Self-esteem is the measure of how you feel or think about yourself. Needless to say, high self-esteem means you have a high opinion of yourself, and low self-esteem indicates that you hold yourself in low regard. Self-esteem can affect every aspect of your life, from how you interact with others and how they see you to how you do your work or make important decisions. Clearly, we would all prefer to have high self-esteem, but most of us don’t know how to get it. Here are some simple steps for increasing your self-esteem:
Develop self-affirmations. Take your negative self-talk and change it into positive self-statements. For example, write out the words, “I’m beautiful” or “I’m a great cook” or “I’m smart” and repeat the statement to yourself. In a few weeks or a month at most, you should begin to notice a change. Every time you hear yourself saying something negative, change it to a positive.
Set realistic short-term and long-term goals for yourself-and then reach them. When we set impossible goals, we end up feeling discouraged when we can’t achieve them. Often we need to break our long-term goals down into many short-term goals that are more easily attainable and then accomplish them one by one. For example, say your long-term goal is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in psychology. To reach this goal, you need to set a series of short-term goals: finding out which universities offer an undergraduate psychology program; calling to make an appointment with a counselor; registering for classes; completing those classes. Whatever your goal, your steps need to be simple, clear, and specific. The more you set and reach your goals, the better you will feel about yourself
Take care of your appearance. Have you ever noticed that you feel better about yourself after you’ve taken a shower or brushed your hair? There’s nothing quite like looking your best to boost your self-esteem. Every day, refresh and renew yourself by taking a bath or a shower and grooming yourself.
Exercise. Just as exercise reduces stress, it boosts self-esteem by increasing our physical well-being and enhancing our appearance. You don’t have to join a gym or health club to enjoy the benefits of exercise; you can exercise anywhere, any time. Just grab your bike or your running or walking shoes, or head down to your local community pool. You can also rent or buy an exercise video that will allow you to exercise in the comfort of your own home.
Wear clothes that make you look and feel good. You don’t have to wear the latest fashions or shop at the most expensive stores. Many malls and shopping centers now boast designer outlet stores that offer great bargains, and even your local thrift store may have just the clothes you’re looking for. Shopping around can be well worth the effort.
Eat healthful foods. Taking care of the inside of you is just as important as taking care of the outside. You’re not going to feel good about yourself and look your best if you’re stuffing your body with sugars and fats. Poor nutrition inevitably contributes to poor health. Foods to eat sparingly include red meat, butter, white rice, white bread, potatoes, pasta, and sweets. Instead, load your plate with whole grains, fish, dairy, eggs, poultry, nuts, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. You might also want to add a daily multiple vitamin to supplement the nutritional value of the food you eat.
Hang around others with high self -esteem. Have you ever noticed that the moods and attitudes of other people rub off on you? For example, I used to have a friend who always expressed a negative attitude about the world around her. Whenever I talked with her, I found myself feeling sad and dispirited. Eventually I decided to end the friendship because it affected my self-esteem. Surround yourself with people who feel good about themselves and their lives. Their positive feelings will rub off on you.
Act like you have high self-esteem. Some of us have had low self-esteem so long it’s become a negative habit. You can break the habit by acting like the queen or king you truly are. Walk out in public with the attitude that you’re all that and more. Stand up straight, smile, and say hello to everyone who passes you by. You may feel awkward at first, but with practice you’ll find that you feel better about yourself and more confident in communicating with others.
Treat yourself to something special. On a regular basis do things that make you feel happy and that you would enjoy. For example I enjoy getting a massage so I frequently treat myself to a massage at the day spa. On paper write down things you like and at least once a week treat yourself to one of those things on the list. If your having trouble coming up with ideas chapter twenty will be helpful. By nurturing and reminding yourself that you are special will have a positive impact on how you feel about you.
Most important of all, have the desire and motivation to make the changes I’ve outlined above. This alone will increase your self-esteem!