13 Ways to Boost Your Self-Esteem

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Love yourself, and you can’t help but attract a mate who will treat you with the same love, kindness, and respect that you give yourself. From Dating From the Inside Out: How to Use the Law of Attraction in Matters of the Heart by Paulette Kouffman Sherman.

I see it all the time in my practice: women believing that finding a partner will make them feel good about themselves and validate them. While it is satisfying to have a special person who loves you, that never fixes what you really feel about yourself, deep down; only you can address that.

It all begins with the degree to which you like yourself, and having self-esteem involves making yourself a priority and treating yourself with love. When this comes naturally to you, you can’t help but attract a mate who will treat you with the same love, kindness, and respect that you give yourself.

Lara was beautiful, smart, and kind. She came across as shy and described herself as boring. As we worked on this, she realized that she was not being fair to herself. She had always wanted to take a cooking class and a voice class. She decided to do these things for herself, not for a man. By pursuing her goals, she began to enjoy her life more, which was contagious to her dates. Soon
she had three men who wanted her to become exclusive with them, but she took her time and got to know each of them before closing off her dating options. Externally, there was no major change in Lara; what changed was the way she saw herself and valued her life.

It is important to take risks and let your true self shine through. This creates intimacy, authenticity, and learning. Identifying where you are holding back in your life will allow you to address the problem area and embrace risktaking. As you become more comfortable revealing who you are, people who are aligned with you will be attracted. This is a great way to ensure that you attract someone who is a true match for you.

In the upcoming exercises we are going to look at your relationship to yourself — how you treat yourself, trust yourself, reveal yourself, and enjoy your own company. You will experience what you love about who you are, and you will notice the thoughts and feelings you try to escape. Through this process of identifying how you love and reject yourself, you will learn to further know and accept yourself.

Exercise: Assess Your Self-Esteem
In your dating journal, record your answers to the following questions:

  1. Do you take time for yourself on a regular basis?
  2. Do you focus on the good in life more than the bad?
  3. Do you focus on the good in you more than the bad?
  4. Do you take time for self-care?
  5. Do you spend at least 75 percent of your energy on things you want to do (rather than things you “should” do)?
  6. Are you motivated to please yourself more than pleasing others?
  7. Do you love yourself despite outside circumstances?
  8. Do you make sure that you eat, sleep, rest, have fun, and meet your needs?
  9. Do you feel responsible for all that you create in your life?
  10. Do you make time to do what you love and to express your gifts?

If you answered no to any of the questions, spend some time reflecting on that issue. What keeps you from doing this? Read on for some ideas about taking regular time to love yourself.

WAYS TO ADDRESS YOUR SELF-ESTEEM
How much you love yourself begins with your thoughts and how you treat yourself. We have already begun to help you see yourself through the eyes of love. Now let’s address specific action steps that you can take to treat yourself really well.

Care for Yourself:
Begin to practice self-care on a regular basis. Take walks in the park, get a manicure/pedicure, take yourself to the movies, buy yourself some beautiful flowers. Do things that make you feel great and know you deserve it!

Please Yourself:
Think about how often your motivation is to please others instead of yourself. If pleasing others is your priority, begin to choose differently. Putting yourself first once in a while is necessary for your emotional well-being. You need to refuel before you can give.

Weigh the “Want” Against the “Should”:
Consider how often you do activities because you should or because it looks good. Start to think about what you really want to do and try that instead. Let go of any guilt you associate with not accomplishing what you “should,” and allow yourself to enjoy your true desires.

Practice Appreciation and Gratitude:
Look at what’s positive in your life, and journal about it. Remember that what you focus on expands. Find at least three things you appreciate daily. If they are about you (instead of outside of you) you get extra points!

Challenge Your Inner Gremlin:
Talk back to the critic in your head. Don’t let it wreak havoc on your self-confidence and self-esteem. Challenge that negative voice with affirmations about what is good in you and that situation.

Take Responsibility:
You are the creator of your life, not the victim. Take responsibility for what you attract, and you will feel empowered to direct your life’s trajectory.

Accept Yourself:
Work on accepting all parts of you without judgment. Love yourself completely.

Recognize Your Strengths:
Affirm your strengths and develop them. If you love guitar, go to a park and play for some friends. Find something you love and share it. Websites like meetup.com and craigslist.org are great resources for meeting other people in your area who share your interests. Explore different ways to pursue your passions while meeting new faces.

Share Your Gifts:
Use your talents in the world, and step out of your comfort zone to reveal your true self. You never know who might be watching and falling in love with the real you.

Volunteer:
Let who you are make a difference to someone else. This will remind you of how valuable you are in relationships.

Develop Yourself:
Going to therapy or coaching is a great way to begin to love and accept yourself within the context of a relationship. You do not have to be depressed, mentally ill, or in crisis to benefit from this opportunity.

Practice Commitment:
When you are consistently good to yourself and your actions match your words, you begin to trust yourself. This kind of follow-through is excellent for your self-esteem.

Become Your Own Best Friend:
Tend to your needs, whether you are sick, sad, or in the mood to celebrate. Make time for things that are important to you and honor them no matter what. How you feel about yourself is communicated immediately. So before you form a great relationship with someone else, work on having a wonderful lifelong relationship with yourself. When you feel happy, healthy, peaceful, fulfilled, and centered things tend to come to you more easily. They become an added pleasure — not a necessity — and you become even more attractive.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Paulette Kouffman Sherman, author of Dating from the Inside Out: How to Use the Law of Attraction in Matters of the Heart (Copyright © 2008 by Paulette Kouffman Sherman), is a licensed psychologist and the owner and director of My Dating School in Manhattan (http://www.mydatingschool.com), where she facilitates classes on dating issues. She pens a monthly dating column, “Dr. Date,” in The Improper, a popular New York lifestyle and entertainment magazine, and has been quoted in many publications, including Glamour. Dr. Sherman is a regular speaker at The Learning Annex, has been a dating expert on radio and television, and has coached many private clients on creating successful relationships. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband.

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