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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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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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