50 Ways to Untwist Your Thinking

self esteem positive-thinking pic

Self Esteem-1. Empathy: When you’re upset, you need someone to listen and see the world through your eyes without trying to cheer you up, change you, help you, or give you advice. Although this usually won’t cure you, it’s often a necessary first step. It can be a tremendous relief to feel that someone’s listening.  Similarly, you can empathize when you’re trying to help a friend or family member who feels upset. Usually, all they really want is for you to be a good listener.

2. Agenda Setting: Agenda Setting is the most basic and important technique of all. First try to define a specific problem you want help with. It must be specific as to person, place, and time. Ask yourself, “What is the specific problem I want help with? What time of day did it happen? Where was I? Who was I interacting with? What was going on? Second ask yourself if you’re motivated and willing to roll up your sleeves and work on it now, rather than just talking about it endlessly. Ask yourself. “what would it be worth to me to solve this problem? How hard would I be willing to work on the solution?”

3. Identify the Distortions: Use the checklist of cognitive distortions to identify the distortions in each of your negative thoughts.

4. Straightforward Technique: You try to substitute a more positive and realistic thought for each of your Negative Thoughts. Ask yourself, “Is this Negative Thought really true? Do I really believe it? Is there another way to look at the situation?”

50 Ways to Untwist Your Thinking Part
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50 Ways to Untwist Your Thinking Part 8

Self Esteem

Summary of Building Self-Esteem

self esteem jump picSelf Esteem – So many different strategies for raising your self-esteem have been presented in this chapter. The following worksheet is intended to help you organize what you’ve learned and decide which particular strategies for building self-esteem you want to try out in the immediate future.

I recommend that you stick with no more than three or four strategies and devote at least one week to each. For the questions below, write out specificallly what actions you’ll take with respect to each intervention.

1. Identify no more than three or four needs from the list of needs mentioned earlier in this chapter that you’d like to give special attention to. Then take action to do something about meeting those needs you’ve singled out. What specifically will you do?

2. Work on bringing out your inner child.

  • Record and listen to the inner child visualization
  • Write a letter to your inner child
  • Carry around a photo of yourself as a child
  • Engage in playful activities that give expression to your inner child. What activities will you practice?

3. Work on redescribing negative feelings states as pleas for attention from your inner child. Describe examples of when you do this over a period of at least one week.

4. Do one or more things from the list of self-nurturing activites to help improve your self esteem.  What will you do for each day of a given week?

5. Work on building your support system.  How will you specifically do this?

6. Work on cultivating or enhancing an intimate relationship (for example, spending quality time with your partner, taking a course in communication skills, attending a marriage encounter weekend). How will you do this?

7. Work on improving your understanding and ability to maintain appropriate boundaries (for example, read suggested books by Robin Norwood and Melody Beattie, attend Al Anon or Co-dependents Anonymous meetings, attend a workshop on co-dependency). How will you specifically do this?

8. Learn and practice assertiveness skills. What specifically will you do?

9. Work on upgrading your personal wellness and body image. What are you willing to do in the next month?

10. Work on identifying and expressing your feelings. What specifically will you do?

11. Counter negative self-talk of your Critic or Victim subpersonalities.

12. Work with self-esteem affirmations by

  • Writing one or two of them out several times each day, or
  • Reading them daily from a list, or
  • Putting them on a tape which you listen to daily.
  • Which one will you do?

13. Define your important personal goals over the month, six months, year, and three years using the goal exercises. Then take action on one or more goals. What specifically will you do?

14. List personal accomplishments you’ve achieved to date.

List of Personal Accomplishments

Self Esteem – In identifying goals for the future, it’s important not to lose sight of what you’ve already accomplished in your life. It’s common to forget about past attainments at those times when you’re feeling dissatisfied with yourself. You can raise your self-esteem in a few minutes by thinking about your life and giving yourself credit for those goals you’ve already achieved.

The following exercise is designed  to help you do this. Think about your entire life as you review each area and make a list of your accomplishments. Keep in mind that while it’s gratifying to have external, “socially recognized” achievements, the most important attainments are more intangible and internal. What you’ve given to others (love, guidance, assistance, etc.) and life lessons you’ve gained on the road to maturity and wisdom are ultimitaley your most important accomplishments.

For each of the following areas, list any accomplishments you’ve had up to the present.


Work and Career

Home and Family


Arts and Hobbies


Prizes or Awards

Personal Growth and Self-Improvement

Charitable Activities

Intangibles Given to Others

Important Life Lessons Learned


Taking personal responsibility for achieving the things you want most out of life and making tangible progress toward obtaining them –will greatly add to your sense of self-esteem. An excellent book for getting started  that I recommended is Susan Jeffer’s Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway Also check out Embracing Fear: and Finding the Courage to Live Your Life.

For more recommended books on fear and goals click here.

Fear In The Way of Goals Exercise

Self Esteem – To overcome the feeling of not deserving to achieve your goal, I suggest that you work intensively with the simple affirmation “I deserve _____________” or “I deserve to have _____________.” Don’t be sparing in the use of repetition with this particular affirmation. Continue to work with it until you develop an emotional conviction that it is true. Developing the belief that you deserve what you truly want will add significantly to your self esteem.

After you’ve worked through your specific obstacles to taking action on your goals, it’s time to develop a plan of action. Break down your goal into a series of steps. Remember that this is a long range plan. As an option, you may wish to specify a time frame for accomplishing each step.

For example, you might be feeling increasingly dissatisfied with your present line of work and would like to be doing something else. Yet, you’re not quite sure about what you want to do, let alone how to go about training for it. The board goal of “getting into another line of work” might seem a bit overwhelming, taken as a whole. But if you break it down into component parts, it becomes more managable”

1. Find a career counselor you respect

2. Explore different options by:

3. Narrow down vocational options to one particular type of work

4. Obtain education or training for the line of work you have chosen

5. Complete your education or training (if possible while maintaining your current job)

6. Search for an entry level position in your new career

  • Obtain resources that tell you where jobs are available
  • Prepare a professional looking resume
  • Apply for jobs
  • Go for interviews

7. Begin your new career

Fear In The Way of Goals

self esteem fear picSelf Esteem – What are some of the obstacles you might be putting in the way of going after what you want? Fear is the greatest impediment to doing something about your goals, just as it is in the case of overcoming phobias. If you don’t see yourself moving toward what you want, ask whether you’re letting any of the following fears get in your way:

Fear of losing present security
Fear of failure
Fear of personal rejection or the disapproval of others
Fear of succeeding
Fear of your goal involving too much work
Fear of your goal involving too much time
Fear of your goal involving too much energy
Fear that your goal is too unrealistic – for example, that others will discourage you
Fear of change itself

The solution to any of these fears about taking action on your life goals is exactly the same as the solution to dealing with a phobia: face the fear and go forward in small steps. There is no way to eliminate some risk and discomfort, but breaking a goal down into sufficiently small steps will enable you to go forward and therefore be one step closer to reaching higher self esteem.

While fear is the biggest obstacle to moving forward on goals, guilt can also be an impediment. You may wish to consider whether any of the following beliefs are keeping you from seeking what you want:

“I’m not good enough to have ________________”

“I don’t deserve to have ________________”

“No one in my family has ever done something like that before.”

“Others won’t approve if I go after _______________”

“No one will accept this idea if I try to put it into practice.”

Continue on to the exercises

Goal Setting

Self esteem can be improved when you have a goal to work towards. This exercise is designed to help you narrow down what you would like to achieve.

Ask yourself two questions:

1. What are the most important things I want out of life – now and in the future?
2. What am I doing about these goals right now?

Let’s consider each of these. To answer the first question you need to define what your goals are. If this is presently unclear, thinking about what you want in each of the areas below might help you to be more specific:

Physical Health
Psychological Well-Being
Finances and Money
Intimate Relationships
Living Environment
Personal Growth
Recreation and Leisure
Spiritual Life

Give yourself some time –up to several days if necessary — to clarify what your most important goals are in these areas over the following time intervals: the next month, the next six months, the next year, the next three years. Write down your most important goals for each time period. You may wish to talk with a close friend or perhaps a counselor to assist you with the process of clarifying your specific personal goals.

The second questions involves honestly evaluation what steps you’re currently taking — or not taking — toward attaining your immediate and longer-range goals. Are you genuinely working toward what you want? Or are you making excuses and setting up obstacle to the attainment of what you want? The popular phrase “taking responsibility for your life” simply means that you take full responsibility for working toward your own goals. Avoiding self-responsibility is to not do anything about what you want and/or expect someone else to do it for you. Avoiding  self-responsibility will guarantee that you’ll have feelings of powerlessness, inadequacy, and even hopelessness. A sense of personal self-worth is dependent on taking responsibility for yourself.

A Sense of Accomplishment

Self Esteem Obstacles Pic

Self Esteem– Accomplishment of personal goals always adds to your self-esteem. If you look back over your life to the times when you felt most confident, you’ll find that they often followed the accomplishment of important goals. Although external achievements can never be the sole basis of a sense of self-worth, they certainly contribute to how you feel about yourself.

If you are dealing with phobias or panic attacks, a most significant accomplishment is the ability to enter into and handle situations that you previously avoided. An even more unassailable sense of achievement is reached when, in addition to confronting phobic situations, you become confident that you can handle any panic reaction that might arise. Those of you who have fully recovered from agoraphobia, social phobias, or panic disorder through conscientiously facing the very things you feared most know hwo much self-confidence and inner strength there is to be gained. Facing your phobias (including the phobia of panic itself) through a process of gradual exposure will, in and of itself, add considerably to your self-esteem.

Beyond the important goal of overcoming phobias and panic, however, are all the other goals you might have in your life. Your sense of self-esteem depends on the feeling that you’re making progress toward all of your goals. If you feel “stuck”  and unable to move toward something important that you want, you may begin to doubt yourself and feel somewhat diminished.

In the Self Esteem Exercises section, you will find an exercise that will help you find your biggest accomplishments in life  and what you would still like to achieve.

Affirmations for Self Esteem – What I Am Learning

Self Esteem – As in the previous article Affirmations for Self Esteem – What I Am, write a list of your favorite affirmations individually on a 3×5 card. Then read through the stack slowly and with feeling once or twice a day.

What I Am Learning

I am learning to love myself more every day

I am learning to believe in my unique worth and capabilities

I am learning to trust myself (and others)

I am learning to recognize and take care of my needs

I am learning to ask others for what I need

I am learning that it’s OK to say no to others when I need to

I am learning to take life one day at a time

I am learning to approach my goals one day at a time

I am learning to take better care of myself

I am learning how to take more time for myself each day

I am learning to let go of doubts and fear

I am learning to let go of worry (or shame)

I am learning that others respect and like me

I am learning how to be more comfortable around others

I am learning to feel more confident in ________________

I am learning that I have a right to ________________

I am learning that it’s OK to make mistakes

I am learning that I don’t have to be perfect to be loved

I am learning to accept myself just the way I am

You can also put these affirmations on tape. Repeat each affirmation twice and leave about 5-10 seconds between different statements. Listen to the tape once a day when you feel relaxed and receptive and watch this do wonders for your self esteem.

Affirmations for Self Esteem – What I Am

Affirmations for Self Esteem – What I Am

Self esteem can be improved by positive self talk. Select your favorite affirmations from the list and write them down individually on 3×5 cards. Then read through the stack slowly and with feeling once or twice a day. Doing this while alternately looking at yourself in the mirror is an excellent idea.

I am lovable and capable

I fully accept and believe in myself just the way I am

I accept all different parts of me

I’m already a worthy person. I don’t have to prove myself.

My feelings and needs are important

It’s OK to think about what I need

It’s good for me to take time for myself

I have many good qualities

I believe in my capabilities and value the unique talents I can offer the world

I am a person of high integrity and sincere purpose

I trust in my ability to succeed at my goals

I am a valuable and important person, worthy of respect of others

Others perceive me as a good an likable person

When other people really get to know me, they like me

Other people like to be around me. They like to hear what I have to say and know what I think.

Others recognize that I have a lot to offer

I deserve to be supported by those people who care for me

I deserve the respect of others

I trust and respect myself and am worthy of the respect of others

I now receive assistance and cooperation from others

I’m optimistic about life. I look forward to and enjoy new challenges.

The more I love myself, the more I am able to love others.

Affirmations for Self Esteem – What I Am Learning

Self Esteem

Self Talk

Self esteem worry picSelf Esteem – What you tell yourself, and your beliefs about yourself, contribute in an obvious and literal way to your self-esteem. If you are feeling inadaquate and powerless, it’s very likely because you belive that you are. By the same token, you can raise your self-esteem simply by working on changing your self talk and basic beliefs about yourself.

When you catch yourself engaging in self-critical or self-victimizing inner dialogues, follow these steps:

1.Disrupt the chain of negative thoughts with some method that diverts your attention away from your mind and helps you to be more in touch with your feelings and body. Any of the following may work:

-Physical activity (household chores or exercise)

-Taking a walk outside

-abdominal breathing exercises

-Five minutes of progressive muscle relaxation

-Snapping a rubber band against your wrist

The point is to do something that slows you down and gives you a bit of distance from  your negative thoughts. It’s difficult to counter negative self-talk when you’re tense and your mind is racing.

2. Challenge your negative self-talk with appropriate questioning if necessary. Good questions to raise with your inner critic might be “What’s the evidence for this?’, “Is this always true?”, or “Am I looking at both sides of this issue?”

3. Counter your negative inner dialogue with positive, self-supportive statements. You may want to design your own positive statements specifically tailored to refute your critic’s statements one by one. Alternatively, you can draw positive counterstatements from a list of affirmations. I will discusss a list of affirmations in my next article.