By David Joel Miller.
Want to feel better about yourself? Here are some ways.
The problem of low self-esteem is way more common than any problems resulting from feeling too good about yourself. My view is that this whole rating yourself thing is way over rated.
There are a great many ways to overcome your low self-esteem issues. Some of these methods are concrete and some are more global. There are things you can do and there are ways to change your thinking.
The simple ones are not always easy and the easy ways are not always simple.
The doing things are more specific but the being methods are more globally effective. Pick what works for you and see the results.
1. Work with a counselor or therapist.
Professionals are specifically trained in mental health issues and have all sorts of methods to help you. As you get more mentally healthy you should see a corresponding increase in your self-esteem.
Seeing a counselor does not mean you are “crazy.” The best athletes have coaches and there are some life problems that need a counselor. Most counselors are in the field because we like people. That liking is one of our “core conditions.” We call this “unconditional positive regard” which means I like my clients and have a belief that they can get better, do better and have a happy life.
Would having someone who believes in you on your team help?
2. Learn a new skill.
Knowing that there is something that you are able to do is a huge boost in your self-confidence. Take a class on any subject you would enjoy and as you learn more about that topic you will find you are able to talk about that topic with others and you feel more confident.
This could be an academic class but I find may people prefer a non-graded class or activity. Learn a sport; take a cooking or yoga class or even something practical like a parenting education class.
The more skills you learn the better you will feel. And please do not fall into the trap of needing to be the best at everything so you can feel OK about yourself.
You do not need to become a master chef. You can aim for a “good enough” chef and just make something new that does not get people sick. You also do not need to be parent of the year. There is such a thing as being a “good enough parent.” Be that good and your kids will think you are the best mom or dad ever.
3. Making more friends increases self-esteem.
Friends are often the result of shared activities. The “learn a new skill” above can help you meet new people and develop more friends. Consider also church or other religious activities. It is nice to be around people who share your values. One caution. Do not turn your religious practice into another way to isolate and withdraw from anyone who is different from you.
Consider also making friends via volunteer work. Seek out chances to help in your community. You will make friends, help a cause and feel better about yourself.
4. Become your own best friend.
So very many clients I see treat themselves in ways they would never let anyone else treat them. Stop beating yourself up. Learn to like yourself. In fact, learn to love yourself.
You make it difficult to like you any more than you like yourself. Think better of yourself and you will find that others around you treat you better. If they don’t catch on to this change in the rules, that from now on you are doing things to make yourself like you, then you need to get them out of your life or at least minimize their influence on your self-esteem.
5. Do an image breaking exercise.
This one came from Albert Ellis; it has been modified and used by lots of other people. He tells of having clients walk a banana through central park on a leash. Once you have done something that wild and crazy it is hard to take the day-to-day activities all that seriously.
Need to always be right and do the best at everything? Try taking a class you know you will fail. Once you failed one class and see that nothing life threatening happened it becomes easier to take the risk of taking a class that you have a chance of passing and not feeling the pressure to be the best, perfect or you are no good. (That one is from Milton Ericsson by way of Haley.)
Remember every great person has failed at things. One writer (Joanna Penn) sums it up as “Fail early and often.” All writers have some pieces that get read and others that do not attract much attention. The more you try the more you will fail but the more you will also succeed.
Treasure those successes. It is way too easy to discount what you do right by thinking only of your faults. But remember to give yourself credit for the things you do well and keep on trying.
Someone said those who matter do not mind and those who mind do not matter. Do things to please yourself not others. Take credit for the good and if you get more things right than wrong you are at the head of the class.
One way to think of this is that most lawyers lose more cases than they win. There is at most one winner. More often both sides got less than they wanted and both think they lost.
For every person who is elected to office scores or mores run for that office. Lots of people try and some few get there. Be one of the ones that keep trying and you will start to roll up the wins.
6. Stop rating yourself.
I left this one for last. Actually, this is the most powerful method. You are a worthwhile person just because you are you. Let all the rest go. Stop evaluating yourself and you will instantly feel just fine about what you do. This comes under the heading of radical acceptance in my book. (The one I live by not the ones I am writing.)
Hope those suggestions will help those of you who feel you have low self-esteem, anxiety or depression to learn to improve the way you see yourself and to go on to have that happy life you deserve.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books