IF YOU are anything like me, you were raised in a home that was a little south of perfect. Perhaps your parents or others in authority reminded you of your frail and imperfect ways at regular intervals. If so, you are like me.
When you consider self-esteem building activities, the first thing to consider should be the words you’ve heard along the way. More than sticks and stones, the words we hear become a sort of code that becomes an external DNA of sorts. We aren’t born with this code, but we certainly are “coded” along the way. Self-esteem building activities seem to always dance around this reality – that our minds and personalities really are affected by the words we’ve picked up.
Case in point: 'positive self-talk' is a buzz phrase for the self-help industry. There are CEOs who supposedly arise in the morning to face themselves in the mirror, only to talk to themselves in a manner that is affirming and encouraging. Why is that fascinating (as it should be)? It may be the only time they hear genuine, no strings-attached kind words during their day. Everyone else may only be jockeying for position with their platitudes.
Centring around this concept, we can see that so much of our self-esteem activities are really driven by words. First off, you’re reading this article, right? You may be multi-tasking while reading, but likely you’re simply reading about self-esteem building activities because you want some encouragement right now.
Other self-esteem builders are driven by words, such as the need to get into shape. Why is it that so many of us are struggling to stay in shape? I cannot possibly speak for anyone but myself, but I’m guessing I represent a vast portion of people, when I say that I try to get into shape because of what people say when I’m out of shape. I don’t like the four-letter-disguised-as-three-letter word 'F-A-T.' I wince. When nobody else says it, I can hear ghosts of the past laughing and calling me that. I call myself that on occasion and realise I’m tearing myself down and stop it.
There are literally endless self-esteem activities one can be engaged in, but of the possibilities I focus on the words. They lead us on trails and get us focused on problems like nobody and nothing else can do. They become our compass leading us onward, but other times will spill out of our mouths quicker than we can regret them. We bless and curse ourselves and others with our words.
What’s worse, they’re invisible. We can’t stop them, we can’t turn off our minds which store-up words, sentences, paragraphs and whole volumes of failure and problems. They are weightless things, yet weigh us down. If words are the Trojan Horse, we just need to be sure we’re with Troy.
Making sure our words are working for instead of against us is the most important battlefront of self-esteem activities. Here are a few practical illustrations of what I mean.
REPLAYING THE SCRIPT
First, we must stop replaying the script from our childhood. If our parents were crass, destructive and abusive, we need to stop replaying all the dead weight of their destructive words. I speak from experience, and I love my parents. I just can’t keep hitting “replay” as I call myself the names I have been called. Soon enough, I start believing the hype.
TALK (IT) DOWN
What I mean by this is to talk down our problems. Too often, we magnify the wrong thing. We set our focus on the big hurdle in our way instead of the fact that our second wind hasn’t kicked in yet. Problems get bigger the more you talk them up. Talk your troubles down. They shrink.
TALK (ME) UP
I don’t envision standing in front of a mirror here and speaking good words into your own face. If you do that, just close the door. I’m rather referring to those moments you’re alone, or waiting for the job interview, or waiting in a waiting room in some hospital ward. Stop being your own worst enemy, and be your biggest advocate.
Don’t continue in the same boat travelling the same polluted water headed off the same cliff everyone else is on. Drop the sarcasm. Join that other ship, sailing the other direction, where people are being brought encouraging words from perfect strangers intent on bettering those around them. Let that other ship sink, just don’t be on it when it does.
LEAD THE CHARGE
Once you have made it habitual to use words positively in your own self-talk moments, then continue these self-esteem building activities by using your positive attitude to infect others. Doggedly refuse to join them in the sinking ship headed for destruction and misery. People like yourself use your words as the biggest element in your self-esteem building activities. Lead on. Self-esteem is infectious, breeding hope in one’s future and fellow man.
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