Self-esteem - Different ways to get a boost
“Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand brake on”.
These words by Maxwell Maltz, underline how important good self-esteem is to allowing us to live our life to the full rather than feeling that we are held back.
Self-esteem is holding an honest, favourable opinion of yourself. One in which you are clear about your needs (physical and emotional). It is very close to your values like self-worth; are you worthy of those things? Sometimes when there are emotional challenges we can feel that we are not worthy of care or affection.
Low self-esteem can get into every area of your life and can affect your relationships and your job. Often you feel you don’t have the right to ask for your physical and emotional needs to be met, your values come second to others and it may be a very long time since you thought any differently. Perhaps you don’t believe that you deserve any better or that you are a failure.
Yet there are some practical things that you can do to change how you feel about yourself.
Challenge your unhelpful thoughts, thus, if you feel you are a failure how would you convince your best friend with facts (remembering that thoughts and feelings are not facts) that it were true, how would they rebut your evidence – how do you feel about your assertion now? You can similarly challenge other unhelpful thoughts.
Accept compliments, next time someone says that you are good at X, simply say “thank you” rather than trying to brush it off or ignore it. Notice what it feels like to have someone notice your worth. It is important to recognise what we have achieved and not simply dismiss it.
Pamper yourself, sometimes it’s important to focus on yourself, refresh and feed those physical and emotional needs at the heart of your self-esteem so that you are recognising your value. This practice of focusing on your feelings and allowing yourself to be happy and remember times when you were happy can help to counter black and white thinking.
Exercise and diet can make a real difference. We are used to exercise being cited as a major factor in physical health, yet increasingly it is being shown to have a very positive effect on our mental health too. Many people find that the simple act of getting out in the fresh air and going for a short walk is enough to clear their thoughts (and many of the negative ones with them) and think more realistically. In other words exercise does not require fancy gym membership or equipment to work.
It is possible to improve your self-esteem and self-worth through practice, perhaps you need company on your journey, that of a friend of a counsellor or a friend or a counsellor, but by setting yourself small achievable goals you can change your thinking to have more realistic thoughts about yourself.
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