Improving Your Self Esteem
by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein
5 May 2004
Often in our society, we are bombarded with the
lives of celebrities. We can end up feeling that if we are not part of
the rich and famous, our lives are insignificant. Our society also
sends a message of competition and achievement. We watch sports, we
always hear about profit and the bottom line being the dollar, we see
large companies competing and constantly buying each other out.
The result often is that we are taught to see how
well we are doing, in terms of how pretty we are, how bright we are,
what kind of house we have, how well we do in sports, what rewards we
receive. However, in reality, these are external measures. Each of us
needs to develop a sense of self-worth, a capacity for positive
self-regard that comes from within.
Here is an example: Sara was divorced and felt in
many ways that she had shortchanged her two daughters, in the sense
that they lived on very little money. She could shower few luxuries on
them. At times, in her therapy, she talked to me about feeling that
she was not much good at anything. Her husband had been abusive both
physically and mentally, and had put her down almost constantly.
Although she no longer lived with him, inside of herself she still
carried feelings of worthlessness.
One day I asked her to review some of the best
moments in her childhood. She said, "I always loved when Uncle
Sam used to come over, and we all sang songs." I asked her if she
did anything like that now, with her girls. She said that they often
sang together in the car. In fact, she had taught them many of the
songs that Uncle Sam had taught her. I asked her if she realized that
she was offering her girls some of the wonderful family memories that
were unique to her as a child. She said she hadn't thought about it,
but it was certainly true. During months of therapy, we worked again
and again in recognizing many valuable aspects of herself. Needless to
say, her self-esteem began to improve. Sara is an example for all of
us, in the sense that each person has to document his or her own
positive talents and strengths.
We have to learn to pat ourselves on the back. To
help you, I suggest a self-pride list. During the coming week, write
down at least one item a day that you can take pride in having handled
well. For example, I was polite and kind to several people in the
supermarket checkout line, even though I was tired. Or, I used my
head, rather than my fist, and really shared with my son my concerns
over his getting another traffic ticket.
At the end of the week, read over your self-pride
list, giving yourself a mental hug, or the high five sign. This is the
beginning of giving yourself more recognition, which will in time lead
to an improved sense of self worth. It is only with this improved
sense of self-esteem that you can have the confidence to make sure
that your life is filled with enchantment.
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