3 simple exercises that you can do right now to boost your self-esteem and become your ideal self
There is a theory circulating around the internet that posits that your self-esteem is already established by the time you are 7 years old.
This theory makes it seem like you’re helpless now to defend against the intrusive thoughts, negative self talk, and self-destructive impulses that prevent many of us from living our lives with purpose and passion because of our less-than-ideal childhoods.
While this theory is mainly used by parenting educators to emphasize the importance of fostering children’s self-esteem, many struggling adults cling to this as a reason explaining why we can’t seem to get out of our own way and live the lives we want.
We have low self-esteem now because we had low self-esteem as a child.
We can’t change because our fates were already decided by the time we entered the first grade.
Don’t get me wrong, I do wholly support this theory being used in regard to parents so they are increasingly aware of how they protect their children’s spirits.
But, this theory stands at odds with one belief that I hold near to my heart that keeps me going even on my worst day.
The belief that keeps me going is that nothing is over until it’s over.
I don’t subscribe to the belief or the notion that you are who you were in childhood, or that who you are and will be is set in stone.
I don’t subscribe to beliefs that uphold helplessness.
As a child, you’re largely defenseless against the messages and ideas that were pushed onto you by your family, your family’s socioeconomic background, and other societal and familial factors that were beyond your control.
As an adult, you have control of your person well enough to decide for yourself what to believe, what to think, and who you want to be, even if you’re currently sailing through choppy waters.
It takes hard and consistent work to recognize the difference between who you were taught to be and who you actually are, but that is work that is worth it at the end.
This belief that nothing is done until it’s done and there is always hope for change is one of the reasons I have started incorporating three simple exercises into my daily life.
These exercises help boost my self-esteem, build self-love, and help me uncover who I actually want to be.
I want to share them with you right now.
These exercises are actually simple.
There are no gimmicks. Just simple mental exercises that can be done right this instant to start making change for the better toward crafting your ideal self and moving closer to who you want to be, crappy childhoods be damned.
The first exercise is to help build your self-esteem.
This exercise starts like this:
Ask yourself, if I had high self-esteem, how would I act? How would I speak? How would I dress, appear, and hold myself in public? How would I talk to and about myself? What opportunities would I pursue and who would I surround myself with?
You can write down the answers to those questions in a notebook or you can just hold them in your head.
The purpose of this exercise is to imagine the ideal you — what you would look like, how you would walk, talk, and act if you had high self-esteem.
Review your answers.
Then… and here’s the simple part… start doing those things right now.
If your ideal you is someone who has perfect posture and holds their head up high as they walk into a room, do that right now as you’re reading this article.
If your ideal you is warm and confident and makes eye contact and smiles at people on the street, then do that the next time you step out your front door.
If your ideal you is someone who talks to a bunch of people and has a large social circle, strike up a conversation with your neighbor, your Facebook friend from high school, or another human being as soon as possible.
This is the only way to actually pave over the fallacy that you are who you were as a child. Roleplaying your ideal you is the only way to actually become who that really is.
Your life, who you are, your “ideal” you exists, they are just waiting for you to start showing them to the world.
And what better time to do that than right now.
Exercise two is for those of us who need a little help in cultivating self love.
Self love and how you care for yourself will determine how far you allow yourself to go in this life.
If you have little love for yourself, you won’t act to maintain your mind, body, and soul. You’ll be content with doing and expecting the bare minimum from yourself and the world around you.
Legitimate self love is important to building your self-esteem and start living the life you want.
Okay, so this exercise entails asking yourself the following questions:
If I loved myself totally and completely right now, how would I act toward myself? How would I talk to myself? How would I dress myself, hold myself, and appear out in public? What opportunities would I pursue and what type of people would I surround myself with if I loved myself?
Go ahead and write down the answers to those questions.
Then… and you may notice a pattern here… start doing those things right now.
Self love means being our best friend, our inner parent, and our lover.
It means recognizing our own potential and taking steps everyday to ensure that it grows and blooms. It means nourishing our bodies and spirits through adequate nutrition and mental stimulation.
Just as you wouldn’t walk up to your best friend or your life partner and tell them they’re a good for nothing slob who will never amount to anything, you don’t want to treat yourself like that either.
You may imagine loving yourself as translating into being kinder to the way you treat your mind and your body. Start loving yourself right now by drinking more water, making yourself some tea, or going for a walk.
If you imagine loving yourself by believing in yourself, start doing that right now, no matter what your insecurities are trying to tell you.
Refuse to use negative language when it comes to how you reference yourself or your work.
Even if your self love starts out as something as simple as drinking a glass of water every hour so that your body feels better, start forming those small habits right now so that you demonstrate to yourself that you have your own back.
Start proving to yourself right now that you love yourself.
The third exercise is about reclaiming what was lost during childhood.
Many of us hold a lot of grief, anger, confusion, or general malcontent toward our childhoods.
Maybe we had unfortunate family situations, or maybe we missed out on going certain places or having certain things or learning certain skills and behaviors because of our home lives.
While it is very easy to feel stuck in the mentality of a helpless child who was under the control of parents, teachers, authority figures, etc., and to think that nothing will ever change because you didn’t have a positive home life, remember, it’s not over until it’s over.
This exercise starts with asking yourself the following questions:
In my ideal childhood, what did I do? How was I treated? How did people talk to me? What passions or hobbies did I have that were nourished and cultivated by my family?
Write down the answers to those questions.
Then… you guessed it, do those things.
Maybe you hold a lot of resentment over the fact that your family didn’t let you play certain sports or learn certain instruments because of money or personal beliefs.
Well, there are plenty of people (especially now) offering classes for those skills. Find them and start immersing yourself in living what you feel like you missed out on in childhood.
Maybe your parents didn’t teach you another language and you hold a lot of anguish in your heart for that. Sign up for a language course or start taking steps to move closer to what you wish your life had been like in your ideal childhood.
Maybe your childhood home wasn’t filled with love. Be real with yourself, address it, and take steps to craft love in your life right now.
One of the best ways to boost your self-esteem is to nourish your inner child instead of hiding them away or being ashamed of who they (and you) were (or weren’t) as a child.
Start learning again what interested you when you were young. Try out the hobbies and passions that captivated you as a child.
You will start to feel whole and your self-esteem will blossom once you locate, cherish, and respect your inner child.
Now, hopefully you recognize a pattern here.
In order to boost your self-esteem, you have to take action.
It is only through action that we find clarity and we reveal to the world, and to ourselves, who we really are.
It is only through action that we become our ideal selves.
Through action, even tiny, minuscule daily action such as drinking more water or taking more daily steps or refusing to use the words “stupid” or “hate” when referencing ourselves and our work, we move closer to becoming our ideal selves.
We aren’t who we were in our past.
We aren’t who we were as 7 year olds.
We are who we decide to be in this moment, so start making those choices now.