Thursday, July 5, 2012

3 ways to boost your self-image

Along with the main issue most clients bring to the table, there's one that so often rides alongside or even underneath the others: low self-image.

We women have to work so hard to build and maintain a healthy self-image. So few of us seem to come with one ready-made! Some of this is due to messages we received from someone (or several someones) as we grew up, and some is due to the media messages that surround us constantly (be slim, be beautiful, be vivacious, be smart, do it all).

It took me a few years and lots of hard work to boost my self-esteem. However, there are 3 things that provide a good starting place:

1. Root out the negative messages and voices in your head. Often it helps if you can identify whose voice you are hearing. Then when you hear it, you can simply say to yourself, "Oh, that's just my third-grade teacher, Mr. Olson, again. That's only his view." I found it helpful to envision a stop sign in my head when I heard a negative voice or thought. It was just enough to stop me in my tracks and help me recognize the message for what it was.

2. Believe in yourself. That's easier said than done, I know. But it's a good habit to cultivate. Perhaps you might make a list of things you do well—or things you like about yourself. Keep the list where you can see it often. Add to it. Believe those things. Many years ago my spiritual director urged me to start and keep a "Value Journal," in which I was to write compliments and praise I received from others. Eventually I learned to say those things about myself.

3. Treat yourself as well as you treat others. The truth is that we would never treat friends in the way we sometimes treat ourselves. Why would we do that? Notice what you say about yourself and how you care for yourself. Ask whether you'd do that to a friend. Engage in self-care. It can become a habit!

Discover the joy and energy of being your own best friend.

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