The highs and lows of self-esteem

Healthy self-esteem is an overall
feeling made up of many positive thoughts and feelings about you! It is an
assured, contented, confident, relaxed feeling of knowing that you are capable,
worthy, lovable, significant, respected, competent, effective, and all such
adjectives which convince you that you measure up. It is the ability to
realistically acknowledge your strengths and limitations, which is a part of
being human, and at the same time accepting ourselves as worthy and worthwhile
without conditions or reservations.

The opposite of having a healthy
self-esteem is unpleasant! To view you as inept, unlovable, and insignificant
is distressing. It is unproductive. We cannot be happy if we do not like
ourselves; feel inferior, unwanted, insecure, and unloved. People with poor
self-esteem often rely on how they are doing in the present to determine how
they feel about themselves.

Our self-esteem develops and
changes throughout our lives as we build an image of ourselves through our
experiences with different people and activities. When we were growing up, our
successes and failures, and how we were treated by the immediate members of our
family, by our teachers, coaches, religious authorities and by peers contributed
to the creation of our basic self esteem.

Here are some tips on how to
improve self esteem.

Self awareness: In order to stop
negative thoughts one has to recognize them first.

“Shoulds”: All of the rules you
have made for yourself about how you should act, feel and be that have nothing
to do with reality or truth. Healthy and unhealthy values are expressed as
shoulds. Listen for your shoulds and determine which are right for you, then
use your self talk to reinforce the healthy ones to refuse the negative ones.

Truthful self-evaluation- create a
list of genuine strengths and assets. Identify your most troubling weakness
accurately, specifically, and non-judgmentally.

Thinking twist: Irrational ways of
thinking that contribute to low self esteem. To become aware of your unfounded
thinking you need to listen to your self talk, write it down, and determine
which thoughts are distorted or not true.

Compassion: Self-esteem is closely
tied to compassion for others and compassion for yourself. Compassion is a
skill you can acquire as your work through all the components of self esteem.
You learn to affirm your worth and sense of self.

Relaxation skills: Stress is any
change that you must adjust to. How you interpret, perceive, and label your
present experience and what you predict for the future can serve either to
relax or cause stress you.

Boldness- Ask for what you want.
Learning to be assertive means acquiring many new behaviours through specified
procedures: learn to distinguish between passive, assertive, and aggressive
behaviours.

Accepting mistakes: Changing your
interpretation or point of view changes the meaning something has for you. It
is important to view mistakes as teachers, and warnings, and to develop the
awareness that mistakes are normal.

Support system: A group of people
who are the source of your validation and appreciation in a positive and
affirming manner.

In order to succeed in anything, a
person has to believe that he or she can succeed. Sometimes low self esteem can
feel so painful and difficult to overcome that the help of a counsellor is
needed.

Talking to an EAP counsellor is a good way to learn how to improve
your self esteem. Telephone 949-9559 to schedule a confidential appointment.

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