As a therapist who helps women manage career stress and relationship issues, I find that the root of many problems we face in these areas have to do with self-esteem. Particularly, too many of us underestimate ourselves on a regular basis, and often in ways we're unaware of.
What I’ve found in my practice is that dissatisfaction with our personal and professional lives is typically tied to self-esteem. When we fail to appreciate ourselves, we accept being treated poorly at work or in relationships because we forget that we deserve better.
If this sounds familiar and you feel like your self-esteem needs a boost, read on for 10 simple ways to remind yourself how amazing you are.
1. Let go of toxic relationships.
Sometimes we put too much energy into relationships that deserve it the least. If a friendship makes us anxious, perhaps we feel that we need to put more into it in order to get the sense of validation we seek. But the reality is this: If your gut’s telling you that a relationship is more trouble than it’s worth, listen to yourself. Know that you deserve better, and trust that you’ll find it.
2. Reconnect with people who appreciate you.
When we’re preoccupied with toxic relationships, we often neglect true friends and family who are there for us through thick and thin. Spend time with the people who appreciate you, even if you think you're "too busy" (because odds are, you have time for a quick coffee or meal. We all need to eat!) It's essential for your health and happiness to remind yourself how you deserve to be treated.
3. Lend a hand.
If you’re feeling dissatisfied with work and/or relationships, try helping someone else out. Whether you choose to go out of your way for a friend or coworker, or do more "official" volunteer work, helping others can provide a sense of meaning to the routine of our lives, and helps us get out of our own bubble and tap into our strengths. Helping others can also jump-start a new way of thinking: it can encourage us to think about what we value in life and what we should be making more time for.
4. Take yourself out on a date.
Just like any other relationship, our relationships with ourselves need nurturing as well. So spend some quality time getting to know yourself. Go to that movie you’ve been wanting to see, try a cooking class, or visit a museum. Cultivating a great relationship with yourself is instrumental in building and maintaining healthy self-esteem.
5. Pick up a new hobby or revisit an old one.
Remember how much you used to love printmaking? Gardening? Singing? If you’ve been feeling uninspired lately, try revisiting an old hobby, or pick up a new one. Making time for something that brings you joy is a great way to feed your soul when you’re feeling unfulfilled.
6. Connect with nature.
There’s something about being out in nature that helps put things in perspective. Enjoying the outdoors makes it easier to be mindfully present and let go of the mind chatter that isn’t serving us. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need to reconnect with yourself, try going for a walk, a run, a bike ride; or simply sit on a park bench and notice the beauty that surrounds you.
7. Make time for self-care.
When you start making yourself a priority, you’ll instantly feel more confident because you’re showing yourself how important YOU are. Listen to your body, and commit to what you need, whether that means making time for your favorite dance class, getting more sleep, or preparing more home-cooked meals.
8. Surprise yourself.
We are so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. I never particularly enjoyed working out. So imagine my surprise when, after buying a Groupon for hot yoga on a whim, I fell in love with it and became a certified yoga instructor less than a year later. Give yourself permission to start (or keep) exploring whatever intrigues you, and you may very well end up surprising yourself, as well.
9. Look in the mirror and love what you see.
If body image is an issue, work on loving the reflection you see in the mirror. Pick one thing that you like about yourself and start there. It may not feel genuine at first, but with practice it will become more natural to focus on the positives.
10. Try this meditation.
As a certified yoga instructor, I often incorporate yoga poses and meditative breathing into my therapy sessions. If your self-esteem needs a boost, try the following short meditation:
- Find a comfortable seat at the edge of your chair, and place both feet on the floor.
- Close your eyes.
- Take a moment to notice wherever you’re holding tension in your body, and let it go.
- Bring your focus to your breath.
- As you inhale, imagine that you are breathing in self-love; as you exhale, imagine that you are releasing self-doubt.
Thoughts may come and go; just notice them and bring your awareness back to your breath. Inhale self-love; exhale self-doubt.
Now, finally, try this exercise: thank yourself for being the amazing person you are. Namaste.
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