Many of us have trouble accepting ourselves as who we are. We tend to undermine our capacities and become self critical. We engage in self talk which is mainly focused on our shortcomings and deficits. This kind of self talk lowers our self esteem, decreases self confidence, and causes anxiety and panic attacks. People often become depressed because they have internalized the messages, given to them, in childhood, by their care givers. Their critical voice has now become internalized and their own inner voice. We begin to say things like, “I don’t deserve it”, “I am not worthy”, and so on. This leads to depression as we lose interest in our hobbies and pastime, become pessimistic, avoid social situations, and become withdrawn. People with low self esteem have trouble asserting themselves. They tend to tolerate abuse and become care givers for others, neglecting to meet their own needs. It is not possible to bring peace, acceptance and love as a healing force in the world without accomplishing a major transformation within the Self. So loving and accepting the Self becomes quite critical for self empowerment and entitlement.
How do we cultivate love for ourselves? It is hard when you are stuck in a situation like abusive relationship or have endured trauma in childhood, or, as adults. However, it is important to take care of our needs, eliminate the negative self talk, and begin to cultivate love for ourselves. Once we feel this love for ourselves, we are better able to give it to others also.
One thing that comes to mind is spirituality. It has been found that people who have some spirituality are better able to cope with problems, endure adverse circumstances, and adjust with flexibility and compromise. Therefore, it is important to spend some time alone and do meditation. Spiritual practice is a good way to create a deeper relationship with yourself. When you center yourself, and get in touch with yourself, it gives you a sense of clarity and confidence. It also facilitates letting go of the need to control regardless of what is happening around you. You feel more empowered, have fewer worries and begin to think positive with spiritual faith. It gives you a binding power when you are faced with adversities.
It is also important to engage is self nurturing activities to occupy your mind with healthy distractions. When you become a loner and fail to indulge in your hobbies, you become obsessive and tend to dwell on your negative self talk. However when your mind is busy with pleasurable activities, your mind is distracted and you don’t engage in negative self talk, which leads to depressive symptoms. When you are having fun, you begin to laugh and enjoy life. Many depressed people stop laughing and develop a pattern, which is counterproductive to their inner peace and well being. When you engage in your hobbies, play, and relax you feel rejuvenated and energetic. The pleasure you derive tends to nourish your soul and enhance your productivity. You become a better problem solver because your symptoms of depression get reduced and you can be more objective as opposed to being biased and subjective.
It is also important to meet your basic needs, take care of your health, rest, exercise, be up to date with medical and dental checkups. Depressed people tend to neglect these things and feel sad. When you meet your needs, you feel more contented and also feel happy. It is also important to express what you need from others. Sometimes we fail to do this and expect others to read our minds. When your needs like intimacy, love, and attention, are not fulfilled by others, you begin to harbor grudges and hold resentment. This leads to marital problems, and poor interpersonal relationships. Famous psychologist, Maslow has defined five levels of needs, which need to be met in a hierarchy, in order to become Self Actualized. Writer has described them in quite detail in another blog post on Self Esteem.
Love yourself as who you are. Believe that you deserve this love and do not feel guilty when you feel love for yourself. Self acceptance helps you in building your self esteem and you become free from judgments of others. You will have less need to worry about what others are thinking. Sometimes, we become our own judge and evaluator and we begin to rate ourselves on our own performance. Watch for this tendency and learn to be more accepting of yourself to free yourself from the fears of disapproval and rejection. Self acceptance allows you to become more self confident and forgiving. We are all humans and no one is perfect. To err is human, and we must forgive ourselves for our mistakes and try to learn from them and move on.
It is also important to be gentle with yourself and have some compassion for yourself. We all have an inner child within ourselves, who has certain needs. When we assume responsibilities as adults, we become care takers and begin to neglect our needs. So pay attention to your feelings as opposed to ignoring them. Use comforting words to soothe yourself by listening to your feelings, forgiving and having trust in yourself. When you meditate and center yourself, you will be able to get in touch with your feelings. Once you have identified your feelings, it is easier to take care of them. When we are too busy caring for others and playing our roles, we tend to neglect our needs and fail to listen to our feelings. This leads to anger and resentment and destroy our inner peace. When we attend to our feelings, we feel contended and become at peace.
It is also important to use encouraging words to empower yourself. Affirmations, which are phrased with positive and inspirational words, are very effective to keep you driven and motivated. They are like mind chatter to keep you reminded of your commitments. Sometimes it is very useful to visualize that your inner critic has now transformed into a coach, who is assisting you with your goals. Try to give compliments to yourself and appreciate what you do. Depressed people are too hard on themselves and they fail to give themselves credit if they do something good. Try to relax this attitude and become more cognizant of your pattern. Rectify this pattern and become more appreciative of your success and accomplishments. This helps in building up your self confidence and boosts your self image.
Learn to express your feelings as opposed to masking them, to gain approval and avoid rejection. Depressed people tend to mask their true feelings and live a life of secrecy. When you hide your Self for too long, you become inhibited and have trouble expressing yourself. You have a right to think and feel and there is no need to feel guilty for your feelings. Feelings are feelings and it is okay to have them as long as you don’t act out on them. For example, you can be angry with your relatives or friends and it is okay to have the feeling. Do not judge yourself and blame yourself for having these feelings. Try to identify these feelings and express them assertively. There are many kinds of healthy outlets for self expression. Writing blogs, music, cooking, craft, dance, painting, story writing, poem compositions are some examples for healthy expression. When you express your feelings, you feel relieved and less burdened by the load of overwhelming feelings, because they get a healthy outlet in your composition, art, and music.
It is also important to note that we need to have some goals in life in order to make us feel good about ourselves. Without dreams and aspirations, our life becomes dull and meaningless. Writer has written a blog post on Meaning, Purpose, and Spirituality on this website. Please refer to this blog for more details on this topic. It is good to make a long term goal and work on short term objectives, broken down in several baby steps every day to achieve what you want. Depression gets lifted when you become motivated to work on your goals. Sometimes you may need to challenge yourself to take small risks. Just don’t get discouraged and imagine all kinds of scenarios for failure and “what if” thinking. Otherwise you will be stuck in the mounting spiral of negative self talk. This will deter you from trying to take the baby steps required for fulfillment of your goals. You begin to love yourself when you have a definite goal in life and you take actions each day to reach your goals.
In this way, we see that once you begin to take action on the above ideas, you will automatically feel a change in your pattern. You will begin to accept yourself as who you are and indulge in activities that will boost your self esteem. It is very important to have love for our Self. Without love, you will feel low in energy, blame others for your problems, and become defensive to protect you as opposed to feeling self confident and willing to accept others as who they are. You will have less need to control and change others and focus on self improvement.
Hypnosis can help the person enhance self esteem, instill courage and increase motivation with powerful positive suggestions to the subconscious mind offered in a hypnotic trance.
Please visit our Blossom Hypnotherapy page to learn how hypnosis can help reduce symptoms of Anxiety disorders.