According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, self-esteem is a confidence and satisfaction with oneself.” A positive self-esteem is vital to good mental health. We all have a story we tell ourselves. This story goes to the core of who we believe ourselves to be. Is your self-esteem positive? Or do you look in the mirror and think, “God, I’m fat” or “I’m so stupid?” You have the right to feel good about yourself. And you can improve or change your self-esteem with a few changes in habits.
The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.
You’ve learned some negative self-talk. Sometimes a difficult time or situation makes us feel bad about ourselves. Being bullied, losing a job, a death, a crisis in a relationship, physical illness, and yes, mental illness can influence our self-esteem. We start a negative pattern. Repeating a negative phrase or thought over and over, you end up believing the statement is true. What if it’s not true? What do you wish were true? Whether at your parents’ knees, or from your sibling, your frienemy, the television, or magazines, what was learned can be unlearned.
Change Your Story
If you want to change your core story, you have to think about it. What is it? Where did it come from? Whose voice are you hearing? What automatic thoughts are you having? You may think you can’t change because this is the way you are. Give yourself a break. There are habits you can adopt that will change your self-esteem. Fake it till you make it is a cliché for a reason.
Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.
Changes take time to move from a routine into a habit. But practice them. Over time, some experts say six weeks, routines become habits. Here are 16 habits you can cultivate that will help you gain a more positive self-esteem.
Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment. Thomas Carlyle
It’s hard to feel good inside if you don’t feel good outside. Shower, shampoo, brush your teeth, shave. Grooming yourself makes you feel better because your body feels better.
This means dress in clothes that make you feel good. But what if you don’t feel good in your clothes? Dress in the clothes that get you compliments. So, what if you want to wear sweat? Put on the good ones—the ones that are cute or make you feel nicer.
Slumping, closing in your body doesn’t feel or look confident. It’s healthier for your spine, too.
We all know we should be kind to others. But in this case, let’s discuss self-compassion. Would you talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself? Stop negative self-talk. Don’t scold yourself. Be kind to yourself. Remind yourself that you’re having a bad day but that doesn’t mean you can be mean to yourself.
Smiling takes and creates energy. But if you’re not feeling happy don’t force an unnatural full-beam I’m happy smile. Try for the look-at me-working-to-feel-better-smile.
List What You Are Good At
Come on now, you’re good at some things. No one is good at everything. Add to the list as you think of new things. Pull out this list when your negative self-talk tells you you can’t do something.
Keep a gratitude journal—even thinking about one thing for which you are grateful once a day can help.
Clear a Space
Create a calm space for yourself—uncluttered, peaceful, relaxing place to be even if it’s a one corner of one room. When the space you are in is calm, you feel calmer, too.
Do One Thing
Do one small thing on your to-do list—getting something done always makes you feel better. Make sure you choose something you can be successful at. Crossing it off the list makes you feel like you’re getting somewhere because you are.
Learn something new. Learning can re-affirm that you can do things. It engages your brain in a different way than doing something you know well. Today, public libraries and the internet allow you to learn the basics of almost anything for free.
Ah, compliments. Do you say thank you while inside you’re saying “that’s so not true?” Notice when you don’t accept compliments, what you’re telling yourself instead? Learn to say and mean thank you when someone gives you a compliment. Then learn to take that compliment in and believe it’s true. Finally, give yourself compliments.
Keep a celebrations jar. Celebrate EVERY success. Yes, even the tiniest ones. In this jar, put a note for everything you accomplish. Or keep a journal or a spreadsheet. You’ll be surprised at how much you discount the things you do. Celebrate how? Do a Snoopy dance. Get a cup of tea or coffee. Praise yourself with a “wow, look at what I did.” Reward yourself with a bubble bath or an hour reading or watching your favorite television show.
Remember taking tests? Remember the test you didn’t study for? It’s difficult to feel confident if you aren’t prepared. But what if it’s not a job or a test, how do you prepare? You’re preparing yourself. If you are prepared for what you fear, you’ll be more comfortable in situations that aren’t fear-invoking as well. For example: Prepare for a party or outing by planning a couple of topics for discussion or how you can help the host or how you can excuse yourself early. Prepared, you’ll be more comfortable and confident in handling whatever happens.
Know Your Principles
There are rules you live by. The Golden Rule is a principle to live by for some. What principle or principles are ones you live by? Think about your principles, how they apply to what you do and how you feel. Knowing what you stand for, what you believe, helps you feel more confident.
Affirmations are usually what experts say use to change your negative self-talk. But we often try too much of a change at once. When you’re feeling unworthy, saying I am a great success feels false and intensifies your feelings of unworthiness. Try saying something positive with the intention of getting to the strongest feeling. Say something like I am going to work hard until I AM a success. Once that feels natural, you can use stronger statements.
Sometimes an affirmation needs a back up or reinforcement. You can create a small ritual to help shore up that affirmation. Light a candle. Burn some incense or sage. Rub a crystal. Mediate. Any of those things individually or grouped can be a ritual that helps you strengthen your affirmations and resolve.
I think self-esteem is fluid. It’s not a fixed state,
and so some days are better than others. Jo Brand
Even someone with a healthy self-esteem needs these habits to maintain self-esteem. And remember, it takes time and repetition. Choose one thing you want to change. Work on it for 6 weeks. Then choose another one for the next 6 weeks. Take it slow and steady and you’ll make huge changes. You have the right to feel good about yourself. Your mental health, your self esteem will be stronger for it.