Building Low Self Esteem: Willpower alone is not enough

Building Low Self Esteem

If liking yourself is one of the cornerstones of self acceptance and self esteem, then enhancing yourself has to be the foundation to living the life you love and want.

In just the same way people you know don't have to be perfect for you to like them, it is exactly the same with you. Your self esteem rests on your being able to accept yourself as you are - that is, your limitations,

your eccentricities, your faults and all your perceived little niggley traits. Understand that no one is perfect Once you've learned self-acceptance, only then will you begin to understand why you do what you do. It is your understanding and self-acceptance which will bring about your self respect and ultimately your self- liking.

There are many ways of building low self esteem. Here are five techniques you can use to get you started.

blagging self confidence is one of the keys to building low self esteem

How do confident people present themselves? Do they slouch or hide away in a corner or mumble their way through a conversation or even present themselves in a dejected manner? Of course not! When you're building low self esteem pay very special attention to what you're communicating through your body language.

Take a good look at how people with high self esteem present themselves. What

you'll see is body language that ooze confidence. They maintain an erect stature, they make and hold eye contact and their movement is relaxed and assured.

Try it out yourself in the mirror and then out in public. Practice standing tall, with strength and assurity in your posture - head up and walk across the room in a purposeful way. Feel and believe that you command and get respect. This is an excellent way to start building low self esteem. Even if you don't feel comfortable initially, just blag it! With practice you'll be amazed by your results.

This NLP technique is called 'behaving as if', which, 'though deliberate, is not fraudulent. You'll find that as you make these changes you'll feel more confident and as you feel more confident, the change pattern will feel more natural. All you've done is to stop the old cycle of self-effacement and turn it around - but it's you who have done it, no one else. (McDermott et al)

Using your good results is a good strategy for building low self esteem

When your Self Esteem is low, you'll more than likely focus on the negatives of your situation - i.e. what hasn't worked or hasn't been successful for you. You become highly critical of yourself - of what you're yet to achieve as opposed to the things you've already attained. You're more likely to dwell on constructive criticisms as a negative, yet not acknowledge and positively accept any praise you receive.

However, when you focus in this way, you reinforce your lack of success and limit yourself in ways that prevent you from finding workable solutions.

Building low self esteem calls for a change in your present pattern. Consider someone you know with high self esteem and observe his or her approach to challenges. What you will see is that s/he will actively draw on their positive results and achievements to feed their esteem and motivation rather than focus on what has not worked for them. Likewise their focus will be on what they are yet to accomplish and/or what changes they might need to make to enable them to do so. Make this your focus on your journey to building low self esteem.

Taking care of you is crucial to building low self esteem

Caring for yourself and treating yourself with the respect you deserve is a powerful first step to building low self esteem. Think for a moment about the people who matter most to you and how important they are to you.

Apply the same level of care and importance to yourself. For example, just as you would take the time to support and encourage them, learn to support and encourage yourself emotionally too. When you enquire as to what kind of day your partner or children have had, do the same for yourself. Just as you would ask 'how can I help or how can mummy help you make it better, ask yourself - 'how can I help myself', 'what can I do for myself today', 'what can I do to make me feel better?'

Building low self esteem means - no matter how trivial your achievements might seem, treat them with the utmost respect. Relish what you've accomplished and be generous with your self-praise; "praise is nourishment and reward in one". Each time you positively acknowledge your achievements in this way, you're building low self esteem. After all, it is these smaller achievements or considerations that add up to the level of self esteem/self confidence you want and deserve.

Also take on board that building low self esteem means that when things don't go according to plan, you need to show yourself a similar degree of empathy you would ordinarily reserve for your significant others.

Learn to console yourself while also respecting that any hurt or disappointment you're experiencing will take time to heal. While you do that, draw comfort from your past positive experiences and positive results.

If something didn't go the way you wanted, use this time productively by focusing on what went well and seeing how you could expand or draw inspiration from that success. When you help yourself in the self-appreciation department, you will not only feel good about yourself, you'll be building low self esteem too.

Self acceptance is 'Key' in building low self esteem

As you will now be aware, self acceptance is one of the main ingredients of Self Esteem. That is, accepting yourself as you are. Before you can accept yourself, you need to have a clear definition of self concept - how you see your self. Try this Definition Of Self Concept Exercise to help you do just that.

Your self acceptance is a crucial element in building low self esteem. McDermott et al (2001) cite, 'there being a lot of evidence from different schools of therapy that once you can accept yourself honestly and without blame, recognising but not condemming your limitations and weaknesses, you'll begin to be able to grow and change.

Commenting on the Therapist Carl Rogers' view that 'when you stop trying to change yourself, then it happens', McDermott concedes that 'trying to change yourself suggests some sort of effort on your part which may well entail overcoming some internal resistance. When you stop trying, you stop the resistance.

This doesn't mean you don't want to change but it does mean you achieve it differently'. Forcing or bullying yourself into change when you're not ready; or fully willing to change; or even when the change is for someone else's benefit, will only lead you into further internal conflict - i.e. two warring parts of you, one of which will ultimately triumph over the other.

A most important factor in any building low self esteem activity you undertake, is that the change you're seeking to bring in must be 100% yours and you must be 100% behind it.

Lets say for example that you comfort eat when you're feeling low or when you're feeling less than assured. You've tried on numerous occasions to stop this habit but each time you've been unsuccessful. Why? Because this habit is fulfilling a need. One aspect of you want the change, while the other aspect is drawing solace from comfort eating.

If you rely merely on willpower to stop, you override and deny the comfort aspect and in all probability your attempts will be unsuccessful. This is the foundation on which most people's New Year's resolutions are built and the reason why so many noble goals or aspirations fall by the wayside.

A classic example is the quit smoking goals. It's difficult to quit because smokers often overlook the importance of both the ritual and the drive to meet one's need. For e.g. the coffee/fag break with colleagues and a natter makes it a social event.

Over a period of time it becomes difficult to get into any group situation without the automatic response of reaching for a cigarette kicking in.

Setting effective and realistic goals is of paramount importance here, especially when your goals involve building low self esteem.

To stand any chance of success, you have to change the ritual. If you know you absolutely must have a cigarette after a coffee for example, have a glass of water instead; if you tend to reach for a cigarette when you're bored, find an activity that captures your interest and divert your attention.

For any change to be effective, willpower alone is not enough. All of you must want the change you're bringing in. Each part of you must work in co-operation and you must find a suitable alternative to meet your need. How do you achieve this?

Managing the two warring aspects of yourself when enhancing low esteem

Don't just assume that your comfort eating for example, is a 'problem'. Doing this will only add weight to feelings of your own self-disgust, or of weakness or of self-dislike; feelings which are not conducive to building low self esteem.

Self- acceptance is about respecting that each part of you has a valid cause in trying to achieve an objective on your behalf. Take the time to understand what the different aspects of you want, rather than allowing one part of you to impose it's will over the other. This is how to build self esteem.

Scrutinise your comfort eating ritual - do you do it out of view of other people? where do you go? What time of day or night do you tend to do it? What are the signals for your comfort eating? Which foods give you the most comfort? Which other past time activity could fulfill the same need?

When you know what you're doing, you'll have a better understanding as to how to go about replacing your old habit with an alternative healthy habit that will meet your need and make you feel good about yourself. By filling that window of time with an activity you particularly like, you break the old ritual while focusing on a new healthy alternative for building low self esteem.

Self help Resources: enhancing low esteem

An excellent self help strategy for increasing your self-esteem, is to set yourself a small short-term achievable goal or goals. Your success will stretch your potential as well as feeding your self esteem. You will find help and guidance to set your goals on building low self esteem at: and Personal Goal Setting .

You'll find this Self Esteem Activity a very useful esteem building exercise. Give it a try and then you'll have a clearer idea about setting goals for building low self esteem.

I highly recommend you carry out this Definition Of Self Concept Exercise, which you'll find most helpful in getting to know you better

Receive my free 5 part daily goal setting guidance via email. It's structured to take you by the hand and lead you through 5 stages of the goal setting process. By day 5 you'll have your clearly written goal and action plan. Click on the link below.

"A native American grandfather was talking to his grandson about how he felt. He said, 'I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is the vengeful, violent one, the other wolf is the loving compassionate one'. The grandson asked him, "which wolf will win the fight in your heart?" The grandfather answered, 'The one I feed" (Blackhawk)

The information on this site is purely of educational value and is not intended to replace your seeking medical advice. You must consult your doctor over all your health concerns.

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