Everyone suffers from low self esteem at times. Life occasionally turns sour, we make mistakes, and it’s all part of the grand roller-coaster ride of this thing called life.
As Cognitive Behavioural Therapist Alice Boyes Ph.D states, “People tend to feel good when they’re having success and then feel awful when they’re not getting the response they desire from the world.”
Right now your self esteem is in transition. It’s simply human nature that at times our self esteem will be high, and at other times low. What goes up… eh, I’ll save you the cliché. Needless to say, at times we all suffer from low self esteem.
If you’re in need of a bit of a touch-up at the moment, in need of an injection of good feeling, then these ten exercises for self esteem are precisely what the councillor ordered.
10 Exercises For Self Esteem That Will Boost Your Confidence Right Now
- Compliment Yourself
You know precisely what you would do if a friend were feeling bad about themselves, right? You would pay them a compliment. Say something nice and from the heart to make them feel better. At times, try turning those compliments inward. Say something nice about yourself.
Motivational speaker Louise Hay teaches a concept called “Mirror Work.” It’s a simple system. You simply walk up to a mirror and compliment yourself. For instance, say to yourself, “Hey, you’re looking good today” or “I’m really happy with all the hard work I’ve done recently.” As Louise Hay says, “Look into your eyes in the mirror, and love yourself within.”
- Respect yourself as an individual and don’t compare yourself to others
Spiritual leader Daisaku Ikeda said, “Don’t compare yourself to anyone. Be true to who you are.”
Every petal in a garden is unique in its construction and form. You too are one beautifully unique part of this grand canvas of a universe. Not to get all Chesney Hawkes, but you really are the one and only.
In reality it is easy to tell yourself not to compare yourself to others, but much harder to pull it off. The problem is that we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others in order to get an idea of our place in the world. “Without others, we have no way of knowing how we ‘measure up,” says clinical psychologist Christina G. Hibbert, P.hD. The key is to recognise that those thoughts that take place in your mind are not real. “Listen as your mind comments, judges [and] compares,” says Hibbert. “When we realize we are not our thoughts — that we are so much more than our constantly thinking mind— we begin to see others as the same.
Here’s a great mind hack. When you notice that you’re about to compare yourself to someone else, stop and say to yourself, “I’m happy I am my own unique individual, and I’m happy that everyone else is a unique individual too.”
Celebrate the beautiful individuality of existence. Your composition is as priceless as an original Picasso—and probably a lot less messed up.
- Smile, smile, smile
One of the most natural exercises for your self esteem is simply to smile. Studies have proven that smiling doesn’t just make you look happy, it actually activates the parts of the brain corresponding to positivity and happiness.
Scientists at the University of Cardiff Wales researched the effects of cosmetic botox injections on emotions. Their tests showed that people who have had botox injections that prevent them from being able to frown are actually happier than the average person. Conversely, fMRI studies conducted by scientists at the Technical University of Munich in Germany showed that people whose botox injections prevent them from smiling have much lower activity in the brain circuits involved in emotional processing and responses—in the amygdala, hypothalamus and parts of the brain stem.
Smiling is the easiest and quickest way to boost your self esteem. You’d be crazy not to use that natural blessing.
- Be good to yourself
Give yourself a break. Sure, you want to force yourself to move mountains and transcend worlds, but really you are just one person out of six billion. A little perspective goes a long long way. The more you burden yourself with ideas of what you must be and what you must achieve the more you wear down your mind until it’s too battered and beaten to even think straight. Give yourself a break. You wouldn’t go around damning other people, so don’t do it to yourself.
One of the best ways to be kind to yourself is to practice a technique called Loving Kindness. It’s a meditation technique that boosts both self compassion and external compassion. Positive psychologist Barbara Frederickson researched the effects of loving kindness in a benchmark study in 2008. She and her team of researchers had participants practice loving kindness meditation for seven weeks. The results showed a significant rise in positive emotions like mindfulness, social wellbeing, and compassion.
- Focus on your achievements, not your shortcomings
If you need to move a mountain you first have to chop it into smaller pieces. So you want to be a New York Times Bestselling author, maybe first you need to get a short story published. And when you do, be proud of that achievement. It’s one step on the road. And, not to flog a dead horse, but life really is about the journey and not the destination.
Look back. Think of all the things you’ve accomplished. Probably quite a lot, right? Smile. Tell yourself, “I’m so proud of all the great things I’ve done.”
- Support comes in lots of difference shapes and sizes
Everyone needs support. There are many professional support groups around the world, and they can be very helpful. But some of the best support comes closer to home. Maybe you’ve got a loving family, or a good group of friends, or maybe you just have the cutest and cuddliest cat in the world. Or maybe you have a sense of support from a higher power. There are many different forms of support. Who’s there for you in your life? Rely on those people. They could rely on you, I’m sure. And know that by allowing them to help you, you’l be helping them too. Studies show that one of the times that people are at their happiest is when they are able to help others.
Back in 2010, the Do Good Live Well Survey researched the effects of giving. They took 4500 American adults and asked them to volunteer 100 hours a year to a cause. The results were clear. 68 percent reported that the act of giving made them feel physically healthier; 89 percent stated that it “improved my sense of happiness,” and 73 percent that it “lowered my stress levels.”
So, when you need help, let others help you, because the experience will make both them and you happy. Everyone’s a winner.
- Appreciate beauty and excellence
Positive psychologists have proven that the ability to perceive and to appreciate beauty and excellence is one of the core components of happiness. In the positive psychology world this concept is called “Appreciation of Beauty And Excellence.”
Dr Claire Weeler M.D Ph.D says, “Appreciation of beauty and excellence is a highly individual thing. What inspires me may leave you cold, and vice versa. It’s not the object that matters. What matters is this – being able to have feelings of awe, admiration, or wonder in response to the world around you. Those feelings will make you happier and more connected.”
- Eat healthy, organic foods.
Happiness is produced by the brain, and the brain is dependent on chemical balance. By eating healthy you allow your brain to operate properly, naturally balancing your moods and emotions. It can be difficult to appreciate the fact that something physical, like food, can directly influence something as intangible as happiness and other emotions. As “Recipe Doctor” Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, states, “Dietary changes can bring about changes in our brain structure (chemically and physiologically), which can lead to altered behavior and moods.”
Eating healthy, organic foods and cutting out on chemical-laden packaged products will help to ensure balanced brain chemistry.
- Live active, live strong
If you want to feel your best you have to put in the effort. Physical, mental, and spiritual activities help to activate regions of the brain that control emotions and mood. Do, do a little exercise today, maybe try yoga, tai chi, or dance, and keep your brain active too. Incidentally, if you do dance, you’ll be fascinated by our recent article about why dancing makes you happy.
- Follow your passion
The number one way to boost your self esteem is to make your life about your passion. When you live with a sense of purpose, with a passion, you have a reason to get out of bed, a reason to work hard, a sense of direction, and the knowledge that everything you do has meaning. If you’re not certain what your purpose and passion is you’ll find this article very elucidating.
Use these exercises for self esteem and you will very quickly boost your confidence. And guys, let’s always remember the truth: We’re not perfect. But we are unique, beautiful, amazing individuals that the world simply wouldn’t be the same without.