Whether dealing with a breakup, a job loss, or one of the dozen other life situations that can bring your whole world to a halt, it’s important to remember that life is a series of ups and downs for all of us.
Though it can feel isolating, the reality is that there isn’t one among us who hasn’t felt like we needed to get our proverbial sh*t together or that we were “losing it” at some point.
If you’re in this place now, take this as your sign to take deep breath, take control, and move forward. Not sure how to be confident after feeling like you’re falling apart? Here are 15 ways to start building self-esteem and put the pieces back together. We got you.
Your words matter, especially when speaking to yourself. Instead of viewing yourself as “broken” or “lost” or whatever negative, self-defeating word comes to mind, recognize that you’re strong enough to get out of a not-so-great place. It’s less about what you are than where you are, and that is an important distinction when looking to make real progress.
2. Make a list of the things you need to stop doing.
What good is a fantastic new habit if you’re still participating in one that negates it? Think about it for a moment: hitting the gym every morning and eating half a cake at night isn’t going to do much for your efforts. The same goes for everything else in your life.
Make a list of the things you do that stand in your own way and commit to replacing those knee-jerk habits with something else. Once you have a plan, you can then focus on what you need to start doing.
3. Stop hating on yourself.
Make a decision to be an observer in your life instead of judging everything so harshly. Instead of lamenting on the things you have done wrong, be grateful for a new perspective and the freedom in accountability, and start focusing on extracting the lessons and finding healthy ways to do better.
4. Change the conversation.
It’s tempting to sit and rehash the same stories over and over, but our words become our mantra, and saying how unhappy, broken or miserable you are will only reinforce your sense of helplessness. Try using more positive and powerful words, and you’ll find that you not only feel better, but the world will respond to you differently.
5. Surround yourself with warriors.
Misery might love company, but do you want to spend the rest of your life hanging out with people who only reinforce the idea that you’re a victim with no personal power? That answer should be no.
Surround yourself with people who have a “can-do” attitude toward adversity and you’ll likely not only feel motivated, but learn very practical ways to make adjustments in your own life.
6. Get a sponsor.
Ask a trusted friend, family member or therapist to check in and hold you accountable for meeting your goals each week. Maybe that means you set three goals and then share how you met them or what held you back, or perhaps it’s texting a friend instead of an ex.
Whatever it is, having someone to check in with can help bring awareness into moments where it feels like you’re drowning.
7. Do some real research.
It’s a cliched expression, but knowledge is power. Having a real understanding of what you’re going through can help you feel less isolated and give you perspective when triggered to go down an old path.
For example, reading the science behind a breakup and how it impacts your brain can help you understand why your ex’s ghosting hurts so bad (thus making you less likely to personalize it or compulsively reach out), and reading up on something like repetition compulsion can put behavior into perspective.
8. Take care of yourself.
Small steps in self-care can go a long way in building self-image and boosting confidence. Give yourself an at-home facial while listening to your favorite album, buy yourself a floral plant to boost your mood each time you see it, or invite friends to an impromptu group brunch to bring some happy socialization into your life.
9. Practice mindfulness.
Living in the moment isn’t easy when the past is yanking you backwards and the future is scaring the hell out of you. Meditation, yoga, breathing techniques and books like A New Earth: Awakening Your Life’s Purpose can all help to retrain an overactive brain.
10. Keep a diary.
Start and end each day with a few lines and see what comes out. There’s a good chance you’ll not only quiet the noise but also gain real insight to how you’re really feeling. It’s also a great way to set an intention each morning and measure progress over time.
11. Verbalize your gratitude.
Take some time every morning to state (aloud) three things you are grateful for and then commit to letting someone in your life know what you appreciate about them every day. Gratitude makes us feel abundant and joyful, which makes it much harder to obsess about what we don’t have.
12. Serve others.
Maybe it’s volunteering at an organization or offering to watch a newborn while a frazzled new mom gets a massage. It could be as simple as asking a colleague if you can get them a cup of coffee. The more we give, the more in sync with the world we feel.
13. Create a space that supports the life you want.
Have you ever noticed that you become agitated in large crowds or more carefree and relaxed when walking in the sand on the beach? It’s an undeniable fact that we are impacted by our environment, which is good news for those of us who want to make a fresh start.
A fresh coat of paint, new piece of artwork or a renovated bedroom or home office can be just what you need to get into a new mental space.
14. Commit to being compassionate to everyone.
I can tell you, as a New Yorker, that this one is hard (have you met our cab drivers or dealt with our tourists in midtown?). By committing to compassion, you will gain an understanding of your default emotions and begin to take real ownership of your energy.
Before you know it, you will be more forgiving of the new (and horrifically slow) checkout clerk and see your own stumbles as a part of the natural progress of human development.
15. Accept that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be great.
There’s a real power in progress and it’s important to celebrate all of your movement toward your goal. Every moment you choose better for yourself is a success, and though you may not be where you want to be, it doesn’t mean you need to ignore how far you have come.