Beat self-criticism with mindfulness
According to a new study conducted at Griffith University in Australia, low self-esteem could be helped with mindfulness.
It is typical among us humans to focus on how much success we’ve had in comparison to others. If we don’t succeed and feel our peers are doing better than us, our self-esteem can plummet.
Researchers have found that developing mindfulness skills could help to enhance self-esteem regardless of our success and the achievements of those around us.
Two studies involving undergraduate psychology students highlighted this link.
In the first study, researchers gave the students a questionnaire to identify their individual levels of self-esteem and mindfulness skills.
Four aspects of mindfulness were anticipated to have a positive effect on self-esteem:
- Having a non-judgemental attitude towards emotions and thoughts – considered to help ensure a neutral, accepting attitude towards personal self.
- Labelling internal experiences with words – can help prevent people from feeling overwhelmed by self-critical thoughts and emotions.
- Holding attention to the present moment – this enables people to avoid getting caught up in self-critical thoughts connected to events in the past or future.
- Letting thoughts and emotions enter and leave awareness without reacting to them.
The results published in The Journal of Positive Psychology confirmed the researcher’s predictions – the students with the above mindfulness skills had higher self-esteem.
The second study aimed to identify this direct impact.
While half of the students had to complete a 15-minute mindfulness meditation session that focused on breath work, the other half was instructed to read a 15-minute story.
All the participants completed questionnaires before and after, and results showed that the meditation practice had a profound effect on self-esteem.
There was absolutely no change in levels of self-esteem in the students who completed the 15-minute reading task – showing that mindfulness does directly impact self-esteem.
Explaining the results, researchers wrote: “Mindfulness may be a useful way to address the underlying processes associated with low self-esteem, without temporarily bolstering positive views of oneself by focusing on achievement or other transient factors.”
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