The first man to ever tell me I was beautiful was my Dad. Real fathers are remarkable in building their daughter's self esteem and guiding them to that place of a secure SELF. Along the way, certain forces may come and damage that yolk. That's when the real work begins.
My Babe asked me the other day why I torture myself. He manages models, and is always looking for models (or wanna-bees), and the whole idea of it hits me hard. I know he loves me, and thinks the world of me, but the thought of him blatantly finding other women attractive is more than I can handle most times. Sound familiar? Why do we torture ourselves? Why do we purposely go out and find those situations that create negativity for us? Why can't we accept what's being said and shown to us?
Self-esteem is your overall opinion of yourself — how you honestly feel about yourself with all of your successes, abilities, flaws and limits. When you have healthy self-esteem, you feel good about yourself and see yourself as deserving others' respect. When you have low self-esteem, on the other hand, you put little value on your opinions and ideas, and you constantly worry that you aren't "good enough." Low self-esteem can negatively affect virtually every part of your life, including your relationships, your job and your health. But you can raise your self-esteem to a healthy level, even if you're an adult who's been harboring a negative self-image since childhood.
Here are five steps toward healthy self-esteem are based on cognitive behavioral therapy principles. As you go through these five steps, jot down your thoughts, experiences and observations in a journal to help you use these steps more effectively. They helped me!
Step 1: Identify troubling conditions or situations
Think about the conditions or situations that you find troubling and that seem to deflate your self-esteem, such as dreading a business presentation, frequently becoming angry or always expecting the worst. You may be struggling with a change in life circumstances, such as the death of a loved one, job loss or children leaving home, or a relationship with another person, such as a spouse, family member or co-worker.
Step 2: Become aware of beliefs and thoughts
Once you've identified troubling conditions or situations, pay attention to your thoughts related to them. This includes your self-talk — what you tell yourself — and your interpretation of what the situation means. Your thoughts and beliefs may be positive, negative or neutral. They may be rational — based on reason or facts — or irrational — based on false ideas.
Step 3: Pinpoint negative or inaccurate thinking
Notice when your thoughts turn toward the negative. Your beliefs and thoughts about a situation affect your reaction to it. Negative thoughts and beliefs about something or someone can trigger physical, emotional and behavioral responses, such as:
■Physical responses. These may include muscle tension, a sore back, racing heart, stomach problems, sweating or changes in sleeping patterns.
■Emotional responses. These may include difficulty concentrating, or feeling depressed, angry, sad, nervous, guilty or worried.
■Behavioral responses. These may include eating when not hungry, avoiding tasks, working more than usual, spending increased time alone, obsessing about a situation or blaming others for your problems.
Step 4: Challenge negative or inaccurate thinking
Your initial thoughts may not be the only possible way to view a situation. So test the accuracy of your thoughts. Ask yourself whether your view is consistent with facts and logic or whether there might be other explanations for the situation. You may not easily recognize inaccuracies in your thinking, though. Most people have automatic, long-standing ways of thinking about their lives and themselves. These long-held thoughts and beliefs feel normal and factual to you, but many are actually just opinions or perceptions.
Step 5: Change your thoughts and beliefs
Once you've identified negative or inaccurate thinking you can replace it with accurate thoughts and beliefs. This can enable you to find constructive ways to cope, and give your self-esteem a boost. It takes time and effort to learn how to recognize and replace distressing thoughts with accurate ones. Thoughts often occur spontaneously or automatically. They can be hard to control or turn off. Thoughts also can be very powerful and aren't always based on logic.