In an earlier blog on boosting self esteem, I explored one of the fundamental issues we have with feeling self worth and cultivating self acceptance. Underneath it all, I believe there is a fundamental break in our ability to love ourselves. If we are able to accept ourselves as we are and care for ourselves when the inner tyrant raises its voice, our self esteem issues would dissipate. And, I followed this by saying, “easier said than done.” One comment from this blog was about giving some more “nuts and bolts” in relation to boosting self esteem using mindfulness.
For those who are just tuning in, mindfulness is an approach that is about paying attention, on purpose, in a non-judgmental way. So, you might say, “great, so I notice my mind judging myself, I let that be, and then what?” Good question. Some might say, “that’s it, recognize thoughts as thoughts, don’t take them personally, they are just mental events in the mind that come and go, they aren’t facts.” Let’s take it a step further:
Here are a list of 7 things you can do to mindfully boost self-esteem:
- Write it down – In working with erroneous negative self-judgments, it is a great idea to actually write them down. Writing them down on paper separates them from the emotion and also creates a pause so you can reflect on the meaning of whether this judgment is even accurate or not. We also can come to a place where we don’t have to ruminate about it because we already have it down.
- Ask the question – Is this just a well worn habit of my mind to think this way? Do the facts of the situation support this? Are there alternative thoughts here?
- Question your mood – Be aware of how you are feeling. Ask yourself, if I were feeling well right now, would I see this the same way? This gets at the heart of thoughts being just transient mental events and not facts. This helps the thought not be quite as sticky.
- Question the source – Where did I originally get this message? Sometimes we can look back to our earliest relationships or traumas and notice that where having this thought and attitude helped us cope as children, it is an old coping habit that is no longer effective or helpful right now. Gaining this perspective can support us in letting go of it.
- Make a list of what you like about yourself – This may be a difficult one, but after each thought you write down, take a moment with it and notice what it feels like to even write it down. Expand this list by taking anothe perspective. Ask what your friends would say about you? If you have difficulty with this, ask them in person, by phone, email or text.
- Create a file – Therese Borchard writes about how her therapist suggested she create a self-esteem file. Each time people say something positive about you, put it in the file. Make it a practice to look at this file daily. To add some mindfulness to it, notice your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations that arise while writing in the file and also while re-reading it.
- Lovingkindness – Many people wish they were well, happy, healthy, free from fear, free from the torment of that inner critic. So add to this list what you wish for yourself and say it like this, “May I be healthy, may I be happy, may I be free from fear, may I be free from my harsh inner critic.” After reading the list over each day, pause, and then intentionally repeat these words and aspirations of lovingkindness to yourself.
Know that this is a practice in loving yourself. Allow yourself to settle into whatever arises for you in this process. When you wander off and don’t stick to this, that is perfectly fine. As soon as you notice that you’ve wandered from the path, you are present and can now invite yourself to start it up again.
Please share your thoughts and comments about self-esteem, self worth, and self acceptance. Your interaction here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.