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.