Self-esteem and Self-worth Counseling
Self-esteem and self worth are an important part of being a healthy person, for yourself, but also for your relationships. When we have a healthy self esteem and self worth we see ourselves for who we actually are. When we have low self-esteem we tend to see ourselves and the world differently. People with healthy self-esteem and self-worth think positive thoughts about themselves and others, have motivation and determination to strive to meet their goals, and are less likely to feel insecure.
Start an Affirmation Practice
What’s an affirmation practice? Exactly how it sounds, the practice of affirming yourself. Start my making a list of 5-10 positive characteristics about yourself. Try not to pick physical characteristics or anything related to roles you play (mother, sister, brother, husband, employee). It’s important to pick positive, true, and present tense statements about yourself. It also helps to pick statements that you know are true, or that you can easily believe. For some people, their self -esteem might be so low that they have a hard time believing some things about themselves. If that’s the case, start with what you do believe. Some examples of affirmations are:
“I am worthy”
“I am good enough just the way I am”
“I have skills I can use in my recovery”
“I am capable”
Once you have a list of affirmations, pick one you want to focus on each day. Here comes the hard part, practice saying the affirmation out loud to yourself, looking at yourself in the mirror. I know this might sound crazy, but it does work. It helps to say the affirmation over and over to yourself, 10-15 times in the morning, and again in the evening. The more, the better.
Practice Positive Self-talk
This one is a little harder then the affirmation practice, because it is less structured and requires that you have an awareness of your self talk. Start by just noticing throughout the day what you are saying to yourself. If you notice hostile, and degrading self talk, then it’s time to change things up. When you do notice negative self talk, try jotting it down in a journal and coming up with a more positive statement. For example, if the negative thought is, “I’m so stupid, I make mistakes all the time”, try replacing it with something like “It’s okay to make mistakes, no one is perfect.” Once you do this often enough, the brain will start to remember this way of thinking and it will become more automatic.
Expect Respect from Others
Another important part of self esteem is to feel as though you are being treated as an equal in your relationships. This includes all types of relationships including: platonic, romantic, family, and professional. If we are in relationships that make us feel bad or less than, our self esteem is going to suffer. If you are suffering from low self-esteem it’s important to evaluate your relationships. Is there someone who makes you feel less than or talks down to you? Are you being bullied? If you feel that a relationship is affecting your self-esteem, then it’s time to set some boundaries or end the relationship. Try setting boundaries first. This means that you tell this person how their behavior makes you feel. Here’s one example of how to say this: “When you say mean things to me it really hurts my feelings. Please don’t say mean things to me anymore.” You may have to set the boundaries multiple times before they understand that you mean business. Sometimes people are not willing to change their behavior. In this case, it may be time to end the relationship.