The Self Esteem Workout | Center for Growth Therapy

The Self Esteem Workout

Alex , CAS, MSW, ACSW, LCSW — Founder & executive director


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Center for Growth / Self Esteem Therapy in Philadelphia: Increasing confidence and self esteem.

Self esteem is a measure of how favorable you rate your abilities and value as a person. People with high self-esteem have confidence in their abilities and feel like they deserve to reach their goals. People who have low self-esteem find it hard to go after their goals because they don’t feel like they deserve to achieve anything. Low self-esteem is connected with having a negative image of oneself. This negative image is developed by years and years of negative thoughts, self-criticism, and putting yourself and your needs last. Having low self-esteem can lead to anxiety, depression, lack of confidence in your abilities, and sometimes self-harming behaviors. People who have low self-esteem often feel unworthy of achievement and rate their abilities as lower than they actually are. Negative thoughts and core beliefs are also linked to the development of low self-esteem. Raising self-esteem can act as a buffer to anxiety, depression, and stress as well as raising motivation, achievement, and quality of interpersonal relationships. This Increasing Confidence and Self Esteem Exercise is often used at the Center for Growth / Self Esteem Therapy in Philadelphia and is designed to help you “work out” and remove the negative junk that’s been weighing you down so you are able to raise self-esteem and increase confidence.

  • Accept yourself as you are: Develop a kind inner voice. To do this, first figure out what the critical voice says. Pay attention to when you hear yourself saying negative things in your head. Then picture a large STOP sign. Use this as a cue to stop saying negative criticisms. Next, state out loud or in your head, a positive affirmation to counteract the negative criticism. Remind yourself of all the things you’re good at. Be specific. Challenge negative criticisms with a positive affirmation such as “I’m a good friend, or “I am ok just as I am and they are ok just as they are.” Show yourself the love and kindness you would show your best friend. Accepting yourself and others will increase confidence.
  • Celebrate your uniqueness: There is no need to compare yourself to others. Self esteem does not reside in your accomplishments; it resides in where you decide your value is placed. Stop comparing and start putting value into accepting yourself. To start appreciating your uniqueness, make a list of everything that you’re good at. Maybe it’s telling jokes, playing sports, or singing in the shower. Remember to validate the skills YOU value, not what everyone else says you should be good at.
  • Appreciate your body: Love and accept your body regardless of size, shape or color. Make a list of things your body can do. Can you walk up stairs, run, swim, jump, dance, dress yourself, feed yourself, crawl with your baby, or take a zumba class? These are all wonderful things your body can do for you. Additionally, simply living with the absence of physical pain, or the need to think about your body is something huge. Do not focus on the physical appearances society says you should have, most of these qualities, while nice are not critical to being self sufficient and doing the things you really want to be able to do. Remember, your body is yours, and worrying about having curly hair versus straight hair is a luxury. Better to embrace what your body does enable you to do. Remember, over time the body does age, and most people at certain points will live with episodes of chronic pain, or dependence on others as you are recovering from cancer, broken bones etc.
  • Practice healthy habits: Taking good care of your body is a great way to boost self-esteem. Make sure you get enough sleep (7-9 hours per night), eat enough fruits and vegetables (5-7 servings per day), exercise (30 minutes of moderate activity per day), rest, and take medication when needed. Go to the doctor, get a check-up, see your dentist, floss regularly, wear sunscreen, and take the time to make small daily steps that support your health. Your body wont work the way it’s supposed to if you don’t treat it the way you’re supposed to. Making HEALTH the priority will reduce the internal critic because the only standard you will have to live up to is your own, and your body will tell you what it needs.
  • Treat yourself well emotionally: Check in with your feelings and needs. Are they being met? Take care of yourself based on your feelings. Keep a feelings chart handy so you can identify your feelings. Listen to your body when you ask “how do I feel?” Is that headache a sign of stress? Is the upset stomach actually anxiety? Then, make it a priority to know what you need to feel better. Do you need a quiet space, a nap, some food, or time to confront a friend about a problem? Addressing emotional as well as physical health will help you put your needs as number one.
  • Set appropriate personal boundaries: Boundaries define who you are and tell others what is and what isn’t ok to do and say around you. It’s ok to want something different than someone else. People with low self-esteem will often act in a more passive manner to please others before asserting for them self. This can be detrimental to your emotional health and breed resentment. Remember you are free to say no when you’re not ok with something. In the end, you’re not responsible for other people’s feelings, they are. Start small: Ask your roommate to turn the music down, turn down an invitation, as a server to fix a wrong order.
  • Practice the two for one rule: Tell yourself two compliments every day. In between the two compliments sandwich a statement of an area you’d like to grow in. For example: “I’m a good baker. I’d like to increase my running endurance. I did better on my review that I expected.” We all need to keep pushing ourselves to grow. But sandwiching a constructive criticism in between two affirmations will soften the blow and increase motivation to achieve your goals.
  • Do what you love: Learn what lights you up. Give yourself permission to do what feels good then make those things a priority. People with low self-esteem often have a long can’t-do list. To challenge this, make a list of things you want to do and keep it close so you do it. Put your list on the fridge, add a copy to your planner, and stick one on your bathroom mirror. Hold yourself accountable to continue pursuing pleasurable activities. Doing things that matter to you increases confidence in those skills. Look for work that feels meaningful rather than a job that makes you feel miserable but pays a high salary.
  • Create the life you want: No one can live your life but you. Make choices that really fit you. To do this you need to find out who you are. What do you value in life? What matters to you? If you want to be a vegetarian but your friends eat meat, suggest a salad bar with options for lunch. Take one of your dreams and make it a concrete goal. Give it a time frame. Break it into smaller steps. Keep working on each step one at a time. For example: exercise more becomes run a 5k in 6 months. Then find a training schedule online or from a trainer and stick to the routine.
  • Honor your progress: just like starting a workout routine at the gym, going through a self-esteem workout is a challenge. You will be better able to stick with it if you enjoy the process. Once a month or so, reflect back and look at the changes you have gone through. Congratulate yourself for surviving challenge. Take yourself out for a treat to celebrate. Go for ice cream, ask a friend to dinner, buy a new dress, get a mani/pedi, take a nap, go on vacation. The bigger the change, the bigger the reward.

Using these simple steps from the Self Esteem / Increasing Confidence Exercise Developed at Center for Growth / Self Esteem Therapy in Philadelphia, one at a time or all together (just like a full body workout) will help you learn to appreciate yourself and your body, redefine your worth and value, assert needs and boundaries, and increase overall confidence and self-esteem. Keep adapting and changing the strategies as needed to keep progress moving and be sure to reward yourself sporadically!

If you are struggling and need help. Call Center for Growth / Self Esteem Therapy in Philadelphia and speak with one of our counselors today.

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