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12 Steps to Raise Your Self Esteem and Be a Better Person

12 Steps to Raise Your Self Esteem and Be a Better Person

Okay, give me a show of hands (virtually, of course): how many of you have very high self-esteem? Well, since I can’t see any of you, I will just have to make some assumptions that not all of you raised your hand. Let’s face it, we live in a world that is not supportive of how we feel about ourselves. From comparing yourself to super models to thinking you need to make more money, most of us think we need to be better. Here’s the good news: you CAN raise your self-esteem and work on being a better person. Here are 11 steps you can take today.

1. Pay attention to how you talk to yourself.

Do you have any idea how many negative thoughts go through your mind every day about yourself? Probably not. Even if it’s just something simple like, “My hair looks terrible today,” you need to monitor and control your thoughts. So get a notebook and write down every negative thought that you say to yourself, about yourself. After about a week, take a look. Then write down why each negative thought is NOT true.

2. Don’t compare yourself to others. But if you do, compare yourself to people who are not as lucky as you are.

If you constantly compare how you look to Angelina Jolie or your bank account to your millionaire cousin, you will definitely feel bad about yourself. So here’s an idea‒don’t do it!! Instead, focus on how lucky you are. If you have a roof over your head and food on the table, you are among the luckiest people in the world. Be grateful for what you have. Don’t complain about what you lack.

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3. Don’t dwell in the past.

Maybe you did something in the past that you are ashamed of, like cheating on your significant other. Well, you can’t undo it. All you can do is forgive yourself, decide to do better, and move on. Replaying it and beating yourself up doesn’t work. Or maybe your past was “The Good Ol’ Days.” Don’t dwell there either. We all age, and we all have the opportunity to make today and tomorrow the best we can. Move onward and upwards. Not backwards.

4. Find a “self-esteem buddy” and support each other.

Anyone who has tried to change their habits knows it’s difficult. And your self-esteem is also a “habit”–it’s a habitual way of thinking about yourself. So it helps to have someone point out when we are being negative and help us steer in the right direction. Sometimes we don’t even recognize when we are being down on ourselves because we do it so much. Your buddy will help you, and you can help them.

5.  Figure out what triggers your feelings of low self-esteem.

Perhaps your older sister was the “perfect” one, so when you’re around her and your family, you feel worse about yourself. Or maybe you were chubby as a child and still carry that image of yourself to this day. We all have certain areas where we feel bad about ourselves. So try to identify what situations or topics trigger your negative thoughts.

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6. Separate your feelings from facts.

You might think you are overweight, but you might not be. For example, perhaps you are average weight, but you grew up with two older sisters who are naturally skinny. If you constantly compared yourself to them growing up, you might have labeled yourself as “fat.” However, those are only your feelings. The facts might be very different. You might only weigh 130 pounds. That’s not overweight. Facts and feelings are different.

7. Treat yourself as if you are a friend and you’re trying to help boost their (your) self-esteem.

We are all harder on ourselves than our friends are. While we tear ourselves down, our good friends try to lift us up. Well, try to act like those friends! Be your own friend. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself compliments and positive affirmations. You don’t need to rely on others to do that. You can do it for yourself, too.

8. Believe people when they compliment you.

Some people have difficult time receiving compliments. While this might sounds strange, it’s true. The reason they have a hard time is because they don’t believe the person’s kind words. They come up with reasons inside their heads about why they’re wrong or why it’s not true. Stop doing that! When someone says something nice about you, believe them! Say “thank you,” and move on with a smile on your face!

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9. Use affirmations and visualization.

Affirmations and visualizations are powerful tools to reprogram your thinking. The more you repeat words or visualize something in your mind, the more your subconscious believes it. So repeat positive statements to yourself such as, “I am a good person. I am healthy. I am strong. I am lovable.” And then visualize yourself being and feeling that way.

10. Use hypnosis.

Speaking of reprogramming the subconscious, hypnosis is also a very powerful way to re-write the negative beliefs in your head. There are many websites that sell positive hypnosis CDs or mp3’s that you can listen to on a regular basis in order to help build your self-esteem. If you use them consistently, you will make some giant leaps in feeling good about yourself.

11. List your good qualities and past successes.

Sometimes we get too focused on our negatives, and we forget to notice our good qualities! So take some time to sit down and write out why you are an awesome person. Are you a great mom? Are you smart? Do you have a career you enjoy? A great marriage? Whatever it is, write it down. What have you been successful doing in the past? Review these daily to remind yourself how you’re making a difference in the world.

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12. Take action!

While I appreciate you all reading this article, it will do you no good if you don’t actually take my advice! Don’t just share this on your Facebook page and forget about it. Do something! Take action! Nothing will change unless you do. It all starts with a decision. So just do it!

More by this author

Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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