Top 10 Ways to Raise Your Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is not a gift bestowed by those outside of us or something that can be taken from us by others. It’s an inside job. Rather than wait passively for good self-esteem to happen, we need to take action. Daily or weekly is best.2people

1. Make a list. What’s good about you? What’s wonderful? Hang your list near your bed so that you see it when you awaken and when you go to sleep.

2. Forgive yourself. Acknowledge a mistake, but let go of self-recrimination. Recognize that you, too, are human and “allowed” to fail.

3. Do one thing you’ve been putting off. It’s amazing how clearing clutter (literal or figurative) can clear a space for better self-esteem.

4. Relax! Meditate, exercise, take a bath. When you’re relaxed, negative things don’t seem so big, and it’s easier to remember the good things about you.

5. Do something you’re good at. The competence and accomplishment you feel when doing that activity are great antidotes to low self-esteem.

6. Learn something new. When we commit to learning, we commit to growth as a way of life. Acknowledge that you are moving forward.

7. Get absorbed in a project or other activity. Taking the focus off yourself can help when you feel low, anxious or lacking in confidence.

8. Assert yourself. Learning this skill goes a long way to improving your self-image.

9. Remember what you’ve achieved. Take a step back and look at the whole of your life.

10. Do a self-esteem “workout.” In a private place and with complete abandon, shout all the things you’re good at, why you matter. It’s surprising how instantly effective this exercise is.

Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications


Burnout

“My candle burns at both ends/it will not last the night.” —Edna St. Vincent Millay

Burnout resists simple definition because it affects so many aspects of an individual’s life. In their book, Beyond Burnout, authors David Welch, Donald Medeiros and George Tate, describe burnout as a condition that affects us physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially and spiritually.

One of the first physical symptoms of burnout is fatigue. Intellectually, there may be a loss of creativity and sharpness in problem solving; cynicism may replace enthusiasm. Emotionally, the loss of dreams and expectations can result in feelings of helplessness and depression. In the social realm, isolation overtakes feeling of involvement, and spiritually, the person experiencing burnout may feel a lack of meaning or purposelessness to her life.

According to a recent study, one in three Americans is expected to burn out on the job in the near future and, in the two years preceding the study, 14% of the work force quit or changed jobs due to job stress. How can you avoid becoming one of the burnout statistics?

First, recognize the warning signs:

  • feelings of frustration and never being caught up
  • a feeling of lack of control about how to do your job or what goes on in the workplace
  • emotional outbursts
  • withdrawal and isolation
  • dread of going to work
  • frequent sickness or health problems
  • increased use of alcohol, drugs or food consumption
  • a desire to quit (or run away) but a fear of doing so

Taking a few days off or a vacation to Tahiti won’t contain the burnout. Neither will simply leaving one job for another. Burnout has more to do with attitudes, work styles, and behavior than it does the specific job situation. In other words, burnout may be primarily an act of self-immolation.

How to Avoid Burnout
Self-management

Take the time to set goals and objectives, review them with others, make sure they’re attainable and clear.

Stress management

Know your own responses to stress and develop a plan to manage it. Exercise, take breaks, eat healthfully, leave work at work, make time for play and rest. Discover what works best for you and your body and practice good self-care habits.

Support systems

Family, friends, co-workers, professional organizations—all these support systems can help in times of stress.

Skill building

Look for challenges and opportunities to learn new skills and participate in activities that use your natural skills, talents and abilities. Rather than becoming stagnant, you’ll be able to grow.

Balance

Seek a balanced and well-structured lifestyle. Avoid boredom. Determine what’s important to you and create a lifestyle that embraces and supports you.

Think positively

Replace negativity with optimistic thinking. Helpless thinking is a major contributor to burnout.

Be creative

Look for a different approach to the same problems or to unpleasant situations. Break free from your everyday routine. Let your workspace express your individuality.

Humor and playfulness

Humor reduces stress, promotes physical healing, is essential for mental health and can add years to your life. No wonder they say humor is the best antidote. Enjoy yourself.candle

Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications


Do You Have Workaholic Habits?

There is a clear difference between enthusiastic, energetic work toward a highly valued goal and workaholism. That difference lies primarily in the emotional quality of the hours spent. Workaholism has a treadmill, joyless quality, not the bouncy, fun energy of a trampoline. And while working long, hard hours may help you accomplish a primary work goal, it likely will leave other areas of your life—family, friendship, intellectual stimulation, etc.—in shambles.

“Workaholism is an addiction,” Julia Cameron says in her book, The Artist’s Way, “and like all addictions, it blocks creative energy.” Take the following quiz, adapted from Cameron’s book, to help you figure out if you have workaholic habits. Even better, ask a few members of your family, or a few friends, to answer these questions for you. You may be surprised by what you discover.

  1. I work beyond normal office hours
  2. I cancel dates with friends or family members to do more work
  3. I postpone outings until my deadline project is done
  4. I take work with me on vacationworkoholic
  5. I take my laptop with me on vacations
  6. I take work home with me on weekends
  7. I rarely or never take vacations
  8. My family and/or friends complain that I always work
  9. I seldom allow myself free time between projects
  10. It’s a challenge for me to finish tasks
  11. Procrastination often keeps me working longer
  12. I set out to do one job and start on three more at the same time
  13. I work in the evenings during family time or time I could be reading for pleasure
  14. I allow calls and email to interrupt—and lengthen—my workday
  15. I don’t make time for creative work/play a priority in my day
  16. Work always comes before my creative dreams
  17. I always take calls on my cell phone; it is never off
  18. I rarely allow myself down time to do nothing
  19. I use the word “deadline” to describe and rationalize my workload
  20. I often take a notebook or my work numbers with me when I go somewhere, even to dinner

If you answered more true than false, you may benefit from exploring your attachment to work. For people with workaholic tendencies, work is often synonymous with worth, so the more the better. Work can also be a way to avoid looking at issues in your life—“Who’s got the time?” the workaholic asks. If you would like assistance fighting your workaholic streak, please don’t hesitate to call.

Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications


The Victim at Work:

The Victim at Work: Are You Playing This Role in Your Workplace?

When a drama is going on in the workplace, there are usually three distinct roles being played. According to Dr. Stephen G. Karpman, this “drama triangle” places the victim at the bottom, below the other two roles of persecutor and rescuer.  You want to avoid playing the victim at work.

Once the drama gets going, we can actually slip back and forth among all three roles. However, we’ll fall most naturally into one primary role, based on the role we played in our childhood.

The Persecutor

The persecutor goes on the offensive, looking to blame, shame and control. She is fiercely attached to her own agenda and is motivated only by the desire to get exactly what she wants.

The Rescuer

The rescuer also goes on the offensive, jumping in to solve problems for other people whether or not it is appropriate or requested. He is motivated by the desire to keep everyone else happy and to feel important and needed.

The Victim

The victim goes on the defensive, relinquishing all responsibility and soliciting sympathy for whatever he feels has been done to him. He is motivated by the desire to be taken care of and understood.

Playing any of these roles will inhibit your success in the workplace, yet it is often the victim who has the most trouble finding and keeping a job.

In the short-term, the victim is popular at work—after all, the persecutor needs someone to attack and the rescuer needs someone to save.

But in the long-term, the character traits that show up when you’re playing the victim are not particularly beneficial or attractive in the workplace. Quite the contrary, since victims are perceived as weak, spineless, submissive and flaky.

The good news is that you can make conscious choices to step outside of this drama triangle and conduct yourself professionally. The first step is to watch for these signs of victim mentality in your thoughts and words:

  • I’ll never get all of this done!victim
  • This is so unfair!
  • I hate my job/life/self.
  • I don’t deserve this.
  • Why is this happening to me?
  • It’s not my fault that…

When you hear your “inner victim,” stop and think about what you do have control over in this moment, things like:

The words you use. Before you speak, consider the impression your words will make if you complain or whine. Additionally, note that sometimes victims jump back and forth between playing the victim and playing the persecutor. Usually it’s an unconscious reaction and an attempt to lash out at whomever you think is persecuting you. It could show up here as gossip.

The thoughts you focus on. When you believe and focus on the victim thoughts that pop into your head, you keep the drama triangle in motion. If you can notice the thoughts but choose other ones instead, you can leave the drama behind. Try, “I have a choice here,” “I am a valuable member of this team,” or “I am in charge of having a great life.”

The actions you take. If you’re slipping into the victim role in your actions, it could show up as procrastination, purposefully not doing the thing you resent being asked to do. Or, your victim thoughts can paralyze you into self-doubt and inaction. Think before agreeing to do something. Remember that yes and no are not the only responses to a request—you can negotiate what you agree to do, and by when. Once you’ve agreed to do something—do it. Nothing feels better than doing what you said you would do.  Moving away from the victim role will feel very empowering.

No matter what has happened up to this point, you have a choice to make in this moment. And every choice has a consequence. When you choose to take on the role of a professional, you take responsibility for your words, thoughts, actions and choices—and leave the victim behind.

Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications


Dealing with Change at Work

 

The world of work is changing at an extraordinary pace. The old rules no longer apply, and new rules are being written and rewritten all the time.  These changes can be unsettling, whether they’re potential or actual, positive or negative. You may be gearing up for a promotion, staring at a wide open field of new prospective clients or launching new products and services. Or you may be hunkering down in the face of outsourcing, downsizing, mergers, takeovers, and local and global competition.  Dealing with change at work can be very stressful.

How We Respond to Change

As soon as something nudges you out of your regular routine, or challenges your understanding of how the world works and where you fit into it, it will likely trigger a deluge of feelings, including fear, anxiety, overwhelm, excitement, distraction or denial.

In turn, these feelings can manifest in your behavior. You may, unconsciously, act out with aggressive or passive-aggressive communication, both at work and home. You might feel compelled to push yourself and others to overwork, or take the opposite approach and procrastinate, avoiding the work that’s on your plate.computer

On a personal level, your self-care may suffer. You may reach for unhealthy substances or behaviors, get less sleep, skip meals or overindulge. You might cut yourself off from friends and family and spend more time alone or with other people who have unhealthy habits.

The Impact

Both positive and negative stress can have immediate and long-term detrimental effects. Stress inhibits proper digestion and the absorption of nutrients, impairs your body’s ability to ward off germs and illness, can cause insomnia, and is guaranteed to worsen any preexisting health conditions. If you’re also engaging in unhealthy behaviors and poor self-care, you’re at an even higher risk for serious illness and injury.

Dealing with change requires flexibility, resilience and an ability to think on your feet. Unfortunately, when you’re caught up in your reaction to change, these mental abilities are affected as well. When you’re preoccupied, worried, and focused on the future instead of the present, it’s much harder to concentrate and apply your brainpower to what’s in front of you.

Great leaders are admired for their serenity and confidence even in the face of uncertainty and upheaval. For many of us, though, when change is afoot serenity is far from our reach. Instead, emotions are much closer to the surface and can flare up at the most inopportune times. Whether you lash out, cry, or pound on your desk behind closed doors, it’s incredibly uncomfortable to feel so out of control.

Consider, also, the impact on the people around you. Emotional outbursts, whether at work or home, can irrevocably damage your effectiveness, your reputation and your relationships.

Strategies for Dealing  With Work Change

Here are five strategies to help you remain flexible, resilient and serene in the face of change:

1. Take care of your body. Eat well, sleep well and refrain from harmful habits like smoking, excessive drinking, recreational drugs or other risky behavior.

2. Take care of your mind. Stay in the present moment by practicing deep breathing and/or meditation. Challenge your negative thinking and keep things in perspective; when the doom and gloom sets in, ask, “How important is this, really?”

3. Keep your emotions in check. Find reasons to smile and laugh, even when you don’t feel like it—especially when you don’t feel like it! Funny movies, blogs or videos can help. Vent your negative feelings by exercising, banging on a drum or pounding on a pillow.

4. Treat others well. Strengthen your good relationships so you can draw on their support and work at your challenging relationships so they don’t add to your stress.

5. Take charge. Be proactive and prepare the best you can for the changes that might come, but then accept the reality of the moment. Think back to other challenges that you’ve come through and remind yourself that everything will work out okay this time, too.

Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications