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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 September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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