Self-esteem is a big contributor to well-being. Low self-esteem is linked to feelings of shame, self-doubt, and inadequacy. It can prevent people from finding fulfilling relationships or following their dreams.
People who have low self-esteem can get help in therapy. A therapist can help people recognize and reduce negative self-talk. People can also self-compassion and goal-setting, both of which are linked to improved self-esteem.
Boosting self-esteem can be a long process. Overcoming ingrained thought processes often requires hard work. “It takes time to learn new things,” says Elizabeth Cush, MA, LCPC. “Practice and patience are needed when working on improving self-esteem.”
People with low self-esteem may say things to themselves that they would never utter to another person. If prompted to examine their feelings, they may admit they are being unfair to themselves. Awareness of one’s thought patterns can be the first step to moving past them.
Mindfulness-based interventions can help people catch negative thoughts at the moment. Then a person can push back against the thought by saying a positive mantra or giving themselves a compliment. Journal therapy can be especially useful in practicing healthy self-talk. Writing positive statements can reinforce their power and ingrain them as habit.
Pronouns can be important when pushing back against negative self-talk. Research has shown the brain tends to hear “you” statements as external. This emotional distance helps people be more objective about themselves. When people speak to themselves in the second person, they often say nicer things. When a person uses “I” statements, their self-talk tends to be more judgmental.
When practicing positive self-talk, language can be also vital. In general, positive self-talk works best when it focuses on actions one wishes to do rather than actions one wants to avoid. A phrase such as, “Remember you are worthy of love and are working to improve your health,” will likely be more effective than, “I should stop worrying and work out already.”
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