How to Feel Better About Yourself

Four Parts:Changing Your AttitudeChanging Your BehaviorChanging Your RelationshipsChanging Your Worldview

Everybody gets the blues from time to time. In fact, being plagued by self-doubt is another way of saying you're pretty normal. But if you really feel stuck, it's time for a change. Use these tips and techniques to feel better about yourself and make the better stick.

Part 1
Changing Your Attitude

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    Give yourself time to feel sad. Forcing yourself to feel happy without first validating your feelings of sorrow will lead to greater problems down the road. However, don’t use this as an excuse to get stuck in a rut; feel your sadness, acknowledge it, and use the wisdom you’ve gained from the experience to move on.
    • It's possible you don't even know why you're feeling like this. Sometimes our minds get on a track all their own that we can't decipher. If this sounds like you, then take it as a cue that your logical brain has taken a little vacation and simply needs to be put back to work.
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    Eliminate negative self-talk. Telling yourself to “think positive” can be pretty underwhelming advice, especially when the mortgage payment is due, the car breaks down, and life seems out of control. Instead of trying to convince yourself that your situation is just rosy, focus your energy on approaching the unpleasantness in a positive way. This starts with monitoring and reshaping your internal monologue.
    • If you catch yourself thinking, “I can’t believe I’m in this mess again,” correct the thought by adding, “but I’ll pull through just like I always do.” Keep correcting these negative statements until it becomes second-nature; after that, make it your goal to eliminate the negativity altogether.
    • Doing this has been shown to have a number of health benefits -- including increased lifespan, a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and greater resistance to the common cold.[1]
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    Don't let anyone tell you who you are. People have a demonstrated tendency to accept and perform the roles that are assigned to them by their peers.[2] Maybe your parents have never let go of their childhood image of you as someone who can’t be taken seriously. Maybe your friends are so used to being able to count on your support that they forget to help you with your own problems. If the preconceived notions of the people around you are keeping you from your true potential, let them know. Anyone who can’t adjust to the true you shouldn’t be in your life right now.
    • Stand up for yourself. You don't have to argue with a fool. No matter what happens, a bully picks on you because he knows you are better than he is. You are strong and you are in control. You determine you -- no one else.
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    Write a "gratitude list." This means not only your possessions (hot running water, a computer, a full refrigerator), but also the things that add value to your life (your friends, your hobbies, your convictions). Call it a "Gratitude List" because it's a list of what you're grateful for.
    • Sometimes it's a little hard to be grateful when you're not in the right mood. To get the juices flowing, look at someone else' life. What should they be thankful for? Alright, now how many of those things do you have too? Probably quite a few.
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    Tune out the shame. Take one minute to think about this question, "What is shame and how often is it useful?" Hopefully you came up with something like, "An emotion determined by society and rarely." Because that'd be true! When you feel shame, you're worried about what others think of you. And where's the value in that?!
    • The second you start feeling a twinge of that feeling, grab it by its horns and analyze it. If you were 7 years old, would this bother you? If you were 70, would it bother you? How about if you lived in a different culture? Chances are you'd be able to answer "no" to all those questions. Your reasons for shame have been taught to you for no good reason. Get 'em out of your brain to make room for useful feelings!
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    Lose yourself in a moment. Spend a whole day in your PJs relaxing, get into a good book, and don't let anyone disturb you. If you don’t have time for this type of mini-escape, listen to an audio book while driving to work or riding the bus. Keep your mind focused on something besides your negativity.
    • It's easy to forget that we can control our minds. They are us, we are not them (in a manner of speaking). If you give your mind a new world to take it, you'll get a new world out. Relaxing and distracting yourself is the first step to finding a new outlook.

Part 2
Changing Your Behavior

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    Make a resolution and stick with it. Today's generation is chock full of people that feel unaccomplished. This seems like a very privileged thing to worry about, but it's terrifying nonetheless. You could get all existential about your life, but that won't get you anywhere. Instead, put your mind to something and do it. The action of getting something done will make you feel purposeful, useful, and worthwhile.
    • It can be anything. Run a 10k. Overcome your shyness. Become a wine connoisseur. Whatever you can see yourself enjoying for a long time will be worth your while. But remember: the harder it is, the bigger the payoff. Losing 5 pounds is great, but losing 10 might make you feel twice as good.
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    Master something. This is similar to the previous step. But mastering something, becoming a true expert, will give you a sense of identity, knowledge, and a great feeling of internal satisfaction. Whatever you're good at now, throw yourself into 150%. The payoff will be unimaginable.
    • When you become an expert, you know you're truly good at something. There is no room for doubt, no room for negativity. This can become a haven of positivity, reassurance, and relaxation. And, inevitably, it'll be a part of your everyday life. So if you've been hiding the fact that you play the bagpipes for 8 years now, let 'er out.
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    Create something. This is also similar to the last two steps -- in fact, they can all be intertwined. Your resolution could be to become a painter. But back to the point -- creating something is so validating, especially in today's world. We walk through turning on lights with the flick of a switch, talking to people through screens, and sitting down as we scoot down the highway. Everything is done for us. Create something yourself and you become one of the few who are resourceful, knowledgeable, and tuned in.
    • Once more, it doesn't matter what it is. Sure, a new irrigation system for the Congo would be super great for the world at large, but making a duct tape bag gets you thinking creatively, too. What can you do with your set of talents and skills?
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    Tap into your energy. This doesn't work for everyone, but it could work for you. Ever gone on a run and felt a thousand times better after (or three times better)? That's it. That's the feeling. Putting your body to work might get your brain on the right track.
    • It's too easy to get cooped up at the office and consider the 20-foot walk into Starbucks to be your daily gallivant with nature. Go for a walk. Get outside. Feel the sun. You'll wake up, you'll feel more energized, and you'll feel good.
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    Form new habits. Old habits may be impossible to erase from your brain,[3] but they aren’t impossible to break. Instead of trying to eradicate old habits, develop healthier, stronger alternatives that bypass the old ones. Developing new habits takes time, but once they are established, they’re with you for life.
    • Do some exercise! Go swimming and try a dive that you have never done before. Go to a dance class and try a style of dance that you don't know. Or try a whole new sport!
    • Volunteer. Working with children, puppies, and the poor are great ways to feel good about yourself. And the feeling is almost instantaneous. Want to feel happy? Go to the hospital with a puppy and ask for the cancer ward. Done.

Part 3
Changing Your Relationships

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    Put effort into a couple meaningful relationships. If changing your attitude isn’t something you want to (or can) do on your own, surround yourself with people that can help you on your path. Call or email a friend that always cheers you up, especially one you haven’t spoken to in a long time. Pick up the phone right now and invite your friends out.
    • Do something that you know will make you laugh: go bowling, see a movie, get pizza, go shopping, throw a sleepover, play a sport, or just hang out! Or, find a friend in need and share safe feelings and thoughts. People in similar situations are better at listening to and sympathizing with one another.
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    Identify and avoid people who bring you down. If being around fair-weather friends or trying to maintain a relationship with an ex keeps pulling you back into bad habits, allow yourself to let go and move on. The drain on you just isn't worth it.
    • Behavioral studies have shown that although removing a habit trigger for long enough will cause the habit patterns in the brain to disappear, reintroducing it will cause them to reappear effortlessly as though nothing had changed. This means that a single slip-up can cause that habit you’ve been working so hard to kick to come rushing back to you.[4] This goes for things and people!
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    Surround yourself with friends that make you feel good. Now that you know people can be bad habits, make sure to surround yourself with those that lift you up. After all, you are the 5 people you spend the most time with, or so they say. And the great part about this is that you'll know quickly who these people are. That fuzzy, warm feeling is pretty hard to ignore.
    • You don't need loads. Find 2 or 3 that can pick up everyone else's slack. Just having a couple of people to bring you back to that content feeling will do the trick.
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    Don't tune into the negative. There is no pleasing everyone. There will be people that don't care for you and there will be times when you find out about it. For every time this happens, though, there are probably 10 times where people are reinforcing how great you are. Don't let the one bad apple ruin the bunch.
    • It's human nature to hear 10, "You're awesome!"s and one "Meh. That was fine," and concentrate on the not-so-stellar one. That's just how we work. And it's great to hear it and try to improve yourself, but getting caught up in it is ridiculous. It's the opinion of one person. This one person has no power -- so don't get them any!
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    Strip naked. Of your emotions, that is. Got you![5] Even if you can't put your finger on the problem at hand, it'll feel amazing to get it out in the open with someone you trust. Talk to a friend about what you're going through and be as honest as possible. A huge weight will be lifted off your shoulders.
    • Sometimes problems seem huge in our heads until we say them out loud to someone else. Saying it to someone may make you realize how petty you sound, it was just your brain that couldn't see it by itself. You'll automatically take in the other person's point of view, taking a you little further outside your box. And it could be eye-opening.
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    Lift someone's spirits. So maybe this isn't exactly an altruistic act (after all, the title of this article isn't How to Make Others Feel Better), but it's full of good intentions. Lifting someone else's spirits will make you feel good when you see how good they feel. You'll be surprised how easy it is.
    • Flowers on Valentine's Day are pretty par for the course. But flowers for no reason? That's touching. Now think of "flowers" as any nice deed. If you can surprise someone for no good reason with something so small as a cup of coffee, their day will be made -- and hopefully so will yours.

Part 4
Changing Your Worldview

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    Widen your world with new experiences and new people. It's all too easy to get wrapped up in ourselves and forget that the rest of the world exists separate to us. By constantly making yours bigger and bigger, you'll have a clearer perspective on what really matters and just how good you have it.
    • Talk to strangers. This is the easiest way to broaden your horizons, learn something, and benefit from others. You may be thinking, "That's a little creepy," but think about how much people love to be given attention. Talking to a stranger could be an exciting point in both of your days.
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    Identify your own little world versus the real world. Too often we're guilty of thinking globally. "I failed at this" gets turned into, "I'm a failure." Maybe in your world, yes, you failed at whatever you tried to do. But are you a failure? Heck no. Not even close.
    • Nothing is all good or all bad. Nor are feelings facts. Thinking "I'm an abject failure" is guilty of both those things. There is no way you're all that bad (it's impossible) and that's a feeling that you're misconstruing. If you catch yourself thinking like that, stop. Get back on the train to the real world where you're just as good as everyone else (and you are).
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    Remember that no one is out to get you. Thinking as such is paranoid. Most people are too busy thinking about themselves, how they come off, and the next time they'll be able to talk to worry about sabotaging you. This gives you the reins for your world. Now what are you going to do with them?
    • The only thing that's possible is that you are out to get you. Could that be? Are you your own worst critic? If so, know that it's totally common, but it's not the healthiest of habits. Go easy on yourself. Go as easy on yourself as you go on others!
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    Do a good deed. If someone asks for your help, do it. You may not be in the mood, you may even want to sulk a bit, but helping someone else will take your mind off your current woes -- and make you feel good about helping them.
    • This is all about knowing you're a good person. Sometimes it's easy to forget. But when we take physical action, it becomes pretty hard to ignore. If you see an opportunity (all you have to do is keep your eyes peeled), take it. Hold the door for someone. Help a friend move. Do the dishes when it's not your turn. It doesn't have to be mind-blowing. It just has to be nice.
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    Make the world a bit better in small ways. Doing anonymous things feels good, too, if not better. Picking up someone's trash, donating magazines to the doctor's office, and becoming an organ donor are three examples of things that make the world a better place with no real benefit to you.[6] Congratulations! You're an awesome person. There's proof.
    • Donate your clothes to Goodwill. Volunteer at your local animal shelter, Habitat for Humanity, or local hospital. Donate to a worthy cause. Whether it's a one-time thing or a new habit you pick up, it's worth it. Maybe someone else will pay it forward!
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    Step outside your comfort zone. Being surrounded by the same old same-old doesn’t encourage innovative solutions; doing something as simple as taking a vacation, however, will take you off autopilot, allowing you to break old behavioral patterns. Use this to your advantage; if you can’t fit a drastic change in your life right now, make little, everyday changes to your routine instead.
    • Put on your favorite song and dance around like crazy for a few minutes. Do something you haven't done for years. Take your friends down to the beach and bury each other in the sand. Be brave and go on that roller-coaster that you could never pluck up the courage to ride. Try something extreme, like snowboarding or canoeing. Whatever it is, just commit to it and get it done.
      • This effect is so well documented, in fact, that some major retailers try to identify and target pregnant women because they’re at a critical transition point in life, making them great candidates for developing new shopping habits.[7] New habits are just waiting to be formed at this very moment if you'll give them a chance.


  • You have a purpose. Do not pay attention to the people who put you down; fulfill your purpose/dream.
  • Don't beat yourself up over imperfections; turn the tables around and try to think differently about them. Remember that no one else in the entire earth is exactly like you.

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Categories: Building and Maintaining Self Confidence