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7 Steps to Healthy Self-Esteem
By Kathryn Seifert   

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Self-esteem is how well you think of yourself. It is important to children and adults, alike. Self-esteem is believing and caring as much for yourself as you do other people. It is believing that you are competent and good.

Self-esteem is how well you think of yourself. It is important to children and adults, alike. Self-esteem is believing and caring as much for yourself as you do other people. It is believing that you are competent and good. It's being as kind to yourself as you would be to someone else.

Some people care more for others than they do themselves. They feel that others are taking advantage of them, but they feel unable to speak out or to say, no. It is time for them to take back control of their lives and raise their self-esteem. It is good to do things for others, but put reasonable limits on it and leave some energy for yourself. If you feel yourself getting angry and resentful, you may be doing too much for others and not feeling appreciated. This could be a sign that you need some time to take care of your own needs. Do a little fact finding and you may want to some adjustments.

The way in which you were raised can affect your self-esteem. If your childhood discipline was harsh or shaming, you might have learned to not believe in yourself. You may find it difficult to express your needs and your opinions easily. This leads to low self-esteem. However, firm but loving discipline raises children who feel good about themselves and others. They are kind to themselves and others and balance time for others and time for self. They can ask for what they want, knowing that others are not obligated to give and they can say "no" when things get to be too much.

Our childhood memories were seen and are remembered through our "child's eyes". Did you know as much as a child as you do as an adult? No, of course you didn't. What you know as an adult can reorganize memories into more appropriate patterns. Revisiting them through adult eyes can reframe the memory, so that you no longer take responsibility for actions and events over which you had no control. You can also see your childhood mistakes as part of the growing up process that we all went though, rather than something which marked you as not as good as everyone else.

I sometimes think about a first grader learning to write. He is going to make lots of mistakes and do a lot of correcting. That's how we all learn and life's little lessons are no different. Making mistakes, taking feedback from others, and using the new information is how we learn and mature. Look through mistakes for that little seed of knowledge that lies within. Learn from it and move on.

On the other end of the scale, some people care more for themselves than for others. That is not self-esteem, it is self-absorption. Balance between the needs of the self, the needs of the community, and the needs of other individuals is what is needed.

Do you need a self-esteem booster shot? There are many things you can do to consciously raise your self-esteem.

1. Take good care of yourself. Do nice things for yourself that bring you pleasure. Do as much for yourself as you would a good friend.

2. Learn to say "no" when saying "yes" is not in your best interest. Balance what you do for others and what you do for yourself. Realize that you are just as important as others are. Let others take care of their own needs more often. Life involves give and take. Both are important.

3. Be active in a civic or social organization in your community. This gives you opportunities to help your community and to realize the valuable skills that you have to offer.

4. Use positive affirmations or positive self-talk every day. Make a list of your positive traits and put it on the refrigerator. Read them several times a day. Put a post-it note on your mirror that says "I like me." or "I'm a good person" or some similar phrase. Say the phrase out loud several times a day.

5. Every time you criticize yourself, Balance automatic negative self-evaluations with positive ones. Accept your mistakes as a learning process and make a commitment to change.

6. Remind yourself that you are a good person and that you have a lot to offer. Cherish yourself and your positive traits as much as others do.

7. Take what you have learned about life and "pass it on".
©K. Seifert, Ph.D

 



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