Maybe you’ve been in a slump lately. Maybe it’s situational (you lost your job, and the market’s brutal, or are having relationship issues.) Maybe you’re chronically struggling with self-esteem. Or maybe I just caught you on a bad day. For anyone who’s feeling low, these boosters should help.
1) Change your posture.
This is one of the quickest tricks I know. And it’s surprising how much it works.
If you’re feeling bad about yourself, you’re often moving and sitting in ways that mirror this (head down, not making eye contact, slumping.) Consciously changing your posture to one of confidence (shoulders back, head up) can make an immediate difference. It’s the fake it till you make it principle, writ large and on your body.
2) Focus on intent, not outcome.
A lot of times people feel bad because things aren’t going well. As in, they’re focusing on the net result of their efforts. Often, that’s not within our control.
Remember when you were little and adults said to give yourself points for effort? It still applies.
For example, right now, give yourself credit for reading this post. It shows a desire for things to be better, and that’s the first step. Not everyone is reading this; some people are just wallowing.
That might seem like a very small thing, but self-esteem is actually built on small things that are attributes in compassionate ways.
3) Be present.
Generally, the present isn’t so bad. What’s getting you down is ruminating on the past or fearing the future.
Here’s a post that could help: http://blogs.psychcentral.com/bonding-time/2014/08/5-tips-to-quit-overthinking/
Engaging with the world rather than getting stuck in your head can provide an immediate lift. When you notice your mind wandering, gently bring it back with something non-judgmental, like, “Be here now.”
4) Speak up.
If you’re allowing anyone to mistreat you, of course you’re feeling bad about yourself. But the more we assert ourselves, the worthier we feel.
So even if you don’t feel worthy right now, force yourself to behave as if. It can be as simple as, “It hurts me when you talk that way”, or “Please don’t talk to me like that.” And don’t apologize for making this request, even if it feels uncomfortable for it to hang in the air. Being an apologist for yourself undermines self-esteem further.
5) Recognize detrimental thinking patterns.
The connection between our thoughts and our feelings is powerful. Often, it goes unnoticed. Our negative thoughts fuel our negative emotions and poor self-esteem, but we don’t see them as thoughts. We’re too busy processing them as truth.
For example, thinking something like, “Things never go my way,” or “I’m so bad at this”, or “No one cares about me” will either kick off lousy feelings or exacerbate them. But if you just accept them as givens instead of questioning them, you’re off and running down a bad path.
So notice these types of thoughts, and label them explicitly as thoughts. Don’t buy into all your negative assumptions about yourself.
6) Engage in esteemable acts, every day.
That can be through volunteering (which is also a good resume builder, by the way.) In the San Francisco Bay Area, there are organizations that can put you in touch with one day volunteering projects, so you get the benefit without the commitment: http://sfbay.onebrick.org/ There might be something similar where you live, or you can create it. Call a place you’d like to volunteer and tell them what you can offer.
It could just be through noticing things that need doing, and then doing them (picking up trash off the street when you see it and throwing it away; lingering to hold the door open for people; catching their eyes and smiling.) Again, small things contribute to the world, creating good energy (and karma, if you’re inclined to believe in it), as much as they build self-esteem.
7) Be around positive people, ones who see you in a positive way.
If you need to, ask directly: Why do they like you? What good do they see in you?
You’ll be embarrassed to ask this, but blame it on me. Say it’s an exercise you’re doing. Or just say it’s something you need right now. It’s okay to need some affirmations now and again from those who love us. You can repay the favor some day (which can then be another reason to feel good about yourself!)
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Last reviewed: 16 Aug 2014