1. Process the positive experiences in your life
Spend 5 to 10 minutes per day putting effort into really noticing the positive things that are happening to you. Many of us don’t process these or dismiss them too quickly, meaning that effectively they receive little or no psychological benefit from the experience at all!
If your positive experience was something that you achieved, such as achieving something at work or cooking a great dinner or doing some exercise you can also remind yourself that you brought about the experience, helping yourself to feel empowered and capable.
2. Build up the belief that you are in control of your life
Those who feel powerless believe that their problems in life (such as phobias, fears, lack of success etc.) just happen to them! They think that other people, bad luck, or external forces cause these problems. They don’t believe that they have the personal power to deal with any challenges.
They see these challenges as external to themselves, therefore don’t put much effort into overcoming their difficulties or making positive changes. It’s a vicious cycle.
I you feel yourself thinking in a powerless way, challenge yourself. For example, if you think something like ‘I could never swim the Channel’ change it to ‘I could swim the Channel if I trained hard enough and put in the effort.’
3. Mind your language!
Our language is a window, through which we can easily recognise our thoughts and beliefs.
If you speak and think negative, passive words, you will lower your mood, anticipate negative outcomes, make yourself stressed and feel powerless. If you use positive, powerful language, you will feel happier, anticipate positive outcomes, create less stress and feel empowered.
Pay attention to the words you use. Change any unhelpful words for more helpful ones. EG: ‘‘I HATE the dentist, it’s terrifying.’ could become ‘it’s a bit unpleasant at the dentist, but I can cope with it’.
4. Visualise what you want to happen in your life, rather than what you fear
Many of us unconsciously start to project our worries into our visualisations and ‘fantasies’ about how something will go. We even play feared scenarios in our minds, which builds anxiety and makes the situation far worse.
This works really well for social events and performance-related situations such as going for an interview, giving a speech or asking someone on a date. And also to overcome fears and anxiety-causing situations such as flying, darkness, spiders, snakes, lifts, tunnels and needles.
Choose 2 or 3 scenarios that you have been worrying and thinking negatively about. Find a quiet place and spend five or ten minutes on each scenario really visualising what you want to happen. The more you practise visualising, the easier it becomes.
5. Challenge yourself!
One of the best ways to build self-esteem and gain a sense of wellbeing is to overcome challenges. So you need to create some! You want this challenge to be something that will be a little bit difficult for you to achieve but is something that know you can do!
The key to success is to think about the steps you need to take to achieve your goal – make a plan of action rather than a vague idea.
As you work towards your goal, keep encouraging and praising yourself for the effort you are putting remembering to use positive language. This helps you realise that all this effort will enable you to succeed. And when you do, you’ll begin to see how you can do the same for other goals and challenges in your life.
6. Keep Perspective
Perspective is about having a clear view or understanding of a situation. When you don’t have perspective you can’t see the full picture, so your opinions and decisions are biased by the part you can see. When you feel this happening, the first thing to do is calm down and get a realistic idea of what’s really happening.
Did anyone get hurt? Is someone in danger? Is it the end of the world? If the answer to these three questions is ‘no’, then there is no need to make a drama out of a minor setback.
We all experience unpleasant events and we all make mistakes but the key to being happy is to see them in context and move on, rather than making them worse by focusing in on the most negative aspect.