August 28, 2018
If you’ve ever experienced low self-esteem, you know how difficult it can be to break that cycle of negative thought patterns and behaviors. Most of us develop our sense of self-esteem during childhood, when our hearts and minds are exceptionally impressionable. Enduring criticism from family or friends during these formative years can have a lasting impact on how we see ourselves as adults and how we believe other people see us, too.
Improving your self-esteem is a process, and it won’t happen overnight. But by learning to recognize your own self-worth, you can begin building healthy habits that will lead to a happier life. Here are five ways to begin:
Before you can solve any issue, you must first take a step back and assess the situation. To better understand your sense of self-worth, compile a list of ten strengths and weaknesses specific to you, otherwise known as a Self-Esteem Inventory. This exercise will help you realize that your greatest strengths are worth celebrating, and that even some weaknesses can be overcome with time, patience, and vigilance.
In many cases, recurring negative thought patterns are what fuel low self-esteem. Those patterns will vanish once you take control of your mind with the power of positive thinking. Instead of approaching situations expecting the worst, re-train your brain to anticipate the best possible outcome. Whether you’re starting a new job, moving to a new city, or becoming a parent for the first time, it’s common for anxiety to take hold, causing you to assume that something will go wrong. When destructive thoughts pop up, acknowledge them and then let them go — dwell only on positive thoughts and affirmations, and envision yourself achieving your goals. Taking up a meditation class can also be highly effective in battling everyday stress and focusing on the positive aspects of your life.
Set yourself up for success by starting small. Personal goals like waking up 10 minutes earlier each morning or taking a brisk walk every evening after dinner may appear inconsequential on the surface, but, once you accomplish them time and again, you’ll begin feeling more confident and capable, which will permeate other aspects of your life.
Giving and receiving compliments is an art, but it is one that can be difficult for many people. Studies show that those with lower than average self-esteem find it particularly hard to accept compliments, primarily because they can’t appreciate their own worth. Get comfortable with praise and embrace the fact that others realize your true value.
One proven strategy for combatting low self-esteem is to lace up your sneakers and get some exercise. In the short-term, exercise provides the self-esteem-enhancing power of endorphins, which are “feel good” chemicals your body releases that reduce your perception of pain. Of course, exercise has a number of additional long-term benefits, like reduced stress and improved sleep. Not to mention it usually leads to a more fit physique, which can result in an uplifting confidence boost.
Everyone experiences moments of low self-esteem from time to time, but it’s important to remember that with the right attitude, you can turn your outlook around. Remind yourself of your talents and why they’re worth celebrating, and inspire others around you that may need an encouraging word or two. Lifting the spirits of another can do wonders for how you feel about yourself.