Self-esteem is a wonderful but delicate thing. When our self-esteem is high, we feel more resilient, less prone to anxiety and rejection, and less cortisol, or the stress hormone, is released into our bloodstream.
The positives are obvious, but actually improving our self-esteem can be challenging, especially if we’ve experienced setbacks in the past. In a TED blog post, psychologist Jay Winch—who has 20 years of experience working with patients—explained that the problem is that our self-esteem is unstable anyway, because it’s a daily, even Hourly can also fluctuate.
Another complication is how our professional lives shape our own worth. For example, a cook is more likely to be offended if you don’t like the food she cooked for you than someone who doesn’t cook for a living. Winch says that’s because cooking is an important aspect of their identity.
Identify five ways it can help you improve your self-esteem, and how to better deal with the trauma that happens almost every day.
1. Use positive affirmations the right way.
One way to practice positive affirmations is “you are what you think.” The idea is to fill your mind with positive thoughts until you start believing them.
It’s a popular way to build your self-esteem because it’s simple, but Winch says there’s a bigger problem—positive affirmations make people of low value feel worse than anything else. Sayings – such as “I am beautiful” or “I am going to be successful” can conflict. Too much with our current beliefs, such as feeling ugliness or lazy.
Winch suggests changing the phrase “I’m going to be successful” to something that’s easy to manage like “I’ll persevere until I succeed!”
2. Determine what you are good at.
Winch says that self-esteem grows when we demonstrate genuine potential and achievements in the areas of our lives that matter to us. You can be good at running – sign up for some local races and train for them. Want to cook? Throw in more dinner parties.
The key, he says, is to discover your core skills and talents and find opportunities — and even jobs — that you emphasize.
3. Learn to accept compliments.
When we feel bad about ourselves, it is difficult for someone else to take us out of this situation. We tend to be more resistant to compliments at the moment, says Winch, even when we need them the most.
He says that instead of dismissing compliments as lies, you should set yourself a goal to tolerate when you receive a compliment. Even if you feel uncomfortable – and you probably will – it will be worth it in the long run.
The best way to stop yourself from taking praise too far, he says, is to create specific responses to certain things, and force yourself to use them until they become automatic. These responses can simply be things like “thank you” or “what a nice thing you have to say.”
The urge to laugh at compliments will eventually wear off, and this will be a sign that she’s acting up and has started to believe good things about you.
4. Don’t criticize yourself.
Don’t kick yourself when you’re already disappointed.
Unfortunately, Winch says we are likely to do so. When our self-esteem is low, we damage it more through self-criticism. Counselling Services London is often sought out by those looking for more specific support around anxiety, depression, or trauma symptoms.
Winch says we should fight this with self-compassion. When you feel that your inner self is starting to be criticized, ask yourself if you would say these things to a close friend. Probably not, isn’t it?
As a general rule, we tend to be more kind to friends than ourselves, so the next time you start telling yourself all the things you’re doing wrong, think twice. Winch says that doing so will help avoid further damage to your self-esteem, giving you time to focus on building yourself.
5. Remind yourself of your true worth.
If your confidence takes a hit, Winch says this is the best way to revive it.
If you’ve been rejected by someone you’re dating, make a list of the qualities that make you a great partner, such as being loyal or emotionally available. If you don’t get the promotion you were aiming for at work, write down everything that makes you a valuable employee, such as being reliable or dedicated.
Write a short paragraph or two about why quality is important, and why others value it. Winch says to do this exercise every day for a week or whenever you feel like you need a refresh. Building confidence isn’t easy, and it takes a little work, but Winch says the payoff is priceless if you do it right. You will find yourself developing healthy emotional habits, and you will recover more easily when you suffer trauma in the future.