In my last blog post I discussed some of the reasons why your self-esteem maybe in the dumps after a separation.
Here are now 5 ways to help you boost it.
1- Become Aware of your Destructive Thoughts
It often starts with bringing what’s unconscious conscious. How can you change something without knowing it exists, and to what extend it is present in your life?
Observe your thoughts, emotions and reactions: imagine you’re sitting in a movie theater alone, and they are being displayed on the screen. Don’t judge them, don’t create a story around them.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
“Ugh! I burned the lasagna. I’m really not good at cooking, it’s like writing, I suck at it. Actually I suck at everything. I’m a failure.” The downward spiraling can take only a few seconds. One small event turns into a whole story, an external event turns into a negative trait about you. all you did was burn the lasagna. It happens to us all!
If you pay attention to what you say to yourself, you will notice the spiraling of negative thinking you get sucked into.
At first, you may notice it after the fact, maybe a few hours or days after as think about it again. That’s normal and OK. This is new and you need practice to get better at it and catch the negative thought closer to real time. The more you practice the less time it will take you to catch it.
Writing down the destructive thoughts you caught can also be helpful as a way to keep track of them and have a visual of their extent, and how often they occur. You’ll probably be surprised.
2-Surround yourself with Inspiring Quotes, Images of Confidence, Strength
Whatever you want for yourself has to be present in your environment to remind you of it.
Place them in strategic places where you have to see them.
Switch them around, find new ones so you don't skip them. Our mind ignores quickly what becomes familiar.
3- Yes, Affirmations... with a Twist
Find an affirmation you would like to fit you. Maybe it’s "you’re strong", "you’re beautiful", "you’re competent"… I’m not going to ask you to repeat it like a mantra, don’t worry.
Write it down once a day and notice the “but” that comes after and write it too. It may look like this:
"I’m competent. Well, not really, I can’t even do laundry without ruining some of my clothes."
Keep doing it regularly until you run out of "buts".
4- Develop Self-Compassion
Build compassion towards yourself. Maybe it’s a loving gesture, a hug to yourself, a hand on your heart, maybe it’s some kind, soothing words.
And be willing to look at your mistakes and shortcomings with kindness and understanding. Studies show that self-compassion rather than self-esteem may be the key to unlock your true potential. (whatever that means for you).
"When you are self-compassionate during difficult times you don’t judge yourself harshly, or feel the need to defensively focus on all your great qualities to protect your ego. Many studies show, self-compassion leads to higher levels of personal well-being, optimism and happiness, and to less anxiety and depression."(Heidi Grant Halvorson Ph. D, The Science of Success)
If you’re in a downward spiral of negativity about yourself and have a hard time feeling compassion for yourself, imagine your best friend or someone you really care about talking to you the way you talk to yourself. How would that make you feel? What would you say to them? You can also picture your best friend sharing these thoughts out loud with you.
5- Build Positive Connections
Start with a bite of something you know is true about you. Maybe it’s that you’re a good friend, a good mom, a hard worker. Maybe you’re happy because you were able to work out more regularly for the past few days and you feel good about it.
Immerse yourself in that achievement; replay it with all the details you can think of related to it. See if your mind can find another similar positive experience to connect it to.
The more positive experiences you can associate together, the more it will get anchored in your mind.
Consciously or not, you allowed weed to grow in your mind. The goal is now for you to consciously choose the thoughts you want to have. Nourish your body and mind with healthy food/thoughts and health will grow.
You may get a lot of benefits practicing these tools on your own, and it may help you feel more confident. For some people that may be enough to get you on the path to heal. For others, you may need extra guidance or go deeper in the exploration to heal past wounds. Nothing wrong with that. Seek the help of a professional therapist or cournselor who can help you get to that next level.
Copyright: ximagination / 123RF Stock Photo
About the author: Valerie Abitbol, LMFT, owner of Flow Counseling, PLLC is a counselor and therapist in Denver, Colorado. She specializes in couples and women dealing with major life transitions. She helps them move from feeling scared and overwhelmed to finding balance and a new normal in their lives. Valerie also provides counseling to couples to help them heal, reconnect, and grow happiness.