Let's work on your self-esteem development now!
I remember clearly that voice...it was not coming from another person's mouth, but from my own head! At thirteen, I was trying desperately to fit in, to be accepted and valued by a new group of friends at school, when I could hear the phrase: "Who do you think you are?...you don't belong here!" It was scary, because I was alone, and that voice could only be coming from me...was I going crazy?
Later on, I could recognize the voice as my own mother's voice, saying what she always offered to me: a negative comment on my abilities...I knew very well the dampening effect she could have on my illusions of developing myself, of growing up to be somebody. I had spent so much time listening to those demeaning comments, that now I could do it to myself very easily!
Becoming a high self-esteem person can be a challenge, but any challenge can be overcome if you set your mind to it– especially a challenge that is IN your mind! Do you find, like I did, that you often have only bad things to say about yourself? Do you cut yourself down, even in small ways, when talking with your friends? Do you mentally punish yourself if you make mistakes, however small? Do you pass off credit or praise when you are recognized at work?
Your self-esteem is based on your self-image; low self-esteem comes from having accepted a negative self-image, high self-esteem comes from appreciating yourself. One of the consequences of suffering emotional abuse, is to end up with a very low self-esteem. It takes some work, but you CAN change your self-image towards a more realistic one.
Tip #1 List the aspects you appreciate about yourself.
Yes, write them down, this is not vanity, is self-healing. It’s okay if you can only think of a few aspects right now, get the more basic, like are you dependable? are you an organized person? Remember what people say about you, and don’t argue with the suggestions you are given. Try to remember one new positive aspect each day.
Tip #2 Stop the verbal self put downs
When someone gives you a compliment, do you usually down play it or say something negative instead? Do you find yourself responding with “But…” or another self-demeaning phrase? Next time you are appreciated, catch yourself before you respond this way and don’t let the words come out. Try simply saying "Thank you." Let the compliment be, don’t wash it away with negativity.
Tip #3 Remember the positive things people have said about you
Yes, people do think good things about you. This is another good one to write down. What are some positive things people have said about you in the past? Even if you don’t necessarily agree with them, put them in this list. You may be surprised at how this can help you start changing – it gives you the option to see yourself as the owner of positive aspects too.
Tip #4 Stop the mental self punishment
Even if you have truly negative aspects, it does not signify you are worthless, you are only a project in development...You are allowed to be imperfect now, without punishment, because you are evolving. Think of this just like tip #2 and keep it simple. If you say to yourself phrases like “Oh you are so stupid!” or “You screwed up again!” or “Ugh You are so ugly?,” just STOP! Your habit of mentally putting yourself down or punishing yourself may be so strong that you don’t even notice these internal comments anymore. Pay attention, and when you hear yourself saying something negative, stop. Even if it is mid-thought, cut it off. Think of something else, or go back to your list in point 1 above, and say in loud voice: "Yes, I'm always late, but I'm also a hard worker."
Tip #5 Make a habit to appreciate yourself
Yes, it’s time to rejoice in a positive self image. Even if you are going against the opinion of all your family, you have a right to appreciate yourself. For example, instead of telling yourself: “Oh you are so stupid,” say: “I can fix that mistake.” Instead of “Ugh I look so ugly” pick one thing about your look you ARE happy with and try it instead, “I love this color of lipstick/eye-shadow/nail polish/shirt/etc.” When someone praises you, in addition to saying “Thank you,” repeat the praise in your head and agree with it. Add it to your list(s). Move forward to creating your own positive commands: "Bravo, you did a good job! or: "Wonderful, such a good work you can do cooking!". When you finish a project, don't just stop there, pat yourself on the back and say "Great job you did!"
In this way, you can re-create your self-image based on who you are, not on who your family or parents see on you....This is always distorted, and it is a lot of work to convince yourself you have a right to feel better about your own person. You will begin to glow from the inside out, and your self-confidence will carry through the toughest duties of life. The job of appreciating yourself now can be extended to all the magnificent aspects that life offers you, right? And as much as you can appreciate everything around you, your happiness will grow...This is the best year for your self-growth!
Needing more ideas? Here is your best guide to self-esteem development!