Amp up your self-esteem

We often rely on external factors to determine our self-worth, a process that only ends up undermining our potential

Special to The TribuneSeptember 21, 2012 

Self-esteem is the value we place on our own abilities and worth. It’s the inner belief that we’re up to our personal challenges and have the skills to successfully manage our lives.

Self-esteem can be a loaded issue. We want to feel good about who we are, but we don’t want to come across as conceited.

In reality, there’s little opportunity for crossover. Conceited folks harbor an inflated opinion of their skills and want to prove their superiority every chance they get. People with a healthy level of selfesteem quietly recognize they are good enough as they are and don’t rely on others’ opinions to reinforce their worth.

It’s easy to see why self-esteem can falter. From our earliest days, we’re judged and ranked. Schools determine whether we’re smart. Sports scores decide whether we’ve won or lost. Fashion magazines tell us whether we’re young and pretty.

As a result, each of us winds up running on a destructive treadmill trying to convince ourselves that we’re OK.

Unfortunately, the very process of relying on external factors guarantees selfesteem will elude our grasp. Whenever we compare our selves with others, we’ll always fall woefully short. There will inevitably be someone who outshines us, who reinforces once again that we have failed.

The fact is we’re already perfect. We don’t need to prove our self-worth. We’re exactly where we’re meant to be today. There’s no need to justify why we exist.

That doesn’t mean that we’re complacent or that we don’t make changes in areas that need help. Rather, it encourages us to accept ourselves as the unique and wonderful beings who we are and embrace a lifestyle that reflects all we can be.

IMPROVE YOUR SELF-ESTEEM USING THESE TIPS

• Identify your strengths. Make a list of your assets. Post it on your bathroom mirror. Read it every day. Add to it when new ones come to mind. Focusing on your talents reveals your underlying worth.

• Forget about the past. We’ve all done things we regret. We can’t do anything about them now. Punishing yourself only makes you feel bad and misdirects your precious resources.

• Free yourself of guilt. Guilt is a vicious emotion that keeps you mired in hopelessness and despair. Notice when you’re wallowing in your own mental pigsty. Climb out ASAP.

• Quiet doubts. Nagging selfdoubts will inevitably creep up. But they don’t have to control your psychic airwaves. Recognize their presence. Relax and allow them to melt away. Replace them with positive affirmations, such as “I am enough” or “I can change my life today.”

• Set specific goals. Define areas that need improvement. Be clear about what you want to change. Express goals in positive, can-do language that inspires you to reach your potential.

• Lay out a plan. Once you’ve selected the endpoint, devise a path to get you there. Make steps small and reachable so you don’t get discouraged or feel overwhelmed.

• Rid yourself of naysayers. The world is full of Eeyores who want to convince you that you’ll fail. Ignore them. Better yet, hit the delete key and erase the naysayers from your psychic hard drive. They don’t have any control over your success. You determine who you are and what you do.

• Create your own pep squad. Decide who will cheer you on in your endeavors and invite them into your sphere. Your squad may include family members, friends, colleagues or professionals — whoever helps you feel on top of the world.

• Pamper yourself. You deserve special treatment. Make pampering a daily event. Bring flowers to your work cubicle. Wear styles that flatter your shape. Set the table and prepare luscious meals. After all, you’re worth the effort.

• Celebrate success. Tweet your latest progress or share a toast with a friend. Allow others to revel in your newfound confidence. There are plenty of good feelings to share.

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