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Developing Self-Esteem: One Thought at a Time

Developing Self-Esteem: One Thought at a Time

Do You Know How Awesome You Are?

Hey, let’s try something. Can you name 3 things that you LOVE about yourself? 

You don’t have to grab a piece of paper or pull up your Notes app. Just take a moment, close your eyes, and answer that question for yourself in your mind.

How did it feel to do that?

Now think about how easy it is for you to describe the wonderful things about someone else in your life. Someone you love, admire, or even only know superficially. For many people, it is a little more complicated to do that for themselves

Some people can rattle off a long list of their best qualities and accomplishments. Some can confidently name a few. I was working with a client recently who felt extremely uncomfortable identifying even one. 

When I asked her to do this exercise, she puzzled over it for a while before settling on one. But then came a flood of uncertainty, and she began to doubt whether it was true or not. She tried a few more times but ultimately she gave up on the entire exercise, feeling frustrated and disingenuous. 

This was someone who is highly intelligent, extremely kind, a hard worker, and truly lovely inside and out. She struggled with perfectionism in her work, insecurity in her relationships, and a lot of anxiety. We worked together to tackle those issues, and found that ultimately they all stemmed from her low self-esteem.

Recognize Your Narratives

The narratives we construct about ourselves are informed by our early experiences, our caregivers, our teachers, our friends, the media, and society at large. As we grow up, we are constantly bombarded with messages and belief systems about the world around us, and we quickly learn to internalize them. Recognize that some of the thoughts you have about yourself are part of deeper, more subconscious narratives you hold, and may not actually be the whole truth. 

For example, if you’re in the dating world, you may be experiencing various forms of rejection on a regular basis. A bad date can lead to thoughts like, “I acted like an idiot!”, “I can’t believe I said that, I’m so stupid!”, “I’m ugly!”. It’s important to recognize that thoughts like these are your brain cherry-picking through all the potential thoughts you could have about that situation in order to feed into those constructed narratives that you hold about yourself. In this case, it may be a deeper narrative of “I’m not loveable”.

Reflecting, journaling, and doing growth work through therapy or coaching are some ways to learn to recognize these thought patterns and the deeper narratives you are holding on to. They are usually so ingrained and instinctual that we have to make a real effort to even notice that they are present. 

Learn How to Thought-Stop

Thought-stopping is a CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) technique that I teach many of my clients who struggle with anxiety. Once you have done the work of recognizing the untrue or harmful narratives you hold about yourself, the goal is to learn to stop the thoughts that feed them further. 

I like to describe this as a muscle: Just as you need to continually do strength training work to keep your biceps strong, you need to strengthen your thought-stopping muscle in order for it to be effective. 

The basic idea is to bring more awareness to those moments when you have an unhelpful or harmful thought, like “I’m an idiot!”, and quickly perform a stopping exercise. This can be simply saying “Stop!” to yourself, or even a physical action like snapping a rubber band on your wrist. The goal is to develop awareness of the thought patterns, and to stop the tendency of letting harmful thoughts spiral into anxiety or continue to feed that unhelpful narrative. 

I like to think of thought-stopping as a protective measure to keep that harmful self-narrative from cementing further. It’s good practice to develop more awareness of your thought patterns and to feel more in control of your thoughts and anxiety. However, to develop self-esteem, we also have to do some deeper work to challenge these narratives we hold about ourselves.

Challenge, Re-Frame, and Practice Self-Compassion

While thought-stopping is a great practice to have in your toolbox for managing anxiety and spiraling self-criticism, we also want to make a deliberate effort to challenge some of those harmful narratives we hold about ourselves. Taking time and space to really look at what we think about ourselves, where it comes from, and how to re-frame some of those beliefs with more compassion is a vital part of building self-esteem. 

For example, with the dating situation, listing the ways in which you are a desirable partner and truly allowing yourself to look at where you tend to dismiss the positives and highlight the negatives. A supportive therapist or coach can be a helpful person to do this with, because we often find it hard to recognize when we are being unfair on ourselves or engaging in black-and-white thinking.

If you’ve read this far, you are probably someone who is looking to boost their self-esteem and are ready to make some changes in your life. One actionable tip I have for you may be one you’ve heard before: talk to yourself as you would talk to a close friend who is going through something difficult. 

Would you be harsh or overly critical with this friend when they make mistakes? When someone says something rude to them on a date? When someone talks down to them at work? When they are feeling anxious or fearful of tackling a challenge in their life? Just as you are capable of being a kind, compassionate and supportive friend, you are capable of developing your own self-esteem and gaining more success and happiness in so many more areas of your life.

Remember that exercise we started with? Try incorporating it into your life as a 5 minute practice. Maybe in the evening, before you go to bed, as a way to wind down and reflect. Or maybe in a 5 minute break in the middle of your busy day, when you’ve been on the go and have already had a thousand thoughts that you have not yet brought awareness to. Take a few minutes to breathe, check in on your thoughts, reframe anything that you need to, and remind yourself that you are trying your best, and you are worthy. 

Developing self-esteem is not easy. It takes a lot of energy, patience, perseverance, and support to be able to do some of the work I’ve laid out here. But it can be hugely gratifying to be able to live with less self-doubt, less anxiety, more purpose, more confidence, and a stronger sense of how kickass you are!

All the best, 
Sharmishtha Gupta, Ed.M., M.A.

Sharmishtha Gupta, Ed.M, M.A., is a warm, validating counselor and coach who can help you uncover your strengths, get clear about who you are, heal your spirit, and attain the highest and best in yourself and your relationships.

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How to Find Your Purpose in Life

How to Find Your Purpose in Life

Living Intentionally

In addition to my role as a therapist and life coach here at Growing Self, I absolutely love hearing your questions and answering them on The Love, Happiness and Success Blog and Podcast. Late summer is a transformational season, and  I know that many people are asking themselves hard questions about who they are, and what they want to do with their lives. I know this for a fact, actually, because lately we’ve had listeners of the blog and podcast reaching out with specific questions like:

“How do you find your purpose in life?”

“What to do when you feel you have no purpose in life?”

“I want to find a meaningful job/direction in my life, but I don’t know how to work out what that would be!”

“I would like to know more about how to know your on the right path. And not making decisions out of fear.”

“I want to feel alive and excited about life again but I’m so used to isolating and hiding/numbing out. How do I find happiness? Nothing’s bad but nothings great- it’s all just kind of blah.”

How do you find your calling/purpose?” 

These are big questions, but important ones. If you too have been looking for clarity and direction about your life’s purpose, your career, or who you fundamentally are as a person (and how to create the life you want) today I have a treat for you!

Embracing Your Power + Finding Your Purpose

On today’s episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, I’m talking all about how to not JUST find your purpose and highest calling, but how to start living your life with self-awareness and intention. Specifically, we’re discussing:

  • Why your ultimate purpose in life is bigger than your career
  • How to fully embrace the amount of power you already have to design the life you want
  • How to uncover the unconscious beliefs and messages that have been leading to life circumstances you don’t want
  • Targeted questions to help you get clear about what your truth is
  • The importance of deliberately living in congruence with your highest and best
  • How to develop self-awareness and mindfulness strategies that will allow you to take control of your thoughts, feelings and behaviors
  • How living intentionally and in congruence with your values leads to authentic happiness

If you have been feeling stuck lately and are struggling to find clarity and direction in life, I hope you listen to this episode.

With love and respect,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Ps: One of the strategies I offered on this episode involves thinking about times that you experience “flow” and using that as a clue to where your passions and talents lie. What are your “flow moments?” Share with us!

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

How to Find Your Purpose in Life

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Fruit & Flowers, Inside Decides”

Enjoy This Episode?

Please Rate, Review, and Share The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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The Problem With Perfectionism

Do you ever feel the pressure to ALWAYS be perfect (even when life is everything but perfect)?? To be happy, healthy, and successful are all goals that we want to achieve, but sometimes just acknowledging reality and living true to yourself is really what you need to live a full life. Today on The Love, Happiness and Success blog we are talking about the problem with perfectionism and why you should "keep the first picture." Read More
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10 Tips For a Restorative Vacation

10 Tips For a Restorative Vacation

The Art of Vacationing Well

 

It is vacation season, and you probably have some getaways planned. (I hope.) But if you are of the “rest is for mortals” mindset, you are not alone. Unfortunately, over half of all salaried Americans don’t even come close to using all their vacation time every year. They feel like they are too busy to take time off, or that a vacation is an unnecessary luxury. Of course, those are the lucky ones. Many more Americans toil on day in / day out without any vacation at all out of necessity rather than self-imposed workaholism.

This is an issue. We deserve to be happier. Research consistently shows that working long hours with no breaks or meaningful downtime leads to lower productivity, increased depression and anxiety, and a reduced ability to solve problems well.  It is a recipe for chronic stress and burnout that takes a toll on your mental health, your work, as well as your personal life. Finding ways to slow down periodically is crucial to your ability to function at your highest and best long term.

But, as we all know, just because you take some time off or get out of town doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to come back feeling good, rested and restored either. In fact, many people I speak with come back from their “vacations” feeling frazzled, stressed, overspent financially, and exhausted — and then get to enjoy a week or more of playing catch up upon their return.

Not fun.

So today I’m bringing you ten tips that will help you make the most of your hard earned vacation time — whether you travel to exotic lands or just stick around town.

We’ll be discussing how to:

1) Take time off without feeling guilty about it
2) Use your vacation time intentionally and mindfully (focus on health and happiness)
3) Prepare to step out in such a way as to minimize “re-entry stress” upon your return
4) Set boundaries with others (and yourself) so you can relax and be present
5) Learn how to make them positive benefits of your vacation experience last, even after you’re back

And much, much more — all on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

Xoxo, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

10 Tips For a Restorative Vacation

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Enjoy the Podcast?

Please Rate, Review, Subscribe and SHARE! 

Google Play

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Let’s  Talk

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The Problem With Perfectionism

Do you ever feel the pressure to ALWAYS be perfect (even when life is everything but perfect)?? To be happy, healthy, and successful are all goals that we want to achieve, but sometimes just acknowledging reality and living true to yourself is really what you need to live a full life. Today on The Love, Happiness and Success blog we are talking about the problem with perfectionism and why you should "keep the first picture." Read More
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The Problem With Perfectionism

The Problem With Perfectionism

Keep The First Picture

After a long run in the blistering Texas heat with my friend, she looks at me and says, “Let’s take a picture!” Instinctually I said, “sure!” and smiled for the camera.  Then I saw the photo… After pausing to think about the state of my face (I looked like Sloth from The Goonies), I frantically asked, “Maybe we should take another one?” And then she said something that I found remarkably empowering… She said she was starting a new personal goal to keep the first picture. 

Puzzled, I asked her why. “It seems like everyone takes about ten pictures and funnels through at least five different filters before they’re satisfied with the photo they’ve recreated. Why don’t we just appreciate the raw moment we captured the first time?” she asked. 

Wow, why don’t we?…

The Problem with Perfectionism 

It seems like there is an unspoken expectation that we should always be happy and healthy. We should always be perfect.  Even when we’re going through some of the darkest moments in our lives, there’s an underlying pressure to keep it hidden. “I can’t talk about this. I must appear like I’ve got it all together” we tell ourselves. Whether you’re a single parent, having trouble at work, or dealing with a mental or physical illness, somehow it’s a lot easier to post a photo of you smiling than one that shows what’s really going on… 

The problem with perfectionism is that it’s not only impossible but fleeting. The second we feel like we’ve achieved the slightest perfection in one area of our lives, we’re paranoid about the mess we’re hiding in another corner.  And there we go: around-and-around this cycle of striving, failing (while making the appearance of succeeding), feeling disappointed and ashamed, and then doing it all over again. Even in my own life, this cycle has deceived me into missing out on some pretty great moments, which to me is the most disappointing outcome of perfectionism.

We’re Missing Out on The Moment!

The pressure we feel to be perfect can cause us to miss out on the moment. Perfectionism convinces us that there’s an even better moment to be fabricated and if we believe it enough, then it’s that fabricated moment that actually happened. 

There are two problems with this lie that Perfectionism tells us: First, believing a moment is perfect doesn’t make it so. Second, who says the moment that actually happened wasn’t worth cherishing even if it wasn’t “perfect?!”

Even messy moments have a purpose. It’s the messy moments that have brought you where you are today. These moments should be celebrated! Not hidden. It’s the failing that teaches us the most, gives us the humility to try again, and ultimately allows us to grow. 

Speaking as a chronic perfectionist myself, I know how hard it is to actually flip the switch and just sit in imperfection.  The truth is, there’s a fine line between being okay with imperfection and being apathetic to personal growth. That’s why “keeping the first picture” can be such an empowering tool for us perfectionists! It’s a simple action that creates change little-by-little, picture-by-picture. 

What “Keeping the First Picture” Can Teach You

  1. It teaches you to appreciate the moment for what it is…sweat and all! Looking at that photo can show you exactly what was happening in your life at that moment that eventually led you to this moment. The candid nature of life can be harsh and daunting, but it is also sweet and transformative. When you look back on that first picture, you can use it as a window to reflect and then grow. 

  2. It empowers you to let go of Perfectionism. Keeping the first picture can give you the courage to slowly let go of the “ideas” of perfect moments you’re chained to. To look at your tired face and say “Man, that was a crazy day”, but know that you hold the power to say “No” to Perfectionism. You don’t have to put on a show or a filter just to appease Perfectionism. You can be authentic! One picture at a time. 

As a therapist, I have seen so many clients who struggle with the desire to have the perfect life (perfect relationships, perfect job, the perfect body), or at least seem perfect on the outside… In their search for perfection though, they’ve missed out on the moment! Although it seems simple, keeping the first picture can help you take one step towards appreciating what you have and letting go of what is unachievable and frankly not as perfect as it seems. 

After I kept that first picture I didn’t see how red and sweaty I was, I saw two friends who hadn’t seen each other in months, after a long run, talking about our lives, our future, and our friendship.

What do you see in your first picture?

Georgi Chizk, M.S., LAMFT is a warm, compassionate marriage counselor, individual therapist and family therapist who creates a safe and supportive space for you to find meaning in your struggles, realize your self-worth, and cultivate healthy connections with the most important people in your life.

Let’s  Talk

Georgi Chizk, Happiness, Self Improvement / Personal Growth, Success

The Problem With Perfectionism

Do you ever feel the pressure to ALWAYS be perfect (even when life is everything but perfect)?? To be happy, healthy, and successful are all goals that we want to achieve, but sometimes just acknowledging reality and living true to yourself is really what you need to live a full life. Today on The Love, Happiness and Success blog we are talking about the problem with perfectionism and why you should "keep the first picture." Read More
Bentonville Arkansas Therapist Perfectionism Self Esteem Life Coach Online Arkansas

Healing After Loss

Healing After Loss

Grief: The Price Paid For Love

As a therapist and life coach, I help people through many different forms of loss. One of the most common that I see is “ambiguous loss,” or a loss that happens without closure or understanding such as a breakup, a move/huge transition, a miscarriage, or lost dreams. I also help people mourn the death of a loved one.

Grief can take many different forms and it looks different for different people, but today I hope to give you a strategy to help you work through grief – in all its forms.

Types of Grief

There is no right way to grieve. Sometimes it results in an overwhelming sadness that is accompanied by loss of motivation, difficulty sleeping, or loss of appetite. It can also take the form of irritability, anger, or numbness.

Sometimes it feels scary to face the feelings accompanied with grief. There may be the fear that you will never stop feeling the pain, so it seems easier to ignore it. Choosing to not deal with the sadness, hurt, and anger that often accompanies grief, however, may leave you feeling lost, lonely, and overwhelmed. I often view the grieving experience as “waves”.

When you “ride the wave” by allowing yourself to feel and deal with your emotions, you will experience some relief from the pain faster than if you choose to “fight the wave.”

The Stages of Grief

The stages of grief: denial, bargaining, anger, sadness, and acceptance are very true experiences for those who are grieving and are true for ambiguous loss as well. I used to believe that these stages were linear, but they certainly are not.

Typically, when you go through these stages it tends to be “out of order” in the sense that you can be angry and sad at the same time. Or maybe you feel acceptance one day but anger the next.

While these stages are a great reference point, it’s important to give yourself the space to feel your emotions without judgment. Everyone grieves differently and for different periods of time. If you’re working through grief in the aftermath of a loss, here are a few strategies that might be helpful to you:

Strategies for Healing After Loss

  • Talk About It: Finding a safe space, either with friends, family, or a grief and loss group to talk about your loss. If the loss is of a loved one, it can be helpful to share memories about them in a place that you feel emotionally safe.

  • Make Space For The Feelings: The emotions often come in waves, so try not to suppress the emotions but allow yourself to “ride the wave” when it comes. Some helpful ways to do this is by journaling what you are feeling or expressing what your feeling to someone you trust.

  • Practice Self Care: Do something that you enjoy. As difficult as it is, engaging in self-care activities like exercising, spending time with friends, or enjoying other hobbies often provides a moment of relief from the heavy emotions that come with grief. This is probably one of the most difficult things to do when you’re grieving, so finding someone to engage in these activities with can be helpful as well!
  • Get Support: Connecting with a caring grief counselor can help you process through all of the emotions that you are feeling in a way that helps to promote healing from the grief and normalize your experience. If you are experiencing grief in any form, it helps to have a caring professional to help you navigate the painful journey of grief.

Light at The End of The Tunnel

In the long run, it is better to go through the grief than to suppress it, although in the moment it is much more difficult to allow yourself to feel it. By going through the grief, you will allow yourself to process in a way that allows you to heal. As difficult as this process is to experience, giving yourself the time and space to work through your emotions helps to alleviate your pain and allow you to feel like yourself again.

Wishing you grace through your healing.

Warmly, 
Anastacia Sams, M.A., LMFT-C

Anastacia Sams, M.A., LMFT-C helps her clients create their very best life. She has a warm, compassionate, and gentle yet highly effective approach to personal growth work. She specializes in helping couples create healthy, happy partnerships, and assisting individuals to heal from past hurts in order to create fulfillment and joy.

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