As children, we rely on others to define our worth by giving us clues about how they experience us. But as an adult, you have logical, rational and reasoning capabilities to determine what is true for you, and you can begin improving your self-esteem that may have been damaged or stunted in childhood.
Improving your Self- Esteem as an Adult:
- Challenge your negative beliefs to find a more accurate perception.
- Ask yourself if the other person who is not valuing you may have an agenda involved in what they are saying. In other words, do they feel badly about themselves and need to put you down in order to lift themselves up?
- Challenge the reality of how you are negatively interpreting what is going on. What signs do you see that support your negative beliefs about yourself? What are other possible interpretations that might be more accurate?
- We are more critical of ourselves than our friends are of us. Identify those friends who respect and value you for who you are, and want you to be healthy and happy, and treat you accordingly. Ask these friends what they most value about you. Our attributes can be how we look (great hair). Or it can be a talent such as being good at soccer. It can also be a value, such as being kind to others.
- What do you most value in yourself? Think of the categories of items in the above paragraph. Do you feel you have positive qualities? Do you let others see these values in you or do you hide them to avoid rejection?
- Reprocess old memories now as an adult by cognitively challenging your old beliefs or feelings about especially early negative experiences as a child. Ask yourself if you would you still interpret that event in the same way you did as a child. What would you have wanted that child to know in that moment?
- Challenge your habitual negative beliefs and expectations. For instance, I generally have a strong expectation that I will pick the worst line to stand in. It can look absolutely fine until a customer ahead of me starts to go through her coupons at the register. Rationally, I know I pay more attention to these negative beliefs and I am not noticing those times when I fly through the line with no interruptions or setbacks. Similarly, if you have had a series of bad experiences in dating, it may not involve something wrong with you. More likely it involves picking the wrong person to date.
- You can reprogram your subconscious mind. In the New Thought philosophy, the Law of Attraction is the belief that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life (Wikipedia). These beliefs often come from early childhood experiences. You can reprogram your subconscious mind visually through an Image or Vision Board or by writing or saying affirmations you see or recite on a daily basis. We will talk about the Image Board in the next blog.
- Begin to visualize yourself in a healthy relationship that has the qualities you desire. Even if you are in a serious relationship you can visualize how you want things to be. Are you doing your part to make that happen regardless of what the other person is doing? Do you feel valued by this person or does it feel that it is mostly about their needs? Talk to them about what you want in a non-judging manner. Demonstrate those qualities that you want for yourself.
- Ask yourself if you value yourself enough to be in a fulfilling relationship with someone. Or if you deserve to have the job you really want. If you do not value yourself, you are not likely to attract people and experiences that demonstrate respect for you.
If this process of learning to improve your Self-Esteem hasn’t worked for you or feels daunting, don’t be afraid to seek professional counseling to support you in that process.
Understand more about Self-Esteem from the “Father” of Self-Esteem information: The Psychology of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden
Understand more about The Law of Attraction in The Law of Attraction: The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham by Esther Hicks.
Next Blog: DOING AN IMAGE OR VISION BOARD