Raising self-esteem is not easy, and you will struggle with the journey without doing practical exercises to change your inner beliefs. Doing this simple predictions and precautions exercise will help you better understand what is the cause of your problems and how to challenge your core beliefs which are resulting in low self-esteem.
Below is a table which you can use to record your thoughts which are affecting you. There are seven parts to fill out:
Date/time: Simple start, to help you monitor when your moments of low self-esteem are taking place.
Situation: Identify what exactly is happening when you begin to feel negative. This will help you to identify your triggers of low self-esteem.
Emotions and body sensations: What are you feeling mentally and physically? A sense of panic, fear, sadness? Does your body become shaky, for example? Rate 0-10 for how bad the feeling/emotion is. This will help you to monitor your feelings and understand how your body/mind responds.
Negative predictions: What exactly do you think is going to happen? What is your core belief here? Do you think people will think you are stupid, for example, or do you think you will not cope? Identifying your belief is very important, as you cannot change a belief without knowing what it is in the first place. Rate each one 0-10 based on how strongly you believe it.
Precautions: Now you have identified your prediction of what will happen, what do you intend to do to stop it from happening? For example, if your boss has asked you to do a presentation, will you work crazy extra hours to make sure you are good enough?
Alternative perspectives: Think about other views of this situation and rate how strongly you believe them. This is the tough part, and at first you may not be able to come up with many, or you may not believe them. However, you must challenge your core beliefs to improve your self-esteem. Read this for a guide on finding alternative perspectives.
Experiment: Another tough part, at this stage you need to test your beliefs and see how right you really were. In the example of giving a presentation at work and over preparing, force yourself to do less preparation than you intended. Then write down the result – did it go okay? Was it as bad as you thought it would be? Normally, you’ll find it wasn’t, and this will give you increased confidence to continue to challenge those core beliefs that are holding you back.
I personally find this exercise extremely useful and necessary if you want to raise your self-esteem. Even if you only manage a couple of records a week, it’s worth taking the time to challenge your negative beliefs.
I will also write a post on how to find alternative perspectives soon, as this can be very tricky when you have set negative beliefs.