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  • Writer's pictureMollie Maxwell

Building self-esteem


Having good self-esteem is about accepting ourselves for who and what we are and believing we are worthwhile, capable and useful. It is the foundation upon which we build a quality life, we forgive ourselves when we mess up and we set our own goals and directions in life without seeking approval from others.

It is not about having a self-inflated ego, a huge sense of self importance or being conceited. It is about being able to look in the mirror and accept what we see, warts and all as opposed to avoiding what we see and thinking we are dislikeable, unworthy or a bad person.

Other people may have more money, better jobs, a nicer house , a newer car, more friends and opportunities but accepting that we can be insecond, third or last place shows a high self-esteem with confidence and dignity. We can accept the lottery of life and persevere at things we can influence and accept those we can't.

Our self esteem can rise and fall during life and often the hard knocks will affect it and make us anxious and uncomfortable, but with practise we can build our self-esteem and feel good about ourselves.

If we beat ourselves up emotionally and attitudinally, tell ourselves we are hopeless or useless often enough, we will begin to believe it and therin lies the "victim trap" of poor self-esteem that can lead to poor quality of life and a downward spiral of helplessness. Our life script then reads "nothing good will ever happen to me, I can't do anything worthwhile" , we cannot then reach our potential, we don't take risks for fear of making mistakes and become wary of "what if...." We are in danger of becoming cynical, critical only seeing the dark side of life, leading to withdrawal and anger.

In order to not develop a victim mentality we should not project blame onto others which can lead to negative and irrational thinking.

We can learn to develop a healthy self-esteem by using a thought-stopping technique such as saying "stop it" learn to value ourselves and stop the negativity of self-criticism. Learning to catch ourselves being good, doing good and speaking nicely to ourselves and by practising it often fosters a positive self image, which in turn encourages positive self talk and confidence.

It can be really helpful to keep a positive self esteem journal to remind ourselves of our flexible thinking, positivity and worth. It is ok to be assertive without being passive or aggressive, it is called sticking up for ourselves, allows us to control our own destiny and feel in control of life.

Once we have established good quality self-esteem, we then need to practise it to maintain that valuable asset by surrounding ourselves with positive people with similar values who are friendly and respectful. We need to be patient with ourselves, keep a good balance of activities, relax and pamper ourselves now and then and keep a sense of humour. We don't alway have to be right, we should be able to laugh at ourselves, take responsibility for our mistakes, admit it when we mess up and not allow others to make us feel guilt or shame.

These are the solid foundations of a healthy self-esteem , which we can and should continue to build upon, nurture and enjoy.

To read more this book is readily available.

"Sorting self-esteem" by Grant Brecht Clinical Psychologist.


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