A good dose of high self-esteem makes the world a much nicer place. If you like yourself and feel good about your achievements life becomes an exciting challenge rather than a miserable series of struggles. Few of us are blessed with perfect self-esteem in all areas of our lives. You might sail through work while your love life lies in tatters or have the perfect relationship while the thought of talking to strangers fills you with terror.
Our self-esteem quota often dates right back to impressions we picked up as children. How our parents talked to us can affect everything from body image to social adeptness while a thoughtless schoolteacher can totally scupper our future self-confidence at work.
But the good news is that self-esteem is something we can improve - often quite easily. It just takes a little time to work out where we are falling down and why - and then take steps to change the pattern.
Map Out Your Life
Sit down with a notebook and mark each page with a different category: your appearance; your personality; your work; your home life; your relationships; your sex life and your social life. Then on one side of the page make a list of all your virtues and strengths. On the other side list your bad points and weaknesses.
- Which list is longest and where are all the negative answers clustered? This will focus which areas need attention.
- Are your criticisms really valid or accurate? Replace words like "stupid" with something more accurate like "I panic when I have to talk in public" or "I am sometimes a bit forgetful."
- Take particular notice of your good points - write a list and stick it on the bathroom mirror or inside your wardrobe and read it and add to it every day.
Banish the Inner Critic
Listen to the little voice that constantly comments on your behavior - the censor that says "You're a fat lump" or "You'll never get that job". The critic, says psychologists, is a part of our brain that often links us to early authority figures such as parents and teachers.
- Try to recognize the voice. Does it sound like anyone you know?
- Keep a thought diary and write down every negative thought you have. At the end of each day, look at your list and work out the purpose behind each thought - was it goading you to do better or was it giving you an excuse for not doing as well as you might?
- Start getting angry with your inner critic and silently shout at it every times it starts to attack. "Shut up!" works well or simply recognize where the thought comes from - "this is just a lie my father told me".
Concentrate On Success
We all have achievements in our lives although if we have low self-esteem we tend to forget them or play them down.
- Make a list of everything, however trivial it may seem - from learning to ride a bike or swimming a width to having a baby or getting a new job.
- Remember exactly how you felt the day you passed your driving test; when you got the letter saying you'd got the job; when they put your baby in your arms? Learn to recreate the feeling on demand and whenever you start to feel hopeless or useless bring back that feeling of achievement.
- Use our Confidence blend to boost that inner worth.
Your Body Image
How many of us are totally happy with our bodies? Remember even top catwalk models generally moan about something. We are all fed unrealistic expectations based on the images we see in magazines and on television.
- Look at the comments you made about your body in your audit. How realistic and specific are they? Cross out "I'm fat" and change it to something like "I would ideally like to weigh x pounds".
- Look in the mirror and instead of homing in on the "bad" bits focus on the good parts - tell yourself you have great hair or lovely eyes - even superb feet.
- Our Slim Solution and Balance blends can help foster a positive self-image.
We often subconsciously choose partners who reflect back our ideas about ourselves. If we feel worthless we will attract people who reinforce that belief whereas if we love ourselves and feel good about ourselves, we will tend to find a person who boosts our self-esteem even further.
- The only way to have a good relationship with someone else is first to work out a good relationship with yourself. Treat yourself like a best friend - be kind to yourself, forgiving, reassuring and generous. Tell yourself repeatedly that you deserve a wonderful, loving, supportive relationship (and believe it).
- Have self-esteem raising sessions with your partner. Take it in turns to tell each other all the things (however small or silly) you like about each other.
- Listen to your partner. Does he criticize you or put you down? Is she echoing your own self-doubts or old criticisms from the past? Recognize where they come from and refuse to accept them anymore.