HOW TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF Life today can be confusing and uncertain. We must have a good idea of who we are to meet the stresses and demands we face. Many people look for happiness outside themselves. They think things like more money, a better job, or more sex will make them happy. But to find true contentment you must look inside yourself and learn to be your own best friend. That means you have to trust, love, and care for yourself just as you do the people you treasure as friends. *Be responsible for your feelings. Feelings and emotions can be quite powerful. Sometimes your feelings seem stronger than you are. But feelings are made up of two parts emotions and thoughts. The emotions like anger, love, fear may come upon you quickly, but their power depends on what you think about them. You must decide how to act on your feelings. You can either hold onto them or let them pass. Being responsible for your feelings puts you in charge and makes you more powerful than they are. *Choose to lift yourself up, not put yourself down. If you don't like something about yourself, change it. If you can't change it, accept it. But don't beat up on yourself with negative self-talk. You're not likely to change for the better when you say to yourself things like Get out of bed, you lazy bum . . . How could you be so stupid? . . . When will you ever learn? Instead, if you encourage yourself with positive feedback (It's hard but you can do it . . . Everyone makes mistakes . . . You'll do better next time), you'll feel better about trying to change the things you don't like. *Give yourself positive rewards. When you do something you're proud of, tell yourself you did well. Give yourself a small reward. If you wait for others to praise you, you may grow resentful if the praise doesn't come. But if you pat your own back, the good feeling will stay with you longer if you let it. *Forgive yourself. You wouldn't keep scolding a friend for making a mistake or missing an opportunity, so don't do that to yourself. Forgive yourself for making a mistake. Then figure out what lesson you can learn, and use it to make better choices next time. *Enjoy your successes. Most people can remember the details of painful or embarrassing events that happened many years ago. What if you could remember just as well some triumph that made you feel really good about yourself? Keep that memory with you and think about it at least once a week. *Set reasonable goals and meet them. If you do what you set out to do, you'll like yourself better. Even small accomplishments (cleaning your house, balancing your checkbook) can give you a boost. Meeting goals proves that you are in charge of yourself. *Get to know yourself. Don't be afraid to understand yourself. Learn who you really are inside of your fears, fantasies and desires. Write down a thought or two at the end of each day that describes who you are. Knowing yourself will help you overcome barriers that stand in the way of happiness and success. Written material may be reprinted provided no endorsement of a commercial product is stated or implied. Please credit University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension and the Nebraska Health and Human Services System.