Self-esteem missing? 10 exercises to increase it

Self-esteem can influence life in many ways, from academic and professional success to relationships and mental health. People who always experience disapproval from family, friends, teachers have feelings of low esteem. Self-esteem, however, is not an immutable characteristic; we can work on ourselves to improve our self-esteem and live a more meaningful life.

Confidence is a precious psychological resource and is a highly decisive factor in life; it triggers achievement, good relationships, and fulfilment.

1.Face difficult situations
Self-esteem is built step by step and needs time to take root within ourselves, through our experiences. Escaping in front of a condition of discomfort, which frightens us, means convincing us that we are not capable. If instead, we choose to face it, we will put ourselves to the test and start collecting memories of a self that dared to face that discomfort.

2.Take risks
To learn how to deal with the difficulties that life offers us, we have to take a few more risks every day. For example, we can change the route to work, the supermarket where we go shopping, do a new physical activity, etc. It helps to revise our reassuring habits. If we don’t like the change, we will have understood ourselves a little better. If, on the other hand, we like it, we will feel good and increase our possibilities.

3.Do not compare with others
If we always confront ourselves to others, we will always be unhappy, especially in our society so permeated by fake perfect models. If we are not married and all our friends are, we will feel miserable in comparison. If we don’t have children and our friends do, we will be incredibly sad. To strengthen our self-esteem, we need to create our standards and goals. Instead of comparing ourselves to someone else, let’s compare to ourselves! Am I happier than yesterday? Did I eat better than yesterday? Did I run more than yesterday? And so on.

4.No more complaining
This exercise helped me the most. All of us, every day, have to deal with the unexpected: traffic, storms, children’s whims, rudeness of people, economic difficulties, misunderstandings in the office, bad dinner, time that is never enough. These things are inevitable; they just happen. But we can make a difference when we decide how to deal with these difficulties. Let’s not complain, it’s worthless to us or those around us and let’s react with calm, rationality and optimism. Let’s take actions and change things. Action, which is change, generates a sense of control and trust.

5.Smile
I certainly have a lot more work to do on this! We cannot control the uncontrollable, but we can control ourselves in all circumstances. Let’s learn to play down, to react with humour and self-irony. Life will suddenly become much simpler and more harmonious.

6.Appreciations
Consider the way you talk to yourself: you will find that you would never say such things to someone you love. And in any case, if you did, that person would tell you to go to hell right away. We have to gratify and praise ourselves, to recognize our merits and also to accept the compliments that others address to us, without diminishing. In front of praise, instead of saying: “Yes, but it was just luck…”, we say: “Yes, I’m happy with this result too…”. People with low self-esteem are incapable of rejoicing in their successes, and when they do something good or receive a compliment, they don’t value it. We always have to appreciate the compliment, smile and treasure the moment.

7.Goals are important
Goals only work if they trigger a virtuous circle: each goal achieved is followed by a reward, which motivates us to reach more important goals. It is a virtuous circle. To make it, we must develop a few rules:

Plan
When we set a goal, we have to define actions: what habits we want to change or create; what sacrifices we are willing to make. We make a precise list of the actions we will do and when we will do them. Several external factors affect our goals, but at least we must be in control of our efforts.

Determination
If circumstances change suddenly and significantly (a notable and unexpected economic crisis, or a health problem, or an emotional breakdown), the first thing we need to do is to review our goals in light of the new situation. The line between determination and foolishness is fragile: insisting on consecutive defeats when more promising opportunities pass us by is neither useful nor advantageous.

Focus
Let’s focus not only on “what” and “how” but also on “why”. The “why” helps us to react when there are sudden and unforeseen events that affect us in our goal. In this way we can be more flexible, excessive rigidity is not favourable. When we set a goal, we ask ourselves “why do I want to reach it?”, “what are the motivations that push me?”. If we can’t find good reasons for achieving the goal, there are only two reasons: either we no longer want that goal or it is someone else’s goal.

8.Solutions are important
Solving problems is great for self-esteem. Since there are so many problems to deal with in everyday life, it is crucial to learn how to do it effectively. To find a suitable solution, we need to analyse the problems and ask specific questions:

  • How serious is the problem on a scale of 1 to 10?
  • How significant will the problem be in six months?
  • Has our reaction so far been appropriate?
  • What can we do now to improve the situation?
  • How will we choose to behave next time?
  • In the long term, not all bad comes to harm, right?

In short, when we face a problem, our mental attitude should be dedicated to exploring possible solutions. We often dwell too much on the issues and discomfort, but if we ask ourselves these questions, we learn how to solve problems effectively.

9.No more procrastinating
Procrastination is the continuous postponement of every action that is important for us or our daily life. To procrastinate means to postpone immediate action because we do not feel able to face it, or it is an unpleasant thing or something that makes us uncomfortable. Stop delaying and act now! Actions, regardless of their outcome, generate a sense of trust that leads to other steps. Instead, postponement creates a vicious circle: the more one avoids action, the more one wishes to prevent it. Procrastination is a mechanism used by our mind to manage the anxiety we feel every time we have to start a new task or make a decision. These questions help you find the right input to take action:

  • What advantages can I have by going straight into action?
  • What disadvantages will I suffer if I postpone again?
  • What justifications do I use to avoid taking immediate action?
  • What do I risk losing if I do not act?
  • How can I be rewarded if I start immediately?

10.Let’s get rid of other people’s judgment
Self-esteem is within us and not in others, and within us, we must find it! Many people are very concerned about what others think. Our society judges and labels all our actions, but we need to free ourselves from this conditioning. We are born free spirits; therefore, we have to exercise our freedom in our daily choices and actions.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY: PNL, UNICOMUNICAZIONE

NLP and the Power of Words

Sometimes just one word is enough to change your mood. Do you ever wonder why?

Are words just breath of wind? Definitively not.

Words carry considerable weight, and we’ve all experienced it on ourselves.

The main reason is that words are not neutral. They give or take away energy, not only the words you say to others but also the words you say to yourself. Words transform the experiences we live through and change the way we face the challenges life offers us.

The words we use and how we use them have two immediate effects: they create bridges or walls. The quality of communication is directly connected to the quality of our personal, relational and working life.

Words are precise indications that our brain puts into practice by making us behave in one way rather than another, thus altering not only the reality we live but also the reality we perceive.

NPL (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is a step-by-step guide to the knowledge of this mechanism and teaches you how to use words effectively to communicate with yourself and others. Conscious communication leads to the creation of relationships of esteem, respect, trust and collaboration.

Use the right words at the right time

The NPL is a methodological practice that aims to change the way people think and behave through the conscious use and choice of words. When we learn to use our language well, we can better convey our thoughts and behaviours to realize our projects.

How does it work?

NPL implies the idea that people operate through internal “maps” with which they represent the world. These “maps” are the subjective experiences of what surrounds us. The NPL identifies these maps to change their orientation. In what way? It changes thought and behaviour through the conscious use of language.

What is it for?

NPL can be applied in many fields, using various techniques, according to the desired purposes. For example, it is beneficial for:

  • treat anxiety, phobias and stress, thus improving emotional responses to certain situations;
  • achieve professional goals, such as increased productivity at work and motivation;
  • remove negative thoughts and feelings associated with a past event;
  • improve interpersonal relations.

I have always believed that words are sharp weapons, often hazardous! I see it, especially with my children. Children are susceptible and receptive, certainly more so than many adults. I realize how my language can radically influence them. When they were younger, I was very attentive to my words; I even started telling stories and using positive and engaging words even when they were in my belly! I’ve always read books to my children, spelling out well and emphasizing words of joy, enthusiasm, surprise, but also highlighting terms of challenge, of struggle to face stressful situations in life.

Recently, however, I realized that I have lost this attention to words, my children are older, and I have been focusing on something else. I have lost this good habit of applying “filters” in communication. Wrong! I probably exaggerated and used an inappropriate language. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I started studying NPL. How many times do we regret saying such words? Anger, lack of patience lead us to use aggressive language. Those who have children exactly understand what I mean; kids often put us to the test! But when they are small, we choose certain words patiently and say them in a specific tone, then when they are older, we sometimes talk without thinking twice. Did you make that mistake too? There’s time to make up for it!

A few examples

diligent-small-girl-drawing-on-paper-in-light-living-room-at-3755511_Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

I WANT

The best way to express our intentions is to use the verb “I want”. Most people, however, prefer to use this verb conjugated to the conditional form, “I would”, which is considered milder and politically correct. We always teach our children not to say “I want”. The truth, however, is that every time we say “I would”, we communicate to ourselves and to those who listen to us that our will is not sufficiently strong and therefore our intentions may not realize.

The “would” is a bit like the desire, I wish: the impact and effect on our brain are similar.

Therefore, avoid correcting your children all the time or at least, be aware of the meaning of this word, and use it at the right times. Don’t let them be rude but don’t kill their intentions (and even less yours!).

CAN I?

Every time we ask “can I?” we give someone else the power to decide our fate. It’s okay to ask permission from parents, but don’t overuse that word, and don’t expect to hear it all the times. Think about the use of this world in the work environment. When we negotiate with someone, a colleague or a client, if we say “can I?”, we are putting ourself in a weak position; if instead, we say what we want to say and then follow our statement with consistent action, we are communicating strength and confidence; because the brain translates “I say I do things and then I do those things”. The idea of ourselves and the idea others have of us change accordingly.

YET

It often happens that children don’t want to do something, and when we press, they answer “mom, I don’t know how to do it!”. To this statement, I suggest you to reply: “you don’t know how to do it yet”. By using “yet” the unconscious mind of the interlocutor begins to focus differently on the “problem” and begins to look for the solution. The tone and the way of saying “yet” are essential to the success of the technique.

WHY?

How many times have you asked your children:

Why didn’t you do your homework?

Why didn’t you clean up the room?

Why didn’t you shower?

The use of “why” triggers the search for a logical answer by the interlocutor on a self-defence and closure mode. Most probably, you will get lousy behaviour from your children. Instead, reformulate the question in this way, by using “and” or “for what reason”:

And… the homework? / For what reason didn’t you do your homework?

And… the room? / For what reason didn’t you clean up the room?

And… the shower? / For what reason didn’t you shower?

In this way, we avoid negative words, and consequently, we avoid closure and non-cooperative behaviour.

I still have a lot to learn, but I believe that NPL is crucial for personal development, it boosts skills, improves communication and therefore gives more self-confidence and transmits confidence to others.

I am a very curious person, and I have recently embarked on a path of change that leads me to learn new things continually, and in my opinion, NPL is a powerful tool for self-improvement that we should all learn.

When you know how to do something, it becomes easy to change it. We are programmable beings. We are the only machines that can program themselves. We are meta-programmable. We can make deliberately designed automatic programs. If we do something automatically that we shouldn’t do, we can program ourselves to change. That doesn’t mean being a robot, and it means becoming a free spirit. Being free means using your conscious mind to direct our unconscious activity. (Richard Bandler)

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Law of Attraction

energy

Something extraordinary happened to me recently, and this led me to reflect on a topic that has been going around in my head for some time: the Law of Attraction.

The Law of Attraction is one of the most fascinating and mysterious principles of the Universe: it is the ability to attract into our lives whatever we desire, whether positive or negative, through the power of our thoughts.

A few years ago, I read Rhonda Byrne’s book The Secret, which talks about the Law of Attraction. To simplify and summarize the book in a nutshell, the concept described is as follows:

Ask, Believe, Receive.

What does it mean? It means that if you want something and you believe in it, you’ll get it.

Human beings are like a magnet that can attract or repel objects depending on their magnetic polarity. The objects, in this case, are vibrations, and thoughts. Often we are not aware of this, but every second of our existence, we act as human magnets and send our thoughts and emotions outside, and they exert a force that can change the course of events.

A Japanese scientist, Masaru Emoto, throughout his life has supported the idea that our thoughts and intentions have an impact on the physical realm. He has obtained scientific evidence to show that the molecular structure of water can transform when exposed to human words, thoughts, sounds and intentions.

In his most famous experiment, Emoto exposes glasses full of water to different participants, each of them projects emotions and concepts over water such as love, hate, forgiveness, anger, etc. At the end of the experiment, the water molecules crystallized in different forms depending on the associated emotion.

Masaru Emoto

Love, benevolence, compassion create aesthetically pleasing physical molecular forms; while negative feelings and thoughts create disharmonious and unpleasant physical forms. The phenomenon has been observed through magnetic resonance imaging and high-speed photographs.

So you just want something to make it come true? Not exactly. If it were that simple, we’d all be happy, wealthy and satisfied! The mental work to be done is much more complicated.

It is difficult to understand, but much more often than we think, our goals do not represent what we want. The way we were raised and educated, our past, our family, our society, the people around us strongly influence our mental models.

For example, you are in a critical financial situation, and you want more money: consciously, you are saying that you want money, but on an unconscious level you have always associated money with a negative concept, greed, evil. Also, since you have no money, you think on an unconscious level that you don’t deserve money. Finally, you keep complaining about your financial situation to everyone. In this way, the money will never come into your life, because you are pushing it away through your vibrations and thoughts that you send to the Universe. To get that money, not only do you have to want it, but you have to act, think, and make decisions as if the money is already real, and you know you deserve it.

So, in reality, the correct concept to follow is:

Ask, Believe, DO, Receive.

4 exercises to apply the Law of Attraction

  • Visualize your wishes

It is the first important step. Many people have no idea what they want. When you only have clear in your mind what you do NOT want, you get the opposite result: your mind follows these signals (simply because it doesn’t receive any more) and sends the wrong vibrations, actually pushing the positive change away and even attracting more negativity to you. Psychologists claim that visualizing an intention in our mind means cancelling other possibilities and facilitating the desired one. So you have to create a clear image of desire, visualize the details and immerse yourself in that vision.

  • Learn the art of gratitude

The Law of Attraction is very sensitive to positive feelings, so think about what you have, all your fortunes, your life, and be sincerely grateful. No matter how bad the current situation seems to you, we always have something to be thankful.

  • Use words wisely

Words have immense power. You have to turn all your negative beliefs “I can’t”, “it’s not possible”, “I’m not capable”, “I don’t deserve it”, “I don’t have the strength” into positive affirmations “I can”, “it’s possible”, “I am capable”, “I deserve it”, “I have the strength”.

  • Assert your will

Reaffirming day by day your will to live a better life is a powerful mantra that will help you unleash your true potential. You have to focus on your goal, the human brain has limited multitasking capabilities, so we can’t disperse energy chasing various desires. Focus on one until you get it. It doesn’t have to be reacted immediately; you have to have patience and constancy and act every day.

Going back to the strange thing that happened to me and that generated this reflection of mine, here is in short what happened!

We are from Northern Italy, but since we moved to Malta, in the heart of the Mediterranean sea, we do not have many opportunities to see the snow. My children have wanted snow for years now, and finally, a few months ago we decided to buy a flight for February (a month when we work a lot and usually don’t travel) to spend a weekend on the snows of Mount Cimone, near our hometown. But because of climate change or other reasons, there’s no snow on that mountain. We decided to leave anyway, hoping badly for some beautiful, unexpected snowfall, or thinking at least to take a nice walk in the woods! So we land in Italy, and we prepare to travel to the top; we stop in a shop to buy sandwiches for the trip, and by chance, we meet a friend of ours. Our friend found out about our plan and told us that we would never find snow there and gave us the keys to her little house in the Dolomites (we didn’t even know she had a house there!), a more distant and more expensive destination than the one we were heading to. We left instantly, without even having to book expensive hotels and found lots of snow! My children were overjoyed to be able to play in the white.

It is just a small thing, but it means a lot to me. The Law of Attraction starts from the tiny things indeed. We could have cancelled the flight; we could not have left, to begin with. Instead, we went with only one idea in our heads: snow. And we found snow.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY
The Hidden Messages in Water by Masaru Emoto
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

SYLVOTERAPHY: What is it?

Sylvotherapy is a therapeutic method of treatment and prevention of diseases through trees. In short: embracing a tree to feel better.

The sylvotherapy requires us both to embrace the trees and squeeze on their trunk and to sit by their side, resting our back on the trunk and placing our right hand in the solar plexus chakra, while our left hand will go behind our back, in between our body and the tree, at kidney level.

Sylvotherapy is not only the practice of hugging a tree, but also walking or running in a forest.

Breathing the forest air is a very beneficial remedy, as it activates the blood circulation, increases the number of red blood cells, facilitates breathing in chronic lung diseases, promotes sleep and helps to delay ageing. Oh Yeah! The forest air contains significant amounts of negative oxygen ions, which help to stimulate and balance vital processes on the mental and emotional spheres.

Besides, spending time in contact with trees and Nature is a source of vital energy. Some trees can provide positive energy indeed.

Hugging a tree is not so odd, it’s a primal instinct. How many times as children have you done it? As adults, the social etiquette, or the inability to dream and let go, or the impossibility of living in contact with Nature choked this instinct of ours.

In Japan people regularly practice sylvotherapy through the “forest bath”, a practice that consists of spending time in the woods absorbing the wisdom of ancient forests, taking long walks through the trees to stimulate the immune system. 

In Taoism, students are encouraged to meditate among the trees because they believe that trees absorb negative energies and replace them with healthy ones. Trees are a source of emotional and physical healing, absorbing and conserving all the energy of the cosmos.

Trees can relieve our depression and anxiety and lower our stress because they can communicate with our body.

forest-3 by Skitterphoto

How do the plants heal us?

Through vibration. Everything in the world vibrates, everything around us is literally “vibrations”. Various vibrations affect our biological behaviour. When we touch a tree or walk into a forest or we are close to a plant, their vibrations come into contact with our vibrations.

By vibrating, plants emit molecules (called terpenes) that allow them to exchange information. For example, if a plant is attacked by a parasite, it emits a particular terpene, and thus warns the others that it is under attack. The terpene also attracts those insects that are predators of that parasite. Perfumes are also messages that plants use to exchange complex information.

Walking through a forest, we absorb these molecules, with our breath and through the skin. The molecules then communicate with the immune system and produce positive effects. The most important one is that the body increases the so-called killer cells, the ones that are responsible for releasing our organism from toxins and cancer cells.

According to the Evolutionary studies, we know that the human being has evolved for thousands of years in an exclusively natural environment and in fact, life in the city produces new ailments and diseases. So even just the sight of a forest, or being exposed to greenery, or being in a garden has a positive effect on our psyche.

Today, our challenge is to return to Nature, recover the relationship of trust and love that binds us to it, and stop seeing it only as a source of resources to plunder!

It is also possible to carry out specific sylvotherapy exercises.

5 easy exercises

  1. Bring some plants to your office or to the place where you spend most of your day.
  2. Bring your children or friends more often to walk in green, tree-covered areas.
  3. Start growing small vegetable in the garden or on the balcony of your home, giving them some of your time every day.
  4. Plant a plant in your backyard or the forest closest to your home.
  5. Get into the habit of hugging a tree from time to time. Don’t be afraid, treat it like a friend!

Surely you have already experienced how beneficial a walk in a forest or park can be. So, whenever you can, walk in the green, even better in a wood, and embrace your favourite tree to feel all the energy it can give you!

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BIBLIOGRAPHY:
“Blinded By Science”, by Matthew Silverstone 
“Der Spiegel”, by Wilhelm Boland, Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Karlsruhe and the Max Planck Institute of Chemical Ecology.