Muriel Cooper
Psychologist in Mornington

Self-image and self-esteem

 

A confident manABOVE ALL – TREAT YOURSELF THE SAME WAY YOU TREAT OTHERS

You are not rude to others, you don't lie to them, cheat, steal, abuse them, put them down, are violent towards them or say negative things about them – so don't do it to yourself! Jesus said "Love your neighbour as you love yourself", so he must have had good self esteem!

1. Understand the qualities that you are trying to change or grow into. What are your values, characteristics and personality traits (Google these things and tick ones you think apply to you) – what would you like to change? When you understand you have good values (and you will) stick to your values – don't compromise – this equals integrity.

2. Have a clear idea of what it is you want to be like – write it down and make a 'storyboard' - add pictures or action words and phrases such as 'Attractive', 'Time Rich', 'prosperity is mine' and 'I CAN DO IT!'. Choose inspirational quotes and motivating headlines like 'Small town girl makes it big' – say "That's me!" when you see it. Know what you want and grow into it.

3. Use your mind to train your brain into different, positive trains of thought and therefore different attitudes and habits. Also please see my previous article 'What causes stress and why we have two brains'.

4. Have a role model. Think about all the people you know, or know of; teachers, relatives, friends or boss. They don't even have to be real – think of a favorite character in a movie, book or in history. They can be saintly like Mother Theresa, suave like James Bond, an inspirational leader like Ghandi or Nelson Mandela. This person has all (or even some), of the qualities you want. Think "What would ....... do in this situation, how would they walk, talk, behave". Make your role model your mentor. If it's a real person and you know them, ask them to be your mentor or supporter in your quest for self change. Choose someone who can be a trusted coach and who will give you empathetic feedback, not someone who will be tempted to be judgmental -you don't need to be discouraged.

5. 'Act as if'. One of my psychology heroes William James suggested this was a useful idea. It's is a simple notion but harder to put into practice. 'Fake it till you make it' is another way of putting it. Imagine you were the actor playing the hero or heroine in the movie. Look the way you think you ought to look. For example always wear your best clothes when you walk out the door and your best perfume or after shave – don't save them for a special occasion that might never come – create the special occasion. Be the way you think a confident, self-assured person might be. Even if you're shaking inside – persist until its second nature. This isn't saying you should be a fake person. You're always you. But you're you with a new attitude.

6. Meditate. People who meditate have a different self view. A recent study shows it's not as effective as cognitive behavior therapy (for which you need a psychologist), but it can make a tremendous improvement in your self view and lower your arousal (stress). Sit quietly, breathe down into your tummy and make the out breath longer than the in breath. Eyes are closed, half closed or open. Whatever comes into your brain, observe it and let it go – don't get in a fight with it. Look further for more information or join a class in Mindfulness Meditation.

7. Be more assertive. Give saying no a go! Do it with a smile and a warm tone of voice. Use Assertive body language like standing straight, look people in the eye.

8. The token purchase. If you can afford it, buy something symbolic of your goal. It can be a new silk tie, a smart business jacket, a special chair or desk. Don't use it until you have reached your goal. Remember it's symbolic; put it in a prominent place where you see it several times a day. Tell yourself that's your reward for achieving your goals.

9. Experiment. Put your new skills into action. Don't be scared. You can do it.

10. Reinforce. Practice, practice, practice. Remember it takes patience.

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