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Discover how to boost your self-esteem



I remember reading a quote by Bruce Lee years ago that said, "Don't speak negatively about yourself, even as a joke. Your body doesn't know the difference. Words are energy and cast spells; that's why it's called spelling. Change the way you speak about yourself, and you can change your life. What you're not changing, you're also choosing."


Have you ever been in the midst of a project? You are sitting at your desk working on a key piece of that project, and your brain is running a loop in your mind. Perhaps words of doubt, worth, or insecurity. Or, stuck in the wonderment of if you are on the right track? 


As I researched the statistics for today's coaching tip, I was struck by the prevalence of self-esteem struggles. Research from Dr. Joe Rubino reveals that an estimated 85% of people have or do grapple with some form of diminished self-esteem. This staggering number emphasizes the commonality of these struggles, reminding us that we are not alone in our journey to self-acceptance. 


According to the APA Dictionary of Psychology, Self-Esteem is defined as "The degree to which the qualities and characteristics contained in one's self-concept are perceived to be positive. It reflects a person's physical self-image, view of their accomplishments and capabilities, and values and perceived success in living up to them, as well as the ways in which others view and respond to that person. The more positive the cumulative perception of these qualities and characteristics, the higher one's self-esteem. A reasonably high degree of self-esteem is considered an important ingredient of mental health, whereas low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness are common depressive symptoms."


If you think about it, our level of self-esteem can impact how we think, speak, and act in all areas of life—some areas perhaps more than others.


Where are you at in terms of your level of self-esteem?


What do you perceive about yourself?


Do you generally view yourself in positive, encouraging ways? Or do you tend to be more critical of yourself?


No matter where the level of your current self-esteem is, you can develop and strengthen it!


Let's dive into how we can start building this essential inner-world conversation and discover how to boost your self-esteem.

 

Take the time to truly understand yourself and, most importantly, learn how you communicate with yourself. What you think, say, and believe about yourself, so will be your truth! Now, it's important to keep in mind that when your brain is screaming out those negative and self-deprecating thoughts. It's truly your brain doing what it is built to do. Your brain is built to find potential threats. Here is some quick brain knowledge: Your amygdala, in short, is responsible for your fight or flight response. When you sense any type of threat, your amygdala warns you. It's your job to step in, use the rest of your neocortex, and decide in which direction to take those thoughts. Get familiar with the words and thoughts that tend to show up in your mind about yourself.   An easy and effective way to do this is to keep a notebook or note on your phone nearby. When the thoughts or phrases show up, make a note. After a few days, look back to those. What are the patterns? You can also grab your journal and write using the prompt, "How do I feel about myself? Or, What do I think about myself?"   


Stop trusting everything your mind tells you! When you are in the throws of negativity or doubt, one of the most important things you can do is challenge the thoughts coming in. You are not required to believe everything you think. How can you prove that thought wrong? 


Decide what you want to believe about yourself!  If you don't know what you want to believe about yourself, how can you know where you want to direct your thoughts?   


To help develop your vision, try asking these questions (in order). "What do I want to believe about myself? What will it take for me to believe that about myself? What tools and/or resources do I need to help me believe that? What actions can I take to start strengthening that truth about myself?


Once you know the direction and beliefs you want to create within yourself, start taking continuous actions to strengthen those new truths.   Create opportunities for mini-wins or mini-goals to start building back your strength in yourself.


Back up what you want to believe with evidence! Evidence is key when it comes to backing up the words you are working to believe in your mind. First, identify what type of examples would help you prove the positive dialogue you are working to build, and then start actively looking for examples to help build that new truth. The goal is to activate the RAS (Reticular Activating System) in your brain. In simple terms, what you look for, you will find!


And don't hesitate to seek out or look back to evidence you have from other people about your performance or who you are! Early in my journey, I recognized how my high-performing nature inadvertently got me stuck in a mindset of never being good enough. No matter my proven results in my profession, I didn't do well in enjoying the wins and appreciating the accolades I got along the way. This was when I learned about keeping an "at a boy" folder filled with emails, notes, and other words and signs of appreciation I had received from customers, employees, mentors, and friends. When I had a moment of self-defeatist talk, I would reference that folder to help get out of my head and let the words of others turn the internal talk around.  


Practice the art of self-compassion while embracing growth! I often tell clients that the first day they start working on themselves is basically their newborn birthdate. And just like you wouldn't expect a day-old child to know everything about themselves or to do things perfectly, you should not expect yourself to change old habits overnight. As you navigate this journey into yourself and learn how to comfortably feel good in your thoughts, abilities, and actions. There are certain to be moments of self-doubt, internal imposter talk, or constant reframing. Be kind to yourself in the process. Remind yourself that you are working to build a new story and truth about yourself. It may help to label the voice in your mind and start having fun with it. 


Visualization! I LOVE the power of Visualization. Visualization can activate the same brain circuitry as doing something in real life.   Close your eyes and watch yourself being the worthy, positive, confident person you want to be. Connect with what you look and feel like when you have a strong sense of self.   How do you act, look and feel? 


Practice the 3-1 rule or 5-1 rule! Every time you find yourself internally or externally criticizing yourself, initiate the rule that you must give yourself three to five legitimate compliments at that moment. Because negativity is hard-wired into our brains, as discussed earlier, it tends to linger longer. There is varied research on this one, but, it takes somewhere between 3 and 5 emotionally heartfelt positives to undo or offset the negative.  


Stop comparing yourself! You are not walking in anyone else's shoes but your own. If you find yourself in moments of comparison, shift the thought to asking yourself if there are traits about this person you genuinely want to build in yourself. Allow it to be a moment of reflection and growth versus self-deprecation. You can also try saying something like, "Good for them," to shift the thought in your mind. 


In today's technology and social media world, we can easily find our algorithm feeding us things that perpetuate this cycle of comparison. If you find yourself in this moment, change your searches to help change what you see. Or, better than that, stay off social altogether until you strengthen your inner self-talk.


Get outside of your comfort Zone! It's hard to grow your inner world and "self" conversation by simply thinking about it. Experiences and actions matter!   What small steps can you take to put yourself in situations where you can grow and develop your "self" conversation? Brainstorm everything you could do, then pick one small step and start working on that piece. When you do that consistently, what can you add to expand that comfort zone further?


Set boundaries and/or limit time with negative people! While you are in the phase of building your inner world, if there are people in your life who actively criticize you or deplete your inner sense of self, limit time and exposure, if you can, until you develop the skillset needed to be strong in yourself no matter the world and people around you. The hard fact is that there will always be people who judge or criticize; it's literally what our brain's behavior, biases, and prejudices do. And, if someone does not filter those thoughts that develop in their mind before they come out of their mouth, you may hear their inner judgments. 


What I want for all of you reading this is for other people's opinions and thoughts to never negatively impact your inner world! I want you to be able to receive feedback, criticism, etc., in a healthy and effective way. When we do this, we can effectively assess if there are things we genuinely want to change for ourselves.


Above all else, as you are on this journey of developing your "inner self," give yourself a break already!   When you hear those words of self-criticism or holding yourself to an impossible level of standards, ask yourself, "How can I give myself grace in this moment?" Or "What can I learn at this moment?" Then, allow yourself to move on! Your mental, emotional, and physical health will thank you for it!

 

Stay well, and feel free to reach out if you are ever looking for support or a conversation to help on this amazing journey we call life.


Coach Jen

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