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20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem--page 4
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.

Step 4. Start Reducing Your Self-labeling


Once you have become more aware of your self-labeling and have a baseline to measure your progress, the next step is to start reducing your self-labeling. Notice that I'm saying “reduce,” not “stop.” Don't put the demand on yourself that you will stop completely because you will fail at such an “all or nothing” task. And then “I couldn't even stop labeling myself!” becomes part of your self-labeling rather than feeling better about yourself.

Instead, try to reduce the labeling over time. You can continue to keep a count as you did in step 3 and just record each day how many times you labeled yourself. Often, just the act of tracking a behavior makes you more aware and will cause you catch yourself when engaging in it. Don't worry if some days are higher than average because when we are changing behavior there are a lot of ups and downs. Progress isn't a simple straight line. It is similar to losing weight—if you weigh yourself every day you are likely to be discouraged because of the fluctuations from day to day, but if you weigh once a week you get a more accurate picture. So it is better to find your weekly average and see if it is reducing over time.

Again, if you have trouble with this step you can elicit help from those close to you. Of course, they are not able to hear the internal self-talk but by bringing your attention to the external self-talk you will also attend more to the internal negative labeling.

At this point you are not trying to change your thinking about yourself but only reducing the negative self-labels. Stay with this step until your self-labeling is to a minimum. This doesn't mean you won't engage in any self-labeling because most of us do so at times. It just means to reduce it so that it is not a significant or noticeable part of your self-talk. Once you have done that then you can take the next step of creating more positive self-talk.


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