Monday, September 3, 2007

How To: Boost Self Esteem

In Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated, David Burns writes about three techniques to improve your self esteem.

Summary of Steps

  • Step 1. Talk back to that internal critic.
  • Step 2. Use Mental biofeedback.
  • Step 3. Cope don't mope.

Step 1 - Talk Back to That Internal Critic.
In this step, you retrain your brain to act as a coach versus a critic.

Burns writes:

“A sense of self-worthlessness is created by your internal self-critical dialogue. In order to overcome this bad mental habit, three steps are necessary.

  1. Train yourself to recognize and write down the self-critical thoughts as they go through your mind.
  2. Learn why these thoughts are distorted.
  3. Practice talking back to them so at to develop a more realistic self-evaluation system.”

For an effective technique for talking back to your internal critic, see How To: Use the Three Column Technique.

Step 2- Use mental biofeedback.
In this step, you keep track of your negative thoughts. By tracking your negative thoughts, you reduces the negative thoughts over time.
Burns writes:

“A second method which can be very useful involves monitoring your negative thoughts with a wrist counter. You can buy one at a sporting-goods store or a golf shop; it looks like a wristwatch , is inexpensive, and every time you push the button, the number changes on the dial. Click the button each time a negative thought about yourself crosses your mind; be on the constant alert for such thoughts. At the end of each day, not your daily total score and write it down in a log book.
At first you will notice the number increase ; this will continue for several days as you get better and better at identifying your critical thoughts. Soon you will begin to notice that the daily total reaches a plateau for a week to ten days, and then it will begin to go down. This indicates that your harmful thoughts are diminishing and that you are getting better. This approach usually requires three weeks.”

Step 3 - Cope don't mope.
Rather than mope or use self-destructive labels, attack the problem. To attack the problem:

  1. Define the problem.
  2. Break it down into specific parts.
  3. Apply appropriate solutions.

The key in this step is taking action, producing results, evaluating your results objectively. You continue to change your approach if you’re not getting the results you need.

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