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How to Raise Your Self Esteem in 10 Easy Steps

how to raise your self esteem

Last week, one of my clients said to me, “Leora, can you just teach me how to gain self-esteem? If I just had some self esteem my life would be so different…”  I knew what she meant. She tries to use her eating disorder to give her self confidence. She believes that if she were thin enough that she would be worthwhile and important, but if she is not thin enough, she is a worthless human being with no value. But she is never thin enough. And so her life has been spent waiting to feel valuable and trying to be good enough. Her focus is always on her weight and never on anything else. Her critic is always telling her that she will be better, more people will like her and she will be happier when she is thinner. She is already very, very thin.

What she thought was that she could “get self esteem,” like gain something that she’s never had before, something new.  The truth is, having self esteem isn’t about harnessing some mystical force or  acquiring something new- it’s about letting go of something old– old messages that tell you that you’re not okay, that you have to be better than you are, that there is something wrong with you. Self esteem is about being kind to yourself, accepting and loving yourself even if you’re not perfect.  Self acceptance can often become confused with settling for something that you don’t like. But that’s not what self esteem is about. It’s about accepting who you are in the moment and accepting that it’s okay to be who you are as you go toward  greatness (even more greatness!) and allowing yourself to evolve, but caring for yourself and being kind to yourself and even loving yourself in that process. It’s about holding yourself with integrity to the best of your ability, always being kind, thoughtful, compassionate and loving to the people around you and to yourself.  It’s about knowing what your values are and doing your best to uphold those values. So, when you hear the voices telling you that you’re not okay and that you won’t be okay until you… CLIMB MT. EVEREST, RUN A MARATHON, LOSE WEIGHT, FIT INTO A SIZE XX JEANS, READ WAR & PEACE, WRITE YOUR FIRST NOVEL, BECOME A BEST SELLING AUTHOR, MAKE 6 FIGURES, GET MARRIED, HAVE A BABY, QUIT DRINKING,  QUIT SMOKING, QUIT EATING CARBS, EAT NOTHING BUT KALE SMOOTHIES AND SUNFLOWER SEEDS, BECOME A VEGAN, HAVE CLEAR SKIN, GET YOUR MBA… Or whatever those voices are telling you, remember that you don’t have to engage with those thoughts. It’s not true and it’s not real. It’s okay to be okay with who you are in the moment instead of after you’ve done these things. People confuse acceptance with resignation and defeat.  Acceptance doesn’t mean resigning yourself to being stuck in your circumstances. It means accepting that you are in the place that you’re in now and you don’t have to wait to be who your are until after you’ve changed your circumstances. It means that you can be yourself now and thrive and be in the world while at the same time improving your circumstances. We all have goals to achieve, that’s part of what makes us psychologically healthy and what helps us move forward in life. But when you get into the cycle of “I won’t be okay until…” you set yourself to be unhappy and you have a very hard time finding happiness… because it’s never enough.

So, how do you do this? I’ve created 10 tangible steps to achieving self-esteem. You don’t have to do all of them right now. But just try one this week and see how it goes. When you start to feel a difference, try another one. I know that doing these exercises will be life-changing for you.  

1. Make a List of What your Values Are 

Think about what is fundamentally important to you and write it down. This could be being a kind and compassionate person, being the kind of person people turn to when they are having troubles, not judging or criticizing other people, living with integrity, having positive intentions. Knowing that you are never going to be 100% at all these things, when you are feeling badly about yourself, check in and ask yourself if you are doing your best to live in accordance with your values. If you are, then you can fall back on that foundation of strong values and strength. If you are not, give yourself a reminder of what your values are and try to live according to them. So, if someone does or says something to you that hurts your feelings or if you yourself say or do something to yourself that hurts your feelings, check in with yourself and ask, “am I living according to my values? Am I behaving and acting in a way that I can feel good about? Am I acting like the kind of person that I would want to have as a friend?”  And remember, we always forget to do these things and fail at them sometimes, and that’s normal, but having your values written down in a list form can be a great reference for you to come back to. It will help you remember what is truly important to you and when you remember and when you live according to those values, you find self-efficacy.

2. Don’t Compare Yourself To Other People

Your values and your dharma (path) are different than anyone else’s, so you just can’t compare. You can’t compare your money situation to anyone else’s, your relationships, your jean size… we were all born with our own individual paths. When you begin to look at other people’s paths and think that you should be like them or different from who you are, you fail to move along your own, or you reject your path. This inherently makes you feel bad. This keeps you from moving forward.  You also shouldn’t be comparing your backend to anyone else’s front end. Meaning, you can’t compare the knowledge that you have about your own situation to what someone else is outwardly showing you about their own. You never know what is going on with someone else. As M. Scott Peck says in The Road Less Traveled, life is hard for everyone, not just you. And once you remember that life is hard across the board, you can transcend the existential angst and pain that comes with the difficulties of life. You can understand that when things happen (you get a parking ticket, break your arm, get into a car accident, lose a parent) that it’s painful and it’s difficult- but you are not alone, that bad and difficult things happen to everyone who chooses a life of being human.

3. Do Things for other People Often

Performing acts of kindness actually makes you happier and boosts your self esteem, making you feel more valuable and more at peace. A study published in the Journal of Social Psychology showed that participants who performed directed acts of kindness every day for 10 days in a row showed an increased level of life satisfaction. Self-esteem comes from life satisfaction and feeling your value in the world. Doing things for other people can be as small as smiling at someone when you are walking down the street or as big as volunteering your time to help someone out. It can also be remembering to give loved ones around you big hugs, kisses and compliments and reminding them why you love them so much and telling them how proud you are of them.

4. Live Mindfully  – Mindful living is about being aware of your body, being aware of your choices, your environment, being mindful or your choices, your environment, your bodily sensations, your thoughts, your actions and your fears. Often, people who are suffering with eating disorders have a really rough time living mindfully. They reject their true needs to focus on the goal of weight loss or looking better and  either binge or starve themselves, they don’t honor their appetites, they hate their bodies because they believe that there is something wrong with them. They completely reject themselves. When you are living mindfully, you are working to honor the needs of your body.

If you are signed up for the newsletter, you should have received your free mindful eating meditation. If not, sign up here to get it. You might also like the loving your body and letting go of negative body image meditation.  

Do check out this article on mindful living. 

5. Learn Self Acceptance:  Part of self acceptance is knowing what your strengths are and honing in on those and not punishing yourself for things that you are still working on. Make a list of things that you are good at and that you like about yourself. Be with that list and do more of those things. Make another list of things that you are not so happy with and that you want to change. Tell yourself that it is okay that you are where you are. And that it doesn’t make you bad and you can still like yourself and care for yourself as you are working to change those things. Get love and support and help for changing the things that you want to change. Change and healing is difficult all alone and in a void. But when you find other people who are working on the same change together, you have a group of encouraging, loving folks to keep you accountable and to be kind to you when you fall down. You can also do the same for others which will help you (see #3!)

6. Taking Responsibility for Yourself: This is about not blaming other people for choices you made. Understanding that you have power and that you are not stuck and that just because you made a bad choice, you are not stuck in it because you have the power to constantly be rethinking and recreating your life. If you make a mistake, don’t shift the blame. Don’t say that you did this thing or said this thing because someone made you. For example, “I’m sorry I yelled at you, but if you weren’t acting so irrational, I wouldn’t have.” You have just negated your apology and given away your power. Always take ownership for your actions. Knowing that you have it in you to make your own decisions based on your own values (see #1) is part of what gives you self efficacy and self-esteem. Saying that someone else made you yell or act mean or say something wrong basically says that you have no power to make your own decisions about how you behave. Remember that you almost always have the power to undo a decision that you made. 

7. Be an Advocate for Yourself:  When you have self-advocacy, you always treat other people with respect and you do not allow other people to talk down to you or to treat you poorly. If you have a boss, for instance who is verbally abusing you or yelling at you, it’s okay to look at them and say, “it’s not okay to talk to me that way.” You also stand up for others who might not have the ability to voice their own needs. If you are unable to stand up for your own needs and have your own voice, you find someone who can be an advocate for you. 

8. Live with Purpose: 

Consider your life’s purpose. When you begin to live with purpose, you take care of yourself, but your main purpose in life isn’t about getting thin or getting pretty or making money or trying to impress or look good to other people. It’s about having goals that long term feel important and meaningful to you and using your life to work on these goals that help the world at large. 

9. Have Lots of Integrity: 

What is it to live with integrity? In my opinion, it’s to be as honest as you can without being hurtful. Being honest doesn’t mean telling someone that they look fat in their new dress or that they’re acting like a jerk. That’s not honest, that’s your subjective opinion. Being honest is more like telling someone that your feelings were hurt when they didn’t answer your phone calls or respond to your messages. Being honest is not stealing, not lying, not purposely saying things to hurt people, not spreading hurtful rumors, and not using other people to achieve your own means. It’s about being kind, being helpful, but also not sacrificing yourself or your own needs for the sake of others. Personal integrity is about knowing what your values are trying to live up to them.  (See #1). When you identify your values and do your best to live up to them, you will always know that you are okay and you won’t have to worry about what other people think about you.

10. Challenge Your Inner Critic- 

What would it be like to gently let go of the old thought patterns that you are so intensely holding onto? As I said earlier, self-esteem isn’t about gaining or building and changing, it’s about letting go. Imagine the beliefs that you have that plague you and make you feel bad,  (ie: “I have to be thinner, I have to be smarter, I have to be cleaner, I have to be richer, I have to be prettier…) and just choosing to disengage with them. Choosing instead to engage with the above ideas that are helpful and help you to feel better about yourself than the thoughts that intrude into your mind and keep you from living your life with zest and enjoyment.  That doesn’t mean you won’t have these thoughts pop up. They are old and part of old patterns. However, what about trying to hear them like background noise (like a fire engine siren outside) but not follow them. Let them fly through your mind, notice them and rather than grasping onto them, think about doing things that align with what makes you feel good about yourself. 

For more help on improving self esteem, check out some of Nathaniel Branden’s sentence completion exercises. 

What about you? What are some things that you have done that helped you feel into your self esteem? 

 

Ten Differences Between Compulsive Eating and Mindful Eating

It’s not super easy to recognize when you are eating compulsively. Sometimes we get so entrenched in our habits and our lives that we just forget about taking time to really nurture ourselves.  Food and eating becomes habitual, mindless, and unhealthy. Of course it’s normal that you are not going to be eating mindfully all the time, sometimes life dictates that we have to eat in the car, or we have to get takeout or use the microwave. However, if you find that in your life you are mostly doing compulsive or mindless eating, it might be time to look closer at that and try to make a change toward mindful eating.

courtesy of eatingmindfully.com

courtesy of eatingmindfully.com

 

1. When you are eating  compulsively you: Scarf your food down quickly and without thought and without noticing what you just ate.

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Eat slowly noticing the tastes and textures of your food and take note of the way it feels in your body. You also notice what your body feels like and how much you actually need.

 

2. When you are eating  compulsively you: Eat while you are driving.

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Do your best to create time and a break for yourself to sit and eat your food.

 

 

3. When you are eating  compulsively you:  Eat in front of the TV, eat in front of your open laptop, or eat while staring and thumbing through your iPhone.

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Are paying attention to your food, your thoughts, your feelings, and taking time to savor the moments of peacefulness and quietude that you have to yourself or on pleasant conversation with another human being.

4.When you are eating  compulsively you: Heat up your food in the microwave.        

 When you are practicing mindful eating you: Take time to cook or heat up your food in the oven or on the stove.

5. When you are eating  compulsively you: Grab take-out or fast food most of the time

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Take time to shop for and cook with fresh or seasonal ingredients.

6. When you are eating compulsively you:  Automatically get food whether you actually want it or not out of habit

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Assess whether or not  you are hungry and whether you actually want the food that you are going for rather than eating it out of habit (like grabbing popcorn at the movies).

7. When you are eating compulsively you: Eat until you are uncomfortably full

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Pay attention to your body and stop eating when you are comfortable, satisfied, and before you are full.

8. When you are eating compulsively you: Often eat food that is devoid of nutrition

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Eat food that is nurturing to your body and contributing to your overall health

9. When you are eating compulsively you: Often didn’t even notice that you ate something and then find that you’ve devoured the whole thing and you’re sitting with an empty plate, you wonder, “did I just eat that? I barely noticed.”

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Focus on the intention of eating and notice how much you are eating, how quickly you are eating and  figure out if you’d like to slow down or not, you think about whether or not you are enjoying the meal.

10. When you are eating compulsively you: Munch on snacks that are set out in bowls in front of you just because they are in front of you, such as pretzels, M&Ms, peanuts, hard candies, whatever…

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Think about whether or not you’d like to be eating what’s in those bowls, whether or not you are hungry for these things or if you want to eat these things or not.  If you don’t want to eat those foods and you are finding that you are feeling too impulsive when they are in front of you, you either move to bowl or move away from the bowl.

To start out with a mindful eating practice, just set one intention before a meal. That intention can be anything, such as “I’m going to let myself taste my food and experience it more fully,” or “I’m going to eat slowly,” or “I’m going to notice my hunger and satiety in this meal.”  Maybe at your next meal you will set a different intention. Just try it once and see how it goes for you. Once you become mindful and conscious of your eating, things totally change. Food no longer has a hold over you because you have brought consciousness to what was once a compulsive or unconscious behavior.

You might additionally check out:

Guided Visualization for Integrating Mindful Eating

The Center for Mindful Eating

Dr. Susan Albers Blog (Psychologist specializing in treating eating disorders using mindfulness)

Mindful Eating as a Way to Fight Bingeing

 

How to Slow Down

how to slow downThe other day, one of my clients and I were discussing her impulses. She vibrates at a very fast level. She’s got a lot on her mind, a lot on her plate and she does everything fast. Like really fast. This includes eating too much too fast and letting it turn into a binge, having sex with people without getting to know them, drinking too much too fast, and falling in love with people before getting to know them and then being stuck in heart-wrenchingly painful one-sided relationships with people who don’t love her the way she thinks she loves them. Now don’t get me wrong, her impulsive side has helped her to be very successful in life. She’s smart, she’s beautiful, she’s successful and she’s got lots of great friends who love her. However, she sometimes finds herself in the middle of something that she doesn’t quite want to be in because she leaped in too quickly. Certainly this happens with binge eating, she will kind of snap out of it to find herself in the middle of a binge, but it’s also other things in life, a trip up to Tahoe with people she barely knows, finding herself drunk and in bed with a guy who she met earlier that evening, being $5000 in credit card debt due to the purchase of a very expensive purse that she really didn’t need, but really thought she needed in the moment. This inability to take life slow, though certainly exciting in the moment, makes life more difficult on the other end. There are ways to simply slow down and not get caught in the cycle of undoing a mess that you’ve somehow found yourself in.

 

1. Recognize that the sense of urgency is fake. There is very little in life that has to be done immediately. Is it possible that you will regret for the rest of your life not buying those Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes  that were on sale for only $400.00? Possibly. But probably not. When it’s something like this, walk away for at least 24 hours. If you don’t have 24 hours, if it’s a one-day sample sale, walk away for 2 hours and give yourself some time to think about it. There is very little that you actually need. Most purchases are driven by desire and want, which is fleeting.  Debt however is not.

2. Don’t sleep with someone that you don’t know when you’ve been drinking. Seriously. Just don’t. Get a number give a number and if it’s meant to be, you’ll meet up again when you’re both sober and you can figure it all out in a more clear-headed way. If he or she doesn’t call you later, you can imagine how they’d be if you had slept with them.

3. Take a week to not give any yeses. Instead of saying yes immediately to any requests, give the answer, “give me 24 hours to think about it.” Then, take some time to think about whether or not you actually want to do what is being requested of you.

4. Try to give thanks before eating. This doesn’t have to be about praying or saying grace. It could be as simple as thanking the earth for growing the lettuce you’re about to eat or thanking the salmon that you’re about to eat. Just taking a moment to express gratitude.

5. Slow down while you’re actually eating. Try implementing mindful eating techniques during meals so that you can eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied.

6. Stop your mind from chaining together cause and effects and long stories that aren’t true. Anxiety is caused by taking what ifs, stringing them together and then following the path to a disastrous end. And it all happens in an instant. What if I leave the house, get hit by a car, wind up in the hospital paralyzed for life, have no one to take care of me and die alone?  Your mind can be a very dangerous neighborhood, so tell it to slow down and to help you stay in the present. Imagine a giant stop sign telling you to just stop the irrational thinking.

What ways can you practice slowing down?

Hypnosis for Binge Eating, Bulimia and other Eating Disorders

hypnosis for binge eating

Hypnosis For Binge Eating– $12.99 for download

Millions of people suffer with Binge Eating. If you fit into that category, this session can help you to get control over the impulse to binge. It will help you to recognize that you are stronger than the urge to binge. Although that urge can feel overwhelming, you are ultimately in charge and this session will help you remember that. This will help you to be more in control so that you can choose the behavior that you want to have. It will allow you to feel more peaceful around food and your thoughts about food.  DOWNLOAD HYPNOSIS FOR BINGE EATING HERE

Hypnosis for Bulimia -$12.99 for Download

Bulimia is a very serious condition where a person eats a large amount of food and then gets rid of it through purging by self-induced vomiting. This session will help you to get control of your bulimia. You will know that you are stronger than the urge to binge and purge. You will find calmness and peace through breath and mindfulness when you believe that there is nothing else to do other than purge. Imagine feeling calm around food. Imagine letting go of the shame that you have around your eating disorder. Imagine finding peace from within to help you deal with whatever it is that triggers your symptoms. This session can help you to achieve that. DOWNLOAD HYPNOSIS FOR BULIMIA HERE

Hypnosis for Compulsive Eating –$12.99 for Download

Compulsive eating is eating without restraint or thoughtfulness of what goes into your mouth. Do you know the feeling? It’s when you find yourself just grabbing food because it’s in front of you, not because you’re hungry, not because you’ve thought out what you’re going to eat. This session helps you to bring thought and mindfulness to your eating. It helps you to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied rather than just eating food because it’s there. DOWNLOAD HYPNOSIS FOR COMPULSIVE EATING HERE

Hypnosis for Emotional Eating$12.99 for Download

Are you someone who turns to food when you are feeling stressed, sad, angry, depressed, anxious or happy? Is food your response to emotions? This session can help you deal with your emotions in a healthier way. Eating in response to emotions is a way to stuff your feelings down without validating them or metabolizing them. This session can help you to respectfully process your feelings without fear or needing to turn to food in response to them. DOWNLOAD HYPNOSIS FOR EMOTIONAL EATING HERE

Hypnosis for Sugar Addiction-$12.99 for Download

Some people find controlling their sugar intake completely impossible. They find that one bite of something sweet will have them spiraling out of control into a sugar binge that they cannot get out of. This session can help. This will help you to let go of your addiction to sugar. Some people have found that after listening to this session, they are able to completely give up sugar for good. Others find that they are able to set limits around sugar that they could not previously stick to. This session will give you that peace and control around sweets that you need and allow you to feel safe and comfortable. DOWNLOAD HYPNOSIS FOR SUGAR ADDICTION HERE

Hypnosis for Intuitive Eating-$10.00 for Download

People can also be addicted to dieting. Sometimes they find that they have success with a particular kind of diet plan, but they gain the weight back, and then they try and try and try to replicate that initial success again and again. It becomes exhausting. This session can help you to let go of that diet. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of the diet because you believe that you will lose all self-control. However, the truth is that the obsession with the diet and the weight loss is what has taken over. This session will help you to release the obsession and integrate healthy, intuitive eating. With intuitive eating, your weight will naturally come to the place that your body is meant to be at, and you will begin to feel safer around food. You won’t end up overeating or eating unhealthy foods because you will be giving your body what it needs. Your body doesn’t want to be filled with junk or overstuffed. It wants healthy amounts of nutritious food. This session will help you to achieve that. DOWNLOAD INTUITIVE EATING MEDITATION HERE

Mindful Eating Meditation-$12.99 for Download

This session will help you to incorporate mindful eating into your healthy eating regimen. Mindful eating is a way to understand what your body needs, how much it needs and when it needs it. Practicing mindful eating will help you to learn the very simple practice of eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are satisfied. It will also give you the power to be aware of what you’re eating while you’re eating it. You will become more intimate with the tastes, the textures, and the nourishment of your food. You will find a sense of gratitude for what you are eating as well as an appreciation for food and your body. DOWNLOAD MINDFUL EATING MEDITATION HERE

 

Love Your Body- Guided Meditation for Positive Body Image – $12.99 for Download

Many people deal with body image issues and feel bad about their size, their shape and what they look like in general. This session can help you to respect your body. When you love and respect your body. You feed it healthy food and appropriate portions. You feel more confident in your skin and generally happier. Your body deserves love and respect, not criticism and punishment, no matter what the size or shape it is. This session can help you to let go of the inner critic that tells you there is something wrong with you and helps you to treat yourself with the loving kindness and respect that you deserve. Imagine what it would feel like to feel peace and calmness in your body. DOWNLOAD POSITIVE BODY IMAGE MEDITATION HERE

 

Stop Eating Junkfood -$12.99 for Download

This session will help you to let go of unhealthy eating habits and integrate new healthy eating habits. It’s not about self-control or will-power, it’s about wanting to eat healthy. You will find yourself desiring healthy foods and eschewing junk foods. You will find that you are not tempted by foods that don’t serve you. It’s not that you will be struggling to eat the right foods or make good decisions, it’s that you will find you have the desire to take care of yourself. You will be able to stop and think about what you want and what your body needs rather than compulsively grabbing at something that is not good for you out of habit. DOWNLOAD STOP EATING JUNKFOOD START EATING HEALTHY HYPNOSIS HERE

Hypnosis for Motivation to Exercise– $12.99 for Download

Not everyone is a star athlete. Many people just can’t seem to find the time or the motivation to exercise. This session will help to take the anxiety out of getting started. Often, people find that they don’t exercise because they become very overwhelmed at the prospect of just getting up and getting out. Exercise should be easy and enjoyable, not an overwhelming task. This session will help you to get over the initial hurdle of exercise so that it becomes a habit, rather than something to dread. After a few weeks of developing a new habit, it will become second nature so that the anxiety and stress are no longer there. The motivation to exercise will naturally be there, so that you will look forward to and enjoy exercising. DOWNLOAD MOTIVATION TO EXERCISE HYPNOSIS HERE

Question: How do I use these MP3s?

Answer: Use headphones or an ipod to listen to these recordings. Listen to them when you have uninterrupted time to lay down, relax and close your eyes. It’s best to listen to a recording each day for a few weeks to help reinforce the change. Night time is often best because they relax you enough to help you fall asleep and help your unconscious mind absorb the changes.

Question: How do these sessions work?

Answer: Self-hypnosis and guided visualizations work by changing the way you think. The beliefs held by your unconscious mind are the driving force behind your actions, so the point of these sessions is to help you to change those beliefs. This is done by first helping you become deeply relaxed. At this point, your conscious mind takes a back seat while your unconscious mind is open and receptive to suggestions. The changes take place as you begin to visualize them. Your unconscious mind then changes your thoughts and beliefs by releasing those that no longer serve you and creating new, healthier beliefs. Once your unconscious mind begins to have healthier beliefs, your behaviors completely transform. You begin to notice yourself making changes that you had wanted to make but weren’t able to because you were stuck in old patterns.

Question: How do I know that I can be hypnotized?

Answer: Some people can’t, but most people can. What’s important is not that you are being hypnotized per se, but that you are able to listen to the recordings and visualize the change for yourself. The calming nature of the sessions will help you to relax and that in itself will create a huge benefit for you.

 

Question: How long will it take to work?

Answer:  Many people receive a benefit and notice a change after the very first time they listen.

Question: Will I remember anything from the session?

Answer: Yes, you will most likely remember everything. You are not unconscious, you are just deeply relaxed and peaceful, as though you’re meditating.

Question: Will this cure my Eating Disorder?

Answer: Hypnosis is not a guaranteed cure all but is a wonderful complement to your recovery program which can include nutritional therapy, psychotherapy, and a support group or 12-step group.

 

FOR ADDITIONAL HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS, VISIT HYPNOTHERAPY FOR WELLNESS

Hypnosis MP3