Low Self Esteem
Tips on Self-improvement
“Our lives are not determined by what happens to us but by how we react to what happens, not by what life brings to us, but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes. It is a catalyst, a spark that creates extraordinary results.” Anon
Another year ends and a new one begins - January 2009. Did you accomplish all you intended on doing last year? We seldom do. That’s why we make those resolutions for next year. January’s the month, we’re ready to start fresh, turn over a new leaf - take courses, sign up at the gym. We’ve reflected on who we are and who we should be, we’ve criticized ourselves, even ripped ourselves to pieces, but no matter – it’s January, the new year’s the time to make a fresh start..
And the topic for the month of January is on self-improvement.
Before you decide you need self-improvement you must evaluate yourself. All of us do this. We say ‘I’ve gained a few pounds, time to lose weight.’ Or ‘I better get more exercise. Self evaluation is fine, however, if you tell yourself ‘look at all this fat. I’ll never lose weight. I’m a fat ugly slob’ or ‘I don’t exercise because I’m lazy’ - this type of criticism works against you. It confirms your beliefs and diminishes your self-esteem. Criticism like this prevents you from improving.
We are our harshest critic and therefore we can be our worst enemy. We rip apart our appearance, or capabilities, education – wherever we see a flaw -, we focus on it and we can be merciless. Not even our worst enemies would say things about us that we say to ourselves.
And our inner critic doesn’t lighten up. If it’s not one thing that you hate, there’s another. There was this old Clairol commercial about changing hair color to improve the way you look. The beautiful brunette turns blonde and she loves her new look. Then she stares directly into the camera and says ‘Now, what do I do about my NOSE?’ - Funny, but all too true.
Self-criticism is a healthy motivator for self improvement, but being hyper-critical is unproductive. It can even lead to feelings of powerlessness and depression.
Yup, you probably guessed it. It stems from childhood. If you’ve suffered, physical, psychological, or sexual abuse you will hold negative beliefs about yourself. If your parents were strict or judgmental, it can also affect your opinion of yourself. But it can also come from your own evaluation of how you ‘should’ be. This is your own thinking – you’re comparing yourself with others.
Perfectionist are always judging and comparing – and when they do, they’re the ones who somehow never come out on top. This is very defeating because no one can be perfect. Some of us are better at some things than others, but so what? We’re people, not machines – and people aren’t perfect
Having goals and focusing on realizing them is always a good thing, but we should have stepping-stones for getting to them. If you make too many demands or they are too far from reach, it’s frustrating. This is when we blame ourselves and use harsh criticism. To make changes, you must set realistic goals, compliment yourself on reaching a mini-goal and continue to move forward to the next level. Change doesn’t happen because we demand it. It’s a process.
When we criticize ourselves, we actually believe that others feel the same way. Not true. We don’t really know what other people think. But you will continue to carry that skewed perception of yourself.
Harsh criticism of yourself makes you feel worthless. And when you’re worthless, why try? There is no point making changes, because you’re doomed from the start. . There’s a feeling of hopelessness – so you simply stop trying.
Low Self- Esteem
Harsh self-criticism creates a lot of negative energy. You may not want to do things with others, or feel you’re not worthy of being part of the group. What we say to ourselves matters.
Tips on self-improvement
1) Set standards that are within your reach
2) Beware of the negative things you say to yourself.
There are ways to turn your thoughts around (link)
3) Focus on what you do right – not wrong.
4) Encourage yourself for small improvement
5) Stop comparing yourself with anyone else.
6) Be grateful for what you have – not what you don’t have.
Q & A
My husband and I got married about 4 months ago. We are already having problems. All we do lately is argue. He argues with me about what ever I say and never really listens to me. He is very selfish which makes my life very hard because I also have an autistic child. Do you have any suggestions to make my life any easier and to make our marriage work?
It might be beneficial if you and your husband had a 'date night' once a week to go out for dinner, see a movie etc. See if you can make babysitting arrangements so you can spend some time alone.
This may be enough to take off some pressure, and give you a better quality of life.
Failing this, couple counseling might be the answer. If you're more comfortable talking to a member of the clergy, you can have pastoral counseling as an alternative to a marriage counselor.
Hope this is helpful.
More info for a healthy relationship
The best way to get to your goals is to prioritize them and set your goals. Next month we'll talk about this - getting the goal.
Next month in the Zine.
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