Search for more Everyday Power
Self-esteem and self-compassion are not often talked about in mainstream media, and often it’s mainstream media that plays an integral part in negative feelings about ourselves, from body image to family and career success.
I hear small comments from clients regularly that are typically stated as jokes, but the more these things are thought and said, the easier they become ingrained in our beliefs. Thoughts like, “maybe I can pull off this shirt if I lose this arm flab”, or, “I ate way too much of that dessert, no wonder I’m so fat”, and, “I’ll never be able to do that many push-ups, I’m such a wuss“, may seem small and harmless but each one chips away at your self-esteem and confidence.
Here are 7 mini-challenges that will increase your self-esteem over the next month. Spend 2 or 3 days focusing on each challenge while learning more about yourself as you work through the challenges.
Challenge 1 – Stopping Negative Thoughts
This first challenge revolves around negative self-talk which may happen more than you realize. Pay attention to what you say to yourself over the next few days. Each time you think something negative about yourself, write it down or text yourself. At the end of the day use this worksheet to write these thoughts in the “Negative Thought” column.
Now, challenge these thoughts. Create and write down a positive argument for each. For example, the “I’ll never be able to do that many push-ups, I’m such a wuss” thought, could be challenged with, “I’m stronger than when I started.” The, “I ate way too much of that dessert, no wonder I’m so fat”, thought could be challenged with, “I make more healthy choices than unhealthy choices.”
For more examples of the different negative thought patterns, check out my post, Are You A Bully? Practice positive arguments throughout the week and if you keep at it, they will start to occur naturally.
Challenge 2 – Treating Yourself as a Friend
For this challenge you’ll reflect back on the negative thoughts from the past few days and think of the untrue things you told yourself. Now, imagine a close friend or family member in your life; a younger cousin, a parent, a best friend from high school, telling you these mean things about themselves. Imagine they told you they don’t deserve dessert because they didn’t workout that morning. Imagine they tell you they won’t get a raise because they don’t work hard enough. That they won’t pass a test because they’re stupid.
Now, write them a letter telling them what they don’t see in themselves. All the wonderful qualities that you see in them, and all the ways their thoughts are untrue. You won’t need to send this letter, but you can keep it tucked away to look at when you’re feeling full of doubt.
Showing love to others and seeing the positive aspects of someone else’s life is often easier than seeing the same in ourselves. Stepping outside of yourself and putting your thoughts as someone else’s will help you see the bigger picture, and out of the little details and self-imposed limitations you may have created.
Challenge 3 – Giving Yourself Permission
This exercise has a concrete action, with the opportunity to get as creative as you want. First, think about (or write down) a few fears, faults or feelings of guilt, that are regularly on your mind. Take a few days to notice which ones pop into your head most often. Maybe you feel guilty for spending time away from your family to attend a work conference. Maybe you feel you get emotional too easily.
Now, chose one and write yourself a permission slip to do just that.
– I have permission to focus on my career
– I have permission to display my feelings
– I have permission to make mistakes
The creative part is up to you. The most basic form, is simply writing or typing this permission slip and placing it where you see it regularly. Hang it by your desk, set it by your bedside or keep it in your purse or briefcase.
If you’d like to get crafty, the sky’s the limit. Create letters from construction paper, cut out images from magazines that align with your permission, use color, glitter (unless you like a clean house!), ribbon, texture, whatever you want!
When these feelings of guilt and fear stop you from taking that next step, look at your permission slip and go for it.
Challenge 4 – Thanking Your Flaws
No matter our shape, weight, height, etc., we all have body hang-ups. Some, you’ve held on to since childhood, some are newly formed and some will pop up later in life. Over the next few days, you’ll confront them head on.
Write down your biggest body hang-ups. Be honest and open with yourself. Next, write a simple thank you to each trait. Some examples include:
-My tummy – “Thank you for bearing my child”
-My big thighs – “Thank you for enabling me to walk, run, and dance”
-My loud laugh – “Thank you for spreading my happiness”
-My height – “Thank you for making me stand out”
There will always be parts of you that, at times, aren’t your favorite. But these parts of you are you and and often out of your control. How you view them and treat them is in your control. Teaching yourself to see the positive and embrace these aspects that make you unique is such a better use of your time and energy then stewing and worrying about what you aren’t.
Challenge 5 – Mapping Our Your Personal Timeline
It’s easy to get caught up in what struggles you’re going through now, how they may feel impossible to overcome, and it’s easy to forget all the big positive things you’ve experienced up to now. With a constant stream of others’ accomplishments and awesome things going on in the lives of our friends, it’s easy to think your life doesn’t compare.
One of my favorite quotes is, “Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel.” On that theme, in this challenge you will create a personal timeline. This can be written out on paper or compiled digitally. With a starting point of your birthday, list all the things that stand out when you reflect on each age. Be careful not to filter out what you think others wouldn’t find impressive or important. This timeline is to reflect what stands out to you. You may have, “started my first salaried job”, next to, “hung a shelf by myself”!
Include accomplishments as well as things you struggled with. Maybe you went away to college only to transfer home after a semester. That must have been a tough time and a big decision, don’t ignore it.
The purpose of this exercise is to have a reference to look back on when you feel you have nothing exciting happening in your life, and also when you feel you’re struggling with an issue you just can’t see the end of. To glance behind you and see all the amazing things you’ve done, all the big decisions you’ve made, and the obstacles you’ve overcome, it’s easier to see the ebbs and flows and know you’re on a good path.
Challenge 6 – Recognizing The Roots of Who You Are
This challenge is super creative! You have an opportunity to get your craft supplies out, or you can go the basic pen and paper route.
First, you’ll make a list of your foundational beliefs, values, and traits. Next, list new strengths and skills you’ve acquired in the course of growing up. Now, list your goals, aspirations and dreams.
Your project these next couple of days is to create – whether the basic route with pen and paper, or more creatively with whatever medium you enjoy – a tree out of these words and concepts. Your foundational beliefs, values and traits make up the deep roots and trunk. Your gained strengths and skills are the branches which hold onto the goals, aspirations and dreams that make up the leaves.
You can use magazine words and images like a collage, colored pencils/markers/crayons/paint, ribbon and different papers for texture; whatever you like working with or a mix of everything.
This tree represents you from what you were born with to what you are now to what you want to be. Dream big, your tree can have as many leaves as it needs!
Challenge 7 –
Your last exercise begins first thing this morning, but don’t worry, you can start whenever you read this 🙂 When you wake up, set an intention for your day. This isn’t worded like the goals of your to-do list, but rather a personal action that will lead you towards your big picture goals and ideal self. For example:
I intend to…
– Love myself at my worst
– Spread a good mood
– Show patience with myself and others
– Show up
– Be open to change
This intention will serve as your mantra for the day. With every interaction and task- especially those you find difficult – think of how you can use this as an opportunity to move towards your intention.
Be sure to check out the SJK Fitness Blog for whole health motivation and inspiration from workouts to recipes and more! I was very excited to create these challenges, and came across so many fun and unique ideas, I decided to compile them into an e-book! If the past month of projects got your creative side energized, check out my book, Positivity Through Creativity here! It contains 52 projects along with positively inspiring quotes.