Today we approach another of those steps on the path to “Becoming” that at times can sound easier than it is. To develop strong positive self esteem is more than just saying you want to. It takes work, hard work, deeply personal work and concentrated effort.
Let’s start with some shared definitions. First self esteem can be understood as an individual’s subjective evaluation of their own worth. This includes your beliefs about oneself. Sometimes that involves negative self-talk you may have conditioned yourself to. Examples of this include, “I am unloved”, “I am not worthy”. It should also include positive affirming declarations like “I am worthy” and “I love myself”.
Where we often get tripped up is when emotional highs and lows enter into our individual perceptions of our self esteem. These can range from elation to despair, from pride to shame, from freedom to guilt. So in essence self-esteem, is constructed of the positive or negative evaluations of the self, and how we feel about it.
While developing, nurturing and living with positive self esteem can certainly improve our outlook and view of ourselves, it does differ a bit from self-enhancement. That is a type of motivation that works to make people feel good about themselves in order to maintain self-esteem.
Self-enhancement involves making a decision. You make the choice to have a positive rather than negative self-view. As we’ve talked about previously, making a choice involves taking multiple steps. First to decide you want to do something. Then to focus on what change is necessary, then committing to it. Before you then take action to actually do it. Just a good intention or giving lip service to an idea, will not make it so. You have to complete the task, do all the hard work and then harvest the benefits. If you give up along the path then you will reap what you have sown.
Obviously I hope you are making the choices to improve or strengthen your positive self esteem. We know that negative self-esteem can impact every aspect of your life, including relationships, jobs and your health.The good news is you can correct your false views of yourself, as the following steps borrowed from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy will outline.
1. Identify Problem Areas
Think about the situations that deflate your self-esteem. Identify the triggers. Some examples include
- A crisis at work or home
- A challenge with a spouse, child or other loved one,
- A change in life circumstances, such as a job loss, a death of someone near and dear or a child making poor choices.
2. Pay Attention To Your Thoughts
We all are familiar with the quote, “cogito, ergo sum”.
Not ringing a bell, well that’s probably because most of us don’t speak Latin and have probably heard Rene Descrtes (French Philosopher) words translated as “I think, therefore I am”.
Once you’ve identified a disturbing situation, you especially need to pay attention to your thoughts. This includes self-talk and your interpretation of what the situation means.
Ask yourself if this belief is true? Would you say it to a friend? If not, then don’t say it to yourself.
3. Challenge Your Negative Thinking
Be aware that long-held thoughts and beliefs can feel normal and factual, even though they are not. Often these false perceptions are just opinions devoid of any truth. Then make sure you are not getting involved in patterns of self delusion or accepting falsehoods as the truth.
Some of these patterns to avoid can be:
- All-or-nothing thinking. Do not say to yourself, If I don’t succeed in this task, I’m a complete failure and always will be.”
- Rejecting your achievements. Do not tell yourself they don’t count. Do not place false limits on yourself.
- Reaching a negative conclusion when evidence does not support it. For example, “They didn’t reply to me, so obviously I must have done something wrong.”
- Mistaking feelings for facts. Do not confuse feelings or beliefs as factual evidence. For example, “I feel like a loser, so I’ll always be a loser.”
4. Take Ownership of Your Thoughts
Rather than being overwhelmed by negativity, acknowledge its presence.
Accept it, then shoes to empower yourself. Look at the reality and declare it will be no more. Work, take action thoughts or feelings to be “Becoming”:
- Take care of yourself. Self care not only of the mind, but also the body and soul.
- Use Positive Affirming statements. Treat yourself lovingly and always be encouraging. Delaye you “can” and you “will”.
- Forgive yourself. If you’ve made a mistake or are not on track to complete a goal, remember it’s not permanent. You need to readjust to move past that moment in time and create the next in abundance.
- Do things you enjoy. Start by making a list of things you like to make a “can-do” list. Things you can and are willing to do.. Try to do something from that list every day.
- Spend time with people who make you happy. Don’t waste time on negative or fake people.
Once you readjust your thoughts. Aligning them with your essential beliefs, then focusing on the positive is “Becoming” much easier. Consider lessons learned. Plan to avoid falling into the same traps or diversions again.
Reward yourself. Acknowledge gains made. Give yourself credit for positive changes. Do the work involved and you will feel better because positive self esteem will firmly take root.