It is my opinion that building a positive self-image is an active process that needs to be worked on and evaluated often. Most of my clients do some work to build, or re-build healthy self-esteem at some point during their sessions with me. Here are a few specifics that we focus on to help strengthen confidence and overall self-esteem:
1. Evaluate your thought processes to identify self-sabotage
The theme of last week’s entry involved the connection between our thoughts, feelings and behaviors (“TFB”) and our self-esteem, or feelings of self-worth. Negative thought patterns are self-sabotaging little buggers, especially when they’re subconscious, or so engrained into our everyday routine that we don’t even notice them. Identify thoughts that go something like this:
“I can’t ever get this right!”, “Why can’t I just….”, “I should be able to/I shouldn’t have…”.
I think of these thoughts as belonging to our inner critic…this critic always has something to say, and it’s never nice or really helpful. Write these intrusive thoughts down, how can you add new, positive, empowering words to these thoughts?
2. Think kind thoughts, you’re always listening
Several things come to mind that fall under this category;
Be kind to yourself when you stumble! Everyone makes mistakes, you’re no different. Tell yourself the same things you tell your best friend when they screw up:
“You’ll get it next time”, “You did you’re best”, “I’m proud of your effort”.
Compare yourself, to yourself. Everyone uses a different measuring stick when it comes to determining their personal strengths and challenges. Unless you’re an Olympic figure skater, measuring your abilities in comparison to someone else’s will only give you invalid results. Look at your progress, and also setbacks, in comparison with how you’ve changed.
3. Know that you can’t truly read other peoples thoughts
At times, that inner critic I was just talking about, thinks it can read other people’s thoughts about us, or interpret their behaviors;
“I see Hayley’s mom every morning in the school drop off line and always say good morning, today she saw me coming and didn’t even acknowledge me, I must have done something wrong…she doesn’t like me”.
We never really know what others are thinking or feeling unless they tell us. The example I gave with “Hayley’s Mom” above can prompt other negative thoughts that wear down self-esteem; it’s a gate way negative thought!! Remember to stick to the facts, and only the facts:
This morning, in the school drop off line, Hayley’s mom didn’t speak to me.
Self-esteem is almost like a living organism, it needs attention, love and nourishment to flourish. So feed it healthy thoughts;
Yes I can!
I am tough!
I am enough!