We often get trapped by low self-esteem because we fail to see how the judgments we make about ourselves are inaccurate. It is helpful, therefore, to use certain techniques that allow you to untangle yourself from your thoughts – to take a step back – and see that you can’t possibly justify the self-critical thoughts you’re having. Making notes about your thoughts is one way to gain this healthy perspective. In this way, you can use writing to tackle low self-esteem.
Defeating Low Self-Esteem Through Writing
You don’t necessarily have to do anything formulaic when it comes to recording thoughts which impact your self-esteem. But you may want to keep a kind of ‘self-esteem diary’, where you jot down any negative – or, conversely, any positive – thoughts you have about yourself, to see if any patterns arise. Maybe you judge yourself harshly in relation to particular events or aspects of who you are, or maybe you have a habit of taking any situation and using it to strengthen untrue statements about yourself.
Simply having these thoughts written down in front of you creates a separation – a distance – between you and your thoughts that is harder to achieve when these judgments are just stuck swimming around in your head. Moreover, having a self-esteem diary can be a useful way to track your progress in building your self-esteem. You can see if your habitual patterns of thinking are changing over time.
Writing Exercises Suggested by Psychologists
However, some people like to have a system or blueprint for achieving their goals. As I highlighted in one of my previous blog posts, you can use writing to tackle low self-esteem by responding to the inner critic putting you down. As recommended by psychologist Lisa Firestone; first, write down any negative self-talk in the first person, e.g. “I’m so stupid”. Then note these comments in the second person, e.g. “You’re so stupid”.
By having these comments in front of you framed in the second person, it’s as if someone else is making these judgments. This can allow you to create a sort of dialogue between you and your thoughts. It can allow you to notice exactly how hostile and destructive this inner critic is and why it’s so necessary to challenge it. You may even want to write down your responses to these second person comments, perhaps offering reasons or pieces of evidence which suggest the complete opposite of what this voice is saying.
University of Toronto psychologist Jordan Peterson has developed a writing exercise known as the self-authoring program. It involves answering, in great detail, various questions about your life. The self-authoring suite is divided into three parts: Past Authoring, Present Authoring and Future Authoring. The Present Authoring aspect is highly relevant for building self-esteem because there’s a section where you are asked to write about your current strengths and weaknesses.
By writing about your weaknesses in detail, you can see what actually needs improving in your life. When I was doing this writing exercise, I found that I was able to write more about how my problem was my inner critic, rather than instances which truly backed up what this voice was telling me about myself. Furthermore, since self-authoring gives you the opportunity to take stock of your various strengths – what traits you and others value – this will allow you to gain a more balanced perspective of what you are like. Purposefully seeking out and maintaining this kind of balance is a reliable way to build your self-esteem.
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Source: Self Confidence