If you’re reading this, you must’ve already read or watched dozens of presentations on how to improve your self-esteem by doing things which are sometimes too abstract, like: have an action plan, see the positive side, respect yourself and many more, which leave you wondering: what exactly should you do? All those make sense, but they are part of a long-term plan.
When you feel down and disappointed in yourself, the first thing to do is to stop the downward spiral of your thoughts and establish a baseline, a solid field from which you can grow. If you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, don’t despair, because rock (bottom) is a solid foundation to build upon (see the positive side!).
Here are 9 simple actions, which you can apply at this very moment and every single day, to make you feel better or at least good enough to establish that baseline:
1. Look people in the eye – people who feel unworthy tend to look down like a kid who’s ashamed, because fact is, they do feel ashamed of themselves. That is your OWN perception, not the way others see you and even if they do, nobody will respect you more than you respect yourself. So next time you talk to someone, look that person in the eye. It’s also polite.
2. Stand straight – when you are down, upset or feeling unworthy, you tend to curve your back as if the weight of the world is pressing on your shoulders. Once it becomes a habit, your posture degrades, you start developing back problems, you press on your organs and so on. Honestly, when you look like this and with your eyes looking down, you’re an easy to spot target for abusers. It’s like wearing a “kick me!” sign on your back. If you already have posture problems, there are a lot of 5-minute exercises on YouTube to correct it, things you can do even while sitting on your chair.
3. Raise your chin. For the same reasons mentioned at point 1, you may tend to look down in the ground. For this action, the difference is you don’t have to be talking to someone to practice it: just raise your chin and you will feel better instantly. Keep your feet on the ground and your head towards the sky!
4. Groom yourself. Even if you stay indoors, have your usual showers, shave, apply your lotions, do your whole daily routine or make it a routine. Use some form of perfume – scent has a strong influence on us. Also wear something you really like and feel appropriate for the setting. If you look well groomed, you’ll feel good.
5. Power pose. Amy Cuddy had a TED talk on body language, seven years ago, and it’s still the 13th most viewed TED talk of all time, with 17M views at this moment. It recommends practicing a power pose, 2 minutes a day or right before an important event. Check out the video in the link and try it.
6. Say NO if that’s what you feel. The downside of accepting everything is that you will start to feel frustrated, overworked, annoyed, at first. The feeling will grow until it turns to repressed anger. At that point you will either implode which is devastating for you or you will explode, making a scene, which is actually the better option for your brain, but could be harmful to others. It doesn’t have to be either. Just say No at the right time and you will deflate the anger before it bursts.
7. Occupy the center of the room – Ok, I don’t mean to go sit in the center of your living room. Shy people or people who think little of their worth tend to place themselves in corners or on the sides, sometimes in the back, to avoid drawing attention. Understand that you are doing this in an attempt to hide, which doesn’t help you. Simply move towards the center of the room; avoid sides and corners which will just amplify your anxiety. You can do this at work if you have an open space and can change your desk, at a social event, at a party, in a classroom, wherever you have the opportunity.
8. Speak with confidence. Control your tone and sentences. Don’t let you voice fade out when you speak and don’t leave unfinished sentences. Also, avoid cancelling everything you said by adding “That’s just my opinion, I might be wrong”. We already know it’s your opinion, cause you were the one who said it out loud. We also know it could be wrong, cause guess what? Everybody makes mistakes, even the biggest experts, celebrities or champions.
9. Call people and if they invite you somewhere, just go. What if they don’t want to hear from you, what if they will reject your call, what if they don’t want to talk to you… Just do it. Yes, people could be busy, just like you are sometimes, they might not want to hear from you at that very moment, same way you want to mind your own business every now and then. And rejection is ok, it’s normal, we don’t click with everyone around us, you just need to find or form your own tribe.