If you want to live a fulfilling life and make the changes necessary to thrive, one of the most important things you can do is see yourself as worthy of thriving and capable of making those changes. A positive self-image can allow you to go through life with the confidence needed to make a positive contribution to ourselves and the world around us. If you feel victimized and powerless by the world around you, or anxious or afraid of failure, here are some steps you can take to help you view yourself more positively.
1) Focus on a simple goal for each day, and check it off when done
Spending every hour of every day thinking about all the different tasks you have to do can leave you feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, and dwelling on the “failures” you have yet to do can be very disempowering. It is much more helpful to focus on one thing at a time, a simple manageable task that you can direct all your energy towards and then celebrate when it’s accomplished.
Many people find it helpful to write down their simple goals on a to-do list, that they then check off or cross out as a way of going over the good things they accomplished. In this way, you can replace mental patterns of dwelling on failure with ones recognizing your immense ability.
2) Learn how to trust your own feelings
Many people are socialized into repressing their feelings, instead automatically reacting to the feelings of someone else, or in the case of an addiction, the pull of something else. Over time It becomes easier and easier to not listen to your own wants and needs, silencing your voice and stripping you of the ability to make decisions for yourself.
Fight against this internalized repression or fear of your emotions, by recognizing when you are feeling happy, sad, angry, or frightened. Rather than cast judgment or react to those feelings, simply acknowledge that they exist within you, and hold on to the feeling without judgement. The next step is learning to be honest with other people, asserting your own needs rather than always giving in.
3) Give yourself pep talks
For many people, negative, accusatory thoughts often speak louder than positive, affirming ones. Your mind may naturally gravitate towards moments of failure or times when you feel fearful or powerless. Counteract this by “rehearsing” affirming thoughts as much as possible.
Think deeply about times when things did go well, or about things you like about yourself, and find times every day to dwell on them. Many people find it helpful to create a personal mantra, or short and encouraging sentence such as “I am ok” or “I can do things well.” Repeat the mantra as much as you can, especially when you feel overwhelmed by negative thoughts.
4) Do little things that show you care for yourself
It’s not enough merely to speak positively to yourself and then continue to live your life as normal. It is also important to set up routines of self-care, or concrete actions you can take to care for your needs. Regular patterns of sleep, healthy eating, and exercise are not only good for your physical health alone, but also send the message that you matter and deserve time to be healthy. Spending all your energy trying to please other people will cause you to wear out and shut down. So it’s very important that you take some time to rest and focus on “recharging your batteries” with activities you enjoy.
5) End each day with gratitude
No matter how hard your day has been, there are always opportunities to be grateful and celebrate the accomplishments. Before you go to sleep, take a moment each day to think about how your day went, focusing on what was positive. What things did you see or experience that made you smile, who extended generosity or friendship to you, what obstacles did you overcome. Get in the habit of dwelling on things in the world that are worth celebrating, and this will help you view your environment as a place where you can thrive.