What does low self- esteem do? Should you even care if you have low self- esteem and if so, how does it affect your self-confidence?
The best way to explain the answers to those questions is to take a page out of my life and the life of others I have known who have suffered (and yes, I mean suffered) from low self-esteem. It can come from many places and in many ways. When I was young, I was bullied about being overweight. No matter how slim I became as I grew up, I always saw myself as “fat” and the voices in my head (not the schizophrenic kind) would berate me every time I went to the store to pick out clothes or went to a social event. I was sure everyone was seeing me the way that the kids and relatives, when I was young, saw me. But low self-esteem isn’t just about physical appearance.
I have a friend whose father demanded perfection in everything that she did. When she didn’t perform to his expectations, he would tell her she was stupid and would never amount to anything. Why people do that to their children doesn’t matter. It could be that their parents did that to them, but the results are the same. The child grows up believing that they are worthless and that is what forms their low self-esteem. So how does that cause low self-confidence. The short answer (and this article due to its brevity, can’t go into all the permutations of that subject) is that if you feel worthless before you begin to do something, chances are you won’t even begin to do it. If my father said I was not a good writer I might stop writing. Confidence comes from completing a task and recognizing that you have done a good job. That gives you the confidence to attempt more and not only attempt more writing, but it gives you confidence to do other things in your life, that had you not succeeded in one thing, would have kept you from attempting other things.
That is when procrastination raises its ugly head. If I have low self-esteem, I will believe that whatever I do will fail and this will rob me of the confidence to begin to do the thing that I want. And there goes the vicious circle of not reaching the goals in your life. You may want to write a story or paint a painting or start your own business but if you don’t believe you will succeed because of your low self-esteem and low self-confidence then procrastination will complete the circle. I know this sounds somewhat over simplified, but actually it is not rocket science. What is difficult, but not impossible, is changing the trajectory of your life. It takes some introspection and doing a few simple things, repeatedly. It takes building upon the exercises I have written below, and it can mean getting support while you are taking the journey to a better self-esteem and better self-confidence. You may find that support in a therapist, a clergy person, or a life coach. I worked as a social work therapist and now as a coach.
The approach of each is somewhat different but the goal is the same. To help someone begin to believe in themselves enough to begin accomplishing their life purpose and elevate their low self-esteem and low self-confidence
I will be listing ways (if you work on the exercises) you can use to change your low self-esteem and low self-confidence. Most of these exercises come from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and have been used successfully for many years. Lastly, I have used some exercises which will help you with your vision and your goals from books I have read over the years such as Creating Money by Sanaya Roman and Duanne Parker and Atomic Habits by James Clear.
1. Thought Journal
Take a piece of paper and divide it in 4 rows
Automatic Thoughts: I am never going to succeed
Emotions. Sad: worthless
Adaptive Response: I have succeeded at other things (write them down)
Outcome: I only believe the first thought now 45%
In the Automatic Thoughts category write down, without self-editing any automatic thoughts you have about yourself. It will be hard at first to notice your thoughts but with practice you will get better.
· In the Emotions category write down how that thought made you feel e.g. sad, angry, defeated etc.
· In the Adaptive Response category write down and arguments you can make that the automatic thought might be wrong.
· In the Outcome category write down how much you still believe the first automatic thought and express it in a %
(I did an example for you above to get you started)
As you get better and better at identifying your thoughts and challenging their truths you will find you have less and less of that kind of thought. Try to do this exercise for two full days noting as many automatic thoughts as you can.
2. Stop Thoughts
This exercise works hand in glove with the automatic thoughts log. After you have identified your automatic thoughts for two or three days. You need a way to catch the thought and stop it before it takes root, and leads you on a tangent of self-denigrating beliefs. My favorite stop thought technique is when I have the thought, I immediately picture a large red stop sign. That succeeds in stopping the thought in its tracks. Some other people find it helpful to stop their thoughts by putting a rubber band on their wrist and snapping it as soon as the thought comes. Either will work perfectly for the aim of this exercise.
Now that you know some of your automatic thoughts try replacing them with affirmations that are written positively. For example, do not write “I am not a failure” write instead. I am a success. There are many positive affirmations you can get on the internet, but my favorite compilation of them are scattered in the book Creating Money by Sanaya Roman and Duanne Parker. Some of my favorite affirmations are:
· My beliefs create good things for me.
· I choose beliefs that bring me aliveness and growth.
· I forgive myself, knowing that I did the best I knew at the time.
· I am a success. I allow myself to be successful.
· I honor my integrity in all that I do.
· I always choose the path of most light.
· I am always in the right place at the right time.
· My energy is focused and directed toward my goals.
· I create money and abundance through joy, aliveness and self-love.
· I radiate self-esteem, inner peace, well-being and happiness.·
You can find more affirmations actually more than 100 in the book Creating Money which is a book that has much more about self-esteem than only creating prosperity.
4. Keeping a Gratitude Journal
Three Good Things is a classic gratitude exercise where you write down three good things from the day, whether they be big or small. Practicing gratitude everyday has been shown to increase positive thoughts and emotions and improve your self-esteem.
5. Strengths Exploration
In this exercise you will identify your strengths, and then explore their roles in different areas of life (relationships, professional life, and personal fulfillment). You will think about ways in which you are currently using your strengths, along with new ways you could begin using them in work, relationships, and other social settings.
These are just a few of the many tools that I have to help you get on the road to good self-esteem, but they provide much quicker and long-lasting results when combined with coaching. I invite you to call me so that we can work together to identify your deepest desires and goals that you want to achieve in your life.
You can find my web site at debkhiggins.com or call me at 910–444–8963. I look forward to speaking to you during your free 50 minute coaching session. You can call without the fear that I will hard sell you on a commitment you are not yet ready to take. Believe me I will applaud you for your courage in taking the first steps in beginning to live your life purpose.
Deb has worked in mental health as a social worker helping her clients transform their lives.
This blog will contain articles on career, nutrition and other miscellaneous health, and pet care topics. I hope you enjoy the articles and feel free to comment on any you like or information you would like to share.