Self-Esteem-By Dr. Alberto García
Assertive techniques of how you can improve your self-esteem.
By: Dr. Alberto García, Clinical Psychologist
Common knowledge dictates that individuals with a balanced and healthy self-esteem are able to feel good about themselves for whom they are. They can appreciate their values, abilities and accomplishments. They also know that while they may not be perfect and can make mistakes, those mistakes do not play a dramatic role in their lives or their own self-image.
According to Maslow, self-esteem relies on appreciating yourself for who you are — with faults, opinions, perceptions and all. Simply knowing all your limitations, strengths and weaknesses, provides you with a safety cushion enabling you to move on into the world.
It is a fact that not knowing how to deal with low self-esteem can negatively affect every area of your life: social, personal and professional relationships, including your health. But you can take some steps to improve your self-esteem by following these alternatives from different types of mental health counseling.
The Mayo Clinic Staff outlined these suggestions based on the cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): Take a sheet of paper and jot down a list of what you consider your most important “Strengths” and “Weaknesses”.
Read them out loud and evaluate them.
Spend a fair amount of time identifying negative thoughts and irrational situations that seem to deflate your self-esteem.
Work on a Self-Esteem Analysis. (Choose your battles)
Look for common triggers including:
Daily life situations, an unexpected job loss, terminal illness or a family loss
Assuming financial hardships or moving to another city
A crisis at work or home
Conflicts with your spouse, children and friends
Be selective and aware of your thoughts and beliefs. (Be assertive)
Once you have identified uncomfortable situations, pay attention to your thoughts about them. This includes your self-talk — what you tell yourself — and your interpretation of what the situation means. Your thoughts and beliefs might be positive, negative or neutral. They could be rational, based on reason or facts, or irrational, based on false ideas.
Set realistic expectations. (Do not lie to yourself)
Nothing can kill our self-esteem more than setting unrealistic expectations. Sometimes our expectations are so much smaller, but still unrealistic. For instance, “I wish my family or my significant other would stop criticizing me.” You know what? They never will! But that is no reason to let their criticism affect your own view of yourself, or your own self-worth. Check your expectations if they keep disappointing you. This may also help you to stop the cycle of negative thinking about yourself that reinforce our negative self-esteem.
Remember, this is your Self-Esteem Analysis. It helps you know all the “good” and “not so good” things you already tell yourself, as well as showing you that there are just as many things you are good at, too. Weaknesses you may also be able to modify, if only you worked at them, one at a time, over the course of time. Let me remind you, nobody changes things overnight, they just modifies them. So do not set unrealistic expectations that you know you can’t change in a reasonable time.
Be able to explore Yourself. (Challenge new horizons)
It is not just about knowing your strengths and weaknesses, but also opening up to new opportunities, lifestyles, viewpoints, and new friendships. Sometimes when we are down on our feet and our self-esteem has been hit very hard, we feel like we have lost everything and that we have nothing to offer to others. It may be that we simply have not found everything that we do have to offer.
Hold of all of your accomplishments… and then, some mistakes, too.
Take a hold of your accomplishments as you achieve them. Acknowledge them to yourself for their actual value. Keep a little journal of things you have accomplished. The key is to get you to your goals and objectives and move on from each one.
It’s just as important to take something away from the mistakes you make in life. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it simply means you made mistakes like everyone does. Mistakes are an opportunity for learning and for growth, if only we push ourselves out of the self-pity or negative self-talk we continue to fall in. It is a matter of trying to see it from someone else’s point of view.
Spend more time with positive and supportive people
So make changes in the input you get. Choose to spend less time with people who are negative, controlling, unkind or non-supportive of your dreams or goals. Choose to spend time with outgoing, optimistic, uplifting people who have more positive ways of thinking about things.
Finally, let me share with you some other strategies and behavioral inputs suggested by and with the courtesy of the Mayo Clinic Staff:
Use hopeful statements. Treat yourself with kindness and encouragement. Pessimism can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, if you think your presentation isn’t going to go well, you might indeed stumble through it. Try telling yourself things such as, “Even though it’s tough, I can handle this situation.”
Forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes — and mistakes aren’t permanent reflections on you as a person. They’re isolated moments in time. Tell yourself, “I made a mistake, but that doesn’t make me a bad person.”
Avoid ‘should’ and ‘must’ statements. If you find that your thoughts are full of these words, you might be putting unreasonable demands on yourself — or on others. Removing these words from your thoughts can lead to more realistic expectations.
Focus on the positive. Think about the good parts of your life. Remind yourself of things that have gone well recently. Consider the skills you’ve used to cope with challenging situations.
Re-label upsetting thoughts. You don’t need to react negatively to negative thoughts. Instead, think of negative thoughts as signals to try new, healthy patterns. Ask yourself, “What can I think and do to make this less stressful?”
Encourage yourself. Give yourself credit for making positive changes. For example, “My presentation might not have been perfect, but my colleagues asked questions and remained engaged — which means that I accomplished my goal.”
Help Yourself to stay motivated to work on your self-esteem and to make it an essential priority.
Following these suggestions has benefited my clients, colleagues and friends. I hope it can do the same for you.