“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” — Buddha
You can defeat your negative self-talk using techniques that some of the best therapists use.
If you don’t have high self-esteem by default, you can build it by design. You can treat self-esteem as a skill and develop it by using specific techniques.
In Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, David Burns writes about three techniques for improving self esteem.
3 Techniques to Boost Self-Esteem
Burns identifies 3 techniques for boosting self-esteem:
- Technique 1. Talk back to that internal critic.
- Technique 2. Use Mental biofeedback.
- Technique 3. Cope don’t mope.
1. Talk Back to That Internal Critic
According to Burns, technique #1 is talking back to your internal critic. He suggests three ways:
- Train yourself to recognize and write down your negative, self-critical dialogue when it happens.
- Identify and understand why these thoughts are distorted. This means checking your thinking by looking to where you generalize your thoughts or downplay your successes.
- Practice talking back to your thoughts so that you develop a more realistic self-evaluation system.
With this technique, you retrain your brain to act as a coach versus a critic. For an effective technique for talking back to your internal critic, see How To: Use the Three Column Technique.
2. Use Mental Biofeedback
According to Burns, technique #2 is using mental feedback. This technique is about tracking your negative thoughts. By tracking your negative thoughts, you reduce the negative thoughts over time.
Via Feeling Good:
“A second method which can be very useful involves monitoring your negative thoughts with a wrist counter. You can buy one at a sporting-goods store or a golf shop; it looks like a wristwatch , is inexpensive, and every time you push the button, the number changes on the dial. Click the button each time a negative thought about yourself crosses your mind; be on the constant alert for such thoughts. At the end of each day, not your daily total score and write it down in a log book. At first you will notice the number increase ; this will continue for several days as you get better and better at identifying your critical thoughts. Soon you will begin to notice that the daily total reaches a plateau for a week to ten days, and then it will begin to go down. This indicates that your harmful thoughts are diminishing and that you are getting better. This approach usually requires three weeks.”
3. Cope Don’t Mope
According to Burns, technique #3 is cope don’t mope. Rather than mope or use self-destructive labels, attack the problem. To attack the problem:
- Define the problem.
- Break it down into specific parts.
- Apply appropriate solutions.
The key with this technique is taking action, producing results, evaluating your results objectively. You continue to change your approach if you’re not getting the results you need.