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5 Ways to Make Yourself Believe in Yourself

To do well in life, you must believe in yourself. You are the one person you can truly rely on. Your belief about yourself, and your abilities, reflects in your personal success and happiness.  When you lack confidence in yourself, others pick up on that, and don’t take you seriously, and in turn your confidence can shrink even more.

Belief in yourself opens the doors of opportunity to your dreams and aspirations. It allows you to live your truth and be your best self.  You are an important and integral part of life as much as anyone and anything else. You have a purpose!  When you believe in yourself, the ability to follow your passions and live your purpose is available. You are allowing good things to come to you, and your belief in yourself allows you to act on those opportunities.

But, in this often highly competitive and demanding society we live in, we can feel small, unworthy and far from confident.

That doesn’t mean it’s not possible. It just takes specific skills and habits that must be consistently practiced.

Here are 5 Ways to Make Yourself Believe in Yourself:

1. Reflect on your past success.

If you’re in an emotional rut, use the tools from your past and get yourself out. Here’s an exercise: Vividly remember a time when you absolutely just kicked butt! You rocked it! You exceeded your own expectation. 🙂 Put yourself there and feel the excitement and pride you had inside. Now, remember you can do it again.

It’s healthy to use the past to your advantage. Too often we easily recall what has hurt us, but we can just as easily allow the past to help us propel.

If you need a bigger boost, repeat the exercise.

2. Seek positive external validation.

Every day we are subconsciously seeking validation, essentially for love in some form. That level of validation depends upon the attitude of the people around us.

If we surround ourselves with positive people who care about us, cherish our strengths, and help us be uplifted, we will flourish. However, if we are around people with negative, limiting beliefs, we can become surrounded in a negative environment, not providing ourselves with the fertile ground we need to grow.

Happy, confident, successful people credit others. We all need positive encouragement. That can be a good friend, family member, or mentor.

girl-looking-in-the-mirror

3. Transform your self talk.

We create who we are, everyday, by our daily beliefs and self talk. Our words are essentially affirmation. It’s important that we talk to ourselves with love and kindness. We deserve our own compliments.

For some that can be incredibly difficult. We can compliment and love others, but… love ourselves? It seems egotistical! But, it’s not.

You deserve your love and appreciation more than anyone else.  Shine your light and love towards every area you feel needs improvement.

Embrace your flaws? But, doesn’t that mean you’re accepting and allowing them to be there?

Actually, loving your flaws releases them and allows them to become whole and well again. If you are having a hard time, switch your focus to another area and come back to it later.

This practice can be achieved easier through daily personal affirmations and mirror work.

4. Give fears less credit, give yourself more.

Fear is merely false evidence appearing real. It’s worry set on fire. It holds you back from believing in yourself more than anything else. It’s an illusion.

Realizing that your fear is not real is the first step (which can actually be hard to do, so when you do you are well on your way).

Transcend the fear with action and do not hesitate. Yep, just like the Latin Proverb – Carpe Diem!

You are capable of much more than you believe. When you conquer a fear you allow for more of your true self to shine. Keep up the momentum and declare to conquer a few fears in a specific amount of time (like one a month). In a year, you’ll look back and feel like a completely new you! 😉

5. Celebrate the positive.

Your every day attitude affects how you treat yourself and others. Strive to be an optimist and see the good in the world. Focus on what you love about yourself and your strengths. Celebrate who you are and the good people you have in your life. Feel gratitude for everything going right and all the blessings on the way.

A positive attitude is the quickest way to believing in yourself. It bypasses everything else and gets right to the end goal – happiness, love, success and belief in yourself.


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The Surprising Motivational Power of Self-Compassion

We all have a kind of virtual policeman living inside us. Amongst other things he’s the guy that helps us work towards our goals, whether personal or professional.

When things go wrong and we stray off the straight and narrow, he reminds us what we were supposed to be doing.

But what kind of policeman is he? Is he the kind with a riot shield, a baton and a bad attitude or does he offer a forgiving smile, a friendly word and a helping hand?

People sometimes think of the latter, more relaxed internal policeman, as being weak and ineffectual. The danger, it is thought, with going easy on ourselves, is that it will lead to lower motivation. Surely if we don’t use self-criticism to push ourselves, we’ll never get anywhere?

So, what stance should we adopt towards ourselves?

mirror
We all make mistakes,
but should you beat yourself up
or show a little mercy?

Antitoxin of the soul

Let’s say someone is trying to deal with a recent period of low self-confidence. Here are three ways the inner policeman might deal with it:

  • Self-esteem boost: think about positive aspects of the self to boost confidence.
  • Positive distraction: think back to nice memories to create a distraction from the problem.
  • Self-compassion: think about the self with kindness and compassion, seeing the period of low self-confidence in context, without evaluating or judging it.

When psychological researchers tested these approaches they found that self-compassion was surprisingly powerful (Breines & Chen, 2012). In comparison to self-esteem boosting and distraction, this study found that self-compassion was most likely to help participants:

  • See the possibilities for change,
  • Increase the motivation to change,
  • Take steps towards making a change,
  • Compare themselves with those doing better, to help motivate their change.

So self-compassion did not emerge as the soft-option: in fact, quite the opposite. By being sympathetic and non-judgemental towards the self, people were able to avoid both harsh self-criticism and potentially fragile self-enhancement.

When participants thought back to insecurities in their relationships, their shyness or social anxieties, it was showing compassion towards themselves that helped the most.

This may be because self-compassion builds a more balanced way of reacting to both failures in ourselves and difficult situations we find ourselves in. As the American writer Eric Hoffer said:

“Compassion is the antitoxin of the soul: where there is compassion even the most poisonous impulses remain relatively harmless.”


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The Confirmation Bias: Why It’s Hard to Change Your Mind

People search for information that confirms their view of the world and ignore what doesn’t fit.

In an uncertain world, people love to be right because it helps us make sense of things. Indeed some psychologists think it’s akin to a basic drive.

One of the ways they strive to be correct is by looking for evidence that confirms they are correct, sometimes with depressing or comic results:

A woman hires a worker that turns out to be incompetent. She doesn’t notice that everyone else is doing his work for him because she is so impressed that he shows up every day, right on time.
A sports fan who believes his team is the best only seems to remember the matches they won and none of the embarrassing defeats to inferior opponents.
A man who loves the country life, but has to move to the city for a new job, ignores the flight-path he lives under and noisy-neighbours-from-hell and tells you how much he enjoys the farmer’s market and tending his window box.

We do it automatically, usually without realising. We do it partly because it’s easier to see where new pieces fit into the picture-puzzle we are working on, rather than imagining a new picture. It also helps shore up our vision of ourselves as accurate, right-thinking, consistent people who know what’s what.

Psychologists call it the confirmation bias and it creeps into all sorts of areas of our lives.

Here are a few examples:

1. Self-image

“Hey, you look great, have you done something different with your hair?”

Who doesn’t like a compliment? No one. It doesn’t even have to be sincerely delivered, I’ll take it. But what about…

“Hey, you’re a real slime-ball, you know that?”

Who likes insults? Well, we don’t exactly like them but—believe it or not—sometimes we seek them out if they confirm our view of ourselves.

In a study that examined this, people actually sought out information confirming their own view that they were—not exactly slime-balls—but lazy, or slow-witted or not very athletic (Swann et al., 1989).

And this isn’t some kind of self-hating thing; in this study even people with high self-esteem sought out information that confirmed their own negative self-views.

It seems we like to be right, even at a cost to our self-image.

mirror mirror
2. Finance

A study of online stock market investors has looked at how they gathered information about a prospective stock (Park et al., 2010).

The researchers found the confirmation bias writ large. Investors mostly looked for information that confirmed their hunch about a particular stock. Those people who displayed the strongest confirmation bias were the most over-confident investors and consequently made the least money.

It seems we like to be right, even if it costs us money.

3. Politics

People see what they want to see in politics all the time.

The most ironic example is in satire. Often satire uses sarcasm to make its point: TV satirist Stephen Colbert frequently says the opposite of what he really thinks to make his point (amongst comedians I believe these are called ‘jokes’).

Except the irony is that one study has shown that people who don’t agree with Colbert don’t get that he’s being sarcastic, they think he really means it (LaMarre, 2009).

The beauty is that both liberals and conservatives get what they want: their viewpoints confirmed.

It seems we like to be right, even if it means not getting the joke.

Blame it on the bias

Over the years the confirmation bias has picked up the blame for all sorts of dodgy beliefs. Here are a few:

People are prejudiced (partly) because they only notice facts which fit with their preconceived notions about other nations or ethnicities.
People believe weird stuff about flying saucers, the JFK assassination, astrology, Egyptian pyramids and the moon landings because they only look for confirmation not dis-confirmation.
In the early nineteenth century doctors treated any old disease with blood-letting. Their patients sometimes got better so doctors—who conveniently ignored all the people who died—figured it must be doing something. In fact for many ailments some people will always get better on their own without any treatment at all.

Fight the bias

The way to fight the confirmation bias is simple to state but hard to put into practice.

You have to try and think up and test out alternative hypothesis. Sounds easy, but it’s not in our nature. It’s no fun thinking about why we might be misguided or have been misinformed. It takes a bit of effort.

It’s distasteful reading a book which challenges our political beliefs, or considering criticisms of our favourite film or, even, accepting how different people choose to live their lives.

Trying to be just a little bit more open is part of the challenge that the confirmation bias sets us. Can we entertain those doubts for just a little longer? Can we even let the facts sway us and perform that most fantastical of feats: changing our minds?

source: PSYBLOG


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6 Purely Psychological Effects of Washing Your Hands

Washing your hands doesn’t just keep you healthier; it has all sorts of subtle psychological effects as well.

Hand washing sends an unconscious metaphorical message to the mind: we don’t just cleanse ourselves of physical residues, we also cleanse ourselves of mental residues.

So, here are six purely psychological effects of washing your hands…

1. Recover optimism

Washing your hands can wash away the feeling of failure.

In a study by Kaspar (2012) participants who failed at a task, then washed their hands, felt more optimistic afterwards than those who didn’t.

Unfortunately washing their hands also seemed to reduce their motivation for trying the task again.

Still, hand washing can help boost optimism after a failure.

2. Feel less guilty

In the mind, dirt is associated with guilt, so theoretically washing doesn’t just remove dirt, it also removes a guilty feeling.

One study had participants think about some immoral behaviour from their past (Zhong & Liljenquist, 2006). One group were then told to use an antiseptic wipe, and another not.

Those who washed their hands after thinking about an immoral behaviour felt less guilty. The antiseptic wipe had literally wiped away their guilt.

3. Take the moral high ground

Feeling clean directly affects our view of other people.

When people in one study washed their hands, they were more disgusted by the bad behaviour of others (Zhong, Strejcek & Sivanathan, 2010):

“…”clean” participants made harsher moral judgments on a wide range of issues, from abortion to drug use and masturbation. They also rated their own moral character more favorably in comparison with that of their fellow students.” (Lee & Schwarz, 2011)

So, when people feel clean themselves, they take the moral high ground and are harsher on the transgressive behaviour of others.

 
Wash your hands, wash your mind: recover optimism, feel less guilty, less doubtful and more…
 

4. Remove doubt

Sometimes, after people make the wrong decision, they try to justify it by pretending it was the right decision.

It’s a result of cognitive dissonance, and it’s one way in which people lie to themselves.

However, hand washing may wipe away the need for self-justification in some circumstances, leaving you better able to evaluate your decision the way it really is (Lee & Schwarz, 2010).

5. Wash away bad luck

Washing the hands can mentally wipe away the effects of perceived bad luck.

When participants in one study had some experimentally induced ‘bad luck’ while gambling, washing their hands seemed to mentally wash away their bad luck (Xu et al., 2012).

In comparison to those who didn’t wash their hands, hand washers carried on betting as if their bad luck was forgotten.

6. Guilt other people into washing their hands

Apart from its psychological effects, hand washing is the cheapest and best way of controlling the spread of things like colds and other infectious diseases.

So, getting people to wash their hands is really important.

To this end, a public health study flashed different messages onto the walls of public toilets as people entered, including “Water doesn’t kill germs, soap does,” and “Don’t be a dirty soap dodger.” (Judah et al., 2009)

The most effective overall message, though, was: “Is the person next to you washing with soap?”

So it seems when you wash your hands in a public toilet, you help guilt other people into washing theirs as well.

Not only are you staying healthy, you’re also doing a public service by shaming others into following suit.

A clean slate

All these studies are demonstrating that when we wash our hands, we also wash our minds clean:

“…the notion of washing away one’s sins, entailed in the moral-purity metaphor, seems to have generalized to a broader conceptualization of wiping the slate clean, allowing people to metaphorically remove a potentially broad range of psychological residues.” (Lee & Schwarz, 2011)

Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog.  
source: PsyBlog


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3 Ways We Sabotage Ourselves + How To Stop

BY ALLY HAMILTON   SEPTEMBER 19, 2013 

Most of us feel stuck at one time or another. Life isn’t looking like the picture we had in our head, things aren’t flowing, and frustration and despair set in.

Of course, this only compounds the problem, because when you’re feeling listless, discouraged and depressed, it’s very hard to get motivated. Feeling paralyzed is awful, and doubting your ability to live a life that feels good can be a very isolating experience.

Here are three ways people tend to block themselves, along with three ways to drop-kick those blocks across your path so you can get moving again.

1. We compare ourselves to others.

Many people look around and feel “less than.” They see a peer who somehow seems to be living a life where things come easily, and they wonder why they aren’t getting the breaks. Or they elevate other people and think, I could never do that because I’m not as outgoing, or attractive, or [fill-in-the-blank].

We live in interesting times where much of our interaction takes place over the internet. It’s easy to feel like everyone else has this glossy, perfect life when you base it on status updates, pithy tweets or hazy Instagram pictures. Everyone suffers and everyone struggles. Most people just don’t post about it. I’m questioning my ability to have an impact on the world around me. or I’m wondering what I’m doing here. or I feel alone in a world that doesn’t make sense to me.

Most people are not going to post that.

The more we focus on what other people are doing or having or being, the less energy we have to shine. And I’m not suggesting you should feel better because everyone else feels confused, too. I’m saying life is so much about what we do with what we’re given. Your power lies in your response. And you can respond with fear and tell yourself you don’t measure up, or you can respond with love and direct your energy toward uncovering and sharing your own particular gifts.

If you’re having a rough day, that isn’t the time to troll Facebook, because you’ll probably end up feeling worse. Think about what you’re feeding yourself, and I don’t just mean your body. Think about what you’re feeding your mind and your heart, too. Everything we take in is food, it’s fuel, it’s energy. Feed yourself the stuff that strengthens you.


2. We live with a harsh inner dialogue.

I know many people who quit before they try. They ask themselves, Who am I to…? But the real question is, Who are you NOT to…?

It’s important to remember there are roughly seven billion people on the planet at this point, and only one YOU. You’re made up of about 100 trillion cells that have never come together in exactly the same way before, and won’t again. You have a particular song to sing, and if you don’t belt it out, that’s a song the world never gets to hear.

If you’re doubting whether or not you have something meaningful to offer, consider that no one but you has had your experiences, your memories, your ideas, your fears or your dreams. You have a unique perspective, although the themes of your life are likely to be universal. You never know how you might shine a light for someone else simply by sharing what’s in your heart. And the joy in this life comes through connection, through giving and opening and accepting. Feed a loving voice. Feed a voice you want to hang out with, and starve the voice that asks you “who you are” to do anything.

3. We procrastinate.

Many people have dreams and ideas and the pull to follow their hearts, but the effort to follow through on this can feel so daunting. The idea that things will have to change can also create a lot of fear. If you’re trying to make a huge shift in your life, small steps get the job done. If you look at the whole task, you’re likely to feel defeated before you begin.

You have an inner “yes” that you can trust. If that yes is pulling on you, it’s pointless to resist, because what you’re opposing is a life that’s going to feel good to you. Just do one small thing, take one positive step.

And keep putting one foot in front of the other. You don’t have to make it all happen today. But try to make something happen. That’s how you start to trust yourself and build the confidence required to make those big changes when you must. You watch yourself following that inner GPS, and you realize you can act on your own behalf, and that it feels right and good.

“Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. 
You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have.”
 ~Norman Vincent Peale



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11 Tips to Help You Think More Positively

JUNE 12    BY PAUL SLOANE

In a study at the Mayo clinic in Rochester, Minnesota patients were given a personality test that assessed their levels of optimism and pessimism. The progress of the patients was measured over 30 years, and it was found that the optimists lived longer than average for their age and gender while the pessimists had a shorter than average life. Researchers found that optimism strengthens the immune system and helps people to adopt healthier lifestyles. Optimists feel better about themselves and take better care of themselves, while pessimists confirm their fears by having higher blood pressure, more anxiety and depression.

You can choose to have depressing, negative thoughts or inspirational, positive thoughts; your attitude determines your mindset, which in turn determines your behaviours and the outcomes in your life. Many studies show that you will achieve more, feel happier and live longer if you chose the positive option. Here are some tips to boost your positive thinking.

Believe in Yourself
Successful people start with a deep inner self-belief. It has been shown that self-belief is more important than intelligence, education or connections in terms of life-long achievement. The important starting point is your conviction that you are capable of significant achievement or that you have something special to contribute.

Set Clear Goals
If you have no destination then your journey is haphazard. If you write down ambitious but achievable goals, then you are already on the road to accomplishing them.

Form a Mental Picture of Your Success
Imagine yourself achieving your goals. Savour the experience of your book being published, of making the sale, of giving the speech to rapturous applause, of winning the race, of living your dream. As your mind comes to terms with this picture it will help you to put the steps in place in order to achieve it.

Take Ownership and Responsibility for Your Life
Don’t be a victim. Don’t blame others or circumstances. You are the captain of the boat and you decide where it goes and what happens. If you are unhappy with an aspect of your life, then form a plan to change it and take action.

Talk to Yourself
Become your own motivator by telling yourself positive things. For example: at the start of the day you might say to yourself, “I am going to do really well today.” Or, “I am going to make real progress towards my goals.” When things go wrong or you falter, don’t make excuses—say something like, “That was my fault, but I can learn from that setback.”

 

yayEliminate the Negative
Use positive self-talk to overcome the doubts and negative thoughts that creep into your mind. Deliberately eliminate worries about difficulties and obstacles by taking a positive attitude, “I can overcome this challenge.” You do not ignore problems—you face up to them with a constructive and optimistic attitude.

Associate with Positive People
Among your friends, relatives, and associates there are probably some upbeat, positive, optimistic, dynamic people and some downbeat, negative, pessimistic or cynical people. Think about them for a moment and select examples of each. You should spend more time with the positive people and less time with the negative people. The optimists will inspire and encourage you, while the pessimists will feed your doubts and make you depressed.

Count Your Blessings
Draw up an assets and liabilities sheet for yourself. If you are educated, employed, healthy, in a loving relationship, financially solvent etc., then put these on the assets list. If you are unemployed, ill, in a toxic relationship, bankrupt, etc., then put these items into your liabilities list. The chances are that your assets will far outweigh your liabilities. We tend to take all the good things in our lives for granted and focus on our failings and needs instead.

Find the Silver Lining
Learn to look for the opportunities in every situation that comes along. Many self-employed consultants will tell you that being made redundant was the best thing that ever happened to them. At the time it may have seemed a terrible blow but now they have found greater fulfilment and satisfaction in what they do. Every change brings good as well as bad, opportunities as well as threats. The people who do well in life are the ones who use setbacks as springboards for new successes.

Relax and Enjoy Life More
Lighten up a little. If you can laugh at things then you can cope with them more easily. Don’t try to do everything at once. Don’t become overburdened with work. Deliberately give yourself little treats and do things that make you smile. Laughter is the best medicine—and the cheapest—so try to keep a balance between work, exercise, relationships and play.

Fake It.
If all else fails then fake it. If you are really worried, nervous, or doubtful, then pretend that you are confident and self-assured. Stride to the lectern, smile at the audience and act as though you are positive, professional and successful. Acting the role helps you develop the attitudes and behaviours that go with the part. You can fool the audience, and more importantly, you can fool your brain—you will start to be the confident, positive person that you are acting.

If positive thinkers achieve more, live longer, and are happier than negative thinkers then why would anyone choose to be a negative thinker? The answer is that many people find negative thinking to be an easy option that is more comfortable and offers less challenge. Do not fall into that trap. Think positively!

source: www.lifehack.org


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The Power of Affirmations

By Remez Sasson

Affirmations are positive statements that describe a desired situation.

When these statements are often repeated, they get impressed on the subconscious mind, and conequently, trigger it into positive action.

In order to ensure their effectiveness, they have to be repeated with attention, interest, faith and desire.

When you know how to use them, you get a great tool for achieving success, and for improving your life.

Imagine that you are swimming with your friends in a swimming pool.

They swim fifteen rounds, something you have never done before, and since you want to win their respect, you want to show them that you can make it too.

You start swimming, and at the same time keep repeating in your mind, “I can do it, I can do it…”. You keep thinking and believing that you are going to complete the fifteen rounds.

What are you actually doing? You are repeating positive affirmations.

Most people repeat in their minds negative words and statements concerning the situations and events in their lives, and consequently, create undesirable situations. Words and statements work at both ways, to build or destroy. It is the way we use them that determines whether they are going to bring good or harmful results.

Pay attention to the words you repeat in your mind, to discover whether you use negative statements, such as:

    I cannot do this.
    I am too lazy.
    I lack inner strength.
    I am going to fail.

Your subconscious mind accepts as true what you keep saying. It attracts corresponding events and situations into your life. So why not choose only positive statements, in order to get positive reults?

Your words and thoughts program the mind in the same way that commands and scripts program a computer.

The repeated words help you to focus your mind on your aim. They also create corresponding mental images in the conscious mind, which in turn, affects the subconscious mind accordingly. In this way, you program your subconscious in accordance with your will. This process is similar to the way creative visualization works.

The conscious mind, the mind you think with, starts this process, and then the subconscious mind takes charge.

By using this process consciously and intently, you influence your subconscious mind, and in turn, it transforms your habits, behavior, attitude, and reactions, and even reshape your external life.

Sometimes, you might attain immediate results, and at other times, it might take days, weeks, months or more. This depends on your focus, faith, strength of desire, the feelings you put into the words, and on how big or small is your goal.

It is important to understand that repeating positive affirmations for a few minutes, and then thinking negatively the rest of the day, neutralizes the effects of the positive words. You have to refuse to think negative thoughts, if you wish to attain positive results.


How to Repeat Affirmations

Choose affirmations that are not too long.

Repeat them every time your mind is not engaged in something important, such as while traveling in a bus or a train, waiting in line, walking, etc., but do not affirm while driving or crossing a street. You may also repeat them in special sessions of 5-10 minutes each, several times a day.

Relax any physical, emotional or mental tension while affirming.

The stronger the concentration, the more faith you have in what you are doing, the more feelings you put into the act, the stronger and faster will be the results.

Choose only positive words, describing what you really want.

If you desire to lose weight, do not tell yourself “I am not fat”, or “I am losing weight.” These are negative statements, bringing into the mind mental images of what you do not want.

Repeat instead, “I am getting slim“, or “I have reached my ideal weight“. Such words build positive images in your mind.

Always affirm in the present tense, not the future tense. Saying, “I will be rich”, means that you intend to be rich one day, in the indefinite future, but not now. It is more effective to say, and also feel, “I am rich now“, and the subconscious mind will work at overtime to make this happen now, in the present.

By stating what you want to be true in your life, you mentally and emotionally see and feel it as true, irrespective of your current circumstances, and thereby attract it into your life.

Positive Affirmations
– I am healthy and happy.

– Wealth is pouring into my life.

– I am sailing on the river of wealth.

– I am getting wealthier each day.

– My body is healthy and functioning in a very good way.

– I have a lot of energy.

– I study and comprehend fast.

– My mind is calm.

– I am calm and relaxed in every situation.

– My thoughts are under my control.

– I radiate love and happiness.

– I am surrounded by love.

– I have the perfect job for me.

– I am living in the house of my dreams.

– I have good and loving relations with my wife/husband.

– I have a wonderful and satisfying job.

– I have the means to travel abroad, whenever I want to.

– I am successful in whatever I do.

– Everything is getting better every day.



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Improve Your Self-Esteem

You can’t be happy and healthy if you don’t feel good about yourself. To be productive and feel life is worth living, we must first be at  peace with ourselves and the world. Many people are too hard on themselves, battered and bruised from other damaged people around them. It is crucial to find a way to be joyful and focus on your strengths.

6 Tips to Improve Your Self-Esteem

By John M. Grohol, Psy.D.
People are often confused about what it means to have self-esteem. Some think it has to do with the way you look or how popular you are with your friends or others. Others believe that having a great body will help you gain self-esteem, while others think you actually need to have accomplished something in order to have good self-esteem.

Boiled down to its simplicity, self-esteem simply means appreciating yourself for who you are — faults, foibles and all. It seems like other cultures don’t grapple with self-esteem as much as Americans do, perhaps because of the emphasis we seem to put on materialistic indicators of self-worth (like what kind of car you drive, what school your kids attend, what your grades are, how big a house you have, or what your title is at work).

The difference between someone with a healthy or good self-esteem and someone who doesn’t isn’t ability, per se. It’s simply acknowledgement of your strengths and weaknesses, and moving through the world safe in that knowledge.

Which brings me to the question I’m often asked — how can I increase my self-esteem? Here’s how.

People with a good and healthy self-esteem are able to feel good about themselves for who they are, appreciate their own worth, and take pride in their abilities and accomplishments. They also acknowledge that while they’re not perfect and have faults, those faults don’t play an overwhelming or irrationally large role in their lives or their own self-image (how you see yourself).

1. Take a Self-Esteem Inventory.

You can’t fix what you don’t know. This is one of the core components of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Before you get to work on putting CBT to work, you have to spend a fair amount of time identifying irrational thoughts and what-not.

The same is true for your self-esteem. To simply generalize and say, “I suck. I’m a bad person. I can’t do anything.” is to tell yourself a simple but often convincing lie. I’m here to tell you that it’s not true. We all suck from time to time. The solution isn’t to wallow in suck-age as the core of your identity, but to acknowledge it and move on.

Get a piece of paper. Draw a line down the middle of it. On the right-hand side, write: “Strengths” and on the left-hand side, write: “Weaknesses.” List 10 of each. Yes, 10. That may seem like a lot of the Strengths side if you suffer from poor self-esteem, but force yourself to find all 10.

If you’re having difficulty coming up with a whole 10, think about what others have said to you over the years. “Thanks for listening to me the other night when all I did was talk your ear off!” “You did a great job at work with that project, thanks for pitching in.” “I’ve never seen someone who enjoyed housework as much as you do.” “You seem to have a real knack for telling a story.” Even if you think the Strength is stupid or too small to list, list it anyway. You may be surprised at how easy it is to come up with all 10 when you approach it from this perspective.

This is your Self-Esteem Inventory. It lets you know all the things you already tell yourself about how much you suck, as well as showing you that there are just as many things you don’t suck at. Some of the weaknesses you may also be able to change, if only you worked at them, one at a time, over the course of a month or even a year. Remember, nobody changes things overnight, so don’t set an unrealistic expectation that you can change anything in just a week’s time.

2. Set Realistic Expectations.

Nothing can kill our self-esteem more than setting unrealistic expectations. I remember when I was in my 20s, I had thought, “I need to be a millionaire by the time I’m 30 or I’m going to be a failure.” (Don’t even get me started about how many things are wrong with that statement.) Needless to say, 30 came and I was nowhere close to being a millionaire. I was more in debt than ever, and owning a home was still a distant dream. My expectation was unrealistic, and my self-esteem took a blow when I turned 30 and saw how far away such a goal was.

Sometimes our expectations are so much smaller, but still unrealistic. For instance, “I wish my mom (or dad) would stop criticizing me.” Guess what? They never will! But that’s no reason to let their criticism affect your own view of yourself, or your own self-worth. Check your expectations if they keep disappointing you. Your self-esteem will thank you.

This may also help you to stop the cycle of negative thinking about yourself that reinforce our negative self-esteem. When we make set realistic expectations in our life, we can stop berating ourselves for not meeting some idealistic goal.

3. Set Aside Perfection and Grab a Hold of Accomplishments… and Mistakes.

Perfection is simply unattainable for any of us. Let it go. You’re never going to be perfect. You’re never going to have the perfect body, the perfect life, the perfect relationship, the perfect children, or the perfect home. We revel in the idea of perfection, because we see so much of it in the media. But that is simply an artificial creation of society. It doesn’t exist.

Instead, grab a hold of your accomplishments as you achieve them. Acknowledge them to yourself for their actual value (don’t de-value them by saying, “Oh, that? That’s just so easy for me, no big deal.”). It may even help to keep a little journal or list of things you accomplish. Some people might even do this on a day-by-day basis, while others might feel more comfortable just noting them once a week or even once a month. The key is to get to your smaller goals and move on from each one, like a connect-the-dots game of life.

It’s just as important to take something away from the mistakes you make in life. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it simply means you made a mistake (like everyone does). Mistakes are an opportunity for learning and for growth, if only we push ourselves out of the self-pity or negative self-talk we wallow in after one, and try and see it from someone else’s eyes.

4. Explore Yourself.

“Know thyself” is an old saying passed down through the ages, to encourage us to engage in self-exploration. Usually the most well-adjusted and happiest people I meet are people who have gone through this exercise. It isn’t just about knowing your strengths and weaknesses, but also opening yourself up to new opportunities, new thoughts, trying out something new, new viewpoints, and new friendships.

Sometimes when we’re down on ourselves and our self-esteem has taken a big hit, we feel like we have nothing to offer the world or others. It may be that we simply haven’t found everything that we do have to offer — things we haven’t even considered or thought of yet. Learning what these are is simply a matter of trial and error. It’s how people become the people they’ve always wanted to become, by taking risks and trying things they wouldn’t ordinarily do.

5. Be Willing to Adjust Your Own Self-Image.

Self-esteem is useless if it’s based upon an older version of you that no longer exists. I used to be good at many things I’m no longer good at. I excelled in math while in high school, but couldn’t do a calculus problem today to save my life. I used to think I was pretty smart, until I learned just how little I knew. I could play trombone pretty well at one point, but no longer.

But all of that’s okay. I’ve adjusted my own beliefs about my self and my strengths as I go along. I’ve become a better writer, and learned more about business than I ever knew before. I don’t sit around and say, “Geez, I really wish I could play trombone like I used to!” (And if I cared enough to really think that, I would go and take some lessons to get good at it again.) Instead, I evaluate myself based upon what’s going on in my life right now, not some distant past version of me.

Keep adjusting your self-image and self-esteem to match your current abilities and skills, not those of your past.

6. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others.

Nothing can hurt our self-esteem more than unfair comparisons. Joe has 3,000 Facebook friends while I only have 300. Mary can outrun me on the field when we play ball. Elizabeth has a bigger house and a nice car than I do. You can see how this might impact our feelings about ourselves, the more we do this sort of thing.

I know it’s tough, but you need to stop comparing yourself to others. The only person you should be competing against is yourself. These comparisons are unfair because you don’t know as much as you think you do about these other people’s lives, or what it’s really like to be them. You think it’s better, but it may be 100 times worse than you can imagine. (For instance, Joe paid for that many friends; Mary’s parents have had her in sports training since she was 3; and Elizabeth is in a loveless marriage that only appears to be ideal.)

* * * * * *


I know I made this all sound easy. It’s not. Changing your self-esteem takes time, trial-and-error, and patience on your part. Make an effort to be more fair and more realistic with your own self, however, and I think you may be pleasantly surprised by the results. Good luck!

source: psychcentral.com 


Tips for Building Self-Esteem

By Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D.

In my work, I sometimes feel that there is an epidemic of low self-esteem. Even people who seem to be very sure of themselves will admit to having low self-esteem, a feeling that often makes them unhappy and keeps them from doing some of the things they want to do and being the kind of person they want to be. In fact, they may say that low self-esteem causes, or worsens, their bouts with depression and anxiety.

I know this has been a big factor in my life. I feel that I am always working on raising my self-esteem and that I will always need to do that.

There is no single way to build self-esteem. There are many different things you can do to work on this issue, and I, myself, am always on the lookout for new ways to raise self-esteem. This article will describe some of what I have learned to date.
Get Involved

Take very good care of yourself. You may take very good care of others and put your own personal care last. Or your life may be so busy that you don’t take the time to do the things you need to do to stay healthy. You may feel so badly about yourself that you don’t bother to take good care of yourself.

Some of the things you can do to take good care of yourself include:

Eating three meals a day that are focused on healthy foods—fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as whole grain foods and rich sources of protein like chicken and fish.

  •     Avoiding foods that contain large amounts of sugar, caffeine and food additives. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, you may want to avoid it.
  •     Getting outside and exercising every day.
  •     Spending some time each day doing something you really enjoy.
  •     Spending time each day with people who make you feel good about yourself.
  •     Having regular check-ups with your health care providers.

Change Negative Thoughts about Yourself to Positive Ones

Work on changing negative thoughts about yourself to positive ones. You may give yourself lots of negative self talk. Many people do. This negative self talk worsens your low self esteem. You can decide now not to do this to yourself. That’s great if you can do it. However, negative self talk is often a habit that is hard to break. You may need to work on it more directly by changing these negative statements about yourself to positive ones. Begin this process by making a list of the negative statements you often say to yourself. Some of the most common ones are:

  •     Nobody likes me.
  •     I am ugly.
  •     I never do anything right.
  •     I am a failure.
  •     I am dumb.
  •     Everyone is better than I am.
  •     I’m not worth anything.
  •     I’ve never accomplished anything worthwhile.

Then develop a positive statement that refutes the negative one. For instance, instead of saying to yourself, “Nobody likes me” you could say, “Many people like me”. You could even make a list of the people who like you. Instead of saying, “I am ugly”, you could say “I look fine”. Instead of saying, “I never do anything right” you could say “I have done many things right.” You could even make a list of things you have done right. It helps to do this work in a special notebook or journal.

When you have developed positive statements that refute your negative statements, read them over and over to yourself. Read them before you go to bed at night and when you first get up in the morning. Read them aloud to your partner, a close friend or your counselor. Make signs that say a positive statement about you and post them where you will see them–like on the mirror in your bathroom. Then read them aloud every time you see them. You can think of some other ways to reinforce these positive statements about yourself.

Get Something Done

Low self-esteem is often accompanied by lack of motivation. It may feel very hard to do anything. It will help you to feel better about yourself if you do something, even if it is a very small thing. You may want to keep a list of possibilities on hand for those times when you can’t think of anything to do. Things like: cleaning out one drawer, washing the outside of your refrigerator, putting a few pictures in a photo album, reading an article you have been wanting to read, taking a picture of a beautiful flower or a person you love, making the bed, doing a load of laundry, cooking yourself something healthy, sending someone a card, hanging a picture or taking a short walk.

Make a List of Your Accomplishments

You may not give yourself credit for all that you have achieved in your life. Making a list of your accomplishments will help you become more aware of these accomplishments. It will also help change the focus of your self-thoughts to positive ones. You can do this exercise again and again, whenever you notice your self-esteem is low.

Get a big sheet of paper and a comfortable pen. Set the timer for 20 minutes (or as long as you’d like). Spend the time writing your accomplishments. You could never have a paper long enough or enough time to write them all. Nothing is too big or too small to go on this list. This list can include things like:

  •     Learning to talk, walk, read, skip, etc.;
  •     Planting some seeds or caring for houseplants;
  •     Raising a child;
  •     Making and keeping a good friend;
  •     Dealing with a major illness or disability;
  •     Buying your groceries;
  •     Driving your car or catching the subway;
  •     Smiling at a person who looks sad;
  •     Taking a difficult course;
  •     Getting a job;
  •     Doing the dishes; or
  •     Making the bed.

Have you ever noticed the good feeling that washes over you when you do something nice for someone else? If so, take advantage of that good feeling by doing things that are “nice” or helpful to others as often as you can to build your self-esteem.

Watch for opportunities that come up every day. Buy your partner some flowers or even one rose. Send a friend a greeting card. If someone you know is having a hard time, send them a note or give them a call. Go out of your way to congratulate people you know on their achievements. Visit a patient at a nursing home or hospital or someone who is “shut-in.” Play with a child—read him a book, take her for a walk, push him on the swing. Do a chore for someone that might be hard for her or him like raking the leaves or mowing the grass. You may even want to volunteer for an organization that is helping others, like a heart association or AIDS project. I’m sure you can think of many other ideas.

Other Quick Things You Can Do to Raise Your Self-Esteem

Following is a list of other things you can do to raise your self-esteem. Some of them will be right at one time, while others will work at another time. There may be some you choose not to do—ever. You may want to post this list on your refrigerator or in some other convenient place as a reminder.

  •     Surround yourself with people who are positive, affirming and loving.
  •     Wear something that makes you feel good.
  •     Look through old pictures, scrapbooks and photo albums.
  •     Make a collage of your life.
  •     Spend 10 minutes writing down everything good you can think of about yourself.
  •     Do something that makes you laugh.
  •     Pretend you are your own best friend.
  •     Repeat positive statements over and over again.

You can add more ideas to this list as you discover them for yourself.

In Conclusion

Work on raising your self-esteem may go on for the rest of your life. However, this is not a burden. The kinds of things you do to raise your self-esteem will not only help you to feel better about yourself, but will improve the quality of your life while energizing and enriching it.

Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D. is an author, educator and mental health recovery advocate, as well as the developer of WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan). To learn more about her books, such as the popular The Depression Workbook and Wellness Recovery Action Plan, her other writings, and WRAP, please visit her website, Mental Health Recovery and WRAP. 


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10 Reasons Why We Need at Least 8 Hugs a Day

BY MARCUS JULIAN FELICETTI   AUGUST 10, 2012 

Hugging therapy is definitely a powerful way of healing. Research shows that hugging (and also laughter) is extremely effective at healing sickness, disease, loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress.

Research shows a proper deep hug, where the hearts are pressing together, can benefit you in these ways:

1. The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety. This helps with open and honest communication.

2. Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.

3. Holding a hug for an extended time lifts one’s serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness.

4. Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.

5. Hugging boosts self-esteem. From the time we’re born our family’s touch shows us that we’re loved and special. The associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from our early years are still imbedded in our nervous system as adults. The cuddles we received from our Mom and Dad while growing up remain imprinted at a cellular level, and hugs remind us at a somatic level of that. Hugs, therefore, connect us to our ability to self love.


6. Hugging relaxes muscles. Hugs release tension in the body. Hugs can take away pain; they soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.

7. Hugs balance out the nervous system. The galvanic skin response of someone receiving and giving a hug shows a change in skin conductance. The effect in moisture and electricity in the skin suggests a more balanced state in the nervous system – parasympathetic.

8. Hugs teach us how to give and receive. There is equal value in receiving and being receptive to warmth, as to giving and sharing. Hugs educate us how love flows both ways.

9. Hugs are so much like meditation and laughter. They teach us to let go and be present in the moment. They encourage us to flow with the energy of life. Hugs get you out of your circular thinking patterns and connect you with your heart and your feelings and your breath.

10. The energy exchange between the people hugging is an investment in the relationship. It encourages empathy and understanding. And, it’s synergistic, which means the whole is more than the sum of its parts: 1+1 = 3 or more! This synergy is more likely to result in win-win outcomes.

There is a saying by Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”