Last update: Augusts 02, 2020
Improving self-esteem is one of the foundations of many therapeutic interventions, one of the cornerstones of any therapy. This is because good self-esteem strengthens our immuno-emotional system and supports our resilience, the arms and legs with which we swim in the ocean of life. Given its importance, then it is essential to ask ourselves: how to improve self-esteem?
Like so many other psychological challenges, it requires different tools or strategies. This is because the collapse of our self-esteem can be rooted in several factors. One of the most important is the attribution system we work with and the degree of influence we believe we have on what happens to us.
"Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your foot on the brake."
The attribution of cause and the effects on self-esteem
When there is a deficit of self-esteem, we believe that what happens to us is a consequence of our own, internal factors that we cannot change. That is, we attribute the cause of that "misfortune" to ourselves. Let's take an example. What will a person with low self-esteem think when they suffer a romantic breakup? The most common thing under these circumstances is that he believes the relationship ended because of her.
Here then will appear negative thoughts such as "I am not enough for her / him", "I do not / deserve it", "I am guilty of the end of the relationship". In fact, when a relationship ends, the responsibility usually belongs to both of you. It doesn't just fall into one of the two members, even if one or both of them feel that way.
In this way it is normal for "thoughts of self-blame" to appear. In the presence of these thoughts, self-esteem can come into play which, if it is healthy, will lighten the burden and avoid collapse. Put another way, we will be more realistic with the causal attributions we make about it. And the same thing happens in the rest of the areas of our life. People tend to make stable, internal attributions about what happens to them.
Tthey also end up making external attributions of the positive things that happen to them. They believe that when they get a job, for example, it's because their boss is a good person and not because of their job merits. What happens then? That it is impossible for them to feel good about themselves when they are rewarded or promoted.
“Until you appreciate yourself, you don't value your time. Until you value your time, you won't do anything with it. "
-M. Scott Peck-
Learn how to modify causation to improve self-esteem
What can we do to change our attribution of cause and improve self-esteem? Let's start by straying a bit to adopt a new perspective. Thus we will be able to carry out a general and reality-oriented evaluation without it being based solely on mistakes or problems. As happens when we compare our life with that of others in social networks, it is useless for this attribution of cause to become too optimistic because then the impact with reality will be far worse.
We must ask ourselves to what extent we affect what happens to us (for better or for worse) and what other factors have interfered for a certain ending to happen. We must learn to attribute to ourselves what good happens to us if it is really our merit. By doing so, we will learn and our self-esteem will improve.
In the same way, we must understand if the negative events that happen to us are attributable to causes that can be related to ourselves or not, so as to stop blaming ourselves for facts whose personal influence has been little or no. If we have a lot of responsibility, it will do no good to punish us after analyzing the facts and understanding.
"When you recover or discover something that feeds your soul and brings you joy, commit to loving yourself enough and leave it a space in your life."
-Jean Shinoda Bolen-
Being able to analyze ourselves in a realistic way helps us to have a more realistic view of our strengths and weaknesses. In this way it will be possible to improve self-esteem and strengthen ourselves, in fact we will be able to choose the objectives on which to invest our resources more effectively.
Images courtesy of Camila Cordeiro and Annie Spratt.