Having a positive attitude and feeling genuinely good about yourself is important. Healthy self-esteem gives you the confidence to try new things. And when you’re comfortable with yourself, relationships with others tend just naturally to go better.  

But what if you’re not feeling all that good about yourself, right now? What if your internal self-talk—that voice in your head, that seems to run on auto-pilot—is denigrating, judgmental, and filled with negativity?

The good news is that self-esteem can be nourished and cultivated. Let’s look at five specific ways you can begin to do this, right now…

1. Don’t Believe Everything!

Instead of believing and being upset by negative thoughts, see if you can simply observe the thoughts, with a neutral non-judgmental attitude—as though you were watching a movie. 

This ability to witness thoughts and emotions rather than getting caught up in them can be cultivated through mindfulness practice or by using a self-inquiry process such as Byron Katie’s The Work.

2. Drift into Sleep with Gratitude & Appreciation

Right before you crawl into bed at night, take five or ten minutes to reflect upon the previous day—and your life as a whole—and find things that you feel genuinely grateful for.

If you’d like, you can keep a gratitude journal: Each night, write down at least ten things that you appreciate about your life. Maybe it’s a sweet connection you had with a friend that day. Or the fact that your body is basically healthy. Or that the sunset was really beautiful! It can be anything, large or small …

This sort of contemplation will positively affect the quality of your dreams and deep sleep—and set the stage for waking up with feelings of ease and contentment.

3. Unplug WiFi & Social Media

Periodically unplug from your phone and other WiFi devices. Spend a couple hours—or an entire afternoon—walking in a park, taking a jog along a river or forest trail, or sitting in a quiet courtyard.

The point is to give your heart and mind a break from the barrage of mostly-negative media messages. Instead, be nourished and inspired by the beauty of trees, flowers, mountains, rivers, or a vast blue sky. 

4. Welcome a Pet to Your Life

Consider bringing a dog or cat or other pet into your life—a furry being that you can love and care for. Pets are generally great at expressing unconditional love and adoration. They know how to be both playful and cuddly, and quite naturally provide a special kind of emotional support.

5. Create a Supportive Coach

With a gentle smile—which itself supports our wellbeing in all kinds of ways—say to yourself: “Way to go!” or “You can do it!” or even something like “I love and appreciate you!” 

When you practice positive self-talk in this way, it’s as though you have a loving and supportive internal coach: someone who always has your back. This is your Higher Self—your wisdom mind—speaking to your more limited human body-mind, with a voice of kindness and clarity.

And finally, if needed, remember that you can always receive some excellent external support for recovery from addiction, by finding a rehab center near you.