Katy Perry evidently feels insecure. Her remedy? Post some “hot” pictures of herself on social media. Well, why not? That has always worked for me.
Is it possible to improve low self-esteem? Yes, but it is not necessarily easy. If you have lived with low self-esteem for 30 or 40 years, it is hardly realistic to think that you will suddenly change in a week and begin to overflow with self-confidence. But, if you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, here are some strategies that work for most.
- Examine your self-expectations. Can you only feel positive about yourself if you are the BEST at something; if you are number 1; if you are a winner and not a loser? Do you have to weigh a certain amount, be a certain shape, or height? Did your parents expect you to be perfect (you got 97% on your math test? What happened to the other 3%?). If you only received recognition and approval when you were perfect, or the best, then chances are that you still need to see yourself as the best to feel ok about yourself.
- Monitor your self-talk. Unless you are a raving narcissist, you are probably pretty hard on yourself. There is a little VOJ (voice of judgement) that pops up and tells you that you are stupid, lazy, inadequate – that you will never amount to much. This VOJ is a voice from your past and reflects things that significant others in your life (parents, siblings, caretakers, teachers) told you about yourself. Unfortunately, many early judgements made about you were premature, or just plain ill informed and wrong. Remember the story of the ugly duckling.
- Balance the negative self criticism with acknowledgement of one or two things you do that you see as positive. “I’m so lazy… but I do help out people at the office when they ask for help”; “I’m so stupid I’ll never understand this… but I did complete a college diploma so I know I can learn things”; “I am such a klutz… but that doesn’t keep me from going to the gym three times a week”.
- Stop comparing yourself to other people. There are nearly 3 billion people in this world – some of them are bound to be better than you. And don’t let other people define you. As W. C. Fields said:” “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to”.
5. DO something that will make you feel positive about yourself. Self esteem is enhanced more by the things that we do that are positive than just by thinking of what we should Start with small things, and acknowledge to yourself that you have done something positive. Find some small act of kindness that you can do for someone else. Everett Hale wrote: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” Don’t toss off people’s thanks with a “it’s nothing”, or “no big deal”. Replace it with something along the lines of” Glad I could help”, or “I’m happy to help”.
- This may appear rather trivial but it has an amazing ability to help you feel more positive about yourself – stand (and sit) up straight! Not only does body posture reveal how you feel (slumping shoulders, head down, looking and feeling depressed) but interestingly, changing body posture will make you feel better. Hard to feel inadequate and unworthy when you walk tall, briskly, and with purpose.
- Find a phrase or quote you can use daily that will improve your sense of self esteem. Personally, I have always liked the epigram by Ashleigh Brilliant: “I may not be perfect but parts of me are excellent”. Be careful about the type of affirmation you select though. If your brain doesn’t believe it, then it won’t work, period. Here is what I mean. An on-line Personal Daily Affirmations site posted this as an example of what you could say to yourself: “ I rely on myself and do great in all areas of life!” But you know you don’t do great in ALL areas of your life – you are a work in progress. Chances are that repeating this type of phrase will have very little impact on your life. Much better to start with something that is true for you, such as “I am putting energy into getting better at X”, or “I can rely on myself to get better at X”, or, “I can find someone to help me get better at X”.
I have developed a coaching program that helps people change habits – including the habit of continuing to practice low self-esteem. It is done completely by email, requires you to focus daily on what you are able to change), is positive and affirming. For additional information, go to www.pitsel.com to see the details on the Micro-coaching program.