Perhaps one of the most important elements of a emotionally healthy and happy life is to learn from the past rather than live in it. Too often people lug their past around and reread headlines that are months, years and even decades old. Would you keep rereading the front page headlines from 1980, 1990, or even 2018? However, all too often we are so stuck in the past that we live as if we keep rereading old headlines. Here are a few sample tips from Embrace Your Greatness.Pages from Get Past the Past
The pdf below, “Living in the Land of Good Enough,” is one of the 50 chapters in “Embrace Your Greatness.” Learn tips to avoid “all-or-nothing thinking.”Live in the Land of Good Enough
Think back on the last three or four goals you set for yourself. Did they have to do with your physical appearance or career? Chances are the answer is yes. Wanting to lose weight, get fit, get a promotion, eat healthier or be more productive are all admirable goals, but when did we lose sight of making our emotional health and wellness a priority?
As a psychotherapist for more than 40 years, I have been struck with finding time and time again that the one key factor that underlies our sense of happiness and wellbeing is not what we achieve “out there” but rather it is our underlying sense of self-esteem that makes or breaks our sense of wellbeing. It is the underlying filter that we see the world. If we don’t truly love—or even like—ourselves, nothing from the outside will truly fill the void from within.
If you are like most of my clients over the years, the phrase, “I’ll be happy when…” typically ends with responses such as “I’m thinner”, “I get in better shape”, “I find a mate”, “I get a better job”, “I get a promotion”, ” I have children”, “I move” or “I have more money”. What do responses all have in common? They all assume that things on the outside hold the key to happiness. Many successful, witty, attractive people who by society’s standards “have it all” lack inner self-confidence and self-esteem, though. Losing weight, getting fit, earning a promotion or finding a mate are all great, but they do not ensure anything more than a temporary high if a nagging sense of low self-esteem still lurks from within.
This is not to say that having goals are not good for us because they are! The trick is not to be fooled that these achievements alone will help you achieve a sense of happiness and wellbeing. Inner happiness will only come from truly embracing your greatness and enjoying the journey of reaching for goals—not by measuring your worth only once you “get there.” You deserve to love yourself starting right now, and, with these tips, you’ll be well on your way.
10 Self-Esteem Boosters
2. Quell Your Inner Critic: Talk to yourself as you would a best friend. Too often we say things to ourselves we would never dream of saying to anyone else. Beating yourself up when you fall short or feel down will only cause anxiety and degrade your sense of self-worth. Instead of immediately resorting to negativity, focus on unleashing your inner nurturer instead of your inner critic.
3. Think Rationally: The quality of your thoughts reflects the quality of your life; as such, healthy thoughts underlie healthy feelings. Thinking in black and white, all-or-nothing ways, such as “I’m stupid” or “He’s a jerk” will make your thoughts distorted and extreme, often leading to anxiety and depression over time. Sticking to the facts rather than your interpretations will help you to think straight to feel great!
4. Give Up the “If Only” Excuses: There is one thing for sure in this life: The past never changes. Excessive regret is a self-esteem robber, and focusing on what could have been, should have been or how things would have been if you made different choices is pointless and destructive. Instead of reworking the past, focus on what’s next with the lessons learned from abandoned goals and past behaviors. Forgive yourself for not having the foresight to know that which is now so obvious in hindsight and you’ll find that moving forward and growing will be that much easier.
5. Embrace Self-Compassion: When you are self-compassionate, you choose self-kindness over beating yourself up. No success in the world will make you feel better about yourself than being kind and self-loving.
6. Cultivate Mindfulness: While many equate it to meditating and isolation, mindfulnessis actually the art of being present with non-judgmental awareness. It is the art of accepting what cannot be changed and working to cultivate a “beginner’s mind.” Noticing the beauty around you rather than getting lost in the recesses of your critical head will help you see the world mindfully.
7. Take Care of Yourself: All too often we spend so much time caring for others that we neglect our own needs. Refusing to sacrifice our needs for self-care and making ourselves a priority will make us healthier and happier in the long run. Don’t forget to take a few minutes every day to do something beneficial for your mind or body.
8. Assert Yourself: Speaking your mind and finding your voice is vital to self-esteem. Fear of expressing thoughts and feelings over concern about what others think will slowly rob you of your confidence. To practice reinforcing your sense of self-worth, practice using “I” statements to express your thoughts and feelings rather than keeping quiet in fear of criticism and rejection.
9. Develop Strong Connections: The quality of our support system often correlates with how we feel about ourselves. While no one can give us self-esteem, having strong, supportive familial and friendly bonds help us feel good about ourselves. The best way to grow is not in isolation, but through positive relationships that challenge and change you.
10. Have an Attitude of Gratitude: Grateful people tend to be more self-loving and confident. Those who look for the roses instead of focusing on the thorns will be more likely to focus on what they have rather than what they lack. Make a point to find three new things you are grateful for each day, and write those thoughts in a gratitude journal. You will be more likely to feel whole when you do not focus on the perceived frustrations or disappointments in your life.
Improving your self-esteem and embracing your greatness will help you truly love yourself and love your life. While it may not come natural to all, focusing on self-care and positive self-talk will allow you to recognize all that your body and mind can achieve and will help you slowly improve how you view yourself. After all, don’t you deserve to be happy, to love yourself and appreciate yourself as you are right now? We think you do.
About the Author Judith Belmont, M.S., L.P.C., is an online mental health coach and offers motivational interactive presentations. She is the author of seven books, including “Embrace Your Greatness: 50 Ways to Build Unshakeable Self-Esteem” and the Anxiety and Stress Solution Card Deck. Her website, Belmont Wellness, offers free self-help handouts and worksheets.
Note: This post is adapted from my post published on Lifehack.org on 7/26/2018The idea of failure grips us at our most vulnerable internal place – our inner sense of self-esteem and self-love. Although intuitively we know that in reaching high we are guaranteed some degree of failure, when we fall short, that knowledge offers little or no consolation
Do any of these statements sound familiar?
“I’m a loser.”
“I can’t do anything right!”
“I’m such a failure.”
“ I failed in my marriage.”
“I failed as a parent.”
“I failed in my job.”
“If I fail that would be terrible!”
“I can’t stand failing!”
When we fail at something, all too often we think globally rather than in temporary terms. We think that we not only failed, but are failures. Feelings of unworthiness drag us down, leading to missteps and setbacks, defining us rather than merely offering feedback and educating us with useful information moving forward.
The good news is that we can build on our failures on the road to success. And in this article, I’ll show you how.
We can learn from our failures rather than being haunted by the ghosts of them. We can stop thinking in all-or-nothing, global ways, so that our mistakes and failures become stepping stones for success rather than millstones around our neck. Failure can help you succeed and grow by staying positive and thinking optimistically.
We learn from history about many famous failures who became some of the most successful people on the planet.
Here are just a handful of examples:
- Walt Disney at age 22 was fired from a Missouri newspaper for “not being creative enough.” Then Laugh O Gram Studios, one of his first ventures, went bankrupt.
- Colonel Sanders was broke at the age of 65, and with his social security check for $105 he went on the road, living in his car for 2 years, going from restaurant to restaurant to find a place to use his chicken recipe. He was rejected 1,009 times before finding an owner that would use his recipe, leading to the franchise.
- Michael Jordan was cut from his Sophomore High School basketball team.
- “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” Theodor Seuss Geisel’s first children’s book, was rejected by over 20 publishers before being published by Vanguard Press.
- At the age of 30, Steve Jobs described himself as a public failure when he was fired from the board of Apple, the company he created. This led him to develop other ventures such as Pixar Animation and NeXT, before returning to Apple a decade later, resulting in his invention of the iPod, iPhone and iPad. In his famous speech at the 2005 Stanford Commencement, he cited this failure as being the best thing that happened to him, as he could begin again in most creative period of his life.
- Thomas Edison was fired from his job after working on his own invention for hours, which ended up in a chemical spill, damaging the floor and his boss’ desk. After he was fired, he started working for himself as an inventor. Later on, as he was working on perfecting his nickel-iron battery, he told a reporter “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
These are just a few examples of the many successful people who prove that there can be success after failure. As inspirational as these stories are, most of us remain plagued by our failures rather than motivated by them. Even if we know that failure is surmountable, it does not change the way we feel about ourselves when we experience it. Failure can take a toll on our self-esteem and feelings of self-love, diminishing our sense of optimism about our future.
So how can we feel better about ourselves? Below are 10 acts of self-love when we feel like a failure.
1. Forgive yourself for not having the foresight to know what you do now.
The ability to forgive is perhaps the greatest gift we can give to ourselves to help us recover from our regrets and missteps.
Instead of beating yourself up for not knowing what is so obvious now, see yourself as a work in progress and give yourself the gift of forgiveness.
2. Focus on being self-compassionate.
Self-compassion is perhaps the most important element of self-esteem and resilience. It used to be thought that achievement and success–rising above the norm–is the road to high self-esteem.
However, that road to self-esteem is way too conditional and assures that anyone at or below the norm is not as worthy or special. Self-compassion gives all people, high achievers as well as lower achievers, the assurance that they are worthy of love anyway, with no conditions.
3. Stop judging yourself.
Suspending the labels you put on yourself is an act of self-love. Instead of calling yourself “a failure”, be more specific and less global.
Failing does not have to define you and your worth. Changing your self-talk from “I”m a failure” to “I could not get things to work out.” or “I made some mistakes and will use this experience as stepping stones going forward.”
4. Turn your failures into goals.
Instead of “I failed at my marriage” you can say “I had trouble communicating in my marriage and am learning to communicate better now.”
The first statement is anchored in the past that cannot be changed while the second has an eye to the future and is more empowering of what you can do now.
5. Give yourself a hug.
Instead of letting your inner critic have full reign, how about just giving yourself a hug?
We all need hugs sometimes – especially from ourselves! Don’t you deserve it?
6. Imagine yourself as a young child, full of innocence and beauty.
Keep in mind there is no such thing as worthless or failing babies and children. We possess the same worth that we had when we were born.
Sometimes we need to look behind the scars and wounds to see that preciousness is still inside of us.
No matter how much we fail, our worth remains the same and we are still beautiful.
7. Switch your mindset from being a victim to a victor.
When you feel like a failure, you see yourself as a victim of the past instead of focusing on your resilience and ability to spring back.
After all, it’s not how many times we are beaten down and fail that matters – what really matters is how many times we get back up and try again, each time a bit wiser.
8. Become more mindful.
Mindfulness is not just about meditating or breathing deeply and quietly in isolation. Rather it is staying fully in the present in our daily lives with non- judgmental awareness in whatever you do.
When we are mindful, we stay rooted in the present instead of looking back at our past missteps or anxious about the future. As the saying goes, “Today is a gift, that’s why they call it the present!”
9. Calm yourself with a calming box.
Sometimes we need something tangible to sooth us when we feel down. As a therapist, I would sometimes have my clients create a self-soothing box to help them cope in stressful times.
Using actual objects that serve to distract and self-soothe can provide soothing touchstones.
A journal, a stress ball, a polished stone to remind you of your self worth and body oils are all examples of things that can be placed inside a calming box and used to soothe you when you’re feeling down.
10. Connect with others.
When people feel like a failure, all too often they isolate themselves, closing themselves up instead of opening up to others.
Seeking social support is one of the best choices you can make when you feel like a failure. Getting another person’s perspective will help you stop the tunnel vision that distorts your self-view.
Asking for help, having the courage to open yourself up instead of closing yourself down will pave the way not only for avoiding loneliness, but it will also deepen your connections with others.
These 10 action plans for defeating feelings of failure will serve as a springboard for a resilient and full life. Instead of focusing on the failure that comes with falling short, be proud that you dared to pursue your dreams with courage and enthusiasm.
To quote Winston Churchill,
“Success consists of going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
Change your attitude, and change your life! Choose a good one today!