Check out these practical steps to boost your self esteem. Self-acceptance and total confidence fall along a continuum. The former just means accepting ourselves warts and all without driving ourselves to be perfect. You can accept yourself without being highly confident but it is a good first step.
To feel competent, you need to feel confident in your ability to achieve most, if not all, of the goals you set yourself or to do a good job at work. You don't have to be a superstar and it isn't essential that you never fail. To feel competent, you just need to feel that you have as much chance as anyone else to achieve your goals or to be a valued employee. You should feel that, for the most part, you have the skills and resourcefulness to solve problems and to meet the everyday challenges that life throws at you. Watch out for any "globalizing" tendency. This is the tendency many people have to overuse words like "always" and "never" as in "I always fail at everything" or "I never succeed at anything." Try to make a list of the good things you have achieved, even little things. This is a good antidote to feeling that you can't do anything very well. Push yourself to spend 15 minutes at the same time every week to make as long a list as you can of all the good things you did since the previous week. It helps to have a partner or friend do the same thing with you so you can help each other maintain momentum.
To feel relatively good self-acceptance, push yourself to think more about your good qualities than your less positive traits. Everyone has a mixture of strengths and weaknesses. People with low self esteem over emphasize their negative traits. To boost your self esteem, push yourself to realize that you are just as good as anyone else. The best practical way of doing this is the one mentioned above under Competence: discipline yourself to list your achievements. This might also help you get more done. Celebrate your successes with a friend and don't fret too much over your mistakes and faillures because everyone makes them and no one can completely eliminate them.
Receptivity to Feedback
Becoming comfortable with negative feedback is a good way to boost your self esteem. People with low self esteem are overly harsh in their self-criticism. They are their own worst enemy. A good practical step here is to thank people when they give you feedback. This makes it hard to get upset or overly defensive. When someone criticizes you, try thanking them and asking them what they would like you to do differently in future. Treat such feedback as an opportunity to learn. Recognize that people get angry because of the way they feel. It's more about them than it is about you.
To minimize your feelings of guilt, start by recognizing that no one who is at all sensitive to the feelings of others can totally avoid some guilt feelings. Only extremely anti-social types can let people down or hurt them without feeling any guilt at all. But being totally guilt-free shouldn't be your goal. To boost your self esteem, try to stop yourself from feeling unreasonable guilt. Saying "no" to simple requests is one example. It may help you to change the way you say "no." Instead of explaining why you can't do something for someone, give them a different kind of help, such as advice or guidance. It also helps to stress how much you would like to help the other person and how much you realize the importance of this task to them. The key point is to focus on the other person's needs and feelings rather than talking about your own, your reasons why you can't help them. Ask them questions like: "How else could you get this done?" Or: "Who else could help you?" Discussing potential solutions like this can help to take the focus off of you and your guilt.
To become more optimistic, try to discipline yourself to look for positives in every situation. It helps some people to actually write down as many positives as they can think of. Ask yourself questions like: "How is this an opportuntity for me?" "How can I benefit from this apparent setback?" "What can I do to improve this situation?" We all too easily disempower ourselves by feeling that there is nothing we can do about anything, that others are in control and to blame for our misfortune. But, even where someone else is at fault, we can still always ask ourselves: "What can I do differently from now on?" When listing benefits of a situation, push yourself to think of at least 3. Don't let yourself stop at one and then switch over to focusing on all the negatives you can think of.
The key to improving your self-talk is to catch yourself calling yourself nasty names and just stop. Try to avoid global thinking, like: "Everything I do gets messed up?" "Nothing I do ever works out?" Instead, try telling yourself that only some things you do are unsuccessful. And, then immediately tell yourself all the good things you have done in the recent past.
This is not about not caring at all what people think of you or your actions. Rather it is more a matter of not letting yourself need the approval of others to be happy. You can't please everyone. You owe it to yourself to do what you think is best for you. Yes, try to meet the needs of others but try to stop being paralyzed by a fear of displeasing people. Get feedback from a neutral third party if that would help, just to confirm that you shouldn't worry excessively if you have done something that others might not like.
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See the Self Esteem menu above for more on this topic, especially: The Self Esteem Attitude
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