Welcome to ‘Reprogram My Mind’ — a series of activities to uproot the origins of your automatic negative thoughts that haunt your mind.
As you look at yourself and your life with new eyes of renewed self-love and confidence, we will also highlight the steps that you can take to metamorphose into a person with high self-esteem.
To get to the origins of your low self-esteem, go back to your past and invoke the Influential Voices of your Past — the people who got in the way of your true path AND those who sought to inspire you to pursue your true calling.
Activity 1: Exorcising ‘Villains’ of Your Past
Take a walk down memory lane and recall three “villains” of your past — anyone who had undermined your self-worth.
- Jot down the comments and incidents in which each had undermined your self-worth and then describe them in detail.
- Write a letter to each “villain” and highlight the hurtfulness of his/her words and actions. Defend your self-worth and counter the unfair criticisms.
- Please feel free to be as expressive and have as much fun as you like in ‘standing up’ to these monsters.
- Have fun and be creative: Instead of writing, you can also draw pictures of these ‘monsters’ and images that depict these incidents. In these instances, you can ‘attack’ these monsters by drawing funny faces or caricaturizing them in any way.
- Whatever you choose to do, end by making peace with the past and forgiving the ‘villains’ for their hurtful words and actions.
Activity 2: Acknowledging ‘Heroes’ of your Past
Take a walk down memory lane and recall three ‘heroes’ of your past — anyone who had enhanced your self-worth.
If there are no specific individuals, think of three incidents or places, which bring back positive memories for you.
- Jot down the comments and/or incidents that enhanced your self-worth and then describe them in detail.
- Write a letter to each ‘hero’ and express your gratitude for his/her words and actions. In the case of incidents or places, state your appreciation for their occurrences in your life.
- Please feel free to be as expressive and have as much fun as you like in expressing your gratitude and appreciation.
- Have fun and be creative: Instead of writing, you can also draw pictures or insert photos.
Activity 3: Identify New Role Models
To help you to build your self-esteem, find new role models within your networks of family, friends, peers, and acquaintances. As you widen your circle of life, you will continually meet people to whom you look up. Spend time with them and learn about their ‘secrets for living’.
Activity 4: Steps to Reboot Your Self-Esteem
To boost your self-esteem, here are a few tips and activities to transform you into the new and confident you:
1. Counter negative thoughts
Be conscious of what you are thinking. For each negative thought, counter it with either an objective statement OR a positive one.
2. Nobody is perfect: Just do it.
Don’t be held back from doing and trying out for things that you love because of your standard of perfection. The reality is that nobody and nothing can be perfect. So do your best and let go of the rest!
3. Speak up
You are a unique individual with your own thoughts and feelings. Express them.
4. Learn from mistakes
Taking risks and making mistakes is an important part of learning. It is the process of making mistakes that you get better at what you do. Along the way, you will discover what you are good and weak at.
5. Ask others for help
There is no shame in asking for help. Each time you need help, don’t beat yourself up for your weakness or incompetence. Rather, consider it an opportunity for you to connect with others and improve yourself.
So if you are feeling a little low, go unburden your heart to a supportive family member/friend. If you have problems with your schoolwork, go seek out your professors, tutors, or friends.
6. Discover the unknown
You don’t know what you are really good at unless you try out different things. So consider taking up different classes/activities to discover what you are good at.
7. Help others
Helping others (whether they are your friends, siblings, or the general community) and making a difference in their lives will nourish your self-esteem.
8. Embrace yourself
You are all that you’ve got in this life. Look in the mirror and make the conscious decision to accept and love who you are, with all your strengths and weaknesses.
Of course, you should always be trying to improve yourself in the areas of your life that are within your control.
Embrace Yourself Activity
- Write down all the things that you like about yourself.
- Write down all the things that you dislike about yourself.
- Now circle the ones that you can change. Then go ahead and change them.
Nurture yourself. As the next step from embracing yourself, take active measures to treat yourself with tender loving care:
1. Take good care of yourself
Eat, sleep, exercise, practice good hygiene, and dress well. Your appearance, the care in which you put into how you wish to project yourself to the outside world, is a reflection of your self-esteem.
2. Have fun
Don’t just work all the time. Make sure that you do fun and relaxing things like seeing a movie, getting a massage, or going out for a social evening.
Take time out to celebrate and acknowledge your successes and milestones — good grades, promotion, or doing something difficult. If you are just focused on running on the treadmill of life, you will miss out on giving yourself the necessary pat on the back.
4. Acknowledge yourself
Throughout your day, make the conscious effort to acknowledge the good things you have done, whether they are small gestures of kindness and consideration, or even accomplishing a mundane task.
5. Keep going
Adopting a self-nurturing stance can feel unnatural and tiring at first. There may also be days when you just don’t feel like it. Just do it anyway, and one day, it will become second nature, and you will realize that you have transformed into a person with high self-esteem.
6. Set goals
Think about the things that you dislike about yourself and that you can change. You can set specific goals to change these aspects about yourself.
To create a plan and document your steps and progress, check out the Problem-Solving & Action Plan page.
The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path To Higher Creativity, by Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan, Penguin Group, 1992 (ISBN 978-1-58542-146-
Beating the Blues, Clare Yeo “Building a Healthy Self-Esteem: Enhancing Emotional Wellness”