Here’s a plan for building self-esteem in twelve steps:
1. Stop beating yourself up.
Let go of regrets, self-blame, and all the things you should have done. The past is over. Today is where you are. Give yourself credit for being interested enough to read this blog post.
2. Take care of yourself.
Remember what they say on the airplane about oxygen?
Parents with children in an emergency should put their mask on first. Eat well. Sleep enough. Exercise 20 minutes every day.
3. What do you want?
Make some goals: small, medium, large. Pick one of the small goals and take a step towards it.
4. Be kind to yourself.
Affirm that you want to feel better about yourself. Let go of that inner Critic who says terrible things to you. Practice positive self-talk.
5. Be realistic.
Just because you are afraid or worried doesn’t mean something terrible is going to happen. Emotions are like the internal weather, always passing through. Try to look at your situation with objectivity. It’s too much of a coincidence to always assume the worst is going to home.
6. Enjoy your successes, even at small things.
Try not to be overly ambitious, and use small successes to stairstep to larger accomplishments. When you achieve something, however small, reward yourself with an “I did it!”
7. Take some chances.
Look for new experiences. Learn something you didn’t know. Don’t worry about making mistakes, that’s part of learning. No human baby ever learned to walk without first falling on his face many times.
8. Finish things.
Unfinished business ricochets around inside your head, distracting you from getting anything done. Start small: sort the mail, take out the trash, wash the dishes. Do something to completion to the best of your ability, then let it go. Keep moving.
9. Decide things.
Instead of waffling and keeping all your options open so you are juggling many things at once, choose an option that seems the best. Move on to the next decision. All decisions will not be perfect, but on balance you can probably trust yourself to make good decisions most of the time. It helps to start with the small things. What will you have for dinner? Then move on.
10. Know what you’re good at.
Be realistic about your skills. Learn new skills if you need them.
11. Focus on your strengths.
Pay attention to what you can do rather than what you can’t. There are always things that are out of your control. Acknowledge your talents and abilities. Don’t worry about comparing yourself to everybody else. You are unique.
12. Make your own considered judgment about yourself.
Don’t waste time trying to imagine what others think of you. Do the right thing, according to your own personal values.