We all get lonely from time to time—after a breakup, at a new job, in a new city. Or sometimes for no obvious reason at all. But whatever the case, we have the power to relieve those uncomfortable, unwelcome feelings. While there are several approaches to doing so—such as socializing, practicing mindfulness, and volunteering—we’re going to focus on one undeniably effective practice: improving your overall self-esteem. “Believing in ourselves is fundamental to a happy life. Feel confident and sure in yourself and your abilities and even the toughest problems and situations can be resolved,” Tina Bakardzhieva, a clinical hypnotherapist and mindfulness teacher, explains. And this includes those daunting feelings of loneliness and isolation. So, if you’re experiencing these feelings, let’s get to work on that self-esteem. The following tips will help you do so:
1) Correct your inner critic.
“A good place to start with raising your self-esteem is by learning how to handle and to replace the voice of your own inner critic,” Bakardzhieva explains. “This inner voice whispers or shouts destructive thoughts in your mind.” Here are a few examples of destructive thoughts:
- You are lazy and sloppy, now get to work.
- You aren’t good at your job and someone will figure that out and throw you out.
- You are worse or uglier than your friend/coworker/partner.
2) Use healthier motivation habits.
To weaken that critical voice even further, Bakardzhieva says you should focus on developing healthy motivation habits. “Refocus on doing what you really, really like to do. When you really, really like doing something then the motivation to do that thing tends to come pretty automatically. When you really want something in life then it also becomes easier to push through any inner resistance you feel. So, if you lose your motivation, ask yourself: Am I doing what I really want to do? If not and if possible, then refocus and start working on that very important thing instead.”
3) Take a two-minute self-appreciation break.
This next tip is a simple and fun one. According to Bakardzhieva, if you engage in a quick self-appreciation break every day for a month then it can make a huge difference. Here’s how you do it: “Take a deep breath, slow down and ask yourself this question: what are three things I can appreciate about myself? These short breaks do not only build self-esteem in the long run but can also turn a negative mood around and reload you with a lot of positive energy again,” she says.
4) Write down positive affirmations.
“Write down three things in the evening that you can appreciate about yourself,” Bakardzhieva suggests. “This is a variation of the habit above and combining the two of them can be extra powerful for two boosts in self-esteem a day. A nice extra benefit of writing it down is that after a few weeks you can read through all the answers to get a good self-esteem boost and change in perspective on days when you may need it the most.”
5) Forget about perfection.
“Few thought habits can be so destructive in daily life as perfectionism. It can paralyze you from taking action because you become so afraid of not living up to some standard. And so, you procrastinate and you do not get the results you want. This will make your self-esteem sink,” she explains. But we’re only human and that means we do hold ourselves to unrealistic standards. So, when you inevitably find yourself in this tricky situation, try the following:
- Be your own best friend. Think about how a loved one would support you and then do that for yourself. Or, think about how you would support a loved one and follow through! Doing so “keeps you from falling into a pit of despair and helps you to be more constructive after the first initial pain of a mistake or failure starts to dissipate.”
- Find the silver lining. There’s always a bright side, you just have to look for it. Bakardzhieva says prompting yourself with the following questions can help: what is one thing I can learn from this? And what is one opportunity I can find in this situation?
6) Remember the whys.
And finally, remember why you’re putting all this hard work into improving your self-esteem. Doing so will motivate you to keep pushing. “The bottom line is improving self-esteem requires a bit of work, as it involves developing and maintaining emotional habits, but doing so, and especially doing so correctly, will provide a great emotional and psychological return on your investment,” Bakardzhieva explains.
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