Anxiety may profoundly affect an individual’s sense of self. For example, children and adults who continuously fail at a task may eventually learn to believe that they are a failure at that task, and extend that belief to thinking that they are ultimately a failure as a person. These individuals use more shame-based talk (“I am a failure”) and attack their self-worth, instead of using guilt-based talk (“I did something bad”) that speaks about their behavior. Consequently, their self-esteem may be impacted in the process due to internalizing messages of self-deficiency. Many researchers have found self-esteem to be directly correlated to a sense of personal mastery. Personal mastery is more than just the discipline of personal growth and learning what we are good at, it starts by clarifying what really matters most to us and focusing our energies on creating that picture. Children and adults who learn that they “can do” eventually try new activities without the fear of failure. According to this theory, if we can identify what we are good at and accordingly, accomplish a sense of personal mastery in it, it will impact our self-esteem. Positive psychologists have found that identifying strengths is a major contributor to our well-being. Both identifying our strengths and using them has been found to increase individuals’ sense of happiness. Thus, the key to enhancing our self-esteem rests in our ability to identify our strengths.
Below are list of ideas and resources to help identify and cultivate your signature strengths:
- Find and Use Your Top Strength– Fill out the VIA character of signature strengths and use one top strength each day: http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.aspx
- Volunteer- Find a volunteer opportunity that speaks to your interests.
- Watch for Signs of Excitement– When you engage in an activity, your excitement will become apparent through your body language. Your pupils may dilate, your body language may be more open, and your speech may get faster. You’re more alive and motivated when you’re using your core strengths.
- Reflect- At the end of each day ask yourself, “What are three things that went well today?”
- Set Yourself up Success- Instead of creating a “to do list” create an “I did it list”.
By Dr. Reena Sandhu
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA