Although self-esteem has to do with how you feel, you can affect your level of self-esteem by using your thoughts or “cognitions.” The good news is that you have control over your thoughts and can change them if it will help you feel better or progress toward improved self-esteem.
Survey this list of strategies to utilize your cognitions to increase your self-esteem:
Refrain from negative self-talk. What do you say when you talk to yourself? Perhaps you say mostly positive things. “I know I’m going to do a good job” or “No one can make better cakes than I can” are examples of positive self-talk that serve to enhance how you feel about yourself.
On the other hand, negative self-talk can be destructive to your self-esteem. Examples of negative self-talk are comments like, “I know I’ll never amount to anything” or “My boss will never pick me to work on an important project.”
Strive to avoid negative self-talk by practicing the subsequent strategies in this chapter.
Learn to distract yourself from negative thoughts. As soon as you begin to think negatively, it’s your responsibility to change those thoughts.
Notice right away when negativity is floating through your mind. Then, make a decision to think about something else.
Tell yourself, “I’m not g
oing to think about that right now. Instead, I’m going to watch a movie.” Or you could say, “I’m going to do something positive right now, like wash the car.”
The key is to be aware of your thoughts so you can immediately change your thinking (and perhaps your activity) at the time you begin thinking negatively.
Reflect on your successes. Remembering what you’ve done well in the past will help you gain some wind beneath your wings. When you remind yourself that you’ve enjoyed some great successes, you’ll realize that you can also have great success in your present and future.
Consider the skills and character traits that helped you succeed. Perhaps you used patience and tact when dealing with someone in power over you. Maybe you persevered through a very rough time by thinking positively and received a promotion as a result.
Those elements are still inside of you. Vow to re-discover the aspects of yourself that kept you going to achieve past successes. You’ll feel great about yourself.
Do some self-evaluation—what are you really good at? Delve in further to your personality and preferences. List the talents, skills, and activities you do well.
Perhaps you’re creative and make beautiful scrapbooks or like to stay busy so everything around the house is always in tip-top condition. Maybe you decided to get in shape a few years ago and have done a great job maintaining your good health.
Look deep inside to acknowledge what you excel at. As you recognize the positive traits within you, you’ll realize you have a lot of re
asons to have a healthy self-esteem.
What positive elements do people notice about you? Do they say, “You’re really good with numbers” or “You type faster than anyone I know?”
Recognize that people usually don’t make complimentary statements unless they really believe you possess those qualities. Use those statements to remind yourself of more positives about yourself. Find personal strength in the idea that you’re good at some things and people notice.
It’s smart to use your thoughts however you can to feel better about yourself. Avoid engaging in negative self-talk. Distract yourself when you begin to think negatively. Ponder past successes and think about what you’re good at. Take a look at what others say you do well. Re-align your thoughts to produce more self-esteem and you’ll like what happens.
Do Some Housecleaning—Physically and Emotionally
When you’re looking to ignite your passion, it’s helpful to live an uncluttered existence, physically and emotionally. Have you considered that maybe it’s time to do a bit of housecleaning?
Whether it’s your physical or emotional “environment” that is cluttered, why not gussy up your surroundings?
Ponder these points:
Clutter is a deterrent to positive self-esteem. Because clutter in and of itself is distracting, it’s wise to tidy up the world around you. Physical clutter draws your attention away from what’s important and on to the messy situations surrounding you. Emotional clutter serves to do the same thing—divert attentions from what really matters.
Banishing chaos and messy spaces from your life will help you re-gain the space to work on things that matter to you. When you do, you’ll build your self-esteem immensely.
If you’re unsure about the suggestion to physically clean up your surroundings, try cleaning out just one drawer, cabinet, or closet. You’ll see you completed a task and made something better. Then, you’ll feel pretty good about it.
If you’re overwhelmed at the prospect of getting your home in order, start small. For example, focus on one room at a time, or even one corner of the room or a piece of furniture that’s piled with clothing.
Bring order into your life. When there’s order in your home, you can look around and feel good about your environment and yourself. You’ll feel calmer and self-esteem will grow.
Elicit your partner’s help to get things organized at home.
Examine your close relationships. Our close relationships have a profound impact on how we feel about ourselves. If you’re in a relationship with someone who’s supportive, kind, and loving, you’ll believe you’re worthy of love and affection.
On the other hand, if one or more of your major relationships causes you to feel hurt, discouraged, disappointed, or angry, your self-esteem probably suffers because of it.
Are most of the people you’re close to positive and encouraging toward you? Do you feel emotionally supported by them? When you fill your life with loving, caring people, it will make it easier for you to maintain healthy self-esteem.
Take action to change relationships that bring you down. Tell the person how you feel when they speak negatively toward you and then share what you want the person to do instead.
“It hurts my feelings when you call me, ‘Tubby.’ I’d like you to call me by my name instead.” You could also say something like, “When you yell at me, I get scared. Can you please lower your voice or wait until you’re not angry before you talk to me?”
There may be times when you must make a decision to end the relationship for your own best interests. If you feel unhappy more than you feel happy about being with a person, it’s wise to consider moving on to a more emotionally uncluttered existence.
Nothing will bring down your self-esteem quicker than a relationship filled with negativity and angst.
Having a cluttered home or emotional state can hamper your efforts to build self-esteem. Take action to bring order into your life. Evaluate close personal relationships and work to resolve any that are messy or chaotic. Clean up your act in every way and you’ll feel better about you.
Plus, when you find yourself without chaos, you can better focus on the life you’ve always wanted.
“Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt