Exercise to Increase Self Esteem
by Nancy Wagaman, M.A.
To increase self-esteem, try changing the way you think about yourself. You can reframe your negative thoughts about yourself into positive ones that support you instead of tearing you down. The following exercise will help you reframe your negative mental "snapshots" of yourself - replacing the dreary, old frame that surrounds each thought with a bright, shiny new one.
Write a list of all the positive things about yourself - all the things you like, things people have complimented you on, your strengths, talents, and abilities, positive aspects of your character, appearance, etc. Write down everything you can think of.
Next, write a list of things you'd like to improve about yourself, or that are still "in process" - things you don't like about yourself, etc.
Now go through the list from #2 and - on a new sheet of paper - write a new positive version for each that "reframes" it in a self-supporting, self-encouraging way.
(For example, if you wrote "I can't jump higher than 2 feet," you might write the new version of "I've increased my jumping ability by 6 inches during the last year" or "I can jump with more accuracy than I could 2 months ago." Another example might be if you wrote "I don't like my face," you might rewrite it as "my nose gives me a wonderful, unique character all my own" or "my eyes convey my beauty and love very clearly." Make sure that you are still being honest in the new version you write - only write things that you honestly feel. In some cases, you may need to be creative to find the "silver lining.")
When you are finished, tear up or burn your old list from #2 (to symbolically release the negatives), and keep your original list of positives (from #1) and your new "reframed" list (from #3) to review periodically to help keep your self-esteem on track.
Keep in mind that the idea of this exercise is not to reject your self-criticisms, but to first acknowledge them, and then use them as a springboard into a more positive, productive way of thinking about yourself.
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