How to Use Authentic Thinking to Build Self-Esteem
"Be yourself." "You do you." "Listen to your heart." The messages behind authenticity are beautiful ones: you are the center of your world and you are the only voice that matters. But while such phrases are inspiring, we live in a world that bombards us with beliefs, opinions and general emotional noise. This creates a dilemma that many of us struggle with–how do I think like myself when everyone and everything is trying to tell me how to think?
3 Guidelines for Authentic Thinking
- Take everything with a grain of salt. A friend of mine recently tried a new exercise class and told me I "had to try it because it's the best class I've ever taken." She begged me to buy a month of classes online so we could go together. When I heard her excitement, I felt myself yearn to feel excited too–I almost bought the classes immediately. But instead of jumping in, I decided to try a sample class first. It turned out I did not enjoy the class at all and was glad I hadn't purchased more classes. When we encounter a belief or opinion that resonates with us, it's natural to want to immediately attach it to our identity. We see someone else's positive experience and want to feel it ourselves. However, our desire to "feel someone else's feeling" prevents us from approaching it with authentic thinking. This is where a grain of salt can help–when we take time and explore things from all perspectives, we empower ourselves to find our own opinions. We learn to separate our inner voice from external voices, to evaluate our own experience, and to decide what is right for us.
- You are allowed to say: "I don't know." You don't have to know everything about yourself. The beautiful truth is that the work of "being ourselves" is never truly done. We are not a finished project that must be presented to the world, hoping to be deemed a masterpiece. You are allowed to exist in an in-between place, to have parts of you developed and other parts that you're not ready to look at. Give yourself credit for being a work in progress. It is perfectly authentic to think you know something about yourself and to change your mind.
- Challenge your automatic thoughts. Automatic thoughts develop from our core beliefs. Through our lives, our experiences result in us defining "facts" about the way life works. These are like seeds, rooted deep within us, from which other thoughts grow. Because they are so deeply ingrained, we often do not recognize when they are being activated. This results in the creation of automatic thoughts or thoughts that spring up more as reactions than rational choices. Sometimes, our automatic thoughts make sense. For example, watching the nightly news could mean that every time you look down a dark alley, you automatically think, "I won't go there, it may be dangerous." But sometimes we create automatic thoughts that do more harm than good. For example, seeing a makeup advertisement and immediately thinking, "that new product will make me prettier." Often our automatic thoughts come from an external voice that has slipped into us without our knowledge. It happens to all of us–there are industries designed solely to plant automatic thoughts. This is why it's important to challenge our automatic thoughts by looking for thought origin points. In the video below, I discuss the importance of origin points, and how we can begin to look for them within ourselves.
Authentic thinking and finding your authentic voice takes time and effort, but in my opinion, it is worth it.
Mahrer, B. (2019, March 28). How to Use Authentic Thinking to Build Self-Esteem, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, February 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2019/3/how-to-use-authentic-thinking-to-build-self-esteem
Author: Britt Mahrer
This is spot on: "how do I think like myself when everyone and everything is trying to tell me how to think?". I also love that you broke down your tips into three really easy to apply mini strategies. Challenging your automatic thoughts is such a great one! This is the piece that I think most people don't attend to because of the inherent reflexive nature of those thoughts and that process. Great read.
Thanks for your comment, Lizanne. I agree, challenging automatic thoughts is something we can struggle with, especially in the fast-paced world in which we live. It's very hard to "slow down" and take the time to think about your thinking. I'm glad this resonated with you.