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  • Matthew Robinson

4 Tips to Improve Your Self-Esteem

The psychology of conflict has always interested me.

It is part of the reason I decided to join the Bateman campaign. I personally believe self-esteem goes hand-in-hand with discourse. My logic for this is when a person has a strong foundation (i.e., more confidence in themselves), they are less likely to feel personally attacked during an argument. Often, a person who is criticizing their opponent’s argument, regardless of its validity, may come off as aggressive. It is easy to become flustered. Self-esteem becomes even more relevant when discourse becomes uncivil, like if personal insults are thrown.

Here are some ways I’ve improved my self-esteem over the years:

Working out. In high school, I exercised a decent amount. When I got to college, I began to take it more seriously because I had access to weightlifting gyms on campus. I am fortunate enough to have exercise equipment in the basement of my house, and I live in a neighborhood that is safe enough for a young male to walk around. I will not pore over the same information you’ve probably read in every other self-help guide that’s ever been written. Yes, it is important for combatting stress and releasing dopamine and all those other little neurotransmitters that affect our moods, but I am not here to discuss that. The description of this entry stems from my perspective as a male who has been in arguments. While it is possible male readers may get more out of this, I’d like to emphasize that these are my own experiences and opinions and may not be indicative of other males’. Pushing a toxic masculine agenda is not my intention. Not many years ago, I had a persisting irrational thought that verbal conflicts would result in my physical harm. When I began working out, I felt more confident in my ability to defend myself on the off chance a conflict turns violent. In some ways, it is a primal mindset. None of this means you should begin repping out push-ups in your room like Travis Bickle. Intimidation tactics are not the answer. You should workout a few minutes a day because it will help you feel good about yourself. If it makes you feel safer, that is a bonus. Think preventatively. Get some exercise and fresh air because you want to prevent negative thoughts from returning. These days, I am better able to recognize the signs of my own overthinking. This, coupled with routine exercise, has helped me manage my anxiety.

Journaling. This is an old habit from my days as a high school student. For years, I’ve filled up the pages of notebooks with thoughts, ideas, and little successes. I find it relaxing and I always recommend it to my friends who are trying to improve their moods, especially during the pandemic. It can be the best option when you feel like you have no one to talk to. Plus, I like to think that in a few years, I will have those notebooks to read back on – those little ink-ridden pages of memories I would otherwise forget.

Talk to Someone. Therapy seems like a no-brainer. However, finding the right therapist is often a difficult task, either because their methods do not mesh with you or their services cost too much.

Try to Stay Off Your Phone. For communication majors, this can be especially hard. We are at the beckoning of the 24-hour news cycle. We are told we cannot hope to succeed without subjecting ourselves to LinkedIn’s toxic self-promotion. When it’s possible, try to go outside. Take small steps outside of your comfort zone and recognize those accomplishments, no matter how small, in your journal. Try to focus on yourself instead of comparing yourself to others. Define what ‘success’ means to you.

Having a generally positive self-image improves your ability to face conflict. You value your time more. You ask for what you want. I do not purport to be Mr. Enlightened Self-Help Guru because I still struggle with maintaining my self-esteem. It is an ongoing battle for everyone. To this day, I am a fairly passive person – the “chill” friend, but the methods I’ve described here have helped me become more direct.

- Matt Robinson, member of the Temple University Bateman 2021 Competition Team

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