If more people in the world liked and valued themselves sufficiently I don’t think we’d experience nearly as much hatred, violence and division. I think couples would be happier, relying less on the magical powers of each other to “fill the tanks.” I think we’d all be more balanced and present, without the need for so much “mindfulness” training. I think we’d all get to the end of our lives with a greater sense of meaning and fulfillment, having loved ourselves and ultimately each other more fully.
So, if you landed in a family which didn’t mirror you properly with wonder, acceptance and love, but instead either ignored, neglected or abused you, how do you develop self esteem? (Many people I’ve known think that if you weren’t on the “right line” at the “right time” you’re screwed)!
The contradicting good news is that self esteem is something that can be cultivated through practiced thought, action and attitude, rather than only possible through an ideal childhood. The wisest, most comprehensive article I’ve read about this issue was by Carthage Buckley, a performance coach and prolific writer whom I had the privilege of doing a podcast with last year about building a problem-solving mindset on my BlogTalk Radio show, The Couplespeak Relationship Forum. I’ve attached his article about raising self esteem through 7 exercises. Read it. Now. You’ll be happy you did.
7 Simple exercises to raise your self-esteem
Yesterday was my birthday, and once again I was astonished at how fast this past year went. Zip! It flew by! Again I’ve had the dreaded thought that my remaining birthdays may be limited, as I’m now officially tripping off the top of the”middle age” peak. Ugh! Not a good way to think about the passage of time. So, I’m on a mission to reframe aging, so I don’t spend the rest of my days playing “Beat the Clock.” (If you are gloriously young, you probably have no clue about that reference, as you wouldn’t have been born when that show was on TV. Well, hooray for you).
So far, I’ve decided that one clear antidote to aging with dread is to stop focusing on the outside of things and more on the inside – to not be seduced by appearances, but more cognizant of substance. That way, wrinkles and gravity’s effect on bodies, including my own, will be less central, (and horrifying!). So, who cares if your butt is two inches lower now than when you were 25? It’s the quality of your mind and heart that protrudes with significance!
One other antidote seems to be less focus on the endlessly undone things in life – the “bucket list” of amazing, challenging, creative, fun or obligatory things remaining untapped or unfinished, and more focus on one’s achievements. What accomplishments do you feel proud of? What will you be remembered for? What relationships and experiences have you had that you cherish right now? It’s a “glass half full” frame, much less melancholy, more grateful!
While I’m working on my list of antidotes to aging with dread, I did see one affirmation on a birthday card which says it all perfectly: “At this moment in time you are the youngest you will ever be for the rest of your life.” Ah, youth……
Many of us become our own worst enemies by putting ourselves down and focusing on our weaknesses or negative qualities. If you are prone to this, it’s important to know that a bit of self critical thinking can become motivation for positive change and growth, but when you go overboard with it, feeling worthless, incapable of effective action, etc., it prevents you from taking healthy risks because it robs you of confidence in your own capabilities. It raises anxiety and stress, and can lead to depression.
Most of us already know about the importance of learning to accept our mistakes as part of learning, and being kinder and softer to ourselves in general. We’ve also heard a lot about looking for solutions to problems instead of berating ourselves about them. But here is the ultimate nuclear weapon to blast away self criticism: The Howitzer Mantras.
Because self critical talking and behavior is driven by habit and reflex, its important to find words or phrases that are designed to hit the critic like a cannon blast. When you hear your internal critic saying nasty, derogatory things about yourself use a mantra that helps you feel angry and outraged, like “Screw you!,” “Stop this crap!” “Shut up!” “Get off my back!” Use the anger and indignation as a productive way to drown out the critic. Yell out loud if you can, but most importantly, mentally shout the mantras at the critic.
If using the mantras alone is insufficient, take a stronger measure by putting a rubber band around your wrist and snap it while subvocalizing your mantra. By doing this you’re emphasizing your stop commands and making thought interruption more likely. The sharp, stinging sensation breaks the chain of negative thoughts and acts as a punisher so that the critic is less likely to attack in the near future.
Try this method as a routine way to silence your damning critic and you’ll be amazed at the results!
Get home from work tomorrow night, pour a glass of wine, put your feet up and call into my half hour BlogTalk Radio Episode: “The Five Love Languages: Are You Speaking The Right One To Your Partner?”
Learn about the five basic ways through which most humans feel loved and appreciated, and most importantly identify the two primary “languages” for you and your spouse or partner.
Learn how to get the love you want, and how to give the love you feel in ways which finally translate!
Call toll-free 877-497-9046 to join me live on the air with questions or comments. Let’s make it a conversation! If you’d prefer, you can catch the show live streaming by going to: www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager
I’ve been thinking about people who are obviously happy, moving steadily toward their goals, and experiencing success in their endeavors. (Hopefully I’m somewhere on that list too…) It’s given me the idea for a next article called “Think Like An Athlete and Radically Change Your Marriage”. Mind you, I know very little about the mechanics of professional sports, can barely tell the names attached to the sport, i.e.:
Are the Bruins hockey or football? It’s pathetic, but I do somehow know a thing or two about sports psychology, that’s right up my alley! So here’s a sports tool you can easily use in your own life, even if you’re not about to attempt your own bobsled run in the olympics:
AFFIRMATIONS: An affirmation is a positive declaration of a condition you’d like to exist, stated positively in the present tense, using the personal pronoun “I”.
I enjoy weekends with my partner.
I love my husband’s cooking efforts.
I feel happy in our new home.
I enjoy teamwork with my spouse.
I deserve my partner’s attention.
It may seem hokey, but affirmations are a great tool to prime your brain for relationship success through positive visualizations. Try it!
P.S. My new website HowToBeABetterCouple.com will be live this week, finally! Go there and you’ll have access to articles and lots more upcoming information about relationship success.
How To Be A Better Couple