Self-Esteem Essentials

Tips for enhancing positive self-esteem

“The secret to boosting your self-esteem is not just how you think but what you do.”

– Marie Hartwell-Walker

September 15, 2016:

“You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.” –Diane Von Furstenberg

Learning to simply be with yourself is a worthwhile endeavor. It’s just true. Unless we find ourselves to be interesting to be around, no one else will either. Identify your strengths. Nurture them. If you don’t have a “strength”, go get one. Yes, you can. It’s a decision, not something that will drop from the sky. You are worth the time and thought and effort it takes to develop something you sort of like into something you can love about yourself.

Start with something easy. Maybe you have to take a bit of a walk every day to get from your car to your door. Take the long way round. Look and listen. Become more mindful of your surroundings. Appreciate the things you see in a new way. Soon your walk will no longer be on autopilot. Soon you will find that those few minutes are a space for mindful connection with your surroundings. Soon you are a person who makes mindful connections. . .

September 1, 2016: 

Something to remember as the new school year begins.

“Positivity opens us. The first core truth about positive emotions is that they open our hearts and our minds, making us more receptive and more creative.: — Barbara Fredrickson

August 10, 2016: When does real life begin?

I love this quote from Fr. Adler. He says it simply and truly.

“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life
But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first,
some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid, then life would begin.
At last it dawned upon me that these obstacles were my life”
– Fr. Alfred

 August 1, 2016: Happily ever after

The story books promise that they lived “happily ever after”. Although it sounds good, constant happiness is not only unlikely, but also unwise. We can’t appreciate the happy times without having some less than wonderful periods in our lives. The down times, the times where we struggle, the times that can’t get over soon enough, are often the very times that make us grow and become stronger.  As Margaret Wander Bonanno once said, “It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis”. Focusing on what can make us happy in the now – no matter how small the grains of happy making may be, helps us build the self-esteem and emotional resilience we need to make it through.

July 12, 2016:  The Gratitude Visit: 

There are times when we don’t stop and thank the people who have had a positive impact on our lives.  And yet, a basic strategy for increasing our positivity and happiness is to tell other people that we are thankful they are in our life. There’s a wonderful Youtube clip that shows how doing so affected some people. Take a look:

June 6, 2016: Mindfulness

Mindfulness simply means being present here and now — but it isn’t as simple as it seems. Most of us are so caught up in all the things we are doing, the guilt about what we’re not doing, and the avoiding of things we don’t want to do, that it’s hard to stop our spinning long enough to be present. In one of his books, the Dalai Lama likens mindfulness to the sea. On top, there may be waves and storms, but those storms don’t have much effect deep down.  That’s what a practice of mindfulness meditation can do for us. It can help us develop a deep inner peace that inoculates us from the storms of life and helps us calm the spin so we can enjoy the moment.

May 10, 2016: How many friends do you need?

Feeling connected to others is at the core of self-esteem. You may wonder how many friends is enough. Robin Dunbar,an evolutionary anthropologist at Oxford University in England has researched that very question. He ahs found that we don’t need thousands of friends, or even a dozen, to be happy. Most people have, on average, 3 – 5 close friends and 12 – 15 relatives, mentors and friends who don’t quite rate as “good friends” but who still matter.  An average is just that, an “average”. That means that some people have one or two friends, some people have more than five.  What matters is that we have people to turn to to celebrate the good times and to support us in the not so good times. Having a feeling of belonging to a larger community helps us feel safe.

May 4, 2016: Just do it

The ancient Greeks had it right. They believed that a strong mind was only possible if there was a strong body carrying it around. Researchers have confirmed what we all know just by watching those around us:  Folks who get physically active regularly have more energy and less stress. Those who stay active as they age look and feel younger than they are.

You know you need to do it. Don’t wait until you “feel like it”. It may take a long time for the mood to hit you. Instead, as the Nike ad says, just do it. Take a short walk outside at lunch time. Dust off the gym equipment you bought with great enthusiasm some time ago and haven’t used since. Spend part of your weekend doing whatever physical activity is possible during the season.  By doing good for yourself, you will start to feel much better.

March 6, 2016: The Platinum Rule:  Just about everyone knows the Golden Rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you”. Although there’s wisdom in it, it isn’t always helpful. It assumes that you and the other are more alike than maybe you are.

Better to use the Platinum Rule: “Treat others as they want you to treat them.” Self-esteem is enhanced when we get out of ourselves and really think hard about the other person. Can we give them what they really want from us – in whole or in part? Oh, I know. Some people’s demands and desires are outrageous. I’m not talking about those. I’m merely reminding us that a true gift, whether of our time, our communication or material things, is tailored to the receiver. The thought that goes into discovering what that might be is the greatest gift of all.

February 29, 2016:  Self compassion: A good friend of mine calls herself terrible names when she makes a mistake. She says it’s a way she lets off steam. She says that it makes her feel better. She says that calling herself “stupid” and “useless” and “incompetent” gets all the bad feelings out. I don’t agree. I’ve been listening to her do this to herself for decades and it hasn’t increased her level of self-esteem one bit. Scolding herself like the worst version of the worst parent ever hasn’t helped her confidence or her sense of herself as a worthwhile human being. Research shows that calling oneself bad names only reinforces a negative sense of self – regardless of how gratifying it may feel at the time. I wish I could convince my friend to be more self-compassionate.

February 22, 2016:  “Fake it til you make it”. It really isn’t bad advice. Sometimes we have to act “as it” we are already who we want to be. Do it often enough and it can become the truth.

 February 15, 2016: “The art of life is not controlling what happens to us, but using what happens to us.” – Gloria Steinem wasn’t the first to say this – or the last. Many wise people in many cultures have arrived at the same conclusion. We often don’t have much choice about what happens but we always have a choice about how to respond – in our feelings, our thoughts and our actions. When someone defines us as less than we are, it is our choice whether we accept or decline the invitation to be less. In that sense, our self-esteem is a reflection of our own choices.

February 8, 2016: The Importance of Volunteering:   A powerful way to increase your self-esteem is to volunteer at something that makes the world a better place. Most non-profit organizations and schools and civic programs are desperate for volunteers. Find something you believe in and donate your time and energy and creativity to the cause. Doing good makes us feel good. An added bonus is meeting other good people.

February 1, 2016:  Maintaining positive self-esteem means calling on our courage to do things we really want to do but are nervous about doing. We all have courage, even when we think we don’t. It takes courage to learn to walk, to venture out of our yard or down the street when we were kids, to start a new friendship, to even change our haircut or try out new music. Anything new requires a bit or a lot of courage. You already have it. You already have enough. Draw on memories of when you’ve already done things you thought were impossible at the time and you will find the energy to at least begin doing whatever it is you want to do.

January 25, 2016: Self Care is Essential

If you want to work on improving your self-esteem, taking care of yourself is the first part of the project. It’s often been said that the body is our temple. It is. It is our shelter and the source of both physical pleasure and pain. If you feel lousy physically, it’s very hard to feel wonderful about yourself.

Some people have told me that they will get around to getting more exercise, eating better and getting enough sleep when they have higher self-esteem. Maybe. I’ve found that it often works the other way around. Value yourself enough to take walks, eat right  and get enough sleep and self-esteem starts to rise.

January 20, 2016: Self-esteem is Something you Do

The most important thing to remember about self-esteem is that it is not something you have. It’s something you do. In order to develop a high self-esteem, you must do things that are worthy, good, right and helpful. The doing and the feeling of self-esteem are in a loop. The more right things you do, the more you will experience improved self-esteem. The more your self-esteem improves, the more energy you will have for doing things that are worthy, good, right and helpful. And so on. . .