When we think about self-esteem, often we think in terms of how to change the way we feel about ourselves. But my favorite fast-acting strategy to boost self-esteem takes an outside-in approach. If you want to experience higher self-esteem, do something that makes you feel strong, competent, compassionate, self-compassionate, brave, and upstanding. If you want self-esteem, do something esteemable.
Whatever the problem is — you want to be more confident at work, you’re worried that you’re coming off needy in a relationship, you’re feeling anxious, you’ve been feeling anxious all the time, you’re hungover — start by doing something that will make you feel like you’re in an upward spiral. The desired feelings may come sooner than you think.
- Take on a longstanding nagging task, finish the task, and scratch it off your mental to-do list
- Look up that local organization that you’ve been wanting to volunteer with, and actually take five minutes to call them and get the process started
- Call an elderly relative to talk
- Text a younger cousin who could use a good grown up, just letting them know that you’re thinking of them
- Make a conscious effort to be friendly and warm hearted with literally every person you interact with today
- Go to the drive-thru — Starbucks, McDonald’s, whatever — and pay for the food for the car behind you in line
- Offer to give a coworker a hand if he or she seems swamped, even if you could totally get away with kicking back and playing on your phone right now
- Reach out to a professional you’ve recently met who is new to your industry or younger than you and offer yourself as a resource to them for career advice
- Catch up on email. Get as close as you can to hitting inbox zero.
- Sit down and read a book in print. If it’s not something you do regularly, reading will make you feel like an owl wearing glasses and a graduation cap.
What “esteemable” things could you do today?