EXERCISES TO HELP YOU BUILD
Building your self-esteem is like
having an exercise program to keep your body fit. You have to focus
on certain activities and repeat them in order to change your bad
habits, improve your outlook, and maintain the benefits. The
following exercises will help.
When you look in the mirror, whether you're shaving, brushing your hair, or
checking your reflection in your car's rearview mirror, don't frown and point
our your various flaws. Change the program in your brain and smile instead.
Be Your Own Cheering Section
Like sports players need a coach and cheering squad, you need ongoing pep
talks to spark up your energy to do your best. When you feel your security
waning and your shyness escalating, picture an angel on your shoulder cheering
you on: " You can do it!"
Self-Pump (Instead of Self-Dump)
Whenever you feel down or afraid to approach someone for a date, remind
yourself of all your wonderful qualities. If you tend to focus on the negative
("I'm too short and chunky," "My nose is too big," I stutter
when I'm nervous"), refocus your energy on the positive.
What happens when you constantly criticize yourself? People will eventually
believe you. After all, who knows you better than you? Often we say negative
things about ourselves as a kind of protection, to minimize other people' expectations,
or to deflect their jealousy. Avoid this trap. Instead, tell others all the
terrific things about yourself, what you do, what to know, and what you can do
Affirmations are a form of positive self-talk. The rule on affirmations is to
start your self-affirming statement with "I am" (not "Other
people say I am . . . "). Don't start with a negative, such as "I am
not fat, sloppy, or boring." When the word "not" is attached to a
statement, the mind conjures up the negative images (of fat, sloppy, and boring)
anyway. It's like being told, " Don't think about a pink elephant."
What's the first thing that comes to mind? A pink elephant, of course. Resist
putting thoughts in your head that you don't want your mind to latch on to.
Instead, put only those thoughts in your head you want your mind to remember.
All of us have a running monologue going on in our heads, as we comment on
situations, feelings, and moments in our day. Sometimes the monologue is filled
with negative messages ("How could you be so stupid? He really hates you
now. You'll never find someone.") Negative thoughts deplete self-esteem and
create self-sabotaging actions. We turn people away by the "vibes" we
You can get rid of negative thoughts in two ways. First, picture a street
sign in your brain that reads "No dumping allowed." next, go into the
computer program in your brain, print out the negative program (the one that
says. "You're a jerk, you blew that, no one loves you"), then use the
cosmic erasure. Say aloud, "Cancel, clear," press the delete button
and type in a new program, one that says "I'm a neat person," " I
am a lot of fun to be around," " I have so many interesting things to
do and say in my life," "Lots of people want t be around me because I
am stimulating, warm, and fun."
A lot of self-consciousness, nervousness, and fear comes from a feeling of
being "outside" yourself, as you worry about being judged, rejected,
or acting foolish. Do the following technique to regain your "center."
Take a deep breath and follow your breath into your body, down into your solar
plexus (a network of nerves below your rib cage behind your stomach). Press
there with your hand to help guide the breath. Focus on your feet, and feel
their connection to the floor. Then press on your "third eye" (the
spot on your forehead right between your eyes), concentrating your mind and
breath toward that point to focus on your spiritual energy, giving you
Do this self-expression exercise. Look into a mirror and think of encounter
with someone. Speak your mind -- do this without any fear of judgment,
criticism, or disapproval. Watch your face and your expressions , and picture
being another person looking into your face. Adjust your face to please you, and
practice different looks that make you appear commanding or sexy.
Be Your Best
Dress and act your best at all times. Instead of saving your best clothes for
special occasions, take them out and wear them! When you look good, you'll feel
Appreciate what you are, what you have, and what you do. In Japanese Naikan
therapy, you say "Thank you" to all the objects and people in your
life. Say "Thanks you" to your toothbrush every morning for keeping
your teeth clean, "Thank you" to the movie seat for supporting you
while you are being entertained, and "Thank you" to your mother for
all the times she calls to ask how you are. Showing such appreciation makes you
realize how many people and things support you in your life.
Emily says, "When I was younger, I constantly went out with guys who
cheated on me and treated me badly. now I try to date men who care about me, but
I feel bad and embarrassed about my past, and don't want to share the details
Progress and change take time. You may find yourself taking two steps forward
and one step back. Appreciate your forward motion. Talk to yourself and accept
that you did what you did for a reason. Keep up your affirmations: "I am
worthy of love." Acknowledge your progress.
Imagine Your Ideal
Imagine yourself just the way you would like to be. The brain doesn't know
the difference between a real image and one you fashion, so it will operate on
whatever you picture. Visualize relating to someone in a charming, energetic
way. Since your brain doesn't know if the image is true or false, your muscles
will behave accordingly -- your face will look as if you feel charming and
Athletes have long understood this process of imagery, and will imagine a
goal or an action before performing it. You can do the same thing with your love
life. Visualize how you want to look, how you want o come across, and how you
want your love life to be. Now try to experience how you would feel if all of
these things were true.
I also recommend the "repeat performance" technique. Remember a
time when you were at your best, your most successful, your most seductive.
Picture how you looked, sounded, and acted. Anchor this picture in your muscles
and visceral body system by doing something physical (such as pressing two
fingers together or snapping your fingers). Eventually, the physical act alone
will trigger your nervous system to "remember" the outcome, and fire
the appropriate mental and physical state associated with it, making it more
likely that you will repeat this similarly successful behavior and positive
mental state in the present.