How is your self-esteem these days? As it happens, February is International Boost Self-Esteem Month. Take it seriously. Self-esteem doesn’t happen naturally or easily. You need to put some effort into it. Consider this month an opportunity to get started.
If you search the web for techniques to boost self-esteem, you’ll end up reading a lot about psychology, like this article at Psychology Today. It suggests being mindful, controlling your narrative, understanding yourself, and so on. It’s a good and useful article, and I recommend you have a look at it. But I personally believe you can do a lot for your self-esteem without having to get too introspective. I believe there are four daily habits you can easily adopt that will contribute to your self-esteem.
1. Avoid Fake News
The primary source of fake news is in your own head. There’s a voice that says things like “You’re no good at math” or “You’re fat” or “You never work hard enough.” But that voice isn’t stating a fact. It’s only stating an opinion. You might have got this opinion from your mother, a particularly troubled school teacher, or a “friend” in Girl Scouts. Know that you no longer have to answer to that person; maybe you never did. In any case, it’s fake news, and you don’t have to believe it. You shouldn’t believe it. Get into the habit of ignoring that voice.
When someone wrongs you, you face a choice. Are you going to hold a grudge, or are you going to forgive? You may already know that I come down on the side of forgiveness because in the long run, it creates health and happiness. But there’s a particular type of forgiveness that’s especially powerful: self-forgiveness. Don’t be quick to criticize your own failings or mistakes. Think about them without self-loathing and without self-justification. Put them in perspective. Above all, remember you are more than the worst thing you’ve ever done. Face your errors, own them, and forgive them. It helps to do it out loud. Yes, you have human failings. But you also have the best of human qualities. You are worth forgiveness.
Work out, or at least exercise, every day. There is nothing that boosts self-esteem faster than increasing your VO2 Max. VO2 Max is the measure of how much oxygen is delivered to your muscles when you exercise. The more oxygen your muscles process, the better they perform. And you don’t need to measure your VO2 Max to get the benefit. Believe me, improving your fitness makes you feel better in yourself, and it makes you feel better about yourself.
4. Help Others
A growing body of research shows that helping others in need doesn’t just make you feel good, it actually lowers your stress. Those, however, are extra benefits. I include helping others as one of my four habits because doing it reinforces your self-worth. It makes you feel needed and virtuous. And opportunities to help are abundant. You can probably name at least a half dozen people right now who need some kind of help: a disabled neighbor, a housebound senior, a friend in trouble. And if you can’t name such a person, there are myriad helping opportunities in your community — at your church, a local food pantry, the public library, or an amazing variety of clubs and charitable organizations. Volunteering with such an organization makes you a part of something bigger than yourself and it can make you feel like you make a difference.
It’s International Boost Self-Esteem Month. Don’t just be a better person. Feel like one.