By Hiren G
Poor self-esteem shows up as that nagging, carping little voice inside your head. Psychologist Eugene Sagan calls it “the pathological critic.” This inner voice exists inside everyone’s mind, but for those with poor self-esteem, it becomes a vicious detractor, a malignant backbiter that is always censorious and insulting. The voice can be masculine, feminine or even asexual. Often, it can sound like one of your parents. Each day, your pathological critic works overtime to undermine everything that you think, feel and do.
Life can be tough, brutal and unforgiving – a knockdown, heavyweight fight. So, how can you survive? Build your self-esteem. If you feel that you do not deserve such a rough time, that you merit good experiences, not bad ones, then get up and fight back. But what if you do not possess this vital spur of self-worth? Then, you get into deeper trouble. You start to kick yourself while you’re down and that’s no way to win a fight. You need a proper sense of self-esteem to give yourself a chance to prevail against your challenges. Without it, you can end up on the ropes. Affirm yourself and you win. Reject yourself and you lose. This is life’s most basic rule.
Self-Esteem Tools and Techniques
Put various mental techniques to work to improve your self-esteem. Assessing yourself accurately is one such technique. Write about how you look, what your personality is like, how well you do at work and so on. Put a plus sign by the positive notes and a minus sign by the negatives. Now, list all the negatives on a sheet of paper. Don’t use pejoratives; just be matter-of-fact. On a separate sheet of paper, expansively describe your positive attributes. When you are done, write out a more accurate description. Memorize it. Use it the next time your critic harps at you. Say, “Hold on a minute. You are not judging me fairly. I am kind, smart and hard-working.”
Avoid thinking in “shoulds”: “I should never make any errors.” “I should work hard every minute.”
Visualize “positive scenes” to enhance your self-esteem. See yourself as worthy, popular, at ease and confident. Imagine yourself getting a raise, hitting a home run or winning a marathon. Visualization is remarkably effective. The subconscious interprets the images you create in your mind as being real as the external reality your senses perceive. Perform your visualization exercises twice daily – when you get up and before you go to bed. To visualize, first deeply relax. Start with a simple image – a blue circle on a grey background. Then change the circle’s color to yellow. Now, change the circle to a red triangle.
If you take command of your thoughts, you can take command of your feelings, including your sense of self. You can use the techniques above to elevate your self-esteem and consequently, feel much better about yourself.
– Hiren G is a director at Headrush. Headrush conducts light and intensive outdoor experiential learning for corporate clients, to a variety of different ends.