The Full Mind Weigh® to Lifelong Weight Management, a program of the Institute for Lifelong Weight Management – teaching you the skills you need to keep the weight off forever!
Having good self-esteem is so important for lifelong weight management success – because you have to care enough about yourself to do the work. You have to truly believe that you are absolutely worth it. Struggles with weight management are often directly connected to struggles with self-esteem. Usually, the better self-esteem a person has, the better able he or she is to make healthy lifestyle choices.
What is Self-Esteem?
The term “self-esteem” refers the picture we hold of ourselves in our own minds (how we view ourselves), and the value we place on ourselves. A person with healthy self-esteem has a positive, affirmative and constructive view of themselves – they believe in their abilities, they accept their strengths and limitations, and they set and work towards realistic goals. Self-esteem also involves confidence in one’s ability to cope with life’s challenges, and the feeling of being worthy and deserving. A person with unhealthy self-esteem has a negative, pessimistic, disapproving view of themselves. They are unable to see beyond their limitations and problems.
Self-esteem is different from self-efficacy. When we have a sense of self-efficacy, we believe that if we work hard on something then we will be able to achieve our goals. This belief helps us continue to take on challenges and persist despite any obstacles along the way. Together, our levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy determine the degree to which we have a sense of self-confidence.
Using these strategies will help you improve your self-esteem:
- Hold onto your vision of the life you want – don’t dismiss it or let it slip away.
- Avoid negative self-talk – you may want to read my recent blog post on Core Beliefs, to learn about an effective strategy for combatting negative core beliefs: http://thefullmindweigh.wordpress.com/2014/11/21/the-power-of-core-beliefs/
- Practice the “double standard” method of self-talk. We need to learn to talk to ourselves in the same way we’d talk to a family member or friend who’s struggling with a similar issue or problem. Most people would not tell a struggling family member or friend, “You’re such a loser”, yet we often talk to ourselves in demeaning ways like this.
- Try to avoid comparing yourself to other people – especially those you consider to be “more successful”.
- Write down everything you’ve accomplished in your life so far – everything includes the tiniest things you can think of, as well as the big things. Keep adding to your list and refer to it often. It’s hard for us to hold onto these. Our minds are like magnets for the negative events in our lives. We tend to forget, or dismiss, what’s positive.
- Make a list of the skills you’ve acquired – again, don’t dismiss anything as being “insignificant”.
- Make a list of your strengths. If you’re not sure what they are, you can take this free survey to get a profile of your character strengths: http://www.viacharacter.org/www/
- Surround yourself with tangible reminders of your accomplishments, skills and strengths – find mementoes like photographs, certificates of achievement, diplomas, emails or notes you’ve received, and so on – and remind yourself of what these say about you.
- Surround yourself with positive people who believe in you – but don’t depend on others to bolster your self-esteem.
- Don’t be afraid to tell others about your accomplishments.
- Build self-compassion – instead of beating yourself up when things don’t go well, treat yourself with kindness, encouragement and support – just as you would a loved one in the same situation.
- Remind yourself of the obstacles you’ve faced and the challenges you’ve overcome. Ask yourself – how would I describe any person who could deal with all that and come out the other side? How about strong, persistent, determined, focused… (insert a few adjectives of your own here)?
- When you think about the challenges you’ve overcome, hold them up against the challenge you’re currently facing. Tell yourself, “Anyone who could do that (your past challenge), can surely do this (your current challenge)”.
- Identify the triggers that seem to lead to a dip in your self-esteem, self-efficacy, or self-confidence, and make a plan for addressing them when they next appear on your horizon – this could be a particular person, situation, or event.
- Identify some small things you can integrate into each day that will give your esteem or confidence a boost. For example, this could include a particular song you put on your phone, a poem, affirmation or motivational quote that speaks to you, visualizing a particular person, place or event, and so on.
- Learn to separate your basic sense of self-worth from external factors or particular life circumstances. Practice encouraging self-talk as demonstrated by this example: “Even though (I didn’t get the job I wanted, I haven’t yet been able to maintain a healthy weight, my relationship did not work out…) nonetheless, I’m still basically a worthwhile (kind, hard-working, thoughtful…) person.”
- Learn to consciously appreciate the wonders of your body (even if it’s not your “ideal” body) – think about what your body does for you each day!
- Learn to see your life experience as a matter of growth, rather than as a matter of success versus failure. We have only failed if we have given up. Otherwise, we are moving along a path towards change, growth, and doing better.
- Repeat – “I deserve good health” – because it’s true. After all, who doesn’t deserve good health?
Positive self-esteem is something that we can most definitely build!
“We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light”. ~Mary Dunbar
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid”. ~Albert Einstein
“You are as amazing as you let yourself be. Let me repeat that. You are as amazing as you let yourself be”. ~Elizabeth Alraune
Share your thoughts about self-esteem, weight, and healthy choices with me and other readers by commenting on this post.
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With your continued health in mind,
Doreen Lerner, Ph.D.
Director, Institute for Lifelong Weight Management
Creator, The Full Mind Weigh® to Lifelong Weight Management
The Institute for Lifelong Weight Management provides education and training. The Full Mind Weigh® is strictly an educational program and is not a substitute for medical or psychological evaluation or treatment. If you think you may be suffering from an eating disorder, please consult with a qualified mental health professional who is trained to evaluate and treat eating disorders.