• Steve Daily

Three Simple Steps to Feel and Be Good Enough - # 2

There are two main ways you can improve your self-esteem to feel good about yourself. First, you can change your negative thinking about yourself, and replace it with more rational and positive self-talk. Second, you can change your behavior to make it more consistent with how you want to act. Here are three steps that may be key for you improving your sense of self-worth.

STEP 1: Become aware and change your should thinking. I believe the most distressing word in the English language is "should." Many persons are at war with themselves, because they are failing to do what they tell themselves they should do. Start talking to yourself as you would talk to a good friend, instead of beating yourself up with hurtful self-talk that triggers feelings of guilt and shame. For instance don't say to yourself, "I shouldn't eaten all that pizza. No wonder I'm as fat as a cow." Instead say, "I ate more pizza than I planned. I need to make better eating choices to be healthy and to gradually lose the weight I want to lose." The second self-talk statement is less likely to trigger negative feelings that often lead to more over-eating.

During this coming week notice when you feel bad, and become aware of when you are "shoulding" on yourself. Simply replace the word "should" with "it would be nice." For example, replace "I should have stayed up most of the night to finish my homework" with "it would have been nice if I had been able to fight off fatigue to get my homework completed."

STEP 2: Put things in perspective when you messed up. It is common for persons in our society to ruminate (engage in repetitive negative thinking). A person can do something that is mildly inappropriate, and blow it up in their mind to the point that it seems like the dumbest thing that anyone has ever done. Put things in perspective by comparing what you did, with what could have been the worst thing you could have done. For instance, if you called a person by their wrong name, compare that with screaming at the top of your voice that they are stupid and you wish they were dead. The first is easily overlooked, while the second would be much harder to live down.

STEP 3: If you don't like something about yourself, then set an intention change your behavior. For instance, if you are spending too much time avoiding responsibilities, then make up your mind to do less of something that is unproductive (spending too much time watching TV shows or engaging in social media) and more time doing things that would be good for you to do (study, clean house, or exercise). You are more likely to be successful by focusing on doing less of just one thing and more of another thing.

In summary, if you wish to feel better about yourself, engage in positive self-talk and practice changing your "should thinking." Also focus on making one positive change in your behavior at a time. As you become less judgmental toward yourself, your self-esteem will rise.

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