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Stop Putting Yourself Down!

By January 1, 2016November 19th, 2020Blogs, Dr. Jenny Yip

Sometimes it’s easy to be hard on ourselves – to focus on the things we do poorly, the mistakes we make, or the things we’re not any good at. To make matters worse, we’re then quick to dismiss our accomplishments and the things we do well! If you find that you’re often your own worst critic, here are some ways to stop putting yourself down and start lifting your self-esteem.
What does self-esteem really mean? Having healthy self-esteem means that you see value and worth in who you are. It means that you accept yourself (all parts of yourself) and believe in yourself (even when you fail). People that struggle with self-esteem tend to feel bad about themselves and tend to think they aren’t as good as other people. They lack confidence in themselves and have a hard time noticing their strengths and positive qualities.
If this sounds like you, don’t get discouraged! The good news is that self-esteem is really just a pattern of thinking, and you have the ability to change that pattern. Below are some tips to get you started. Each tip focuses on a behavior – something you DO. The goal is to DO things differently, and that will change how you think and feel about yourself. The trick to remember is that you don’t have to think or feel differently to get started, that will change all on its own.
Make a list of positives. No matter how many negative traits you think you have or how many things you believe you’ve failed at, the truth is that you have many positive qualities. Identifying them are an important first step in lifting yourself up. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? What do you know a lot about? Ask other people what they would say are your most positive qualities and add these to your list.
Keep an accomplishment journal. Every day, take note of three things you accomplished. They can be big (I scored the winning goal in my soccer match) or small (I made my own lunch). Want to get the family involved? Keep an accomplishment jar or box where all family members can add accomplishments they notice about you (and each other). Share the accomplishments over dinner or at another family activity.
Practice what you enjoy or what you do well. Have a special talent or hobby? Set aside time to do that activity on a regular basis. Not only will you get better and gain more skill, but you’ll also feel good about yourself. Want an added bonus? Add the practice session to your accomplishment list for the day!
Do something nice for others. An act of kindness not only makes the other person feel good, but it makes us feel good too. You can volunteer in the community, clean up a nearby park, or simply help a neighbor walk their dog or bring in groceries. You can even help out around the house.
Try something new. It’s tempting to stay away from trying new things because you might not be good at it or you might make a mistake. Let go of the need to be perfect. Everyone makes mistakes and, more importantly, mistakes are the only way to learn and grow. Keep your focus on putting forth your best effort and learning something new in the process, not on getting it right the first time.
Set a goal. Think about something you’d like to get done and set a goal for yourself. Perhaps you want to practice piano for twenty minutes every day or spend more time with friends outside of school. Make a plan for how you can get the goal accomplished and then follow through with the plan. Remember to let go of perfection here too! You might not achieve the goal on time or in the way you expected. What’s important is that you are working towards something – give yourself credit for any and all steps you make towards the goal, no matter how small. Add them to your accomplishment list.
Exercise and stay active. Exercising regularly is not only good for your self-esteem, but for managing stress too. And remember, anything that gets you moving is exercise, so think creatively about fun ways to get your body active. Go for a short hike with the dog, play Frisbee with friends, take a dance lesson, or mow the front lawn. Ok, maybe that last one isn’t “fun,” but you get the idea.

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