In this section, we will look at one of the most debilitating factors that is holding you back from living the life you want to live: How you view yourself. This has a direct impact on your thoughts, feelings and actions. You will learn how to improve your self-confidence and your emotions, by boosting your self-esteem.
Stop Judging and Start Accepting
Today’s culture places a great deal of importance on rating ourselves based on how we believe other people perceive us. When you take a step back, however, judging our achievements and successes by other people’s standards doesn’t really make sense. When we do that, we are actually letting other people determine how we should view ourselves. Why give them that power? You know yourself better than anyone. It is time for you to empower yourself, by taking steps to boost your self-esteem.
One component of self-esteem is self-acceptance. This can be a challenge for many individuals. Some people equate self-acceptance with arrogance or thinking that you are the best. That is not really true. Others believe that self-acceptance is the equivalent of admitting to failure or giving up. However, this is also incorrect. Self-acceptance doesn’t mean that you say "Hey, I failed at this, I’ll always fail at this’. It is more accurate to say that “yes we can’t be perfect at everything and that’s OK”. Self-acceptance can also allow you to focus on how you can make things even better, using your strengths and abilities.
There is a difference between discernment (noticing differences, such as when you get an outcome that you had not anticipated) and judgement (evaluating something as good or bad, such as “I am a failure.”) While it is important to be aware of what is going on, judging yourself can lead to more stress. When we judge ourselves, we also tend to do it in an all-encompassing manner. We do this by assigning global negative traits or labels to ourselves.
It is important to remember that people are dynamic. They are not only one “thing.” A good person, for example, can do some not-so-great things. A person who is often rude, can sometimes be nice. When we’re suffering, for whatever reason, we often judge ourselves too poorly. Therefore, in this section, we will try something new and very revolutionary. We’re going to float the idea that you can stop judging, and start accepting yourself and others for simply being human.
Losing the Labels
How many times have you called yourself a loser, failure, inferior or crazy? An examples of one of the many unfair things that we do to ourselves, is wrongful self-labeling. By calling yourself names, you’re only putting yourself down. Whether it is done out loud or in your own head, self-labeling is an extremely critical and negative component of inaccurate self-judgment.
One way to stop negative labels, is to consider that every negative label we use can have a positive alternative. If you’ve ever called yourself a failure, think of something you have succeeded at.
Struggling to think of something you have succeeded at? Well, you have gotten this far, haven’t you?
Look at the list below. On the left side are "bad names” or labels that are commonly used. However, can you see that for every negative thought that we have about ourselves, there’s an equally valid positive one? Instead of calling yourself a loser, ask yourself what you lost? What did you fail at? After all, failing at something doesn’t mean you fail at everything. On the right side of the table, are examples of how to reframe negative labels.
As shown in the examples below – the next time you call yourself something bad, ask yourself why you did that and then reexamine how you view yourself.
|I’m a loser||I can’t win every time.|
|I’m pathetic||I still have strengths.|
|I’m stupid||Doing stupid things doesn’t make me a stupid person.|
|I’m unimportant||I have importance.|
|I’m useless||I can do useful things.|
|I’m crazy||If I do crazy things, it doesn’t make me crazy.|
|I’m horrible||I can be accepted.|
|I’m flawed||I have good traits and bad traits. I’m human.|
|I’m unlovable||I’m loved. People can love me.|
|I’m bad||I’m not perfect. Everyone has good sides and bad sides.|
|I’m nothing||I am important to someone.|
The key technique of losing your negative labels, is to resist using them. By identifying the negative labels you give yourself and coming up with self-accepting alternatives (as in the example above), you can catch yourself in the act and refuse to call yourself offensive names. Let’s get started!
Reinforcing your self-accepting attitude
Just writing down a more positive way of looking at yourself, doesn’t make you automatically believe this new perspective. Therefore, it is important to reinforce your belief in these positive reframes, by actively saying your positive self-acceptance alternatives to yourself. You should also seek out evidence that you self-accepting attitude is true. The more proof that you have supporting your new self-accepting attitude, the more you will believe this new viewpoint. For that reason, you’re going to come up with specific proofs that support your new self-accepting attitude. Let’s get started!
In this section...
We looked at how self-labeling is unhelpful for you, by draining your self-esteem. We found some "better" alternatives, so you can view yourself in a more positive light.
- You learned that it is important to stop judging and start accepting yourself! Self-acceptance isn’t easy. It’s not a free pass to do what you want. However, it is a a way to admit that we can be fallible and that everyone has their own personal value. This is what matters most.