The idea of self-esteem has become somewhat of a dilemma for many people. Countless books and articles talk about self-esteem it as if it were the solution to all your problems. If you have good self-esteem, they say, everything will be great. If you don’t, everything will be bad. The problem is that we develop self-love primarily during the first years of life and we only live those once. That’s why so many people ask themselves if there’s a way to improve self-esteem if it’s not already well-established.
The answer is yes, of course. If you grow up in highly favorable conditions, it’s easy for your self-love to take root in your early years. That gives you a special strength and greater possibilities of finding well-being and happiness. But if that doesn’t happen, you still have a chance to repair the roots that aren’t strong enough.
This brings up another question: why should you worry about improving your self-esteem? It might seem obvious, but maybe not. Lack of self-love is the root of a lot of problems, and it increases the risk of developing some problems. When you don’t have good self-esteem, you tend to feel dissatisfied and it’s hard to find relief. Setting and achieving realistic goals becomes a challenge. In short, it can make life much more complicated. Here we give you three effective strategies to avoid all of the above.
2. Writing reminders: a technique to improve self-esteem
There is a large part of our behavior of which we are unaware, all or at least some of the time. We aren’t usually able to say exactly why we think what we think or feel how we feel. We simply experience it in one way and not another without knowing why. All of that information is in our unconscious, or at least an important part it.
When you don’t love yourself, your mind operates in such a way that it overlooks a lot of the positive things about who you are. That’s when a reminder is a valuable tool to improve self-esteem.
The technique is simple. Just write down the best things about yourself. What do you like about yourself, what you achieved today, the difficulties you’ve overcome. Be specific about your virtues, abilities, and skills. Write down your good points. And, above all, look at the list often. That will help your mind to work as an ally and not an enemy.
2. Identify destructive ideas
When self-love is damaged, you tend to see the world from a very dark point of view. In one way or another, you project your unhappiness onto your surroundings. As a result, you end up focusing more on the negative than on the positive.
Unhealthy habits like comparing yourself with others can also be a problem. Maybe you get scared when you are about to achieve something important, or you become passive and go with the flow because it’s hard for you to believe in your own dreams.
Watch yourself carefully, be your own observer. The goal is to identify lines of thought that make you feel bad. Most likely you have a gloomy outlook not because things actually are bad, but because you are in the habit of interpreting them that way. Learn to observe yourself and identify those thoughts. Then, little by little, you can free yourself of those destructive habits.
5. The five finger exercise
This is an exercise that the psychologist Jose Ignacio Fernandez came up with. It can be very useful to improve self-esteem. It is a series of simple actions to improve your mood when you are feeling low.
These are the actions you can take:
- Relax. The first step is to deeply inhale and exhale to help yourself more fully relax.
- First mental image. Fernandez recommends that you first stretch out your hands and touch your thumbs together with your index fingers. In this position, think of a time in life when you felt loved or protected. For example, a moment of helplessness when someone stepped up to take care of you.
- Second mental image. Next, touch your thumbs to your middle fingers. Think of a situation in which you were successful or you achieved something.
- Third mental image. Touch your thumbs to your ring fingers. Remember a time when you did something kind for someone else.
- Fourth and last mental image. Lastly, touch your thumbs to your pinky finger. Then think about someone you truly love or have loved.
This exercise is useful during those times when you are feeling bad about yourself and you lack self-confidence. It is effective both to help you find balance in that specific moment and also to improve self-esteem in the long-term. Remember that we can always change and learn to be happier, regardless of the circumstances.