Learn 3 Simple Techniques for Self Awareness.
Last week we talked about irrational thinking and our tendency to compare ourselves to others. Now we’ll get into irrational thinking as it relates to self worth and self esteem; how we gain self awareness and what we can do to improve that awareness.
This is an important topic because how we feel and what we believe about ourselves, in our minds and in our daily lives, directly impacts how we show up in the world and in everything we do; from our careers to our personal relationships. Let’s explore.
Your self worth is developed primarily by our reaction to how we interact with and how we are treated by important people in our lives at a young age. Self worth is developed simultaneously with our personality traits and contributes to who we are and how we relate to those around us. The problem is that our perception, especially at such a young state of development, isn’t always the whole truth (though it feels like it is) and these experiences can have a life-lasting negative effect on our views of self.
So how do we work on our self esteem when it was cultivated while our brains were still malleable and has stayed the same since? There are tools to use and I’d like to share them with you.
Becoming aware: recognizing and replacing old thoughts.
Now that you know your primary self-worth was developed at such a young stage in your life, I invite you to explore this more in a safe environment. Try a free writing exercise in your journal (no editing or judging what comes out while you write for 10 minutes) about what you were taught to believe about yourself in your childhood. Write on the topic until you feel done. This can bring up a lot of emotions, tears, and even a sense of relief.
It’s important to not to get caught in the trap of the blame game. This is a judgement free exploration, including no judgement of others. As for the very important release portion, after you move through some experiences, put them behind you. Go through your writings with a different color pen and circle everything that doesn’t feel good about what you were taught to feel about yourself. Then, on a new page in your journal write the words “I release the idea that I am ______ and embrace the idea that I am ______.” The new word should be what you are replacing the old thoughts with. For example “I release the idea that I am not good enough. I embrace that, simply by being here, I am enough.” Do this for each word or phrase you circled in your original entry.
Letting go of how others perceive us.
Becoming stuck in the cyclical pattern of wondering how we’re being perceived and treating ourselves accordingly has both short and long term negative effects on our self perception. Something very important to realize is that these are, more often than not, only our perceived ideas about what others think of us. Consider rationally how much sense it makes that we can lower our self worth based on our perceived thoughts about what others think of us. If it seems a bit ludicrous as well as a waste of time, you are right! Thinking rationally we can see how irrational this thinking is.
The emotional freedom of letting go of how others perceive us and our reaction to it is very powerful. It’s similarly powerful when we realize that we have no control over what others think of us, only how we react to it. I invite you to practice letting yourself off the hook for how others think of you; it’s really none of your business, is it?
The game-changer of self care.
“There are days I drop words of comfort on myself like falling leaves and remember that it is enough to be taken care of by myself.” ~Brian Andreas
When is the last time you treated yourself to a massage, a hot bath or even a kind word? Doing things solely for ourselves sends a signal to our brains that we are worthy and deserving of that time, energy and love. This work is an inside job, and self care is a great way to get there. I invite you to make a list of 7-10 things (big or small) that you would like to do only for yourself. This can include anything from going on a long walk with no distractions to purchasing a new item; the point being these acts of self care don’t need to be big and they don’t have to cost money.
Commit to doing 5 things from your list in the next 7 to 10 days and notice how you feel while you’re doing them as well as after each. And how do you feel differently over the next 7 to 10 days? Writing down how we feel each day is a great gauge to how well you’re doing and which areas you need to work on, as we don’t often see things in our own life changing. Treat yourself the way you’d like a loved one to treat you.
The importance of our relationship with ourselves and our personal self worth cannot be overlooked. Use these 3 tools to become aware of patterns and actions negatively impacting our lives by replacing negative self talk, releasing the importance of the way others perceive us and making a commitment to self care practices. Read Part 1 on comparing, of this series on “Irrational Thinking,” and check back in for Part 3 next week, where we will explore coming out of the shadows and living boldly!
If you, a friend or family member is suffering from these and other similar issues, check out some of my other resources and blogs on the topics of self-care, and as always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me so I may offer some help.
To your good mental health,