Live the Self Esteem Dream
Now that it’s February and, like millions of other people, you’ve abandoned your New Year’s Resolutions, there’s a chance you’re feeling stuck. Maybe you’re comparing yourself to others, and not practicing enough self-acceptance. Consider this: when you visit the spa, you’ll probably stop in the sauna and turn up the heat – but have you ever taken a break in the self e-steam room? These tips will help you learn self-compassion and stop beating yourself up when you make a mistake.
There’s a fine line between accepting constructive criticism from yourself and falling victim to negative self-talk. When you are feeling down, take a moment and play the Hypocrite Game, which works like this. If you start to use that self-critical voice, ask yourself whether you would say the same thing to a friend in your shoes. You probably wouldn’t. Turns out, there’s solid science behind this game, and Kristin Neff, a psychology professor at the University of Texas, agrees. In an interview with The Atlantic, Neff suggests we “…practice self-compassion. In other words, treating yourself just like you would your best friends, even when they (you) screw up.”
Self-compassion can even help you stay more motivated, because if you respond to yourself compassionately when you fail, you’ll be less afraid of failure. Therefore, you’ll be more likely to take risks that can help you grow.
Practice acceptance, and try not to strive for perfection. Since childhood, many of us have been trained to respond negatively when we are told we are average. That’s because we want to be special and above average in every way. Of course, that’s an impossible goal, and don’t forget, “average” is the norm! Interestingly, Neff references a large body of research that links bullying with the quest for high self-esteem, because bullies are driven by the need to feel “special and better-than.”
Rewrite Your Script
Glenn R. Schiraldi, Ph.D, author of “The Self-Esteem Workbook,” describes healthy self-esteem as “a realistic, appreciative opinion of oneself.” A narrative we’ve created about ourselves often shapes our self-perception and core self-image. You can change that story if you learn whose voices you are internalizing.
You can also detect negative self-talk by maintaining a diary, practicing mindfulness exercises, and getting feedback from your friends. But how do you know which feedback to accept and what to reject? Give it time, think about it, and feel what seems true to you. Famous author Louise Hay recommends that individuals seeking to improve their self-esteem practice meditation, mirror work, or “tapping,” a combination of Ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology.
 The Atlantic, “Why Self-Compassion Works Better Than Self-Esteem,” Olga Khazhan, May 2016
 Psychology Today, “8 Steps to Improving Your Self-Esteem,” Allison Abrams, March 2017
 LouiseHay.com, “3 Powerful Habits For Building Your Self-Esteem,” Louise Hay