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Mary’s Place: 10 Ways to Improve Your Self-Esteem

by Mary Bondi
Saturday Jun 2, 2012

Self-esteem is the way we perceive or value ourselves.

Low self-esteem can affect nearly every aspect of your life. For example it may affect the partners you choose, the work you do or how you allow others to treat you. Self-esteem is based on beliefs. Once an individual feels they have a low self-esteem or do not value themselves, they tend to make choices to support that belief.

Many factors contribute to low self-esteem, however a common factor includes our upbringing. If a healthy self-esteem was not nurtured in a person's early development they will most likely show some of these signs of low self-esteem somewhere throughout their life span. They include: being overly concerned with what others think; always accentuating the negative; inability to accept compliments; socially withdrawn, perfectionism, feelings of "less than" when comparing themselves to others; questioning their own opinions; thinking their views are less valid than others; and a constant need for validation.

With support from counseling and groups you can discover how to defeat low self-esteem and the negative image you have of yourself. The image that you may have learned early in your life is not a true representation of your authentic self.

In order to have a healthy self-esteem you must believe: "No matter what others think of me or what I do, no matter what happens to me or around me, I can always love and value myself."

Below I have included some helpful techniques. These will help challenge your self-defeating beliefs and start you on your journey towards improving your self-esteem. These tools will require pen and paper. They will not work if you do them in your head.

As you start these exercises, you will most likely have a critical voice inside you that will make you question what you are doing and will result in your resistance in doing the work. Be aware of this and know that this is natural. Whenever we want to break into a higher level of living or consciousness we will be met with resistance, excuses and a host of other reasons not to grow. There will be a part of you that wants to stay with the status quo, as it is familiar. Fight through this to get to your reward and to your next level.


1. Pay attention and write down all negative thoughts you say to yourself daily (self-defeating inner-dialogue). How many times do you make statements like "You can't,' "You are not good at," "You will never" or "You never do anything right?" Look at these messages and ask your self is this message really true? "Do I know this message to be 100 percent true, without any doubt? What do I get out of thinking this?"

2. Replace each negative thought with a positive, more realistic one right away. Once you take notice you will be surprised how often you criticize or say hurtful things to yourself.

3. List 10 things of value about yourself. Appreciate them and know that they are unique to you. Write them down and look at them daily.

4. Take notice of the times when you blame yourself with no logical basis.

5. Say a clear "yes" to things you really want to do and a clear "no" to those things that do not fit for you at the moment. Stay firm with your boundaries. Individuals that struggle with low self-esteem have great difficulties in the area of setting up boundaries and following through with them.

6. Give yourself rewards. Do something just because you are unique and special.

7. Spend your free time with people who help you feel good about yourself...people who treat you well-avoid negative people and those who mistreat you.

8. Make a list of your talents. Writing them will help you see how talented you truly are.

9. List your five greatest accomplishments. For example, learning to speak a foreign language or overcoming a great obstacle in your life.

10. List your strengths and things you admire about yourself.

Thoughts create our reality. If we start with negative thoughts then reality will more likely follow this path. Below are some alternative thoughts for you to try.

"I am a valuable person. I am loveable. I am learning to be comfortable with myself. I respect and believe in myself apart from others' opinions."

Be aware of your judgments. Judgments are our beliefs of what is right and what is wrong. Be aware of how you may criticize yourself with words like "should," "shouldn't," "must," "ought," and "have to." These judgmental statements tend to cause individuals to feel guilty, or think they did something wrong.

Keep in mind that this is not a substitute for therapy as low self-esteem is expressed uniquely in each person. Counseling helps clients determine the self-defeating behavior that continues to contribute to the individual's self-esteem and challenges these thoughts toward positive change. It assists clients in getting to the root cause of what I call in my practice "personal lies" or erroneous beliefs.

Remember it is never too late to change your beliefs and live your best life.

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