The capacity for humans to judge and reject parts of themselves can be enormously painful. To avoid negative judgments and self-rejection, we erect barriers of self-defense in our mind. Our self-imposed barriers allow us to feel safe but unfortunately limit our ability to enjoy a fulfilling life – to be open with others, be the center of attention, listen to criticism, accept failure, ask for help, accept challenges or change, take the initiative to solve relationship problems as well as personal problems. Developing positive self-esteem is important because it provides the foundation on which you build your whole life. Fortunately, the way you feel about yourself and perceive yourself can be positively changed. The following are five strategies to build a stronger self-worth which I learned from an impressive book written by Matthew McKay, PhD. and Patrick Fanning, Self Esteem: A proven program of cognitive techniques for assessing, improving, and maintaining your self-esteem.
Develop the building blocks for a stronger self-worth
1) Once you have developed an awareness of your inner voice and its negative affect on your self-worth, you must learn how to disarm your critic. You must learn how to talk back so you can successfully reject the old negative programming. When you talk back, interrupt him as soon as you are aware of his presence. Choose phrases that help you get angry at him. For example, “These are lies. I am not listening to you. It is not true.” Develop a positive mantra to recite to yourself. For example, “I am really a very special person. I like who I am and I feel good about myself. I always do the best I possibly can.”
2) Your core beliefs about your world and yourself make up the foundation of your self-esteem. A great deal of what you do, think, and feel will be a direct response to your core beliefs. An important step to improving your self-esteem is becoming aware of your negative core beliefs so you can re-write them. To uncover your negative core beliefs, record every situation where you are feeling low and negative about yourself. Record your inner monologue to yourself as well as your feelings. Analyze each situation, your monologue, and your feelings. What do you fear? What are you feeling? How is your critic helping you cope? To successfully discard your negative core beliefs about yourself, you must test your rules designed to protect you from your fears.
For example, let’s say you are a participant in a social group where you do not really know anyone all that well; it makes you feel uncomfortable. To protect yourself from your fears of rejection, your inner critic mind reads; he tells you no one is interested in you – no one will miss you if you stop attending the social gatherings. You feel low and negative about yourself during this particular social gathering so you listen to your critic and stop attending. By not attending, your critic has helped you cope with your discomfort and you now feel safer. In order to successfully rewrite your core belief of feeling uncomfortable and unwanted in such social gatherings, you must have the courage to take your fears with you, experience them, and test your false beliefs. With practice and effort, you will discover you are liked and wanted; people are interested in you. When you muster up the courage to test your false beliefs and critical talk about yourself, with time you will successfully rewrite any false core belief you have about yourself.
3) Strong self-esteem flows directly from the ability to make things happen. Lack of action, and feelings of paralysis or helplessness makes you dissatisfied with your life. An action oriented life, one that moves you toward achieving goals, makes you feel strong and in control. The first step is to make a list of what you want for yourself in the following nine categories. Remember your goals must be possible to achieve through actions on your part. The nine categories to establish goals are as follows:
- Material goals
- Relationship goals
- Career goals
- Personal growth goals
- Health related goals
- Leisure goals
- Spiritual goals
- Creative goals
- Emotional or psychological goals
4) Positive visualization has the power to change your self-concept. The benefit of positive visualization offers greater control over what is on your mind’s screen. Through the powers of your imagination you can change the channel on your pathological critic. When you consciously visualize positive events, actions, and outcomes in your mind, you can overpower your critic’s negative comments. Setting and achieving goals is a huge contributor to your self-esteem. Positive visualization of a successful outcome is your most successful tool for accomplishing your goals.
5) When someone fails to ask for what they want, they exhibit a classic symptom of low self-esteem. The root cause is fear. And the primary fear is hearing the word “NO.” Passive personalities do whatever they can to avoid the word no; the word no means rejection and is offensive to them. Avoiding the word no is the major reason individuals with a low self-concept are afraid to ask for anything. Unfortunately, if you never ask you miss out on many of the benefits and opportunities of life. In contrast, individuals with strong self-esteem understand nothing can be gained without asking for what you want. They respect other’s rights to say no. When these individuals hear the word no they accept it without personal offense; and simply move on to the next request. The words yes and no reside together with individuals of high self-esteem.
If your self- esteem prevents you from making requests for what you want, identify the situations where your assertiveness deserts you. To address the problem, start to let the other person know your feelings when voicing your wants. People are always more receptive to listen when you express your heartfelt feelings. When asking for what you want, always use the “ I” statement. For example, “ I would like ……….this is how I feel ……………” Learning to ask for what you want is empowering. When you feel empowered, you will naturally grow and strengthen your self-concept.
Remember, your self- esteem is simply your awareness of yourself. Incorporate into your life steps to develop a healthy awareness about your beliefs about yourself, establish more healthy ways to think about yourself, and incorporate the five building blocks to a stronger self-concept. With effort, practice, and time, you can become the person you want to be. You can accept yourself and feel good about yourself in relation to others.
Visit our companion website for free business success information: businessknowledgestrategies.com