Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves, how confident we are, how accomplished we feel. For some of us, however, it can go up and down. One day we might feel really on top of things, great about ourselves, unafraid to try anything. Another day, we’re just as likely to feel completely at the bottom, unsure of ourselves, afraid to say or do everything.
What is it about self-esteem that keeps it on this rollercoaster path? How can we even it out to raise or eliminate those lows?
Here are 10 tips to help us conquer those low days and level out our self-esteem track:
1. Review a previous accomplishment: Most of us have learned how, at an early age, to master something, such as riding a bicycle. Learning to ride one of those contraptions isn’t easy, either. It requires a process of hand/eye/brain/
2. Start small and do a task you can accomplish easily. There’s no faster way to build self-esteem than to add yet another accomplishment to your roster. And it always feels good to get something crossed off our to-do list.
3. Forgive yourself for the things you’re not good at. Some of us are lousy cooks. Some of us are bad at relationships. We make mistakes, even when we’re trying our best. Sometimes you just have to apologize, let it go and move on. Nobody says we all have to be experts at everything, thank goodness!
4. Praise yourself for the things you do well. Not everyone has your unique abilities and talents. Don’t sell yourself short. It isn’t wrong or egotistical to praise ourselves. In fact, it’s a good re-parenting technique to learn how to pat yourself on the back a little when you accomplish something you do well, in record time or with excellent results. Learn how to enjoy a few minutes of self-congratulation
5. Ignore yourself. Sometimes the real problem isn’t self-esteem at all but a tendency toward overthinking. Direct your focus to other things. Give it a rest already.
6. Consider your physical and mental states at these times of “low self-esteem.” Are you tired, hungry, overloaded? We tend to pile abuses on ourselves at such times. Let feelings of low self-esteem serve as signals that you need a break, a nap, an apple, a nice glass of water.
7. Talk to a friend who will contradict you. It’s easier to see how we shape our own wrong view of ourselves when we get help from someone who knows us and can itemize what they think is great about us.
8. Examine the pattern of highs and lows. How long has it been since you felt good about yourself? Was it last week when you turned in a report at work that earned you a compliment from the boss? Was it a month ago? What happened after that? Perhaps you’re just in a “praise starvation” mode—it’s been too long since you got a compliment or got to do anything that someone noticed. Or perhaps you started the downward spiral when you said the wrong thing to someone. See No. 3.
9. Get some exercise, or, if you’re already exercising and not getting any results or feeling like you’ve hit a plateau, stop for a day. Physical activity causes the body to release endorphins which make us feel better, more relaxed. If you’ve been focusing on one type of exercise, vary that routine and try a different type. If you don’t exercise, go for a walk. Even the change of scenery will do you good. It also forces your perspective to change a little, and you may see yourself in a better light.
10. Examine your needs. Some people need more praise from others than other people do. Some people need to always be accomplishing something, or they feel let down. In other words, it could very well be that you’re fine, but you’re just in a slower activity period right now, so it feels like you feel bad, when you really don’t. Or maybe whatever it is that you're feeling bad about (interviewing for a new job, for example) is scaring you, and your feelings of low self-esteem are just forcing you to work on being prepared.
It’s always good to remember that self-esteem is a mental construct. Some professionals don’t even believe it exists. Our sense of wellbeing is an illusory thing that can be manipulated by our own beliefs and attitudes, our moods, our physical health. It can also be affected, if we let it, by externals, such as other people, events, the weather, how much sleep we’ve had, even what we eat that day. So it isn’t just “all in our heads.” Choosing to follow a practical approach for managing our self-esteem will prevent it from becoming a problem and keep us off that rollercoaster.
Content copyright © 2007 by Barbara Sloan. All rights reserved. This content was written by Barbara Sloan. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Barbara Sloan for details.