Building self-esteem takes effort and commitment. Each day, decide to do something toward improving your sense of self-worth and soon you will see improvement.
Here are some suggestions:
Practice positive self-talk. If you are in the habit of putting yourself down, building self-esteem begins by learning how to talk to yourself. Begin by making a list of all that you have accomplished so far in your life. Everything from graduating with honors or making the track team in high school to juggling work and family to being able to bake cookies from scratch belongs on your accomplishments list. Add to this list whenever you think of anything at all in your life you should be proud of. Refer to this list often when your confidence needs a boost and keep adding to it.
Negative self-talk is a habit that has to be broken. Don’t treat yourself like your worst enemy. You wouldn’t let anyone else talk to you that way – don’t let YOU talk to you that way.
Pay attention to your needs. Taking care of your own needs is one way of building self-esteem. Choosing healthy foods, exercising, allowing yourself adequate sleep and time to relax are all ways to show yourself that you are of value.
You may have needs that are more subtle, like the need to be alone for an hour or so. You may even have a vague sense that you are not getting what you need, but you don’t know why. Slow down and listen to yourself. Only you can figure out what is missing in your life. You deserve to have your needs met.
Take time to do things you enjoy. It’s important that life includes things that bring you a sense of inner peace and happiness, whether it’s listening to a certain kind of music, watching the sunset or taking a walk on the beach. Make time for special people in your life – call a friend, spend time alone with your spouse without the kids. Any form of giving yourself the time and attention that you need is a way of building self-esteem.
Spend some time doing things you don’t want to do. If you’ve been putting off cleaning out your garage or organizing drawers you have to realize that disorganization may be damaging your self-esteem. Think about what tasks you’ve avoided that will give you a lift if they are completed. Take one small step toward accomplishing these tasks.
Learn something new. Nothing leads to a renewed sense of self-esteem like the sense of accomplishment that comes from learning something new. Whether you’ve always wanted to learn a foreign language, how to play a musical instrument or how to cook a gourmet meal, find something new to learn.
Smile. You’d be surprised how much this simple change will help in building self-esteem. Make a decision to smile at every stranger and watch what happens. Not everyone will smile back, but every time someone does, you will feel an inner lift. Know that with each smile you initiate, you are brightening someone’s day. Doesn’t that make you feel good about yourself?
Practice random acts of kindness. Do you have a neighbor whose lawn needs to be mowed? Do it for him. Do you have an elderly relative that needs help with preparing meals or doing errands? Any small act you can do to help this person will be deeply appreciated. Random acts of kindness don’t have to be initiated only with people you know. If you see a single mom struggling with a ton of laundry, offer to carry some. If you see another driver trying to get out of a parking lot into traffic, what is the harm in letting her out?
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The suggestions above are actions. They are proactive things you can do as you choose to work at building self-esteem. But on a more sub-conscious level, you need to work to change your attitude. In a lot of ways, your attitude is the only thing you always have control over.
So much of what goes on inside is the result of your reactions to what happens to you. For example, if you are a college student and a professor says “That is the worst report I ever read”, you can react by crawling into a corner and saying to yourself, “My parents were right. I’m a loser who is never going to amount to anything.” Or, you can choose instead to keep things in perspective. You can say to yourself, “Well, I guess I didn’t impress that professor. He obviously didn’t like my choice of topic, or I didn’t succeed in persuading him to agree with my point of view. Next semester will be better.”
Ultimately, attitude is everything. Here are some examples of changing your attitude in order to change your life.
• Recognize the difference between things you can change and things you can’t. If you are overweight, you can make a plan to work toward losing weight. If you are big boned and that makes you self-conscious, this is something you can’t do anything about. Instead you need to focus on accepting things as they are.
• Learn from your mistakes instead of dwelling on them. This is an example of how attitude is a choice. People with low self-esteem tend to dwell on their mistakes. Instead they need to realize that every mistake is a learning opportunity, nothing more, nothing less. Don’t get stuck in your mistakes.
• Give yourself credit for progress. The journey is the destination. You won’t attain perfection. Give yourself a pat on the back for every task you attempted and for every risk you took.
Building self-esteem is a lifelong process. You will have good days and bad days; you will slip back into old habits from time to time. The point is, you need to make a decision to work on your self-esteem and give yourself credit for the effort, and for every small accomplishment that moves you closer to your goal. And let me emphasize again