Vanessa Reda, LMFT
Center for Change
As our clients emerge into the outside world, one of the most important things that they will bring with them is a sense of self. Building self-worth is a vital aspect of recovery and is integrated into therapy sessions. For most clients, unhealthy decisions coupled with feelings of shame, guilt, anxiety, and fear have wreaked havoc on their self-esteem. As a therapist, my goal is for clients to leave Turnbridge feeling empowered, and having healthy self-esteem. Here is a list of simple ways to help build self-esteem:
1. Honor your emotions
Give time and space to understand what you feel and why you feel that way. Sometimes, when we feel uncomfortable emotions we try to avoid them, only for them later to resurface. Be gentle with yourself; give space for your emotions, learn how to identify and express them, and remember we don't get over things, we get through them.
2. Know your Strengths
Make a list of 5 things that you are good at. Do you know how to play an instrument? Do you have dynamic soccer skills? Are you a good listener? Awesome at writing? Can you whip up a batch of cookies like no other? Find out your strengths and play them to your advantage. Also take time to share them with others. As the saying goes- one candle lights another.
3. Don't be afraid to ask for help
and don't be afraid to give it. Lots of people don't ask for help out of fear of the way in which they will be perceived. However, people with positive self-worth know that they cannot do it all. There is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. The wonderful thing about Turnbridge is that if you don't know how to do something, chances are another resident will. Help someone by allowing them the opportunity to help you.
4. Exercise and eat healthy
Think of your body as a finely tuned machine. The food you put in it is fuel, and exercise is daily maintenance to keep it running properly. More and more research is suggesting that certain foods affect mood. Changes in diet can trigger chemical and physiological changes within the brain that alter our behavior and emotions. Take a moment to think about what you eat and how it makes you feel; not just in the moment when you are eating it, but hours later. As for exercising, when you exercise your body releases chemicals called endorphins and endorphins, to put it simply, make you happy and reduce your perception of pain. So go on and step out into the sunshine, pick up an apple and take that walk.
5. Accept the good
How do you respond when good things happen in your life? Are you able to accept the good or do you question it? In my practice I see many clients questioning if they "deserve" good things, but the real question I pose to them is "who are you not to deserve good things?" It's easy to overlook all the obstacles you have overcome to get this far, so accept the good when it comes into your life. Remember we don't have a Happiness Threshold- and that there is no magical law of the universe that says you are only allowed to be so happy before the other shoe drops. You can be exactly as happy as YOU allow yourself to be.
6. Surround yourself with positive people
who want the best for you. I like to call this "cleaning out your friend closet". Think of the people in your life - are they encouraging and supportive ... or do they put you down? It will be very hard to raise your self-esteem if you are around people who are constantly trying to put you down. Take a note from sports - typically when you play against a really good team your team your team will rise to that level. That is a lot like the people in your life.
7. Stop comparing yourself to others
Comparing yourself to others is a no-win game which injures your self-esteem. There will always be someone who has more or has achieved more than you and there will be someone who has less or has achieved less than you. The only person you are in competition with is your self. Learn from your mistakes and try to beat your best! Everyday affords you an opportunity to be a better version of yourself than you were yesterday.