As every entrepreneur knows, life is full of ups and downs that affect your self-esteem. When you, your business, career and relationships are at their peak, your confidence and self-esteem are high. You're less stressed and feel more equipped to take on new challenges. However, what about when things aren't going so well? It happens to the best of us. J.K. Rowlings' Harry Potter was rejected 12 times by publishers, Steve Jobs was fired from Apple Computers, and Starbucks founder Howard Schultz was rejected 217 times by banks and investors.

At some point in your life, you'll fail, make a mistake or do something embarrassing and feel insecure about it. Not accomplishing your goals or feeling like you don't fit in may make you question your sense of worth.

According to Eli Finkel, social psychology professor and author of The All-Or-Nothing Marriage, the difficult reality about feeling low is that it's really hard to lift your spirits or boost your confidence back up to healthy levels. Those who are suffering from low self-esteem find it harder to receive positive feedback.

Low self-esteem can impact your ability to form long-lasting, healthy relationships, as well as influence your career and business trajectory. Yet, when people feel insecure, they tend to dismiss it. How do you stop that self-destructive tendency? Finkel suggests a science-backed technique known as abstract reframing.

What is abstract reframing?

"Mystery is not about traveling to new places, but looking with new eyes," Finkel quotes Marcel Proust. The idea behind abstract reframing is to change the way that you perceive something. It could be the way that you take compliments from a significant other or positive feedback you receive in a performance review at work. Instead of dismissing the praise, as those with low self-esteem tend to do, reframe it.

How can you use reframing?

In a study led by Denise Marigold, subjects were asked to describe an experience where they received a compliment. Researchers used two types of reframing--concrete and abstract. Concrete reframing is when someone describes the details of a situation without their interpretation of them. For instance, they would say where they were, what each person said, and other details.

Then, they'd describe the same situation but with abstract reframing, they had to consider the meaning behind the words and their importance.

With this technique, you may describe:   

  1. Why did they admire you?
  2. What does it mean to you and it's significance?
  3. Why do you believe you received the compliment?

When participants did this, they felt more secure in their relationships and had a higher degree of self-confidence that was still present two week after the initial feedback.

For those that are reluctant to accept compliments, reframing is key to boosting your self-esteem and confidence. The next time that you receive praise at work or in your personal life, reframe it to help you understand why you receive and deserve the praise you are given.