How to increase self-esteem

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During difficult times, we spend a lot of time in dialogues with an inner voice that often blames us for our problems. RBC Style understands why this tone should be changed to a supportive one, and an internal critic – to an internal friend.

More often than not, these formulations did not appear out of the blue, but became processed memories of the evil and unfair comments of our “educators” – parents, teachers, relatives and comrades. And sometimes these are traces of our painful adult past – conflicts in a pair, breakups with friends, or quarrels with bosses and colleagues. In any case, humiliation of oneself destroys adequate self-esteem and does not help in any way to fix what happened.

1. Notice the Good

Erroneous attitude: “You are never lucky”
Correct attitude: “Look how many good things happened to you.”

The phrase “You are never lucky” I want to say to myself after an unexpected failure, a big failure and personal collapse, against which a lot of efforts were made. In a dramatic mood, when we are under prolonged stress and try to reduce the damage, any bad luck is perceived painfully: everything is going somersault, and that was not enough.

Indeed, luck, like bad luck, objectively exists, but accepting bad news or a dramatic blow as a loser tendency is primarily a reaction of overwork and depression. “Never” can never be just by nature if you are reading this text: you at least have a roof over your head, a screen, electricity and education to load this page. And this is not an argument “In Africa, children are starving,” but a simple statement of privileges that we have and many others do not.

Instead of meditating negatively on failure, one can recall good events in the past few months or years. Some also use the practice of gratitude to avoid taking for granted what happens to them every day, from a kind phone call to pleasant little accidents.

Any acute situation switches attention so that we, building a chain of negative events, stop seeing positive events. How many people helped us, how many things we saw and tried, what we managed to learn, with whom to make friends, what we achieved and how much we earned through our work. Do not switch to the good and impose unnatural optimism on yourself in moments of anger, grief and despair. At the same time, it is important not to build a chain of life events as a series of eternal failures and inevitable retribution. Coming out of a state of passion, think about how your goal-setting, someone else’s help and happy accidents have influenced your life.

To improve self-esteem, focus less on negative events.

© “THE MOST CHARMING AND ATTRACTIVE”, 1985

2. Don’t be afraid of mistakes

Erroneous attitude: “You did everything wrong again”
Correct attitude: “How much did you learn and what you learned?”

Many people are brought up with the attitude “You did everything wrong” who are afraid to make mistakes and react in panic to failures. Most often this is due to the exactingness of parents or other authoritative adults: when they raise their voice at you, if you do not react quickly enough, move awkwardly, learn to do something for the first time, or simply do not stand out with an exceptional result.

After such upbringing, many people grow into pathological seekers of approval, others suffer from every mistake – as if everyone is born with the knowledge of how to do the right thing, and only out of spite make mistakes or act in defiance. It is not necessary to treat life as a piggy bank of knowledge – after all, it is not always possible to cash out the contents of this piggy bank. At the same time, any path and effort is associated with new knowledge and skills: what could be done, what were the options, who could predict failure.

If you think about the fact that the efforts made will not necessarily bring dividends, but solving problems is actually interesting and important, first of all, for the feeling of one’s own integrity and personal knowledge, even the mistakes made will not be perceived fatally.

3. Approach problems objectively

Erroneous attitude: “You are not trying enough”
Correct attitude: “Let’s see what needs to be done and can be done better”

Another maximalist educational formulation, which supposedly encourages people to do everything better and give all their best, but in fact forms painful pride and a desire to please, and also makes it difficult to understand why, in fact, these efforts are being made and what is really important.

The main problem with the idea of ​​”You are not trying enough” is that it is blurry and completely impractical. Not enough for who? And who decided this? And are there ways to channel efforts in a constructive direction? Repeating this to ourselves, we are only engaged in self-accusation and do not see the prospect: what result did we really want to get? What went wrong objectively? Who can tell you how to proceed? And what concrete steps to improve can you take now instead of despising yourself?

Every unpleasant situation – from professional offense to personal conflict – can, if not overcome, then at least minimize the consequences. Look at a working project from a different angle, consult with friends, find people with relevant experience, call a friend, apologize, redo something with constructive comments.

Analyze how relevant it is to change and improve what has already been done. How much time do you have? What events should you wait to correct errors? For what can you apologize and draw conclusions? From the point of view of work, many will say: “It is better to do at least somehow than not to do it, but ideally.”

For self-esteem, let go of the “I’m not trying enough” mindset.

© “MOSCOW DOES NOT BELIEVE IN TEARS”, 1980

4. Accept the possibility of failure

Erroneous attitude: “In all problems you are to blame / you are to blame”
Correct attitude: “Something is happening because we cannot influence it”

A frustrated mind tends to exaggerate the role of the accidental and insignificant and include small incidents in the chain of unhappy events: for example, chronic professional failures, painful breakups, conflicts with loved ones, constant income problems.

We will not deny the concept of guilt and automatically replace it with responsibility: both exist in our life – sometimes we really deceive someone else’s trust and abuse the weakness of others, sometimes we are afraid to take responsibility for our actions. But there is also a range of conditions that we cannot influence. There is no chance to insure yourself against all adversity. Sometimes you don’t have the strength to prepare for difficult times, and then it’s too late. Some unhappy events and tragedies do not fit into the theory of justice. And it’s important to separate the inevitable from what can be easily avoided, and also recognize that living in accordance with certain values  is to deny yourself everything else.

If you are a risky person, then sooner or later you will have to pay for the risk purely statistically – and this is not the fault, but the consequences of the choice. If you have chosen work as a clear priority, your personal life is overshadowed by itself. But this is not a question of guilt, but exclusively of decisions made, which can be made differently. And no one is ready for personal and global disasters – and there is simply no stress resistance in everything.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Erroneous attitude: “You can’t cope, but it’s time to”
Correct attitude: “Asking for help is not ashamed, as well as being weak”

Dealing with all the problems on our own is the attitude that is applied to us too early. If the educators withdraw themselves and block the opportunity to ask them for help, a person has the illusion that he must know and understand everything a priori, so one can not count on outside help. Hence the lack of the skill to clarify the incomprehensible moments when they arise, and not when you have to face the consequences – for example, speaking honest expectations from the relationship, the general budget, the list of responsibilities when hiring, the cleaning schedule with neighbors.

Often we do not have enough skills to quickly solve a problem that many people solve playfully – and there is nothing unnatural and shameful in saying: “I can’t do this,” “I did it several times,” “Help me understand,” when ambiguities and understatements arise . The most important thing in this situation is allies. There should be no indifferent emptiness in your problem. If it is a partnership, then problems are solved together. If a working project, agree on mutual assistance. If the situation is friendly, do not hesitate to openly seek advice or ask for help when you do not understand how to proceed. We all have weak points: you can keep your face and act alone by touch, or you can negotiate with others about a beneficial exchange when you insure each other.

To increase your self-esteem, don’t be afraid to say “I can’t.”

6. Think about yourself

Erroneous attitude: “You are not loved because you do not love yourself”
Correct attitude: “It’s time to take care of yourself.”

In the wording that self-love is a prerequisite for a calm and confident relationship with the world, there is nothing dangerous if it does not impose on the person the burden of responsibility for the fact that he has not yet managed to love himself. The process of reconciling with your shortcomings can take a lifetime, and the worst thing that can be done is to blame yourself for the fact that you yourself provoke the negative attitude of others.

Many people find it difficult to love and support themselves, but this does not excuse other people’s dishonest behavior, abuse of weakness, violence or neglect. It is worth changing the wording “You yourself are to blame for your dislike” to “Time to take care of yourself,” and the inner message will completely change the meaning. Thinking about yourself and not pleasing others, choosing your own convenience and favorite work, organizing a safe space are important steps on the path to peace that have little to do with the actions of others towards us. Taking care of yourself includes many aspects, from physical condition and mood to self-fulfillment and financial stability. Building a fortress around you is necessary, first of all, in order to more confidently and happily interact with the world around you, and not in order to beg for love from him.

7. Don’t compare yourself to others.

Erroneous attitude: “You are worse than others”
Correct attitude: “It cannot be worse and better, everyone is different”

Upbringing and social standards lead people to an inevitable ranking of each other: by origin, income, appearance, social capital, achievements – and all this is important for self-esteem. Another thing is that it creates the feeling of a ceaseless race with others for imaginary prizes. Negative self-esteem and self-contempt for many is an effective whip and negative motivation, pushing for new victories, but then this incentive stops working: comparing oneself with others leads to the fact that everything around is better and more talented.

An inner friend will choose a different formulation instead of an inner critic: there really is no “worse” or “better”, but we can really be inferior to others in some properties of cognitive abilities and the number of privileges, and we can overtake someone. You may not have had a chance to use your perfect pitch, but you do. Or you are healthy, and other people suffer from chronic diseases since childhood. You are not given long-term planning, but you are not afraid of spontaneous decisions. Learn languages ​​easily, but poorly perceive numbers. You get tired quickly, but also quickly recover. Not the soul of the company, but you have a rare perseverance.

No random set of traits makes us good and bad, but in order to enjoy the fruits of our labor and human communication, it is better to do what our soul lies in and surround ourselves with those with whom you feel good.

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