5 Signs You Aren’t Practicing Self-Care

Self-care is complex. Anyone can tell you to do it, but only you can bestow the gift of self-care onto yourself. But before you can begin bestowing, you’ve got to first recognize that you are worthy of caring for yourself as you do others.

How do you do this? By noticing the ways in which you are currently not taking very good care of yourself.

Here are 5 signs you aren’t practicing self-care. If any seem familiar, it is time to make more time for yourself:

1. You Get Sick More Often

When we don’t take proper care of ourselves, our health takes a big hit. Lack of proper sleep and nutrition can lead to a taxed immune system, which in turn makes you vulnerable to infections, colds, flu, and other immune-related medical problems.

2. Increased Moodiness

What happens when a child does not get the care and attention they deserve? They begin to act out in order to get any attention. In much the same way, a lack of self-care and feeling of unimportance can lead to increased irritability. Leaving this unchecked can result in personal and professional relationships being negatively affected.

3. Unpleasant Physical Symptoms

What can start out as unpleasant (and even scary) physical symptoms, can be a sign of poor self-care. Symptoms may include dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pains, heart palpitations, abdominal pain, headaches, and fainting spells. All of these symptoms should be checked out by your healthcare provider immediately.

4. A Feeling of Isolation

When you feel you don’t deserve to care for yourself, you naturally feel unworthy of enjoying other aspects of life, like socializing and a true connection to friends and family. This can lead to a detachment of others and a sense of isolation.

5. Depression

Feelings of worthlessness can snowball into feelings of hopelessness and depression. If you have noticed yourself slipping farther and farther into a depression, it is important that you seek help from a mental health professional. They can help you recognize where the darkness has come from, and how to break through back into the light.

If you or a loved one is experiencing depression, or would simply like some help practicing self-care, please be in touch with me. I would be more than happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

4 Reasons We Judge Others and How to Break the Habit

One of the things most of us are taught as children is to never judge others. “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” And yet, despite our best efforts, many of us fall into the trap over and over again. Why do we do it?

Here are four common reasons that explain this particularly bad habit of judging other people.

It Lets Us Feel Superior

Tearing other people down is one way people prop themselves up. By judging others harshly, we compare ourselves to them and find ourselves superior. Compared to their life, their behavior, their physique, we look pretty good! But this kind of comparison is false and unhealthy. Instead of finding faults in others, we would do much better to focus on how we can become our best selves.

It Helps Us Recognize Our Goals

Judging is a way for us to perceive the world and figure out where exactly we fit in. When we form opinions of others, we are able to recognize what we like and aspire to be, as well as what we don’t like and want to avoid.

It Uncovers Our Own Faults

More often than not, we are bothered by the qualities in others that we choose not to see in ourselves. We rail against another’s habits, appearance or lifestyle choices because they are the very ones we dislike in ourselves.

It Makes Us Feel Part of a Group

Occasionally, judging can make us feel part of a club. Let’s say there is a work situation where one person complains about something, and then another person agrees, and then another and another. Before you know it, a group has formed around negativity. Sometimes this negativity can be funny and based around a silly situation, but often the negativity can be at the expense of another.

How to Break the Judgement Habit

If you’ve recognized your tendency toward judgement, here are a few tips to break the habit:

  • Try to take a moment to understand where other people are coming from, and why they may look or behave the way they do.
  • Try to recognize your own insecurities, and work on building yourself up instead of tearing others down. Does their behavior mirror your own?
  • Examine your friendships and associations. Are they based on positivity or demeaning others? If the latter, disassociate yourself and focus on building connections based on positivity and mutual respect.

If you discover you have a tendency to judge others based on your own low self-esteem, it may help to speak with a therapist who can help you uncover the reasons behind it and offer coping strategies.

If you or someone you know is interested in exploring treatment, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.Bottom of Form

If you discover you have a tendency to judge others based on your own low self-esteem, it may help to speak with a therapist who can help you uncover the reasons behind it and offer coping strategies.

If you or someone you know is interested in exploring treatment, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

Have You Suddenly Lost Your Confidence? Try These Tips to Regain Your Swagger!

A lot of people talk about coping with low self-esteem, but less is said about self-esteem that comes and goes. The truth is, when it comes to self-esteem, most people fit in the middle of the spectrum, feeling fairly self-confident one minute and then anxious the next.

If you can identify with swings in your confidence, here are some ways to cope:

Understand Emotions Are Your Friend

Though it’s not always easy dealing with uncomfortable emotions, understand that they are part of our evolved warning system. We all have emotions for a reason, and they can be used as helpful guides in our lives, reminding us how we feel about things. Sometimes, however, this system can break down (as in the case of depression and panic attacks), but generally speaking, our emotions are there to help us.

Sometimes a Loss of Confidence is Justified

Sometimes when we have a sudden loss of confidence, it is completely justified. For example, you may have started a new job and don’t know all the ropes or players on your team. One day you pitch an idea to your new boss and colleagues. Most of them react favorably, but one or two people have a negative reaction. That negative response is likely to rock you disproportionately because you feel you have a lot to prove and want to keep your job.

Our psyche has been designed to react to any kind of uncertainty or mixed signals with anxiety. If it weren’t for our ability to find and react to possible dangers, human beings would have gone extinct a long time ago.

The moral of the story is, don’t make your loss of confidence even worse by chastising yourself for feeling less confident. In many situations, it is a common reaction.

A Loss of Confidence Can Help You Make Better Choices

Often when we feel a sudden loss of confidence, it is a signal that we need to make better choices. Our intuition is trying to get our attention and let us know, “Pssst, you’re not doing it quite right,” or “This wasn’t what you had in mind.”

Instead of panicking about your lack of confidence, listen to it to hearwhat it’s trying to tell you.

Some common things it might be trying to say are:

  • Finish what you started
  • Test your strategies to see if they are really working
  • Ask for feedback

Typically, our self-confidence comes back as quickly as it left us. But for some, this might not always be the case. Some people struggle day to day with low confidence because they have underlying low self-esteem. These individuals would greatly benefit from working with a therapist to uncover where these feelings stem from, and how to manage them in the future.

If you or someone you know lacks self-confidence because of a low self-esteem and would like to explore treatment options, please contact me. I’d be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

5 Ways to Raise Your Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem has become an epidemic in this country, and one that negatively impacts our quality of life. Feelings of unworthiness can begin at a young age and, if neglected, can potentially lead to depression and anxiety.

Because low self-esteem can be so damaging, finding ways to feel better about ourselves and our abilities is vital to our well-being. Here are 5 ways to increase your self-esteem:

  1. Quiet That Inner Critic

Negative self-talk is a common issue for people with low self-esteem. If you’re one of those people whose inner critic is constantly beating them up, it’s important you quiet that voice. Try to replace any negative comments with positive ones. Stop focusing on your weaknesses and instead focus on your strengths and abilities.

  1. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

We are all so unique. Sadly, instead of celebrating what makes us individuals, many of us spend time comparing ourselves to others. And, should we find we don’t quite measure up to others’ standards, we feel inadequate. Stop comparing yourself to others and instead concentrate on being the best version of you that you can be.

  1. Give Up the Quest to be Perfect

Being human means being imperfect. We all have flaws, we are all works in progress. And that’s okay. Striving to be something that simply doesn’t exist is futile and exhausting. And before you say that so many celebrities are perfectly beautiful and lead perfect lives, guess again. Hollywood’s A-listers are typically photoshopped and many have been treated for depression and addiction. They are human and struggling like anyone else.

Stop trying to be perfect and instead set attainable goals for yourself.

  1. Start Loving Your Body

Many people struggle with body image issues. Much of it is because of the photoshopping I just mentioned. It’s hard to love your body when you are expected to look like the people that grace the covers of magazines.

Instead of focusing on what your body looks like, on how much you weigh or how big your muscles are, focus on being healthy. Be grateful for your health and make healthy choices so you can always feel good and vibrant.

  1. Cut Back on Social Media

Social media has its good points, but it can also set unrealistic expectations regarding relationships and lifestyles. It’s important to remember that online, people tend to only post images that make their lives seem awesome. But that’s not always an accurate presentation. Spending too much time looking at other people leading fun lives can lead us to spending less time enjoying our own.

If self-esteem issues have become a serious problem in your life, leading to anxiety and depression, consider working with a therapist who can help you work through your memories and emotions.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

3 Great Phone Apps to Help Improve Self Esteem

People who struggle with low self-esteem often hold themselves back from making intimate connections with others and reaching their most desired goals. Luckily, technology is making it easier for these people to give their self-esteem a boost.

Here are 3 great phone apps that can help you improve your self-esteem:

Simply Being

A positive self-image is the result of a positive mindset – and that can be the result of daily meditation. Simply Being is a guided meditation app. Users can intensify the experience by adding their own choice of music or selecting from a list of soothing nature sounds. The app is available on iPhone, iPad, Windows, Android, and Blackberry.

Confidence Coach

Here’s an app that was actually developed by two British Clinical Psychologists. Confidence Coach takes a psychological approach known as Cognitive-Behavior Therapy or CBT for short.

With over 25 years of experience between them, these clinicians combine numerous techniques that, when used, can help change thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Users can monitor their behavior by tracking their strengths in the “Positive Quality Diary” and making use of the “Confidence Commitments” features. These remind users of their daily to-dos for boosting self-esteem.

Happier

Coming at self-esteem from a different angle, Happier focuses on inspiring individuals to gain self-esteem by “mindfully curating what makes you happy.” The app illustrates the many simple ways happiness can be instilled in one’s life. Users could spend a few moments with their pet or volunteer at their local soup kitchen. The idea is that by feeling grateful we can feel more positivity about ourselves and our lives.

Cognitive Diary CBT Self-Help

A low self-esteem shows up in our lives as a wall; a wall that keeps us from reaching our full potential and fulfillment. To live an authentic life, these walls need to come down. Cognitive Diary  aims to do this by teaching users to establish certain triggers and thought patterns that lead to a negative state of mind. Once these triggers are identified, it becomes easier to stay one or more steps ahead.

Like “Confidence Coach,” Cognitive Diary is based on tools of cognitive behavioral therapy and was developed by a licensed and practicing psychotherapist.

There’s no denying that personal development takes time and commitment, but luckily various applications are helping people reach their full potential.

If you’ve tried some of these apps, or, deep down, believe you need more help in boosting your self-esteem, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

What is Self-Esteem Counseling?

Most people recognize whether they have a high or low self-esteem. But what is self-esteem exactly and how does it impact our everyday life?

Self-esteem is the degree to which we feel worthy, valuable and confident, and these feelings or beliefs greatly affect our well-being and social interactions. Low self-esteem is associated with feelings of self-criticism, self-doubt, shame, social isolation and suppressed anger. Low self-esteem is also a symptom of several mental health conditions including depression.

Developing Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is learned in childhood, and there are many factors that can impact healthy development. Criticism or abuse from parents and caretakers, receiving little or no positive reinforcement for accomplishments, and having a learning disability that is stigmatized may foster a low self-esteem. Unless address in childhood, these young people will develop into adults with low self-esteem.

Even adults with healthy self-esteems can develop issues when they are faced with sudden life challenges they perceive as failures, such as legal or financial troubles, divorce, losing a job, and struggling with addiction.

How Psychotherapy Can Help

At any point in our lives, when events might cause us to question our worth or value, therapy can help us gain perspective. People suffering from low self-esteem can work with a therapist on becoming more self-aware, confident, and assertive.

One of the biggest boosts to self-esteem comes from a feeling of accomplishment, and a professional therapist can help people identify specific activities that can give them a confidence boost. In addition, many therapists can work with clients to help them develop self-compassion, so they may treat themselves with the same kindness and encouragement they do others.

It is common for therapists to use goal-directed therapy with people struggling with low self-esteem. Solution-focused and cognitive behavioral therapies tend to work best, and some therapists will also try animal assisted therapy, which can be incredibly effective in younger patients or those suffering as a result of a physical impairment.

The longer a person has lived with low self-esteem and been the victim of negative self-talk and criticism, the more they can be helped by therapy. Breaking self-destructive patterns will require proven tools and protocols that a professional therapist can offer.

When your self-esteem suffers, your quality of life does as well. Seeking treatment from a professional therapist is a great way to gain perspective and confidence, and acquire new habits based in self-love and self-compassion.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

3 Ways to Build Confidence & Self-Esteem

Having confidence helps individuals achieve greater success in life. When someone believes they can accomplish something, nothing can stop them from reaching that goal.

Equally important, however, is having a healthy self-esteem. Many people believe they can achieve a goal, they just don’t believe they are worth the effort.

Having confidence and a positive self-esteem can help you live a more fulfilling life  by making your dreams a reality. Here are 3 ways you can build both:

1. Stop Self-Criticism in its Tracks

In order to grow as a person, all of that negative self-talk has to stop. Here’s what you do:

The next time you have a self-critical thought, ask yourself two questions:

  • Is there any evidence that this thought is true?
  • Would my friends and family agree that this thought is true?

There is a very good chance that the answer to both of these questions will be “no.” When you answer no over and over again, you will start to consider that you are something other – something more – than what you originally perceived.

2. Keep a Journal

This won’t be an ordinary journal. It will be one in which you will write down all of your victories. Writing down successes helps you to feel them and remember them better. The successes could be small, “I kept my cool when my daughter came home at 2AM,” or big, “I beat out 5 other people to get that promotion!” Write these down every day and whenever you need a confidence boost, reread what you’ve written.

3. Keep Your Commitments

When you agree to do something, it’s important you keep your word. If you don’t commit and follow through, you learn not to trust yourself and lose faith in your ability to get results. Empower yourself by always keeping your commitments, to yourself and to others. It can also be helpful to seek positive support and guidance from an objective third party. A therapist will be able to help you navigate your thoughts and offer tools for correction.

Have you been struggling with a lack of confidence or low self-esteem? Are you interested in exploring therapy to get to the bottom of these issues? If so, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

A Few Causes of Low Self-Esteem & How to Improve

The origin of many human behaviors can be batted around in the nature/nurture debate. But when it comes to self-esteem, we know with absolute certainty there are always external causes of it.

No child is born with low self-esteem; rather self-critical thought patterns develop over time as a result of external stimuli and input from others.

Below are some causes of low self-esteem. However, remember low self-esteem can be improved and just listing out potential causes doesn’t do nearly enough justice to the individual causes of low self-esteem. That’s something that therapy can help explore.

OK. Without further ado, here are some causes of low self-esteem:

Parental Input

The most important influence in a child’s life is their parents. If the parents themselves have a healthy self-esteem they will be able to more easily pass it on to the child. Conversely, children of parents with low self-esteem will, more often than not, adopt this belief about themselves.

To help instill a positive self-esteem in their child, parents should always offer love, patience and encouragement and avoid criticism, unfair comparisons and unrealistic expectations.

Negative Self Talk

When children receive too many criticisms, they may develop a negative pattern of thinking. If not adjusted, this pattern can turn into a destructive loop of negative thoughts like:

  • I’m not good enough.
  • I’m not pretty enough.
  • Everyone is laughing at me.
  • I’m not smart enough.
  • I can’t do it.

These self-critical thoughts eventually become core beliefs, and the person’s behavior then changes to match those beliefs.

These are just a few of the causes of low self-esteem, but they illustrate that esteem is not an inherited trait like eye color or height, but rather a set of acquired beliefs. And, like everything that is acquired, self-esteem can be altered.

No matter what may have caused low self-esteem, there are ways to improve it.

1. Challenge Your Inner Critic

That self-critical voice must be silenced and replaced with a supportive one. How do you do this? First, when a negative thought pops into your head, simply become aware of it. Treat that thought like an object in a store and you’re deciding whether you want to buy it or not.

Next, challenge that thought by asking two questions:

  • Is there any evidence that proves this thought is correct?
  • Would my friends and family agree with this self-critical thought?

Chances are the answers you’ll get most often are “no” and “no.” When this happens enough times, you’ll start to believe that maybe, just maybe, your inner critic is entirely wrong!

2. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

So many people spend countless hours measuring their worth and value against others’ instead of embracing what makes them unique. You truly are the only you on the planet. No one else has your DNA or your life experiences, and that is incredibly special. It’s very important you stop spending time comparing yourself to others and start spending time sharing your unique talents and ideas with the world.

3. Stop Striving for Perfection

Only things that are finished can be critiqued and considered perfect or not. A cake is either perfectly moist or dreadfully dry. A building is either perfectly functional or a pointless eyesore.

Human beings are never finished. We are lovely works in progress, ever-changing and growing. And, since we will never stop evolving, we must never be critiqued in the same way as an inanimate object.

So, stop trying to be perfect and just be your awesome progressing self.

If you’ve tried putting some of these tips into action but haven’t noticed a difference in the way you feel about yourself, speaking with a counselor can help you determine what’s at the root cause of your low self-esteem and offers tools to fix it.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

Recharge Your Life by Putting Yourself First

Most children are brought up to be kind and respectful of other people. They are taught to consider others’ feelings and help those in need. But when it comes to taking care of themselves, many people lack the ability to put their own needs first.

To some, the concept of self-care is as foreign as the language and customs of far away lands. The idea of putting their own needs first feels somehow wrong, or even selfish.

The good news is that it’s never too late to learn to treat yourself as you do others; to put yourself first in a healthy, energizing way. Here are some ways you can rewire your brain so it becomes increasingly easier to put yourself first, thereby recharging your life.

Learn to Say No

Being a caring and compassionate person is wonderful, but sacrificing yourself by saying “yes” all the time to other people’s needs will deplete your energy. Learning to set boundaries and say no is not only your right, it’s your responsibility. Try to start saying no more often, free of guilt.

Ask for Help

When you’ve taken on the role of helping others, it can feel uncomfortable asking for help when you need it. After all, you’re the one people go to when in need how can you possibly allow yourself to be in a position where help is required?

The thing to remember is, all of these people who come to you for help feel no shame or discomfort in asking for it. They need help, they ask for it, they get it. Try to do the same. As soon as you release the pressure you’ve put on yourself to handle everything alone, you will feel a tremendous weight lifted.

Get to Know Yourself!

Do you know what makes you tick? What do you like and dislike? People who are wired to neglect their own needs don’t typically know themselves very well. Knowing oneself is seen as a luxury they can’t afford.

Self-love and self-care require you get to know your SELF. Take some time to discover what you enjoy. Once you find what it is that pleases you, commit to doing it more often. Having more pleasure in your life will make you a happier person.

Taking these actions will have a tremendous impact on your life. As you get better and better at putting your needs first, you will feel happier and more empowered. You will know, deep down, that your own needs matter and you are worth the effort.

Some people have a tremendously hard time with these exercises because they have a very low self-esteem. And the longer you have lived with a low self-esteem, the harder it is to make positive changes.

In these instances, seeking the guidance of a trained therapist can be incredibly beneficial. He or she can help you work through any childhood trauma and provide tools to manage any anxiety or depression that often accompanies a low self-esteem.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

Setting Goals for Self-Esteem

Many people set goals to get in better physical shape. They want tighter buns, six pack abs and arms that never jiggle. But how many people decide to work on their inner selves?

No matter what we look like on the outside, it’s who we are on the inside that really dictates our lives. Self-esteem reflects the relationship we have with ourselves. The better this relationship is, the better our other relationships can be.

Most of us could use a good self-esteem boost. What’s the best way to do that? Through goal setting.

But these goals can’t be just any ol’ goals. To really set ourselves up for success, we need to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. Smart stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

What does this look like in real life?

Is there something you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t gotten around to? Perhaps you started a project a while ago but have yet to complete it. Deep down this lack of completion has caused your self-esteem to take a hit.

Let’s say you’ve been wanting (and very much needing) to clean out the garage. You’ve probably said to yourself, “I’ve really got to go through the garage and throw a bunch of stuff out.”

That’s an okay start, but as goals go, it’s pretty vague. Let’s use S.M.A.R.T. goals to get the job done.

Here’s a Specific goal: “I am going to clean out and reorganize the garage.”

That’s good. Now how do we make that Measurable? Let’s add some words that will help us know when and if we complete our goal. “I am going to clean out and reorganize the garage so both cars and all of our bikes fit.”

You’ll also want to be able to measure your progress toward your goal to be certain you are staying on track. So, you could decide to spend two hours each Saturday and Sunday for the next 4 weeks. If you do that, you will know you’re on the right path to achieving your goal. If you don’t meet these milestones, you’ll know you’ve gotten off-track.

Now let’s talk about whether or not your goal is Achievable. Well, other human beings have cleaned out and organized their garage, so you know it’s possible. You have the desire and you’ve carved out an appropriate amount of time to complete the job. Yep, this seems like a very achievable goal!

Instead of cleaning out the garage you already have, your goal could have been to build a new garage by yourself all in one weekend, but no, that would not have been an achievable goal.

You know your goal is achievable, but is the schedule you’ve set for yourself Realistic? Do you actually have 4 hours on the weekend to devote to this project, or with your work and family time, is half an hour more realistic? While it’s understandable you want to get the job done as fast as possible, you also don’t want to set yourself up for failure. So be sure your schedule is realistic.

And lastly, you’ll need to set a Time-bound deadline for the attainment of your goal. Will this task be completed in 4 weeks? Will it take two months? Choose a deadline that’s reasonable and motivating at the same time. It’s a balance between being practical and pushing yourself slightly. A date too far in the future could kill your motivation.

Let’s recap. We started with the vague goal of “I’ve really got to go through the garage and throw a bunch of stuff out” and ended up with “I am going to spend four hours every weekend for the next four weeks cleaning out and reorganizing the garage so that both cars and all of our bikes fit.” Now you have a specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound (SMART) goal with built-in milestones to get you there. But more importantly, you’ve made a promise to yourself, and keeping this promise is what will enhance your self-esteem.

Of course, sometimes it takes a little more work than reaching a goal to lift our self-esteem. There are experiences in our lives that can truly devastate our sense of self-worth, and often we need the guidance of a therapist to help us recover our sense of identity and self-esteem.

If you or a loved one have struggled with self-esteem issues and are interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.