Practice: Mindful Actions to Improve YOUR Self-Esteem
Improving Your Awareness with Practice
- Remain mindfully aware of the content and meta-cognition regarding the “speaking” of your inner, self-conscious critic. Note what trends appear in the conversation.
- Remain mindfully aware of the reactions your mind and body experience regarding the activity of your inner self-critic in dealing with day-to-day life stressors.
- Carefully note the fluctuations in your self-esteem inner experience in reaction to the destructive rampages of your inner self-critic.
- Mindfully note the emotional impact your inner self-critic has when you experience anxiety, depression, traumatic memories, substance use/ eating issues (self-medicating), and harsh interpersonal relationships.
- Make a list of the cognitive and affective content that are the consequences of your negative emotional experience with your inner self-critic. These will be your targets over the next few weeks and months.
- As strange as it sounds, begin to befriend the targets you noted. Slowly, graciously, and compassionately make space inside your heart for these not-so-pleasant inner experiences. They are part of you.
Using Wise Mind Mindfulness to Transform Your Inner Self-Critic and Improve Self-Esteem
- When the thoughts, images and emotions come up regarding what is NOT ok with you, use your imagination to paint over them with your favorite color.
- When you encounter these negative introjects, use your imagination to make them smaller in size so your mind’s eyes see less mass.
- When you encounter these painful inner experiences, use a split screen technique to place the negative in one section and an opposite positives YOU DO POSSESS in another section of what you see with your mind’s eyes.
- Important – DO meditation or yoga or exercise for at least 10 minutes EVERYDAY. Do your best to slowly expand your time in these very helpful and emotionally self-regulating activities.
- Radically accept what you cannot change, but work very hard on changing what you can change.
- Forgive yourself for all past actions that have resulted in you experiencing shame or guilt.
- Foster positive relationships where there is mutual social and emotional support, and discard those that are negative and unhelpful for you.
- If you are in psychotherapy make self-esteem improvement a part of that process, and encourage your helper to measure the outcomes over time.
- Assertively “talk back” to your inner self-critic, and find the middle way, middle ground between extremes.
- Learn about and practice self-compassion when you suffer from the voices of your inner self-critic.
- Smile more (brain feedback realities) and work hard to find things to enjoy and/or laugh about.
- Use images and metaphors for both the concrete “things” in your inner self-critic and their improvements.
- Practice more positive psychology: random acts of kindness, gratitude lists, generosity, being kind to others, paying more attention to positives, etc.
- Consider writing in a self-esteem and/or happiness journal daily. Write at least one positive, helpful sentence each day, then go back and re-read it after each week of journaling.
- Practice letting go of the past, which you cannot change.
- Practice planning for the future, but know you cannot control it.
- Practice active participation in the present moment, which is the only moment of experience you have direct emotional control over. Be present for both positive and negative experiences in the present moment.
- STOP upward comparison with others, who you think have what you want.
- Practice downward comparison with others, who you know have lees than you have.
- Practice any helpful spiritual or religious activities that you find helpful.
- Learn and practice self-soothing and emotion regulation skills from Dialectical Behavior Therapy.
- Learn about and practice using your core values in your own life experiences (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy).
- STOP struggling to get what you crave, thinking that it will make you happy. Research and thousands of years of human experience have shown this desiring/attachment does not bring lasting, internal happiness.
- Read good books about how to improve your own self-image and be happier in your life.
- Practice effective stress reduction skills whenever you feel mental/bodily stress reactions as the cue to practice Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction).
- VOW to pick 10 things to practice, and practice them one by one for ten full weeks – one practice per week.
For more information refer to Quintiliani, A. R. (2014). Mindful Happiness... Shelburne, VT: Voices of Vermont Publishing, pp. 20-41;Bradshaw, C. M. (2016). How to Like Yourself…Oakland, CA: New Harbinger; Marotta, J. (2013). 50 Mindful Steps to Self-Esteem…Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness
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