02 Jul 2022

Operation Transformation Watch: Building self-esteem

In his weekly column the Portarlington psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy updates Leinster Express readers on Operation Transformation and also sets out ways to build self esteem

In his weekly column the Portarlington psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy updates Leinster Express readers on Operation Transformation and also sets out ways to build self esteem

The countdown towards the end begins. Each of our leaders are really excited about this part of the program. It’s a time for their big deserved rewards. The 5k run and the grand finale night where they reveal themselves to the nation and their family is truly exciting. The leaders are whisked away from their families immediately after the 5K run on Saturday 23rd February. They have been working with Brendan Courtney perfecting their look.

I must ask Brendan for some style advice myself! There has been some concerns about niggling injuries and will all the leaders running completely the 5k. It doesn’t stop their as all the leaders are challenged to complete the Kildare 10k run on May 12th


The Experts Get Down and Dirty!!

Now I am not talking about Dr Eva having a go again. This time all the experts were up on the Curragh last Sunday in the cold and were in a race off against the leaders. What great fun. What was required was pulling a log, lifting sandbags through the tank tracks, crawling on belly, not on elbows as shouted out by Company Sergeant Mick Mulcahy and Lieutenant Jemma Fagan. There was a bit of skulduggery and trips and throwing were the order of the day in the tank tracks.

Often (not always) being overweight or obese can impact on our self-esteem. Indeed eating to comfort ourselves as a result of low self-esteem is prevalent. This is where we are starting today.


Tackling Self Esteem

Low Self-Esteem: Ignoring the Positives

If you were asked to list some positive qualities about yourself, how would you respond? If you suffer from low self-esteem, you might struggle to bring things to mind. Other people might not have trouble recalling positive qualities, but may still feel uncomfortable thinking about, talking about, or writing about the positive qualities they have. In order to promote a balanced evaluation of yourself, it is ok to notice and acknowledge your positive aspects, and to behave like someone who has positive qualities and who is deserving of happiness and fun.

Many people who suffer from low self-esteem have a tendency to look only at the things which confirm their negative view of themselves.

If you struggle with low self-esteem, you probably rarely pay attention to the positive things you do, your positive qualities, positive outcomes or positive comments from others. Most of the time all you pay attention to are your negative qualities and you feel comfortable dwelling on these negatives. Ask yourself how fair is that? By getting you to begin acknowledging your positives, you are really tipping the scales of self-evaluation back into balance. These scales have been pretty off balance (towards the side of negativity) for some time now.

Keeping a ‘Positive You Journal’ is one way to practice taking more notice of the positive qualifies you do have.


‘Positive Qualities’

When we notice something and it’s really important for us to remember it, what is it that we do to help us remember? We write things down, make a note of it, or make a list if there are many items. The same approach applies here. To start acknowledging your positives, you

need to write them down. Before you start on the Positive You Journal, you need to make a Positive Qualities Record - list down all the positive qualities you can think of, no matter how small, insignificant, modest, or unimportant you think they are.

If you get stuck, ask yourself questions like:

What do I like about myself?

What positive characteristics do I have?

What are my achievements?

What are the challenges I have overcome?

What are some skills or talents that I have?

What do others say they like about me?

What are some attributes I like in others that I also have in common with?

If someone shared my identical characteristics, what would I admire in them?

How might someone who cared about me describe me?

What are bad qualities? What bad qualities do I not have?

I Don’t Have ANY Positive Qualities

As you start your Positive Qualities Record, you need to listen out for negative self-evaluations coming through, and the tendency you may have to discount or minimise anything positive about yourself. Remember that this is a nasty habit that may rear its head when you try to do this exercise. Should this happen, just acknowledge it and try to move on

with the task.

Remember, you don’t have to do these positive things absolutely perfectly or 100% of the time – that is impossible. So be realistic about what you write down. For example, if you tend to be ‘hardworking,’ but recall the one time you took a sick day after a big weekend, you might say to yourself “I can’t write that down because I haven’t done it 100%.” If you take that attitude, you are not being fair and realistic with yourself.

You may want to enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member who will support your in this task –two heads are better than one and an outsider might have a different perspective of you, than you do of yourself.

Ideas to get started

There is an endless list of possibilities when listing positive qualities - each of us is different. Here are just a few suggestions of things which may apply to some of us:

Considerate, Reliable, Health-conscious, Resourceful, Avid Reader, Artistic, Organised, Good listener, Good-humoured, Strong, Well-travelled, Able to enjoy nature, Adventurous, Creative, Friendly, Appreciative, Diligent, Animal-lover, Funny, Good cook, Charitable, Loved, Active, Praise others, Responsible, House-proud, A good friend, Movie buff, Determined, Outdoors person.


‘Positive You’ Journal

Using the Positive You Journal, recall specific examples of how you have demonstrated each of the positive attributes you have listed in the Positive Qualities Record. For example: Considerate

I took my friend some flowers and a book when they were sick.

I offered a listening ear to my colleague who was going through some difficult times.

I lent my brother some money when he was down on his luck.

Once you have listed some past examples like the one above, use the journal to start noticing your positive qualities on a daily basis. Each day, set out to record three

examples from your day, which illustrate certain positive qualities you have. Write exactly what you did and identify what positive attribute it shows in you. For example, on one day you may note down that you mopped the floors (house-proud), finished writing out a budget (diligent), and played with your children (fun to be with).Doing this will take some time, but is well worth the effort. Noting down the specific incidents that illustrate your positive qualities will allow the list to have an impact on your view of yourself, making it real.

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