People come into my office wanting to improve their self-esteem. They want simple exercises that they can do to improve their sense of self. Often these people have not grown-up hearing positive things that help to validate them. Thus, they walk around not feeling good enough.
No matter what your age, it is imperative that you give to yourself what you didn't get as a child. As a psychotherapist, I know that often this starts with positive words of affirmation. Research shows we have over 60,000 thoughts a day and most of them are negative. This means when we have a negative thought we must make it our responsibility to change the thought into something that is more positive and realistic. You can do this one of three ways:
1) You can start your day by looking in the mirror and saying something nice to yourself. Perhaps this might look like "hello beautiful, glad to see you this morning" or "I am so proud of you" As silly as this sounds, you are training your brain to look at yourself and say something positive to start your day. Louise Hay who pioneered this work, believes that mirror work is the most beneficial thing you can do to create a new sense of well-being, happiness, and improved sense of self-worth. 2) Spend 20 or 30 minutes in a very quiet spot writing at least 50 positive adjectives that describe your personality. Once a week review this list and write down two or three words a week that are positive adjectives that describe you. Leave these words out where you can see them. Put them on Post-it notes and post them to your visor, mirror, purse or medicine cabinet so that you remind yourself that you are indeed loyal, dedicated, persistent, loving, compassionate, intelligent, brilliant, or other words that describe your strength. In other words, you retrain your brain to think positive thoughts about yourself as opposed to negative ones.
3) The third exercise that can change yourself worth requires a change in how you speak to yourself. When you notice a negative thought, you stop yourself and do what I call the "turn around" and say something that is both true and realistic. This requires that you learn to say something more favorable and positive about your abilities as a woman walking through life. This means you need to turn around your normal thought … “I'm going to be late again. I didn't get up in enough time to get to work” changing it to “I'm going to set up certain reminders tonight to get to bed earlier and no longer have to rush around and beat myself up as I know I can change this habit.” Or you look at your house which is a total disaster and you notice that you are telling yourself, “This is probably another reason he divorced you” and then you catch yourself and say I bet if I spend fifteen minutes a day on this room that I can make it more manageable.” The more you talk to yourself with kind and compassionate words, the more likely you are to work on organizing your life in a different way. The truth of the matter is when you like yourself better you do things differently and so when you change the way you look at things starting with yourself the things around you change. That means spending some time reinvesting in how you talk to yourself!