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5 Ways to Cultivate Genuine Self-Esteem

5 Ways to Cultivate Genuine Self-Esteem

Sometimes life has a way of kicking you when you’re down. On a scale of one to loser, you’re a Steve Urkel. You can’t seem to catch a break and you’re ready to shut down. On top of that, it’s a lot harder to fall back on your usual distractions when you’re in a funk because nothing seems to bring you joy.

But maybe that’s a good thing. Perhaps the funk is a sledgehammer in disguise, ready to knock down the superficial walls that keep you from finding your inner Stefan Urquelle. Here are five ways to love yourself and cultivate genuine self-esteem.

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1. Believe That Pride Is Overrated

Cultivating genuine self-esteem means throwing away traditional definitions of success. In his book Letting Go, Dr. David Hawkins suggests that genuine self-esteem does not actually arise until pride is relinquished. That which inflates the ego does not result in inner strength.

Sure, it’s great when the external world matches your internal disposition, but they’re entirely separate entities. Someone might think you look great, while someone else might think you’re the ugliest person in the world. In order to cultivate genuine self-esteem, however, you have to do the hard thing and let go of your need for external validation, take good care of your inner self, and love yourself unconditionally. The external world will always change, but you are you for the rest of your life.

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2. Find the Funny

Your brain is funny. For all it’s strength and power, it can be super irrational. Let’s say you have a bad morning and leave your laptop at home one day. You get to work and chastise yourself for forgetting your laptop and somehow, through a train of otherwise unrelated thoughts, come to the conclusion that you are defined by your forgetfulness.

Next time you catch yourself using forgotten laptops as a basis for formulating beliefs about yourself, pause and laugh. Because, come on – you are not your laptop. You simply forgot the thing at home! Cultivating genuine self-esteem means learning to laugh at your irrational thoughts. Intercepting thoughts caught in a negative cycle will make you more mindful of the stories you think are true about yourself. Stay away from the negative stories. They’re not worth it.

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3. Say No to Shame

According to best-selling author and research professor Brené Brown, shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging. Maybe you lost your job and were forced to sell your house, or are still trying to finish high school years after your peers. Be proud of the courage it takes to keep going rather than beating yourself up with feelings of shame.

I once heard a quote that the difference between humans and other animals is that other animals nurse their wounds when they are hurt, while a human kicks themselves for getting hurt in the first place. Stop kicking yourself. Give shame the side-eye and just say no. You are not flawed. You deserve love. You are so much more than your experiences.

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4. Build Your Empathy Muscle

Everyone wants to feel heard, understood, and loved for who they are. Practice extending compassion to those around you. Being empathetic and learning to see the world through another person’s eyes has the unique benefit of broadening your own view of the world. You may even discover a shared experience along the way. Listening closely and treating others with compassion will make it easier to treat yourself with compassion as well. Start flexing your empathy muscle and others will undoubtedly flex theirs for you in return.

5. Focus on the Journey

No one is born with perfect self-esteem. It’s an ever-moving target that you have to work toward everyday. Some days it’ll be easy to see your true beauty, and other days it’ll be more challenging. Instead of focusing on perfect self-esteem as the end game and getting frustrated with yourself for not feeling 100% all of the time, focus on feeling the best you can in the moment. Life will always throw you a curveball. Anyone who tells you that they feel good about themselves every moment of every day probably isn’t human. Leave your tunnel vision behind and focus on the big picture. You have a heart and a brain just like everyone else, so just enjoy the journey.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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5 Ways to Cultivate Genuine Self-Esteem 5 Ways to Cultivate Genuine Self-Esteem

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Last Updated on April 8, 2020

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Assuming positive intent is an important contributor to quality of life.

Most people appreciate the dividends such a mindset produces in the realm of relationships. How can relationships flourish when you don’t assume intentions that may or may not be there? And how their partner can become an easier person to be around as a result of such a shift? Less appreciated in the GTD world, however, is the productivity aspect of this “assume positive intent” perspective.

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Most of us are guilty of letting our minds get distracted, our energy sapped, or our harmony compromised by thinking about what others woulda, coulda, shoulda.  How we got wronged by someone else.  How a friend could have been more respectful.  How a family member could have been less selfish.

However, once we evolve to understanding the folly of this mindset, we feel freer and we become more productive professionally due to the minimization of unhelpful, distracting thoughts.

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The leap happens when we realize two things:

  1. The self serving benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt.
  2. The logic inherent in the assumption that others either have many things going on in their lives paving the way for misunderstandings.

Needless to say, this mindset does not mean that we ought to not confront people that are creating havoc in our world.  There are times when we need to call someone out for inflicting harm in our personal lives or the lives of others.

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Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi, says it best in an interview with Fortune magazine:

My father was an absolutely wonderful human being. From ecent emailhim I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’ So ‘assume positive intent’ has been a huge piece of advice for me.

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In business, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things. You can either misconstrue what they’re saying and assume they are trying to put you down, or you can say, ‘Wait a minute. Let me really get behind what they are saying to understand whether they’re reacting because they’re hurt, upset, confused, or they don’t understand what it is I’ve asked them to do.’ If you react from a negative perspective – because you didn’t like the way they reacted – then it just becomes two negatives fighting each other. But when you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.

“Assume positive intent” is definitely a top quality of life’s best practice among the people I have met so far. The reasons are obvious. It will make you feel better, your relationships will thrive and it’s an approach more greatly aligned with reality.  But less understood is how such a shift in mindset brings your professional game to a different level.

Not only does such a shift make you more likable to your colleagues, but it also unleashes your talents further through a more focused, less distracted mind.

More Tips About Building Positive Relationships

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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