Building self-esteem and increasing self-compassion require a few specific techniques that need to be adapted to your life.
Table of Contents
1. Discover Your Purpose
Sometimes, we notice that we are lacking something in our lives. Our goals seems elusive and we feel stuck without. Like all people, we want to live a life with meaning and purpose. How do we find the answers we are looking for?
Interestingly enough, we can discover clues as to what our purpose might by examining our problems. As hard as it is to believe, difficulties actually serve an important purpose in our lives. By looking at the absence of meaning, we can infer our true calling.
We may not want the problems we have in our lives. But it is in understanding where we have a lack of meaning and purpose that we allow ourselves to understand what we need to learn and grow from. And it is from this that you ultimately will find your life purpose. Not in what you earn, spend, work, or play. But in how you respond: To your problems, to yourself, and to others. This is your legacy, and this is your ultimate purpose. To overcome, grow, and thrive.
When people die, we don’t immediately remember what they did for work, how much money they made, or how well liked they were. We remember their reactions to other people and to the difficulties in their life. No one ever said, “My Dad was just an accountant.” Instead, they remember how he flew off the handle at everything things and never grew beyond that. Our emotional reaction leaves a wound on life that others remember us by. If ever a life purpose were to be found, correcting and changing that impact in ourselves would be a noble cause.
2. Know Your Difficulties
Like the fortune teller down the street, we need to explore where we are stuck at in life. Our problems and difficulties can take moments to happen, but their effects can last much longer. We need to look back across time and determine when, and really when, our true problems actually began. If you think you know the moment the issues in your life became a problem, think again. Was this truly the real cause? What did we think, believe, or do that predisposed us to be vulnerable? Finding this out is extremely important, otherwise we can be stuck for much, much longer.
The attitudes that we have about our problems are critical to our healing and changing. The more we stay helpless, angry, resentful, and a “victim of circumstances,” the longer it will take for us to heal and the deeper we will go into the negativity.
Remember, we move toward what we expect and become what we fear. As long as we let fear and resentment run our lives, and the more we fight the problem, the deeper we will go into it. If we continue to fear an outcome, we are actually setting it up to happen.
3. Change How You Talk To Yourself
The more you complain to yourself and others, the more negatives you get in return. Whenever you are faced with difficulties, you can choose to how to react. We might panic, feel dizzy, get outraged, feel like we are going to die, or push ourselves until we have so much pain that we have “proved” that there is nothing we can do.
You can have a lot more control than you think. You can choose to live your life with the “ups and downs” along with “how much” it is going to affect you and your life. If you allow yourself to get caught up in reacting, then you are inviting your problems back into your life at a future point. Remember, whatever we pay attention to will increase in frequency. Again, this does not deny the reality of the problem. However, it offers a way of functioning and living in a more healthy, happy, way.
Negative dialogue is one of the most important aspects of chronic anxiety, pain, along with stopping one’s progress in overcoming any problems. What we say to ourselves when we face the day, problems and difficulties, can cause us to feel depressed, anxious, or happy. One of the reasons we stay in a “bad state” is because of the way we talk to ourselves.
Sometimes, we mistake negative self talk as fact. Some examples of this elusive mindset include:
- “My life sucks, I hate it!”
- “I’m nothing but a screw-up.”
- “What’s wrong with me?”
- “Why can’t I be normal?”
- “What if I never get any better?”
We must learn to have more compassion for ourselves. We must learn to talk to ourselves even when we are afraid. We have to “change our thinking” because it has a direct impact on our healing and immune system response. No healing can happen, physically or emotionally, if we are focused on “yes, but…” or negative statements.
We must learn to praise ourselves and mean it. We must learn to talk to ourselves in a relaxing, soothing and comforting manner if we want to come out of the shadows of anxiety and depression. We must learn to use positive dialogue instead of negative when we feel we have failed at something or done something wrong. We must learn how to stop negative thoughts and comments and replace them with positive ones.
At first, these may seem silly and not very real. We have to work at it until it becomes real. Keep this in mind while you practice: Whatever we pay attention to will increase in frequency. This includes both positive, and negative thoughts.
Thinking differently does not deny the reality of our problems. It just offers a way out along with a new way of coping and thinking. We need to come to understand symptoms and problems differently if we are to rise above them regardless of the limitations that they pose in our lives.
If we respond differently to our problems, we will start to challenge ourselves in ways that we have never before thought of. To make this change, we need to understand how our problems “help and serve us” in ways beyond what may be obvious to us.
If we try to be unrealistically strong, we can actually end up making our difficulties more, and not less, vulnerable. When all of you becomes “too strong”, you actually highlight your weaknesses and advertise them for all to see. Worse, you miss out on understanding an important aspect to who you are and why you respond in the way you do.
Our difficulties keep us safe from ourselves. They slow us down and force us to pace ourselves. Sometimes they stop or hinder us from doing something that might get us into trouble. We can be angry about limitations or we can see them as opportunities to change and face life differently.
4. Don’t Fix the Wrong Thing
If we’re not careful, our excuses and justifications will get in our way. Problems in our life can keep us from being responsible. Problems in our life give us an excuse to to hide away from the real world. Problems in our life can hide us from facing the real problems of our lives, such as past unresolved issues, family and marital stressors, work and life stressors.
First, we have something happen to us that we never wanted and never would have asked for, ever. Next, we have our reaction to the event, along with the impact it leaves with ourselves and others. React negatively, and you will grow in negativity. React in fear, and you will grow in fear. Finally, we mistakenly believe that “removing the problem” from our lives will fix everything, when really we will still be “stuck” and vulnerable for the next step of problem that come our way.
In this sense, our difficulties allow us to become aware of the need to change and refocus our life. While we would never have signed up for them if asked, one thing that they did for us was that they were there when we “needed them” to highlight where we are vulnerable.
5. Live in the Now
If you say, “once this problem is gone, everything will be fine” only postpones your growth. You need to live in the now, with more compassion for yourself in the present.
Problems and symptoms tell us that our life’s path is changing. It is offering us a new and exciting journey.
We only grow through our struggles and facing of problems. They teach us endurance, patience, strength of character. The message is one of choice. To use this, we have to be open to the opportunities, and insights, that problems and symptoms present to us in life.
Remember, we don’t need to have all the answers to our problems before we know our life’s purpose. We will find the answers to our purpose along the way as we grow beyond our reactions. Symptoms can help us, but they can also hinder us. It all depends on how we use them in our lives.
Tell yourself: I don’t have to know where I am going; all I need to know is that I am on my way! Remember that the most important thing to know in dealing with difficulties is in managing our response. This requires honest knowledge and the development of self-compassion.
In the end, our life’s purpose is something that becomes part of who we are, while we are busy not thinking about it. In this sense, we evolve into our life’s purpose, not arrive at it. Our instinct is to react to things, to blame, kick, scream, or yell. But this is one thing that you can’t afford if you want to know, and grow into, your new self. Your life’s purpose.
6. Don’t Indulge in Excessive Shame and Guilt
People who suffer depression and anxiety frequently spend much of their time feeling shame about the past or worrying about the future. It comes as no surprise that this is a more common problem that we face every day than we’d like to admit to ourselves. How we understand feelings of guilt and shame helps us to focus and deal with these immobilizing emotions.
Often, we have a feeling that we might have done some unforgivable thing in the past and deserve to be punished. Guilt is the punishment that makes us feel that we are receiving what we deserve. The reality is that past issues may, or may not, have been your fault. However, the end result is that you end up carrying around the burden of guilt for years, occupying your present and potentially your future.
You could be feeling guilt and shame over something you are currently doing. For example, you feel that you are being selfish or that you have “bad” thoughts. You may have resentments that you do so much for others but they do not return the favors. You then feel guilty for having such anger. Guilt can be over how you handle relationships, parents, spouse, children, and friends. Unfortunately, the feelings of guilt and shame end up being out of proportion to the “crime” committed. Dwelling on these feelings and “beating yourself up” over and over again will only cause you to have more negative bad feelings, not less.
Why Do We Feel Guilt and Shame?
Guilt is a great way to fill the “present moment.” Guilt allows you to avoid changing. By concentrating on the past it is hard to focus on the present or the future. Guilt makes you feel that others will think better of you for feeling the guilt and resulting suffering.
For some, the feelings of guilt are so comfortable and familiar that they prefer it to feeling good. Feeling good can bring on a great deal of anxiety because you think that you do not deserve to feel good.
Guilt for past wrongs is a great way to explain your present unhappiness and lack of satisfaction with yourself and your life. Guilt, and feeling at fault, may have been the way you were taught to feel by your parents who were angry and blamed, etc.
Guilt and shame fit with over-analytical, over-sensitive, people. It is easy to dwell on bad things, over and over again. Guilt feeling brings on feelings of self-hate–of course you hate yourself, that you are depressed, anxious, obsessive, not changing.
Healing Guilt and Shame
It is very difficult to let go of feelings guilt and shame on your own. You can start freeing yourself from their grip by taking a serious look at how you use guilt and shame in your life. Guilt, anxiety, shame, and obsessing distracts you from dealing with the real issues, the real you, the present problem, and the need to change.
Anxious and sensitive people are usually very bright, helpful, empathetic, understanding, and have a very special-intuitive-awareness that can be an asset if you can learn to manage, direct, and control it. This can also build your understanding of people rather than just reacting to situations. Know that you have a special asset that needs to be based more on appropriate focusing of your feelings and awareness.