4 X 4 Tips to Better Self-Esteem for Men

(reprinted from January’s edition of “Mentality” for men)

Healthy self-esteem is a critical component in a well-balanced life. Guys need it just the same, and it’s a consistent practice over time to maintain and refine good self-esteem, or the relationship that we have with ourselves. The way we treat ourselves is a direct reflection of the way we attract others into our lives. Who we attract into our lives is a direct reflection of how we feel about ourselves – good or bad. Let’s take a look at some components to developing better self-esteem for men.

Here’s how this will happen: we’ll look at four common areas affected by self-esteem, and give four tips for each category.

  • At Work
    • Feel accomplished by breaking up large projects into easy to manage tasks, and structure your time.
    • Periodically ask for constructive criticism from superiors to do a better job. Don’t wait for your review. It’s not ass kissing if you to want to perform better, and wiser.
    • Use your lunch productively: do some stress management for yourself for thirty minutes
    • Set quarterly goals for yourself on the job, and work towards gradual achievement of them; if you’re unhappy at work, set quarterly goals to get yourself out of there and into a better job or career
  • Relationship with Ourself
    • Identify and watch the toxic “self-critic”. Start to watch how it beats you down mentally, and how much of your behavior may be driven to succeed to “show” or compensate. This is the voice inside your mind that tells you “you’re not good enough, smart enough, successful enough.” Yes, that one.
    • Identify your needs and communicate them to the people that can meet them for you. Deal with the ones that can’t.
    • Identify your feelings and communicate them to the people that can listen to them. Deal with the ones that can’t.
    • Know what your limits are. Learning to say “no” is just as important for men as it is for women. Having healthy boundaries – which originate in ourselves first – is the foundation for practicing self-care, and developing good self-esteem.
  • Lifestyle
    • List three things you’ve been saying you’re going to do – that you’re not already doing – and develop an action plan to start to do them. This includes interests, hobbies, investment in relationships, etc. Identify the blocks and barriers, and write them down. Repeat.
    • Consider your friendships, and how they should be mutually satisfying for both parties. Do you feel good about them, and feel like you’re getting from them, as well as giving to them? If not, is a change needing to be made? Our friends can be great mirrors of our self-esteem, if we look closely. Research shows that mental health,  like depression, can be socially contagious, so why wouldn’t positive (or negative) self-esteem? Surround yourself with well-intentioned people who are good for your self-esteem.
    • Practice 20-30 minute regular exercise routines and do it not for an end-result, but as a commitment towards greater energy and positive self-esteem. Do it for your partner (or kids) if nothing else. We’re not talking Lance Armstrong here. Shake up those feel good brain juices.
    • Align your values with your behaviors. Are you practicing what you preach? Are you doing things in the world that are consistent with what you believe in? Sometimes, recalibrating them brings improved self-esteem, when we’re living from our core values instead of someone else’s.
  • Stress Management
  • Practice 10-15 minutes of conscious breathing (you can do this at work) or mindfulness meditation. You’ll be able to “unstick” from negative thinking about yourself through this process. E-mail me for instructions on meditating or breathing exercises.
    • Create a “stress list”, and record the daily items that stress you. Dump the stressors onto that list, and put the list in your desk drawer, or in a glass jar labeled “To Worry About”. Don’t stress: you’ll get to them later.
    • Practice better anger. You can exercise it out, yes, but you can also get in touch with the experience of anger in yourself, and communicate your anger in a healthy way to those that are the cause of it. Don’t stuff your anger, but don’t explode either. Choose “the middle way,” and cool your anger and frustration each time it comes up. But time it well.
    • Don’t smoke, and drink a little less. Both will spike stress, and exacerbate negative thinking about yourself (especially if you then tell yourself you want to quit. This is called “cognitive dissonance”, when stress appears as a product of two competing ideas. (“I want to quit, but I’m still doing it.”)

Self-esteem is a relationship that we build with ourselves over time. It requires some work, and continuing to do the right things over and over again. If you think you have chronic self-esteem problems, and need help, contact me to see how counseling or psychotherapy might benefit you.


 

About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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