Building Confidence- Self Esteem… | Counseling | Therapy

Building Confidence: Self Esteem Therapy

Samantha Eisenberg , MSW, LCSW, MED, LMT — Therapist

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Journal Prompts for Building Confidence and Creating Change with a Growth Mindset: Self Esteem Therapy in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia

Imagine someone asked you, “How was your day today?” What would you say? What would you focus on? Have you ever found yourself ruminating late at night replaying that embarrassing moment that still makes you cringe just at the thought of it? Do you have trouble letting go of guilt or shame for that thing you did, reliving the moment with a pang of pain in your gut, even when it may be appropriate to move forward?

You may be struggling with low self esteem. Many people deal with a lack of self confidence. This can be due to many reasons, such as our biological predisposition to remember the bad more easily than the good, because of personal traumas, abuse, neglect, or bullying, or even our consumeristic capitalist culture that tries to convince us that we are not enough! Whatever the cause, there Are ways to feel better, or at least work towards a more neutral way of seeing yourself.

If it's hard to imagine the light at the end of the tunnel, you may be stuck in a fixed mindset. In a fixed mindset, one believes that weaknesses can’t be improved and failures can’t be overcome; where not being good at something, messing up, or losing is a sign to give up completely. Embarrassment and shame take over as the failure feels too heavy and trying is just not worth it. This black and white way of thinking can be very limiting and discouraging.

The alternative is taking on a growth mindset, something one may learn in self esteem therapy. Here one embraces challenges, recognizing failure as an inevitable step towards success. Perhaps the purpose of doing something is more about what you’ll learn along the way. Your fulfillment and enjoyment of the activity is less about how good you are at it, and more about the joy you feel while doing it. Shame blocks joy, from growth, and from building confidence.

We all want to grow into better versions of ourselves and there are many ways to grow. But sometimes in our attempts to be better we get stuck focusing on what went wrong, what we did wrong. We might make a blanket assessment that the day was bad or that we are a failure. That type of broad generalization, while it may feel true, really doesn’t encompass the nuances and complexity of any given situation and surely doesn’t help with building confidence. But no need to feel ashamed if you’ve noticed yourself in these thinking patterns! Recognizing the humanness, the naturalness, the normalness falling into a fixed mindset makes way for compassion, which often diffuses shame.

Your inner critic – the voices of parents, peers and society that you’ve internalized to police yourself – is really trying to protect you from shame, embarrassment, failure, and rejection. It’s a survival mechanism gone rogue. Similarly, we remember, focus on, and ruminate on the negative because this is our mind’s way of attempting to identify patterns to protect us from potential threats.

Too much focus on the bad can actually be unhealthy and unhelpful. So often we get stuck in shame as “I did a bad thing” becomes “I’m a bad person,” or “I didn’t complete the task effectively” gets generalized to the conclusion that “therefore I am a failure.” You may think that you need to be hard on yourself to find the motivation to change, but if you really examine this behavior, you may see that it doesn’t really help with building confidence, isn’t a sustainable source of motivation, and, at the very least, doesn’t feel very good. You may ask yourself, “why do I feel I deserve to hear these harsh things?”

Journal Prompts for Building Confidence and Creating Change with a Growth Mindset: Self Esteem Therapy in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia

Journaling and writing things down can be a great tool to get clarity on your thoughts as well as solidify positive messages about yourself to combat the negative ones that so easily pop up.

You deserve to acknowledge or be acknowledged for what you’re doing well. Building confidence by reflecting on the positive can balance out the weight of identifying and working through your weaknesses, criticisms or feedback that’s difficult to hear.

Below are some journal prompts for building confidence that you could use at the end of each day - after work or before bed - or even at the end of each week.

  • When looking at my day, what went well in my personal life, at work and in my relationships with friends, family and partner?

  • What did I accomplish today?

  • What am I proud of ?

  • What am I grateful for?

You could choose to focus on one area of your life, or take an inventory of your day as a whole. See if you can identify at least three things in each category.

If this is hard to do, perhaps that’s a sign that you’re not giving yourself enough credit. This is a mental exercise to stretch yourself to see the positive. You might feel accomplished by taking note of the ways you showed up for yourself or someone else, the moments you kept your word to yourself and followed through, or when you made a difference in someone else’s life. It doesn't matter how big or how small the good thing is! It doesn’t matter if you walked around the block or ran five miles. What matters is that you did it, or at least tried your best. If you’re having trouble getting started, here are some examples of what one could feel proud of. The options are endless:

  • Got out of bed this morning

  • Made my bed

  • Did chores (it doesn’t hurt to list out all the chores you did if it was more than one)

  • I closed the deal at work

  • I made a client or customer happy

  • I wrote a good paper

  • I finished the paper

  • I made a stranger smile

  • I was nice to that person who really annoyed me

  • I spoke up for myself when that person annoyed me

  • I kept my cool

  • I exercised and/or moved my body

  • I ate mindfully and listened to my body

  • I called my grandmother

  • I tried to meditate

  • I journaled

  • I practiced the skill I’m learning in therapy

Try not to add judgment to how significant the accomplishment is. That's not the point. Perhaps just let yourself notice that natural tendency to judge or devalue things that don’t seem good enough to be worthy of praise. This list is for you and you alone to start seeing yourself in a better light. Notice without judgment how you feel after completing the list and letting go of the judgment. It might feel weird at first but with practice this way of thinking about yourself will become more natural as the neural pathways of positive thinking become stronger.

Now that you're building confidence and feeling a little better about your day you might be feeling more open to gently critique what did not go so well. Doing your best to stay in a calm and open mental state, go through your day or week and ask yourself the following questions to identify areas of growth:

  • What goals did I not accomplish?

  • What tasks were unfinished or done below standard?

  • What feedback did I receive - direct, indirect, verbal, nonverbal - that indicated I could have done something differently?

  • What did I do that left me feeling less than good?

  • What do I wish I had done differently?

Remember the point of the task here is to figure out how to be better (growth mindset) and not to get stuck in what you did wrong (fixed/shame mindset). Once you’ve identified some things that you could do better, continue to explore with a gentle curiosity the following questions:

  • What got in the way of me accomplishing my goals well?

  • Was it a limiting belief, or an external factor that’s within my control to change?

  • What would I have to do differently, learn or acquire to improve my outcome?

  • Is there something I need to better prepare for?

  • Is there something I need to communicate to others, or an important conversation I need to have to clarify or adjust expectations?

  • Are there ways I can help others learn how to help me?

Try to identify one small concrete thing you can do tomorrow that will help you toward these goals. Each day – in fact, each moment – is an opportunity to assess how you could improve and make changes that feel within your ability. But, being kind to yourself through this process is key. Remember that we all make mistakes, we all have hard days, and what matters most is that we learn the lessons that will help us grow.

If you find yourself struggling with overcoming negative thoughts about yourself, thoughts that may be holding you back from building confidence and growing into the person you want to become, you may benefit from doing self esteem therapy with a professional counselor. Professional counselors can support you in numerous ways, from helping you clarify the values that drive your life, identify areas where change is needed, and implement interventions that will move you toward lasting change. At TCFG you can schedule directly online with a therapist or by calling (215) 922-LOVE (5683) ext 100 and speaking with our intake department. Lastly, you can call our Director, “Alex” Caroline Robboy, CAS, MSW, LCSW at (267) 324–9564 to discuss your particular situation. For your convenience, we have six physical mental health counseling / therapy offices. We provide mental health counseling and talk therapy both inperson and virtually.

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