Take Care of Your Self-Esteem
Tips to Give Yourself a Boost
By January 7 85
Gary McClain, PhD, is a therapist and educator who works primarily with individuals living with chronic medical conditions, as well as their families and caregivers. He has written extensively on health and body-mind-spirit topics, including a regular column on mental health in HIV Plus magazine. He maintains a website, JustGotDiangosed.com, with information and inspiration for newly-diagnosed patients.
An HIV diagnosis can make a big dent in your self-esteem. That is, if you let it.
I don’t need to recite the reasons. HIV presents new challenges. And sometimes dealing with those challenges can impact how you are feeling about yourself. That's just human nature. But it doesn't have to be this way.
Tips to Boost Your Self-Esteem
Here are some ideas to give your self-esteem a boost:
Have some compassion for yourself, beginning with your self-talk. Turn off the negative messages inside your head and replace them with positive ones. Remind yourself daily that you are a worthwhile person, capable of loving and worthy of being loved. Remind yourself that you have a new health challenge that you are facing, that you are looking for solutions, that you are determined to move forward with your life. When you start to criticize yourself, argue back and don’t take no for an answer.
Consider your strengths. Do an inventory of your strengths and accomplishments by making a list of everything that you have accomplished in your life so far. What do the people you care about appreciate about you? What are you the “go-to guy” for? Review your list daily, and keep adding to it.
Get fit. I know you get tired of hearing this but there is a lot to be said for getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet. Sure, paying attention to your wellness makes you feel and look better and increases your energy. But regular exercise gives you a feeling of control, or mastery. This might be worth a conversation with your doctor, and some research on your own.
Start thinking about how to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Ever talk to someone who seems stuck in a rut, and how they seem kind of low energy? On the other hand, have you met someone who seemed to be doing and thinking about all kinds of things? If you’re a little too comfortable in your comfort zone, maybe it’s time to consider giving yourself a push out of it. Read a book, take a class, volunteer, find a hobby. Is it time for a new chapter in your life?
What about the People in Your Life?
Refuse to buy into the judgments of others. Tell people who constantly criticize you that this is unacceptable. Tell the people you care about how they can help you, and what you can do for yourself. And ask how you can support them in return.
Maybe it’s time to find some new people to bring into your life. Are you involved in any religious activities? This might be a good time to connect with some spiritual support as well as meet other people. How about doing an hour or two of volunteer work that might get your around other people as well as give someone else a helping hand? Showing compassion toward others comes back to you like a boomerang.
While you’re at it, if you are comparing yourself to other people you will always come up short. You are a unique individual, progressing on your own path in life. And you're doing the best you can with more accomplishments to come.
If you are really feeling like you can’t get a handle on your self-esteem, you might want to consider talking to a mental health professional to help you to sort out how you are feeling about yourself, and help you to work on building up a more positive outlook on yourself and the world around you.
Focus: Energy. Optimism. Confidence. And take care of your self-esteem!