• Author Cheryl Hitchcock
  • Published February 6, 2012
  • Word count 740

It's an issue that crops up for people at every stage of life and can be improved for anyone, regardless of age. It is called our self esteem and can take a battering without warning. I'll help you to understand and increase your self esteem so that your internal 'bank account' of self esteem is always full enough so that a 'withdrawal' or battering won't leave you broke.

Self-esteem is defined as the way in which you think of yourself, your own worth and abilities. It is quite often tied into self worth and self consciousness. It is the way in which we identify ourselves and the impact that our thoughts have on our lives and the decisions we make. But even as we move forward with our lives and achieve successes, we continue to have barriers that cause us to hesitate and fear movement.

Quite often, when we make decisions, self-esteem and self worth issues will drive the ultimate outcome, without us even realizing that all of the esteem and worth issues are directing the outcomes. It can become so buried in our subconscious that most people are not able to identify how certain decisions and barriers have been affected.

There is work involved in identifying self-esteem and self worth issues. Although self-esteem issues are ingrained and have become part of our psyche and personality, we have integrated some of them to a point of being and feeling comfortable, thus allowing us our achievements and success, only to a certain point. We need to bring these issues to the surface, identify how they affect us and our decisions, as well as the impact they have on us and our lives.

Fear is usually at the basis of any change we make and increasing our self esteem is no different. We minimize, deny and repress our fears but they surface in our behaviours and decisions. To deny the issues that keep you from achieving is to deny success. We 'make due with' or 'settle for' mediocrity. Your self-esteem may be negative or low but it is what you know and feel comfortable with. People in general are reluctant to work and live outside their comfort zones, even if the behaviours are destructive to them and their self esteem. The following exercises can help you improve your self-esteem for life.

Write at least 3 positive self-talk statements that highlight your positive attributes. Say these statements to yourself at least twice a day -- more is better, but look into a mirror at least twice a day while stating these positive affirmations. Add to these as often as possible.

Try to minimize the time you spend around others who have been critical of you and who sabotage your self-esteem. These negative people not only keep us from moving through negative issues but add fuel to feelings of low self-esteem. Be aware of this behaviour when it is happening so you can mentally label it as 'hogwash' and move on with positive energy.

Look at some of the negative self talk you engage in and ask the question with every negative issue that comes up, 'Is this really true?' Some issues have been with you for life and do not apply to who you are today so you need to discard them.

Make a list of the goals, both short and long term that you want to achieve in each area of your life. Make them meaningful for you.

Write out specific timelines and steps to achieving your goals. Do not become bogged down by people who feel a need to critique you or your goals, these people are part of the cycle that can keep your self esteem low or negative. Constructive feedback is great and helps you grow but criticism does not feel good inside and keeps you from experiencing your dreams. You can achieve whatever you put your energy into.

Share your goals with someone else that you trust and who will check in with you to help motivate and keep you on track. Take ownership, responsibility and accountability for your goals and success. Seek out the help of a professional if you do not want to confide in a friend or family member.

Remember -- you need to invest in yourself, not only on the outside or your physical fitness, but also your mind -- it drives everything else that you do, and it needs to be given priority.

Cheryl has been a certified clinical counsellor for over 12 years and uses a diverse repertoire of skills that enable her to guide individuals so that they can foster healthy, positive and sustainable change in their lives and foster the ideal vision of their existence. As well as counselling and coaching, Cheryl also conducts workshops and seminars pertaining to elements of behavioural change as well as motivational speaking.

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