Written by Dr. Andrea Potthoff PhD LP
Many patients I see in my private practice talk about having low self-esteem. It seems to be an almost universal complaint. It may be difficult to imagine for some, but feeling good about who you are and accepting yourself can change most aspects of your life. Here are some techniques that can help improve your self-esteem:
One way to start building self-esteem is to start measuring it in different domains. Someone might think of themselves as having low self-esteem, only to find that this really only applies to their romantic life or career. Some key domains to think about are your career/work life, appearance, family relationships, friendships, romantic life, physical health, spiritual health, intellectual pursuits, and hobbies. Once we start breaking down self-esteem, we often find that we have more strengths than we were realizing.
Consider Where It Hurts You
One way to start building self-esteem is to evaluate ways in which your lack of confidence gets in your way. For example, maybe you make less money because you are too anxious about asking for a promotion. Or maybe you are not in a romantic relationship because your negative feelings about yourself make it hard to try dating. Whatever the case may be, take those areas of impairment and turn them into areas of motivation.
Say What You Want
Consider using an affirmation to start changing your level of confidence and self-acceptance. It may feel ridiculous at first, but research shows that there are numerous benefits of using affirmations. Try creating a short affirmation in the present tense. For example, “I am smart.” Repeat it out loud daily and especially during times of self-doubt. It can be difficult to change how you think, but saying what you want out loud is the first step.
In the age of social media, comparison is an everyday occurrence. It surprises few people that current research shows that social media use is correlated with lower self-esteem and depressive symptoms. In order to improve your self-esteem, do everything you can to limit comparing yourself to others. This might include deactivating your social media accounts, focusing more on what you are proud about, and avoiding social interactions that tend to bring you down.
Recent research shows that self-compassion can buffer against the negative effects of low self-esteem. Self-compassion incorporates three main skills: being kind to oneself, acknowledging that failures and disappointment are part of being human, and look at one’s negative thoughts and feelings with neutral awareness. As long as people were rated as high in self-compassion, self-esteem had little effect on one’s mental health. Self-compassion is more like a muscle than it is a personality trait. The more you practice it, the more you have.
If you would like to learn more about ways to increase your self-esteem, please call us at 612-470-4099 or email us at email@example.com.
Written by Dr. Andrea Potthoff PhD LP
We are two weeks into the new year. How are your resolutions coming? Odds are not too well. Researchers estimate that 80% of New Year’s resolutions will fail by February. We find that people’s motivation drops quickly within the first month of the year. With goals to lose weight, improve relationships, start something new, or get rid of a bad habit, our chances of succeeding are low. The most common resolutions revolve around healthy eating and weight loss, but rarely last. In fact, February 4th is the biggest day for fast food visits (now creatively known as the “fatty solstice”) and gym visits seem to tank around the same time of year. So, if we are serious about changing, what can we do about it?
Why do resolutions fail?
Looking at what derails you from meeting your goals is a helpful place to start. Here is a great example of how changing your thinking can change your behavior. When you do make a slip-up (which is bound to happen), do not view it as a failure and scrap the rest of the day. Get back to your goal as soon as you can. Eleven o’clock at night is not too late to start eating healthy again.
When you do work towards your goal, how have you been rewarding yourself? Humans respond remarkably well to reinforcement, but many of us neglect to reward ourselves. Develop incentives that will help motivate you to meet your goal. A beneficial reinforcer occurs frequently enough to maintain motivation and not too often that its value diminishes quickly. I often encourage patients to develop a list of possible reinforcers (e.g., coffee with a friend, buying a book) to choose from in case motivation changes over time.
Sometimes we make the simple error of moving the goal line. Let’s say you want to go to the gym three times a week, but once you’ve accomplished that, you set the goal of going every day. Stick to the original goal or you may find your motivation decreases quickly.
What can you do to keep your resolution?
Recent research shows that postponement of something is more successful than total restriction of it. Instead of eliminating your vice, consider postponing it and reducing its frequency overtime. Scientists have found that we tend to desire and consume products more if we try to restrict them entirely.
Accountability and partnership can be enormously beneficial when we are working towards a new goal. Find someone who can participate in the goal with you. Having someone to go to the gym with or participate in a new hobby with can help provide you with motivation when you are not feeling motivated on your own.
Sometimes a professional can help you work toward a new goal. This might be a personal trainer, dietician, financial advisor, or even a psychologist. If you would like more information about getting professional support for your goal, call us at 612-470-4099 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.