Everyone will go through a phase where self-image and self-esteem are questioned and molded. During this existential crisis it’s important to establish a healthy sense of self-worth and maintain well-being. This means avoiding people, places, and things that make you feel lousy, and starting to cultivate and engage in those activities and relationships that build you up.
To make sure you work through these moments of self-doubt, follow the five strategies below.
First and foremost, the most effective way to begin changing self-defeating thoughts and behavior is to experience success and accomplish goals. Psychologist Martin Seligman explains that it’s not the praise and positive things people say, but encountering and experiencing repeated successes. It’s important to seek out situations where you are likely to succeed. Start by setting achievable goals. As you begin to experience success your self-esteem will follow, and the pursuit of bigger goals can be approached.
Talk to Yourself Positively
What you think is what you are, and what you will become. This is why you must begin to alter self-defeating thoughts in order to experience success. Thinking we can accomplish something is probably one of the biggest keys to getting started and following through on a task. It builds resilience and provides a buffer in meeting set-backs. Think of some positive affirmations that you can immediately believe in and connect with. There is no need to be overly positive and optimistic, just make sure to balance your real-self and ideal-self concept so there is congruence between the two. No one is perfect, so if you’re your own worst critic, take it easy on yourself.
Emphasize your Strengths
Similar to positive affirmations is focusing on our strengths. No matter how low our self-esteem may be, we all have strengths and weakness, and it’s important to begin focusing on our positive attributes and start building from there. If I know I’m good at basketball, and I enjoy it, why not focus on this activity. Work with your strengths and natural abilities. If your natural talents revolve around an activity you don’t enjoy, or your passions lies elsewhere, it’s time to develop your skills in other activities. Remember, skills can always be developed and we can always learn something new, but in the mean time, don’t forget about your natural talents.
Develop your Skills
If you are willing to take a more time consuming route to become the person you want to be, you can begin to develop skills that you don’t feel come so naturally. People can learn, grow, and develop in areas that before were completely uncomfortable. Particularly, in today’s age, there are countless references and sources of knowledge, where you can gain experience and understanding of almost any topic. Most likely, no matter what it is you intend to do, someone else already has experience doing and they can provide valuable wisdom into the process in order to make the transition much easier.
Now we come to last piece of the self-esteem puzzle. You have been setting mini-goals, using positive affirmations to encourage yourself, building your strengths, and developing your weaknesses. It’s time to take a risk to better your life. Taking chances is essential for personal-growth. If you never get outside your comfort zone you are doomed to stay stagnant forever. Taking chances also provides the opportunity to problem solve and build confidence in our abilities. If you find yourself avoiding new opportunities and disregarding problems it’s time to take a chance. Have faith in your abilities and take the next step toward your dream.
Putting it All Together
By putting these strategies together you can approach difficult situations as learning experiences, and begin to push past limiting boundaries. Start making a concerted effort organize your self-concept and begin living by purpose and habit in order to recognize the potential you have within. It is there to be cultivated and just takes some time and effort. By believing in your abilities and maintaining resilient effort, set-backs will become exciting challenges to rise to. Get out there and live your dreams!
Written on 7/8/2010 by Joe Wilner. Joe is an entrepreneur and career coach who runs the personal and professional development website Shake off the Grind. Subscribe to his blog via RSS.