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The Unfettered Teacher 2019

  • Christiana Findley

How to Increase Feelings of Self-Worth

We all talk to ourselves. Sometimes out loud, sometimes silently in our heads, and one of the reasons why we do this is to process information.

It can sound like “I need to remember to take attendance on time” or “I’m not good enough.”

You’re processing your thoughts to understand a situation, your emotions, what your day is going to look like, etc.

What our inner chatter sounds like directly reflects our feelings of self-worth and how we live our lives.

You see proof of this everywhere. People who are positive and say positive things to themselves tend to be happier and enjoy life a little more. Not so positive and negative people tend to be on the toxic side. This is because when we are processing thoughts, events, creating emotions, etc., we do it in our own language, and register our thoughts accordingly.

It matters whether we process our thoughts in positive or negative language.

Our thoughts create emotions. So if we have positive thoughts about ourselves, we have positive emotions surrounding who we are. If we have negative thoughts about ourselves, we have negative emotions surrounding who we are.

I say all this to say; you have control over what you tell yourself. Your perspective is yours to direct.

If this is resonating with you and you’re looking for ways to experience less negative self-talk and increase your feelings of self-worth, try some of these things:

1. Tell Yourself the Same Things You Tell People You Love

When you find yourself saying things like “I’m an awful teacher.” imagine someone you love expressing that to you and say out loud what you would tell them “You are not an awful teacher. This year is your first year, and you’re obviously learning.”

Now, change the perspective and tell yourself the same thing. “This is my first year. I’m not awful. I am learning.” Make sure to say it out loud so you can hear yourself say it. If you feel weird about saying it out loud, write it down on paper and read it.

Do this a couple of times as you learn this new skill, and eventually, when you get comfortable, it will be a part of your routine, inner chatter.

2. Rephrase the Negative Self-Talk

If you tell yourself things like, “I can’t do this anymore. These kids hate me.” Rewrite your thoughts by replacing the negative words with positive or neutral words. “I can do this. These kids will like me.”

If you’re anything like me, this method is sometimes difficult to buy into because I don’t fully believe in the rewritten statement. I’ll instead rephrase my thoughts by omitting the negative words but still be real with myself without tearing my self-esteem apart. “I will continue to do this. If I persist and give some solid effort, the kids will eventually like me.”

Every time you catch yourself wanting to say "I can't do this anymore. These kids hate me." tell yourself the re-framed version instead.

Eventually, you'll be able to get to the “I am doing this! My students respect and like me.” and own it 100%.

What’s interesting about this method is that, by re-framing and telling yourself these things, you will start to take action towards putting yourself on the path of making the statement true. Sometimes knowingly, other times not.

3. Create a Teaching Moment for Yourself

When you say things like, “I am an idiot, why did I freak out on that student?” to yourself, take some time to think about it and literally answer your question. Do this out loud.


Why DID I freak out?- I’m not getting enough sleep, or I’m tired of repeating myself over and over again, etc.

You’ll find yourself thinking about how to respond to your question, and by doing that, you’re reflecting on the situation. After reflecting, you’ll be able to come up with a helpful answer and use that data the next time you’re in a similar situation.

A lot of people are stuck on asking themselves the question in negative self-talk mode, but never actually answer it. So when they come back to a similar situation, they say something like, “You freaked out again, ugh!” negative self-talk takes over, and the cycle continues.

By taking the situation and re-framing it from “disaster” to “how can I learn from this,” you are shifting your perspective into a growth mindset way of thinking. The spotlight isn’t on “how I messed up,” but instead on "how can I improve?"

Take Action:

Right now, or when you have a second, practice re-framing some of your negative self-talk with one of the strategies mentioned above (or research others and find the one that works for you!).

When you feel like you have a good handle on how to re-frame them, think about the next time you would use this strategy and set the intention of executing it then.

You could even give yourself a timeline of how long you want to make an effort to re-frame this way consciously. In the end, make notes of what you learned about yourself from this process. Notice how it has affected your self-worth.

We already have enough outer world feedback (which we don’t have control of) to sort through from: students, parents, friends, colleagues, family, etc. Sometimes its positive stuff and sometimes its negative stuff. Our harsh inner critic doesn’t have to contribute to the noise.

These strategies take time to adopt into our automatic thinking, but with some conscious effort and consistency, it doesn’t take very long. You’ll notice increased feelings of self-worth and less self-doubt.

And of course, it’s healthy to reflect, take action, and grow. That’s how we level up in life! Just remember, as you are doing these things, keep your inner critic in check so that it doesn’t demoralize you and disable you from moving forward.

Take me up on this exercise! At first, it’s a little challenging because you’re learning a new skill, but after you practice it a few times and start using it, you’ll feel the benefits and naturally want to continue.

I invite you to share this article with someone who you know that can benefit from it. If you found this post helpful, please let me know in the comments below!