1. You want self Esteem? then Stop thinking about yourself.
Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying that you shouldn't have concern for your wants and needs, or that you shouldn't make plans for yourself, or reminisce about fun days from the past - No, all this is perfectly natural and desirable.
When I say stop thinking about yourself, I am talking about the obsessive ruminating we often indulge in. We often run the same thoughts over and over in our mind - examining and re-examining our motives for every little thing we do, re-running every little conversation we may have had in the past 24 hours - "Should I have said that to so-and-so - What will they think of me" etc. . The more you run these thoughts in your head, the more unsure you become that you should have thought, spoken or done something differently to the way you actually did it and this can in turn become a paralysing fear that taken to extremes can destroy self esteem and prevent you from doing anything.
The way to combat this form of self-sabotage to your self esteem is to change the focus of your thinking. In fact turn the whole thing around 180 degrees by focusing your thoughts on other people. I do not mean compare yourself with other people - This is just another form of self-obsession and will do nothing to help your self esteem. Leave yourself out of the equation altogether and focus exclusively on the other people. Find out about them, listen to their stories, help them achieve their goals.
You will find that as you become more engrossed in attending to other people - your self doubts will evaporate as your stream of consciousness is diverted away from it's usual habit of self examination and criticism. An added bonus is that your friends will find you fascinating and charming because you focus on their favourite subject - them!
2. You want Self Esteem? - Then Keep your thoughts Positive.
For many people negative thinking is their standard mode of thought. They indulge in it constantly and are not even aware that they are doing it. You do not have to be a genius to see that a constant mental diet of negativity is hardly going to produce anything but negative results and low self esteem. You want positive results? - Then you need to start thinking positively.
I know that this is easier said than done. I am sure that we have all tried "positive thinking" at some point in the past only to fall by the wayside. People seem unaware that this is going to require a bit of effort and give up when they see that this is the case - It is however, well worth the effort.
Negative thinking patterns are simply bad "thinking habits" and with a little bit of effort, habits can be changed. If you can persist with a new pattern of behaviour, consistently for only thirty days you will have formed a new habit.
To change your thinking habits to a more positive model will require that you become aware of what you are thinking. Most of us are "off line" most of the time as far as awareness of our thinking is concerned, but if you take the trouble to monitor what is actually going on in your head most of the time, you may be surprised at how negative and criticising your train of thought tends to be and you will understand how damaging this can be to your self esteem.
Whenever you become aware that you are thinking a negative thought, just say to yourself mentally "Stop". At first it will seem like you are uttering this command every few seconds but with consistent use it will happen less and less as fewer negative thought surface. In this way you will develop greater self-esteem and self-confidence.
Negative thoughts are like mental weeds. Left unattended they will completely envelop your mental garden, destroying your self esteem. Using the above technique is like weeding that garden. It is hard work at first, but it gets easier as the weeds become less and less. Eventually all that is needed is the maintanance of removing the odd weed as it appears in order to keep the garden, and your self esteem, pristine.
3. You Want Self Esteem? Then Disregard Negative Self-talk
This one is strongly related to negative thinking. We mentally talk to ourselves all the time - whether we are aware of it or not. All our waking hours are filled with this mental chit-chat and mutch of it tends to be negative. Our consciousness tends to observe - and comment (often unfairly) on everything we do. For instance we make a small mistake and our mental chat may tell us something like "you got it wrong again - you always do everything wrong". such statements are patently untrue - nobody could get everything wrong all the time and live to tell the tale - and yet such statements usually pass through our minds unchallenge, damaging our self esteem.
This mental propaganda (for that's what it is) is repeated over and over, sometimes hundreds of times a day and eventually becomes an unchallenged belief which is regarded as true and which colours your future attempts at doing things.
Often such mental habits have been created in us long ago by well meaning but critical parents or teachers. Once such habits have formed, they tend to run on unnoticed and unchecked - But now it is time to take notice of them and check them.
Whether we realise it or not, we do actually have complete control over our thought and feelings. Keep aware of you self talk and when you notice critical statements, mentally challenge them with contrary statements such as "Nonsense, I actually performed much better that I did the last time I tried, and there is no reason why it won't improve every time I try again". Be consistent and persistent with this and a new positive habit will form and our self esteem will blossom. Remember your brain is your tool - not your owner. You tell it what to do - not the other way round!
4. You Want Self Esteem? - then Just do it!
People who are un-confident or lacking in self esteem tend not to do things. Because of a lack of belief in themselves they tend to over-analyse everything. They procrastinate and put things off as they assess and reassess every aspect of everything before they even attempt to take action which results in a sort of paralysis - A fear of taking any action at all!
Again, this is nothing more than a habitual pattern of thinking - But it's a habit that is negative and unhelpful and it's a pattern that you can choose to break. Next time you feel like doing something different, choose not to analyse it - just go with your original instincts. As the Nike ads say "Just do it". There will be plenty of time to analyse it later, what's more the analysis will be all the more accurate as you will now have the benefit of some inside knowledge and experience.
5. You Want Self Esteem? Then Don't be put off by Setbacks
Setbacks and mistakes are not the end of the world. They are a natural part of life. They are very instructional, for without mistakes to instruct us where we went wrong, we often would not know where we went right!.
Guided missiles find their way to their targets by comparing where they should be with where they actually are and altering their trajectory accordingly. They then continue on this trajectory until the next check that shows a discrepancy between where they are and where they should be - Again an adjustment is made. This continues thousands of times a second, throughout the missiles flight until it hits home - invariably, bang on target!
The thing to note about the above story is that for 99.9% of the missiles flight, it was off target! It was the very fact that it was off target that allowed it to eventually find it's way with such precision. Setbacks and mistakes are instructional. They teach us things and point us in the right direction. Getting things right first time is largely accidental and teaches us nothing.
So don't be put off by setbacks, just learn what they have to teach, then get on with it. Rome wasn't built in a day - but it was built eventually! Simple persistence will pay great dividends. So be gentle with yourself as you rebuild your self esteem, but start now - The greatest journey begins with the first step.
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Gaizy (author) from Denbigh, North Wales, UK on April 30, 2011:
Thanks - I'm pretty new to this, but hopefully learning a bit more every day.
Helen Murphy Howell from Fife, Scotland on April 30, 2011:
Great hub. Kept very simple, but well written, easy to follow and great information. Thanks for sharing.