Ten ways to improve your self-esteem by adopting new positive habits.
By Rena Greenberg
Is it easy to criticize yourself? Do you second-guess your decisions or internally berate your responses? Or do you find yourself ruminating often about something you said or did in a social situation or business interaction?
If you are in the habit of making yourself feel badly for simply existing, then it may be time to take a look at the ways you interact with yourself and others. The remedy, of course, is having high self-esteem—loving yourself and accepting yourself as you are.
This may be easier said than done. Why? Because, if your fundamental habits make you feel badly about yourself, then trying on “positive self-talk” would simply be a Band-Aid approach.
To avoid this pitfall, here are 10 ways you can improve your self-esteem by simply adopting new positive habits. Living in a new way that allows these habits to become second nature will automatically help you to fall in love with yourself and live a happier, more fulfilling life.
- Be Honest
There is no shortcut to high self-esteem. When you hear yourself lying to others or being dishonest with yourself, you have an internal barometer that feels badly. Integrity is essential to high self-esteem.
Practice being meticulously honest with yourself. To accomplish that, it may be easier to look at the ways you are not truthful. You may consider yourself to be of high integrity and strive to be honest; however, upon closer examination, you may discover small ways that add up to feeling badly about yourself over time. For example, do you tend to exaggerate wildly when telling a story?
In some cases, there may be no harm in recanting an experience in a way that makes it more dramatic and fun. However, if it’s your habit to rewrite history when you share your life with others, in a way that puffs you up (or makes you out to be a perpetual victim), it may be helpful to examine areas where you may be harboring low self-esteem—feelings of inadequacy, shame and regret.
The more honest you can be going forward, the better you are likely to feel deep within.
- Acknowledge Your Positive Character Traits
Rather than focusing on your flaws or weaknesses, take some time each day to appreciate all the wonderful gifts inside yourself. Assess your divine qualities. Is patience or strength a characteristic that you recognize within yourself?
Have you performed acts of kindness that may or may not have been visible to others? Are you clever or smart—able to figure out how things work, whether it be running a business, fixing your lawn mower, or how to communicate with people for the most positive outcome for all?
Recognize yourself and all the blessed qualities that exist within yourself. To accomplish this, it can be helpful to remember the famous line from A Course in Miracles, “I am as I was created.” You were created as a miraculous, incredible, gifted, intelligent and beautiful human being. Breathe that in.
- Develop Your Skills and Change
The great thing about life is your ability to learn and adapt. Growing, transforming and changing is possible in so many ways. This capability is one of humanity’s greatest blessings. This is true even if you have spent decades indulging in unproductive habits such as gossiping, speaking negatively or being critical, cold, controlling, avoidant, dismissive or condescending to yourself and others.
Even if you have had abominable self-care for years, including overeating, bingeing, drinking or consuming drugs, being sedentary or watching too much TV, it’s never too late to change. In any moment, you can wake-up! Once awakened, you can increase your ability to notice your own inclinations without judgment and change your actions. Personal growth and inner change are incredibly empowering and lead to high self-esteem.
- Be Aware of Your Own Self-Talk
Low self-esteem is often the direct result of your own limiting self-talk. If you were the prosecution and the defense within, you may realize that there are two sides to every story. Even if your negative assessments are completely accurate, by focusing on the dark side of any situation, your attention there actually increases trouble and chaos.
Another way to respond to negativity, rather than reacting badly, is simply noticing any problem that may exist in your inner or outer world and doing everything in your power to rectify the situation.
Conversely, simply harboring the negative without creating change, while replaying the problem in your mind over and over, only leads to diminished self-esteem and possibly even physical and mental illness.
Here are a few tools to help you shift the habit of negative self-talk and unpleasant speech patterns.
A. Remember this brilliant poem: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
B. No matter what is going on in your life, apply this affirmation: “Despite the fact that __________ is happening, I know that I am loved, loving and lovable.”
C. Variation 1: “Even though I am feeling _____________(fear, shame, despair), there is an infinite power within me/us that protects me/us from all harm.”
D. Variation 2: “Even when I feel most weak, my soul/spirit/higher Self is filled with eternal strength and infinite creative wisdom.”
E. Variation 3: “I have the power to protect my peace. Even though _____________is happening, I breathe in only peace. I breathe out only peace. Only peace emanates from me.”
- Open Your Perspective and Awareness
It’s natural to feel badly about yourself when you realize your own vulnerability and have a keen awareness of your mistakes. That’s why it’s essential that expand your perspective. Realize that to be human is to be flawed. Acknowledge to yourself that life is a difficult journey and we are all doing the best we can with the information we have and the state of consciousness that we currently are in.
Opening your perspective will naturally help you to lift your consciousness and have more awareness. Awareness is the key to positive growth and change. Be the witness of yourself and your life and even your mental processes.
Notice your own thoughts without necessarily identifying with them. You are not your thoughts or your emotions. You are so much more. And you are also the observer of your mental movies.
Begin to feel and breathe into the space between your thoughts and the space that your body occupies. Self-esteem comes naturally when you start to connect to your soul and spirit, which is what happens automatically when you open your awareness.
- Exchange Criticism for Compassion
Practice seeing the world through the eyes of compassion, rather than criticism. As you build up your empathic muscle, it becomes easier not to judge. When you connect to others through your heart rather than through a critical mind, feeling happier can become second nature for you.
You don’t have to be a Pollyanna to realize that you attract more bees with honey than with vinegar.
Let forgiveness of yourself and others be your ally. When it’s hardest to forgive, remind yourself that, although you may never do something as awful as your perpetrator did, you have hurt others, and you want forgiveness, too. Perhaps offering your forgiveness to another will hasten a feeling within yourself that you also have been forgiven for your blunders.
The more compassionate you are with yourself and others, the faster you can get from a problem to a solution. You have a creative and wise genius inside of you. Opening your heart in compassion and forgiveness will help you connect to your inner wisdom and make better choices. Wiser decisions lead to high self-esteem.
- Be Sensitive to Others
Did you know that two of the most common searched words in Google the past few years are narcissism and narcissist? Gaslighting is a close third. I assume that people are looking these words up because they are under the impression that someone close to them—perhaps mother, father, husband, wife or other significant player in their life—is a narcissist or a person who tends to gaslight them (whitewash or ignore their feelings and experiences).
Though it can be very helpful to realize what drives the behavior of the people closest to us, it can also be very useful to examine our own effect on others.
Take 48 hours to refrain from diagnosing your friends and family and, instead, look at your own actions. Do you talk to much? Do you tend to dominate conversations? Do you always have to build yourself up when talking to others or put yourself down to evoke sympathy? Do you interrupt or get bored with others easily? Do you swiftly correct people or point out where they are wrong?
Or, do you tend to remain quiet when interacting, while inwardly ruminating about the other’s “mistakes”, harboring a barrage of criticism, judgment, or the notion that you know “the truth?”
All of these habits not only poorly effect the quality of your relationships, but they can cause your own self-esteem to plummet. How? After these interactions, when the gloating subsides, you may be left with a feeling of despair, loneliness, shame or guilt—and these feelings can be very difficult to bear.
In fact, running away from such feelings is often at the root cause of addiction, whether that be an addiction to food, exercise, work, gambling, prescription or recreational drugs, gaming, your phone, vaping, smoking or drinking.
Life requires a sense of humor. Relax. Breathe. See the humor in it all. Take yourself a little less seriously. Try to see beyond the things that irritate you about others and life, and remember your common bond: your humanity and your need for food, shelter, companionship, power, control and love.
I recently was reading an interview with a 117-year-old Japanese woman, who happens to be the second oldest woman in the world. When asked by the journalist: “What was your best moment?” She quipped, “Right now.” Another male journalist inquired, “What kind of man do you like?” She answered directly, “A young one like you.” A sense of humor is crucial to cultivating high self-esteem.
- Speak Kindly to Yourself
Look in the mirror. Look into your own eyes. Say your name and tell yourself: _______(name) I love you. I appreciate you. I honor you. I value you. I respect you. I’m sorry for anything I’ve said or done to hurt you. Thank you for everything you have done for me. I am so happy to be you, __________(name).
- Take Care of Yourself
Eat healthy. Cut out all junk and as much processed food as possible. Avoid chemicals and substances that alter you. Move your body. Take time to relax. Improve all your relationships. Share your gifts with others and bring love and positivity into the world. Increase your acts of kindness and generosity. Live with a sense of purpose. Practice self-hypnosis to bring the most powerful, loving, helpful mental movies into the forefront of your mind.
For the most part, change takes time. Though sometimes we get a miracle. It’s great to be open to miracles, while at the same time being willing to do whatever it takes on your end to create a better life for yourself and realize your greater potential. For most of us, it’s the accumulation of the benefits received by adopting the these 10 habits on a daily basis, over time, that really moves the needle and results in a life-changing “miracle.”
Believe in yourself. The small and big changes you make in your inner world and in your outer life can lead to greater happiness and higher self-esteem.
Be honest with yourself. If being at a large size is hurtful to your self-esteem, rather than reading on and on about body shaming or fat shaming and the virtues of being heavy, admit to yourself that your body or lifestyle does not feel healthy. Being truthful to yourself in this way empowers you to begin to create a positive change that can lead to an amazing outcome in your life.
If you are happy being overweight, that is fine. But if you are suffering for it, know that your self-esteem is at stake, which has nothing to do with calories.
You can change. You can grow. You can improve your life. Reap the benefit of loving yourself beyond anything you could have imagined.
Rena Greenberg, a Hay House author, can be reached at http://www.EasyWillpower.com. Her weight loss and gastric bypass hypnosis success has been featured in 150-plus news stories including USA Today, Woman’s World, The Doctor’s, CNN, Good Morning America and Nightline. PBS stations nationally aired Rena’s show, “Easy Willpower,” in August 2015. Her wellness program is sponsored in 75 hospitals and 100-plus corporations. She conducts hypnotherapy sessions with people all over the world on Skype.