What is self-esteem? It means different things to different people but basically it means that you tend to think of yourself as worthwhile. It also refers to the ability to deal with problems and stick to your goals. Many people struggle with this so this week we will be giving you tips to help boost and maintain your self-esteem.
Inner voice and reframing:
Some people have a very critical inner voice. We also refer to this as self-talk. Start to notice the way you speak to yourself - the way the inner voice talks to you. What is it saying to you? Recall there is no right or wrong way to think - only a way that helps or a way that hinders. Start to practice rephrasing or reframing the critical voice. For instance if it says "you're terrible at drawing - people will laugh at you if you draw in front of them". Reframe (or Rephrase) to "Why would I be good at drawing - I've never practised. I can enjoy and be amused by my early attempts until I get better". Practice reframing and rephrasing until it becomes automatic.
Overthinking and Social Anxiety:
Many people don't feel confident because they get nervous in social situations. They may get tongue-tied or be preoccupied about what people are thinking of them. This is an example of 2 things we've talked about before: phobias where your body *learns* to be afraid of a situation; and overthinking - when we get caught up in our head.
Previously we have tackled ways of managing physical panic symptoms. Today we are going to look at strategies for the overthinking part: "what are people thinking about me" - "Do I look OK?", ""What if I say something stupid?".
We've talked before about mindfulness - which is the skill of bringing attention away from thinking (to observing, participating, or describing). It works in social situations too. When you feel nervous - bring your attention away from yourself and your anxious thinking and stick it on to something else.
Here are some ideas:
1. Start to watch people around you. Watch them interacting with each other. Watch what they are wearing. Enjoy the experience of seeing people out enjoying themselves. Soon you'll find that you aren't noticing yourself and feeling self-conscious so much at all.
2. When you're talking to someone - put all your effort into listening to what they are saying. Your responses will be so much more natural because it's very hard to be self-conscious when you're concentrating so hard on what someone is saying.
Another way to deal with your critical voice is to practice being more compassionate - or kinder - to yourself. One way to do this when you notice your critical voice is to think of someone who loves you and holds you in high regard. Think of the person who speaks to you in the kindest possible way. Imagine what they would think if they could hear your inner critic. Then imagine them speaking to you - telling you how proud of you they are and how much you are capable of. With practice this will become automatic.
Does confidence come from the way you think or the things that you do?
One way of thinking about self-esteem is that esteem is as much about what you do as how you think. Consider this: If you're not doing anything rewarding or enjoyable - why would you feel good about yourself? Everyone has things they are good at and they enjoy. And everyone has things they want to get good at. If you're lacking confidence and motivation - make a plan and start slow. My patients often describe that when they have been doing something enjoyable or rewarding they feel good about themselves - and when they haven’t they don’t.