Seven Strategies You Need to Know About Strengthening Your Self-Esteem
Did you know that your life's success in all areas is directly related to having a healthy self-esteem? You've heard the clich' 'You are what you eat.' Many would also argue that 'You are what you think.'
Nathaniel Brandon, one of the most notable psychologists on self-esteem put it nicely: 'There is no value-judgment more important to man - no factor more decisive in his psychological development & motivation than the estimate he passes on himself.'
It is the secret or 'hidden self-esteem' in particular, that will get you through those very dark spots. It will enable you to find a valuable lesson each time you face an obstacle.
The hidden or secret self-esteem is how you feel about yourself deep down. It is the most accurate description of how you feel, regardless of what obstacles are thrown in your path.
If it's strong, then you will be able to deal better with stress and your relationships. You'll be successful by your own standards and have no need to boast about it. Your surface self- esteem, however, can vary widely depending on the day of the week. It's a temporary feeling.
Environmental factors can play a role in how you view yourself.
It most certainly did for me. For example (the very short version), I felt essentially fatherless. I got called weird a lot growing up (and fat, too!).
Artists, musicians, and the mathematically inclined tend to be labeled as eccentric. I am all three! Teenagers generally ridiculed eccentricity in my environment back then.
Honestly, I don't believe my secret nor surface self-esteem was as healthy as it could be in all areas until I was finished with school - Graduate School!
So how did I get from there to here?
Let's look at some strategies that I used and see if any or all them can get you on the road to developing or strengthening your self-esteem. Here are seven of them:
1. Clear out the junk: This means anything hurtful and unconstructive that you've been told by someone you care(d) about (or even some you didn't) is to be taken with a grain of salt. It's one thing to be given constructive criticism in life, but quite another when people are downright mean about it. Remember it's the offending party's issue. NOT yours.
2. Related to #1: List first why you believe the negativity you tell yourself (i.e., I'm too old. I'm too fat. Nobody loves me. I'm never good enough. etc.); laugh at that piece of paper you just wrote on; THEN tear it up and move on to the next strategy.
3. You may have heard the phrase 'Attitude of gratitude.' Count your blessings, which can include things people actually take for granted, such as food and shelter, access to a computer, etc.
4. List your positive attributes and talents'everybody has them! List at least five.
5. Make a list of what you love to do, starting from childhood until now and try to find time to do it at least once a week, even if it's just for a few minutes.
6. List at least three things that you would love to have the courage to do.
7. Surround yourself with positive people (think of volunteer or professional organizations that have something in common with your interests, for example).
If none of these strategies work over time, other factors may be at play that are beyond the scope of this article.
Consistently employing these strategies will make it easier to keep going even when the going gets tough. Especially when the going gets tough! Whenever you are feeling low, you don't have to try and deny it. But do know that it will pass. Knowing that it will pass will help you psychologically.
If you're interested in seeing where you fall in terms of your self-esteem, here is a site that I found very useful: http://www.wellnessnet.com/testesarticle.htm. It also goes into the hidden and surface self esteem concept in more depth.
Self-esteem is but one personal resource worth managing. It's important to be kind to yourself and have patience. Remember, your best investment is in yourself!
Power-Ed Solutions, Inc. Copyright © 2004 All Rights Reserved
Carol Dickson-Carr a life strategist and social scientist who has researched the human condition for over 13 years. She is also founder of Power-Ed Solutions, Inc., a Leadership Development Company