By Lisa Philippart LPC, BCPCC, BC-TMH
Welcome to February…International Boost Your Self-Esteem Month. Let’s look at seven specific things you can do to start cultivating high self-esteem.
- Spend more time with the right people. The type of people we are surrounded by day in and day out, profoundly affects us. It’s not hard to see how low self-esteem gets perpetuated if most of the people around you are cruel, sarcastic, condescending, judgmental, or manipulative. Simply making tough decisions to change the people you let into your life is key to generating high self-esteem.
- Learn to be assertive. Assertiveness means speaking in a way that’s both honest and respectful by asking directly for what you want and saying no firmly to what you don’t want. It often comes down to the relationship between our actions and our values.
- Make time to clarify your values. Ultimately high self-esteem comes from living your life in a way that aligns with your values. The more clear, specific, and compelling our values, the more we are drawn to them. And when our values exert more pull on us, it becomes easier to act in a way that lines up with them and therefore generates high self-esteem.
- Shift your focus from outcomes to growth. People with high esteem are usually process oriented. Clarify your goals initially, then spend the rest of your time and energy on the routines and actions that move you forward.
- Eliminate negative self-talk. How we habitually talk to ourselves has a profound effect on how we think and feel. The first step is to become aware of your own self-talk. There is actually a strong belief that high self-esteem is really our default, but that we simply override it with years of negative self-talk.
- Cultivate a habit of gratitude. There is a strong correlation between compassion and self-esteem. When we are consistently compassionate with ourselves and others, we can’t help but hold ourselves in high regard. But consistency is the key, which means it is the habit of gratitude that is necessary to build higher self-esteem.
- Manage your expectations effectively. Unrealistic expectations are a setup for excessive emotional reactions, followed by unhelpful decisions or behaviors, and then lower self-esteem as a result. When we have fewer and more realistic expectations, we can simply avoid a lot of painful emotional experiences in the first place.