This blog follows from the previous post, titled “Understanding self-esteem”.
As noted previously, your thoughts and feelings are inextricably connected. Therefore, to change how you feel, you must change what you think (remember, we can control what we think!).
Your thoughts about what you experience in life lead you to develop beliefs (i.e. beliefs are deep-rooted thoughts, as opposed to truths/facts). Beliefs related to your sense of self-worth affect how you interpret experiences (e.g. if Sam has low self-esteem, and his boss behaves in an aloof manner for several days, he may assume it is further evidence that she doesn't value him, as opposed to the possibility that she has things going on in her personal life). This highlights the need for us to be aware of our thoughts and beliefs, to be able to challenge them and thereby improve how we feel.
Implementing the following practical points may assist you to improve your self-esteem.
Remind yourself that your self-worth is not related to your achievements/ performance. I.e. your self-worth is not related to what job you have, your academic achievements, any awards you have won, how clean your house is, how much money you have, what car you drive, or your physical appearance. With this in mind, notice your thoughts and try not to engage thoughts that suggest your self-worth is dependent upon achievements.
Schedule activities you enjoy a few times each week (e.g. read a book, have a bath, go to the cinema) – these will help you to communicate to yourself that you are worthy of loving yourself.
Each day notice three positive personal qualities/ strengths.
Try to modify your environment, including the people you spend time with, to be in line with the message that you matter and are deserving of unconditional love.
Try to ensure you interpret criticisms as being about your performance (i.e. behavior based), which is different to what your self-worth is based upon.
Recognise that your shortcomings make you human, and not any less worthy of love.
You probably won’t find the above easy to implement (especially initially), but keep practising!!! Think how many years you have been using a style of thinking that is unhelpful for your sense of self-worth – it is now about learning a more useful way, which will become easier (and seemingly more automatic) with time.
A psychologist can further assist with improving your sense of self-worth. In particular, they can help you understand how any unhelpful belief systems related to your self-esteem may have formed, and assist you in tailoring the above to your personal life circumstances.