paints a thousand words: Using photos in counselling
Angela Keane, PgDip, MBACP11th October, 2016
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.