By Haley Wagonblott, LPC
Self-esteem can impact our motivation as well as our mental and physical health and growth. Modeling from authority figures in our lives as well as interactions with others helps form what our self-esteem looks like. The foundation of self-esteem involves building unconditional worth, self love, and growth, in that order. The order is important because it is common that people become stuck when trying to attempt growth without fully understanding their unconditional worth. So how to increase self esteem means increasing these 3 traits through engagement in the following exercises.
When something bad happens the thought process that typically follows is that there is something wrong with us. The key here is to begin to practice separating our core selves from the external experience. External factors can either allow our core self to shine through or they may make it difficult to see. When these outside factors (intelligence level, creative ability, behaviors) block our core self, our perceived worth is subjected to the ups and downs of life. For example, let’s say you didn’t get a job you wanted or didn’t do well on a test, you could look at the skills you could improve upon or new techniques you could try as opposed to questioning your worth as a person. Looking at the behavior only.
The skill to learn here would be reframing our “because…therefore” self-talk to a “nevertheless” statement. An example of the former would be “because of my bad test grade, therefore I have no worth”. Whereas a “nevertheless” statement would look like “I received a bad test grade but nevertheless I am a valuable person”. Bringing an awareness to our self-talk can help shift our view of self.
The next step of how to increase self esteem would be building unconditional love for ourselves. This involves a gratitude and appreciation for who we are despite any mistakes we may make. It can be helpful to view this as a skill we can work on or a decision we have to make each day. It can be difficult for this to come naturally but that doesn’t mean you are flawed or that you can’t build it up. A helpful exercise would be to determine some affirmations for yourself that you can fully buy into, read through and reflect on each statement. “I am a nurturing parent”, “I am determined and driven”, “My body is powerful and full of energy”. The nevertheless statements also are helpful here. “I didn’t get the promotion and my coworker did but nevertheless I am determined and driven”. It is a practice of acknowledging your strengths and appreciation of you!
The last step is initiating that growth piece. Identifying values and determining action towards those can be helpful in living a life that is fulfilling and true to who we are. Engaging in behaviors that align with our beliefs is an act of self-love! Again, don’t forget to pair this growth with unconditional love and worth skills like acceptance. Acceptance that we aren’t perfect and that’s okay. We are human and we make mistakes (insert nevertheless statements here!!).
This is just scratching the surface of how to increase self esteem and everyone has a different experience so certain techniques may not work for everyone. It is all about the journey to find what works best for you. To get guidance in practicing these skills and learn much more on how to increase self esteem, give us a call today!