Boosting your self-esteem is one of the best things that you can do in order to stop limiting yourself. Here are some of the ways in which you may be allowing low self-esteem to stop you from living your best life:
- You stay at a low paying job which you don’t enjoy because you keep telling yourself that you can’t do any better.
- You remain in relationships with people who are constantly criticizing and belittling you because you believe that what they’re saying is true.
- You want to learn a new skill but you keep postponing getting started because you’re sure that you’ll fail.
You can release these self-limits, so that you can go after what you really want in life, by increasing your self-esteem. Below you’ll find three superb exercises for boosting your self-esteem.
Create a “Positive Qualities Record”
The first exercise for boosting your self-esteem involves creating a “Positive Qualities Record”. That is, you’re going to write down all the things that are good about you. To help you make a list of your positive qualities, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I like about who I am?
- What characteristics do I have that are positive?
- What are some of my achievements? What qualities allowed me to achieve these things?
- What are some challenges that I’ve overcome? What qualities do I have which allowed me to overcome these challenges?
- What are some skills or talents that I have?
- What do others say they like about me?
- Who is someone I admire? What attributes do they have? Which of those attributes do I also have?
- How would someone who cares about me describe me?
Look at your answers to the questions above and then make a list of all of your positive attributes. Some of the things on your list could be the following:
- Good listener
- Good sense of humor
Now you’re going to recall specific examples in the past when you demonstrated each of the positive qualities which you wrote down on your list. For each positive quality on your list, write down three examples. As an illustration, if you wrote down that you’re considerate, you could write down the following three things as examples:
- When my friend got sick last month I took over a lasagna for her family’s dinner.
- When my brother was down on his luck last year I lent him the money that he needed to pay his rent.
- Last week I helped my colleague with his presentation since he doesn’t know how to use Power Point very well, and I’m great at creating Power Point presentations.
In addition, start a journal in which you write down at the end of each day what you did during the day, and the positive qualities that you demonstrated by doing these things. (This exercise was taken from here.)
Change Your Thinking Habits
Buddhism teaches that it doesn’t matter what is happening. What matters are the thoughts that you’re having about what is happening. A lot of the time low self-esteem stems not from the events that are taking place around you, but from your interpretation of those events. When something happens that makes you feel bad about yourself, challenge your interpretation of what just took place. That is, look for alternative thoughts. You can do this by asking yourself questions, such as the following:
- Am I only noticing the bad stuff?
- Am I filtering out the good stuff?
- Am I engaging in “mind reading”? Am I assuming that I know what others are thinking?
- Am I setting unrealistic expectations for myself? How can I make my expectations more realistic?
- How can I see this from a different perspective?
- Am I allowing my inner bully to trip me up? How can I reframe what my inner bully is saying so that it’s constructive criticism which I can use to improve?
- Am I exaggerating the good aspects of others?
- Am I belittling my own positive aspects?
- What assumptions am I making? How can I be sure that these assumptions are true? What experiment can I carry out in order to test my assumptions?
Your feelings about yourself are at the core of your self-esteem. In addition, these feelings are a reaction to the thoughts that you have about the events that are taking place around you. Whenever you have a negative feeling about yourself, question the thoughts that led to those negative feelings; look for alternative thoughts by using the questions above.
Five Finger Exercise
This exercise is from the book, “The Self-Esteem Companion: Simple Exercises to Help You Challenge Your Inner Critic and Celebrate Your Personal Strengths”. It’s a simple exercise for elevating your mood when you’re feeling bad about yourself. Take the following steps:
1. Take a few deep breaths.
2. Allow yourself to feel relaxed and calm.
3. Touch your thumb to your index finger. Then, think of a time when you felt loved and cared for. For example, it could be a time when you got sick as a child and your mother took care of you all day.
4. Then, touch your thumb to your middle finger. Think back to a time when you felt successful. It might have been the time that you got the best grade on a test when you were in school, or the time you got a promotion at work.
5. Touch your thumb to your ring finger and remember a time when you did something important for someone else. For example, it could be the time that you took some of your Christmas money and you used it to buy a gift for a child who otherwise wouldn’t have received any presents.
6. Touch your thumb to your pinkie and think of a memory of really loving someone else. It could be a family member, a friend, or a romantic interest.
Practice this exercise whenever you need a quick reminder of how to feel good about yourself.
Practice the three exercises above and watch your self-esteem rise. After all, in order for you to do what must be done in order to live your best life you have truly believe that you’re worth it.
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