Quick start guide to raise your self-esteem

Here are several tips on how to start.

1. Try to stop thinking negative thoughts about yourself. If you're used to focusing on your shortcomings, start thinking about positive aspects of yourself that outweigh them. When you catch yourself being too critical, counter it by saying something positive about yourself. Each day, write down three things about yourself that make you happy.

2. Aim for accomplishments rather than perfection. Some people become paralyzed by perfection. Instead of holding yourself back with thoughts like, "I won't audition for the play until I lose 10 pounds," think about what you're good at and what you enjoy, and go for it. 

3. View mistakes as learning opportunities. Accept that you will make mistakes because everyone does. Mistakes are part of learning. Remind yourself that a person's talents are constantly developing, and everyone excels at different things — it's what makes people interesting. 
4. Try new things. Try experimenting with different activities that will help you get in touch with your talents. Then take pride in new skills you develop. 

5. Recognize what you can change and what you can't. If you realize that you're unhappy with something about yourself that you can change, and then start today. If it's something you can't change (like your height), then start to work toward loving yourself the way you are. 

6. Set goals. Think about what you'd like to accomplish, and then make a plan for how to do it. Stick with your plan and keep track of your progress. 

7. Exercise! You'll relieve stress, and be healthier and happier. 

8. Have fun. Ever found yourself thinking stuff like "I'd have more friends if I were thinner"? Enjoy spending time with the people you care about and doing the things you love. Relax and have a good time — and avoid putting your life on hold.

9. Use the 10 minute technique.  People with poor self-esteem often fail to give themselves enough time and space. So find 10 minutes every day to be alone and to just sit and do nothing. Some people find it helpful to close their eyes and imagine a country scene or the sight and sound of waves gently lapping against the seashore. During these 10 minutes, allow yourself to feel peaceful and happy. Enjoy this time. It is yours - and yours alone. And you deserve it.  Finding 10 minutes for you is a caring thing to do and you will feel better for doing it.

10. Act confidently. People will sense your self-confidence and respond positively to you, strengthening your image and self-image all at once.

11. Practice breathing easily, freely and deeply and then think of it. It implicitly says you should believe in yourself and do it without any help from others, this in turn enhances your self-esteem.

12. Think back to when you did something new for the first time.  Learning something new is often accompanied by feelings of nervousness, lack of self belief and high stress levels, all of which are necessary parts of the learning process. The next time you feel under-confident, remembering this will remind you that it's perfectly normal - you're just learning!

13. Do something you’re good at.  How about swimming, running, dancing, cooking, gardening, climbing, painting, writing… If possible, it should be something that holds your attention and requires enough focus to get you into that state of 'flow' where you forget about everything else. You will feel more competent, accomplished and capable afterwards, great antidotes to low self esteem!  And while you're at it, seriously consider doing something like this at least once a week. People who experience 'flow' regularly seem to be happier and healthier.

14. Stop thinking about yourself.  This may sound strange, but low self esteem is often accompanied by too much focus on the self. Doing something that absorbs you and holds your attention can quickly make you feel better.

15. Remember everything you have achieved.  This is where your journal can come in handy.  This can be difficult at first, but after a while, you'll develop a handy mental and written list of self-esteem boosting memories that you can refer to often. And if you're thinking "But I've never achieved anything", I'm not talking about climbing Everest here.   They can be things like passing your driving test (despite being nervous), passing exams (despite doubting that you would), playing team sport, getting fit (even if you let it slip later), saving money for something, trying to help someone (even if it didn't work) and so on.

16. Choose something that brings about a good thought and focus on it when you are feeling blue.  Country singer Clint Black wrote a song that included the lyric “Ain’t it funny how a melody can bring back a memory.”  It doesn’t have to be a song, though, it could be the smell of a certain perfume that reminds you of a special person or even a piece of clothing that you were wearing during an especially wonderful time.  Use this stimulus and focus on it.  Let those good feelings wash over you and chase away those “I’m no good” blues.

17. Clear out the junk: This means anything hurtful and unconstructive that you’ve been told by someone you care or cared about (or even some you didn’t) is to be taken with a grain of salt. It is one thing to be given constructive criticism in life, but quite another when people are downright mean about it. Remember it’s the offending party’s issue. NOT yours.

18. List first why you believe the negativity you tell yourself (i.e., I’m too old. I’m too fat. Nobody loves me. I’m never good enough. etc.); laugh at that piece of paper you just wrote on; THEN tear it up and move on to the next strategy.

19. Count your blessings, which can include things people actually take for granted, such as food and shelter, access to a computer, etc. 

20. Make a list of what you love to do, starting from childhood until now and try to find time to do it at least once a week, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

21. List at least three things that you would love to have the courage to do.  Then formulate a plan to actually do them.  You may not be able to at first, but know that if there are other people out there who can and do, you can too.

22. Realize once and for all that your self-worth and self-esteem is defined by you and only you.  You cannot rely on someone else for your happiness.  Another person’s view of you is immaterial.  Where happiness and self-esteem comes from is inside of you.  Once you embrace that fully, the transformation will begin!

23. Choose to be happy.  Happiness is a state of mind. The Dalai Lama says that the very purpose of life is to seek happiness. He believes that if you train the mind to be happy, you will be. Likewise, you can train yourself for higher self-esteem.

24. Be passionate about something.  This can be anything.  Be passionate about yourself.  Be passionate about your hobbies.  Be passionate about raising your self-esteem.  Passion takes hold of you and feels like “fire in the belly.” It is a source of power that enables you to get fired about life and make a difference. The more passion and zest you feel the more alive and brightly lit you are.

25. Reward your successes.  Set yourself up for success by breaking big goals into daily action steps and take time to acknowledge and celebrate the small successes. This will feed your need for recognition and provides the extra push to keep you moving forward.  Rewards could be as simple as that delectable piece of turtle cheesecake you saw in the bakery or as huge as a dream vacation.  Either way, you deserve to celebrate your successes.  When you do, you’ll be rewarded in many more ways than just materially!

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