6 Steps to Enhancing Your Self-Esteem

self esteem - happy1

There are many things in life that we have to accept because we can do nothing about them.  The one thing we can change is how we relate to ourselves.

As said in previous posts (Understanding Self-Estseem and How it Develops, How early experience shape one’s relationship with one’s self and Self-Esteem – a by-product of how you treat yourself) we first have to realize we have developed a style over time.  We need to become aware of what our style is.  We may even develop different styles with different people and in different situations.  The styles may be healthy or unhealthy.  If a style is positive, such as, respecting oneself, it does not need changing (other than to enhance what is already done).  This can last a lifetime.

The styles that need changing are the ones which are unhealthy, such as not respecting, disparaging,  negating, hurting or judging oneself harshly.  Many people have harsh inner critics, treating themselves in ways they would never treat another human being.

STEPS TO CHANGE:

1: Become aware of your own personal styles.

2: Build a solid foundation.  Identify the positive interactions within yourself and choose to do them more often.

Scenario: Wenda likes to try new things even though she gets anxious. The risks she takes are reasonable and safe.  She encourages herself to keep taking risks by saying to herself.  ” I can do this.”  Afterwards she gives herself credit.  When it turns out well she says to herself, “Good for me.  I did it.”   If it goes badly, she says to herself, “OK, that did not go well, but I learned from it. At least I tried it.”

3: Change what needs changing.  Identify the negative interactions and target them for change.

Scenario: Wenda would not allow herself to accept compliments.  She would dismiss, ignore or deny them.
She decided she wanted to receive compliments.  She knew if she could take them in, she would feel better about herself.

4: Figure out new behaviours to replace the old ones.

This takes planning and experimentation. You cannot operate in a void.  You need to replace the old way with a new way.

Scenario: Wenda decided on 4 new ways she would respond when someone complemented her:

  • Thank you.
  • I’m glad you think so.
  • It’s good to hear that.
  • I appreciate your saying that.

5: The Choice Point.

This is the point at which you are aware you are (or are about to) treat yourself badly, and you mindfully decide to continue to do it, or you decide to do something different.

Scenario: Wenda’s friend complimented her on her hair.  Wenda, without thinking, replied sarcastically, “Oh yeah, right.”  Suddenly, Wenda realized she had just done her old thing.  She looked at her friend and said, “I mean, thank you.”

6:  Practice, practice, practice.

Experimenting means that sometimes what you try will go badly.  Expect those times to happen.  Do your best to laugh them off, dismiss them, and learn from them.  Encourage and support yourself to try again.  Gradually, you’ll replace a bad habit with a good habit, an unhealthy habit with a healthy habit.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

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