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Thursday, October 1, 2009

11 Ways to build Self-Esteem

1. Eliminate or Reduce Television Time.
Quit watching so much television. The average person will watch between four and five hours of television a day. Television can be very educational and a fun escape to enjoy in our leisure time. The problem with television is the majority of what we watch is mentally unhealthy. Most shows involve all sorts of unhealthy thoughts and actions.
Watching a police drama may be a nice escape but seeing someone shot or killed will have an impact on your mind. Of course you don’t need to eliminate television completely, but I would reduce it down to an hour or an hour and a half a day. Pick what you watch carefully and try to find shows that will educate and uplift you.

2. Stop Reading/Watching the news.

Let’s face it most of the news you will hear is negative. What’s worse is the news tends to get sensationalized, making things sound worse than they really are. It’s like feeding your mind a diet of nothing but negativity. Rarely is there a positive or uplifting story in the news.
Now you may be asking yourself, “If I stop watching the news how will I know what’s happening?” This is one small possible side effect, but you will be able to find the news from other sources. You will hear the news from friends, family, co-workers or even twitter. Just trust that anything important will make it’s way to you.
3. Motivational Materials.

Feed your mind a regular diet of positive thoughts and motivational materials. To change your self-esteem you’ll want to find replacements for all the negative thoughts you want to eliminate. There’s no better way to do this than finding the time to listen, read, or watch motivational material. There is an amazing amount of motivational material available and if you don’t like one speaker or trainer you’ll find it easy to replace them with someone you do.
Spending at least 15 minutes a day feeding your mind with positive thoughts will have a tremendous impact on your self-esteem. One of the best places to learn is in your car or while exercising. Listening to motivational programs or audio books while driving or exercising is a great way to feed your mind with positive material.
4. Use Visualization.

Visualization is “seeing something before it happens.” You need to mentally picture yourself successfully completing business or personal goals. By visualizing success we can usually increase the chance that it will happen. Get rid of the negative and self-defeating thoughts before you visualize a successful outcome. This will allow you to develop a clear image of what needs to be done.
Try to set aside just 5 minutes a day to practice visualization. If your goal is to lose weight and run a marathon you can close your eyes and see your self running the last kilometre of your marathon. Picture all the people cheering you on. See the finish line up ahead. Think of the thoughts you would tell yourself after achieving such a powerful goal. Live that moment in your mind and you’ll leave your 5 minute visualization feeling extremely good about yourself.
5. Goal Setting.

Goal setting is another fantastic way to build your self-esteem, as long as your goals are achievable. Setting and achieving small daily goals can help us build momentum and self-esteem. Goal setting is a huge subject and something I plan to cover in further detail on
Here are some basics:

1. Set a goal that if you put your mind to it you know you can achieve.
2. Break your goal down to small manageable tasks.
3. Accomplish one of these tasks every day. These daily tasks should be easy to achieve and should fit into your day. For instance, if you have a goal to lose 10 pounds within the next 3 months you may have a daily goal to exercise for 30 minutes.
By achieving this daily goal and not quitting you will gradually build your believe in your abilities. But here’s a warning… If you start to miss your daily goals this can have exactly the opposite effect on your self-esteem. Make sure your daily goals are things that you can do and make sure you stick with them.
6. Change your self-talk.

Self-talk is that little voice in your head that is constantly defining what things mean for you. It’s that non-stop little voice that never quits. This is the voice that is contributing to your lack of self-esteem. Changing your self-talk is not going to be easy. It will be a life long battle to change your negative thoughts into positive, productive thoughts.
Here’s how to change your self-talk.
1. Challenge your self-talk by asking, “Is that true?” Asking the simple question, “Is that true?” will often eliminate your negative thought.
If you are overweight you may call yourself, “Fat.” When you ask, “Is it true?” You may say yes I am “Fat” right now. To answer the question positively you would say, “Yes, I am overweight right now and I’ve made the decision to change this by exercising daily and eating right. I love myself at any weight and I will get better each and every day.”
2. Question what you are saying. A great way to do this is to ask yourself, “Why am I thinking this about myself right now?” This will help you clarify what is bothering you.
As in our previous example if you called yourself “Fat” and you question why you are thinking this right now, it will help you realize what was bothering you. It may be that you just ate a bag of potato chips and you’re on a diet. It may be that you just saw someone much thinner than you and you’re jealous.
3. Replace the thought. Now we want to replace the thought with a more productive thought. “Right now I’ve been thinking I’m (Your Thought) but the truth is I’m (Your Replacement Thought).”
In the example of calling yourself “Fat” you would replace the thought. “Right now I’m thinking that I’m fat, but the truth is I ate potato chips and that was a mistake. I will now get back on track with my goal.”
7. Choose carefully what you believe.

On a daily basis we may hear many many different things about ourselves from others.
• The boss may say “Good job on that report.”
• Your spouse may say, “Great dinner.”
• Your child may say “I hate you.”
• A co-worker may say “Do you even know what you are doing.”
All of these things can happen each and every day. It’s up to you to choose what you believe. Most people with low self-esteem will choose to focus on the negative things they hear about themselves and shrug off the good things they hear.
When someone pays you a compliment do you believe it? Most people do not. When you hear something negative about yourself do you believe it? Most people tend to take in most negative things that are said about them. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we choose to focus on the negative and minimize the positive? If you already have low self-esteem it’s much easier to believe the negative said about you, because you’re already thinking negative thoughts about yourself.
The best way to overcome this is to use the questioning technique to change our self talk.
1. Ask yourself, “Is it true?”
If a co-worker says, “Do you even know what you are doing.” Ask yourself is it true. In some cases it may be true. “Yes, I did not know everything I was doing on this report.”
2. Then question what has been said, “Why are they saying this about me?”
Now ask why they are saying this about you. It may be because they are feeling pressured and your small mistake is going to make extra work for them. It may be because they have their own issues with self-esteem and feel it necessary to attack others when they make a mistake. Try to find a reason for why they are saying this about you.
3. Replace the thought, “Yes, I made a mistake with (What your were criticized about) but the truth is I (Your replacement thought).
Now that you know the truth find a replacement thought that you want to have replayed in your subconscious mind. “Yes, I did not know everything about that report. However, I did a great job given my experience and I learned how to do it better next time.”
8. Stop making up stories about what people think about you.

How do you know if someone really likes you? The truth is you really will never know whether they truly like you or not. For some this may be bad news, because being liked by everyone is a high priority. You might even classify yourself as a people pleaser. But the reality is some people will like you and some will not. If they like you, that’s great. If they don’t like you that’s fine too. Just don’t get into the trap of trying to guess who likes you and who doesn’t. It really doesn’t matter and it can drive you nuts.
One of the best ways to overcome this comes from a buddhist philosophy called, “The Nobel Eightfold Path.” Without describing this in detail it talks about how you should live your life as a way to end suffering. “The Nobel Eightfold Path,” is comprised of Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right mindfulness, Right concentration. Even without describing each of these in detail you should have a good idea of this philosophy.
If you live your life in a way that doesn’t harm others you should not worry about what others think. Knowing that you’re living the best life you can is often enough to help you overcome the fear of what others think about you. If you know you are doing the best you can then you can be detached of the thoughts of others.
However, if you are talking about people behind their backs. If you are cheating someone of something. If you are harsh to others. Then you will constantly be worried about what is being said about you. The way to cure this is to start living your best life.
9. Stop beating yourself up.
Guess what? You are going to make mistakes before you die. Yep, that’s the honest truth. You are going to screw up and have a day where you just want to throw your head under the covers and hide from the world. You’re going to get tongue tied in an important meeting and you’ll probably trip a few times in front of people. Knowing that these things are probably going to happen can stop you from beating yourself up.
You are a human being and we make mistakes. We do dumb things sometimes. Even the best drivers get in car accidents. So when life hands you an embarrassing moment don’t use it as an excuse to beat yourself up. Try to laugh it off as one of those little embarrassing moments that just happen from time to time.
If you catch yourself beating yourself up, stop it immediately and replace that thought. “I made another mistake, no big deal. I will learn from this.” Find a thought that works for you and make sure you put and end to this immediately. This has a terrible effect on our self-esteem.
10. Find three positive things you did each day.

This is a great exercise that will force you look for the positive in yourself. At first this little exercise may be very difficult. You may come to the end of your day and find yourself focusing on the negative stuff you did instead of the positive. Force yourself to shift your mind to find just three things you did well.
These could be simple things.
• You let someone in your lane when driving.
• You called a family member and told them you loved them.
• You found time to read some motivational material.
• You took a co-worker out to lunch.
Of course you can also use big accomplishments.
• Winning an award.
• Buying a new house.
• Getting positive feedback from a presentation.
The trick is to find just three things you did well each and everyday.
Don’t limit yourself to just three items. If you feel you can find more than three things you did well, then write those down as well. You’re building your self-esteem everyday with this habit. It’s amazing what happens between your conscious mind and your subconscious mind when your write down positive thoughts.
11. Practice affirmations continually.

One of the best affirmations you can use came from Brian Tracy. He suggests saying “I like myself” repeatedly in your mind. The effect of this simple affirmation is astounding. Try is now, say, “I like myself,” 20 times in your mind. Better yet, go to your bathroom mirror and say it out loud as you stare into your eyes. Give it a try.
Whenever you catch yourself thinking negative just repeat, “I like myself,” to yourself as many times as you feel is appropriate. The more the better. It may sound foreign to most and if you have low self-esteem you may even get emotional saying this. The emotion comes from finding the truth. Realizing that you truly do love yourself.
Of course there are many wonderful affirmations you can add to your life that will also help your self-esteem. Here’s just a few:
• “I can do anything I set my mind to!”
• “I am a great communicator!”
• “When I talk people listen!”
• “People like me!”
• “I am a great person!”
• “Everyday in every way I get better and better!”
Repeating affirmations alone is often not enough. You should also try to feel the affirmation in your body as you say it. Pump your fist as you say it. Better yet, yell out an enthusiastic “YES,” at the end of an affirmation. The more energy you bring to an affirmation the better the results.
A word of warning

Although we don’t want to beat ourselves up. We do want to be realistic about what’s happening in our lives. That doesn’t mean making things worse then they are, but don’t make them better than they are either. Tell yourself the truth about everything. If you’re overweight don’t look in the mirror and call yourself thin, instead decide if you are comfortable with where you are or not. If you’re not comfortable then set a goal to make this change.
The best definition of success I’ve ever heard came from the late Earl Nightingale who said, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthwhile goal.” This means that as long as you are moving towards your goal you are successful. If your goal is to lose weight and you exercised today and you ate the appropriate amount and type of food today then… YOU ARE SUCCESSFUL. Make sure you feel that way about yourself and enjoy the process.
Self esteem is a huge subject and something that each of us should work on in our lives on a daily basis. It leads to a much more enjoyable life and is the cornerstone of happiness. Choose to work on your self-esteem and watch the quality of your life improve.