Self-esteem is the general idea we deserve to be happy and can cope with what is going on in our lives. Your sense of self-worth is strong. You understand and accept your weaknesses and celebrate yourself. You recognize the value in all people, including yourself.
Self-esteem can come from confidence people around us approve of us (which we cannot always control – and which we have to be careful with), and a sense we are behaving honorably, that we are competent at what we do, and that we can compete successfully when we put our minds to it.
- “I deserve to make this change for myself. I can do anything I put my mind to. I have learned the skills I need to succeed, and hard work will get me there. I deserve this type of happiness, happiness in myself.”
Negative thinking can be a sign of low self-esteem: fearing the future, putting yourself down, criticizing yourself for errors, doubting your abilities, expecting failure, etc.
- Negative thinking damages your self-confidence, harms your performance, and paralyzes your mental processes.
- Negative thoughts can move in and out of our consciousness so quickly we hardly notice them, therefore do not challenge them, and yet they are very damaging.
Whether you realize it or not, you talk to yourself all day long, and the content of those thoughts makes a big difference in your overall wellbeing.
- Negative self-talk: “I never try hard enough. I’m not good enough. I’ll never be able to do that. Why can’t I be more like XXXX? I am stupid? I CAN’T do ANYTHING. I could have done better. I am worthless. I can’t do anything right.”
The first step is to develop thought awareness: You must know and understand your thoughts to begin changing them.
- Think about a stressful situation freely and write down your thoughts. Do not suppress any thoughts.
- Keep a stress diary for one to two weeks (or more). Write down situations, thoughts, feelings, perceived ability, resulting behaviors, resulting thoughts/emotions, create a 0-10 happiness level.
- Analyze your most common and damaging thoughts.
Now begin to challenge those thoughts.
- Make a list of your successes. Consider the things you are good at not related to your goal. Think of something you have accomplished that was difficult and took time and patience, maybe over years, like playing an instrument well!
- Stop comparing yourself to others and think about what makes you unique and special
- Try to think about what you want for yourself outside of what someone else may want for you. Consider your personal values.
- Take the words I CAN’T out of your vocabulary! When you find yourself thinking or saying this, challenge yourself to say I CAN! You can, it is hard, but you can. Consider what changes you may need to make to feel more effective in meeting your goal(s).
- Consider whether other people are holding you back, putting you down, or creating negative thinking or even lowering your self-worth with their words. Create boundaries and make changes in those relationships if necessary.
- Write down positive messages and place them throughout your home, car, and/or office to remind yourself to be self-positive.
Many of us have had years of talking down to ourselves. Maybe you have been in a relationship where someone is negative toward you. All of this takes time to get over. But, beginning to evaluate your thinking, creating boundaries to be more effective, making small changes, and beginning to challenge your negative thinking will have a positive effect on enhancing your self-esteem.
Improving your self-esteem will go far in helping you achieve your goals and live a healthier life! You are amazing, unique, and worth it!
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