By: Dr. Dinorah Nieves, Ph.D., Deputy Director, The Guidance Center of Westchester
February is Self-Esteem Month. Research shows that high self-esteem can yield academic and professional achievement, healthier interpersonal relationships, and positive physical and mental health.
Everyone can use a little boost now and then. Here are some tips for raising your self-esteem and loving yourself a little more.
- Focus on growth. Every day is a new opportunity to learn and thrive. If you actively seek out ways to challenge yourself (thoughts, beliefs, habits), you open yourself to the richness of experiences and perspectives that life has to offer. It can be transformative, even if simple (smile at a stranger, learn a new task, listen more than you speak).
- Forgive yourself. On our quest for growth, there is often a learning curve, complete with confusion, mistakes and all. It’s ok. Understand that what you may feel was an error was simply a lesson. You’re better for it. It strengthens you; it does not define you.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Energy is contagious. Don’t just be the change you wish to see, seek out others who are just as brave.
- Quiet your mind. Our thoughts inspire our actions. If we believe it, we become it. Take time to tune out the world and listen to your thoughts. And then, one by one, quiet those thoughts so that you can invite back into your mind only those that are helpful.
- Challenge your self-doubt. Let go of thoughts that make you feel inferior or incapable. Just because someone/something may have lead you to believe that you are limited doesn’t mean you are. Stock up on the “cans” and remove the “can’ts” on your emotional shelf.
- Do what you’re passionate about. Passion increases endorphins and you actually get exhilarated when doing the things you love. It’s easy to feel good about yourself when you enjoy and feel positive about what you do and how you contribute to the world. If it’s not your career, let it be your hobby.
- Set goals and a plan to reach them. You don’t hike Mt. Kilimanjaro without training, conditioning and a guide. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It just means that you have to do the research to understand what it takes to get there; enlist the proper supports to help you; and set small milestones to keep you motivated along the way. Have a good sense of your strengths and potential and also work diligently to organize your thoughts and manage your time.
- Write a gratitude list. Keeping a list of things for which you are grateful (either on paper, your computer or in your mind) helps inspire a shift in perspective and even a change to the physical chemistry of your brain. In times of struggle, it may seem difficult to focus on the positive. But, if you take a step back, take a deep breath and open yourself up to the possibility, you’ll find there’s plenty of good around you.