Building Self-Esteem is a Process

The process is simple, but putting it to work is difficult. Self-esteem is built upon the experience of success. Think of it as a circular process. When people experience success, they grow in self-confidence. As self-confidence grows, they feel empowered to face new challenges. As they succeed in confronting each challenge, they develop the capacity to cope with whatever life throws their way. That feeling leads to further growth of self-confidence, self-reliance and self-esteem.

How Do You Build Self-Esteem?

  • Celebrate your strengths and achievements
  • Forgive yourself your mistakes
  • Do not dwell on your weaknesses; everyone has them
  • Change the way you talk to yourself – stop putting yourself down
  • Be sure that you are not judging yourself against unreasonable standards
  • Berating yourself for your weaknesses is self-defeating. Use that energy for positive thoughts about you.

Qualities of People with High Self-Esteem

  • Able to accept and learn from their own mistakes
  • Confident without being obnoxious or conceited
  • Not devastated by criticism
  • Not overly defensive when questioned
  • Not easily defeated by setbacks and obstacles
  • Unlikely to feel a need to put others down
  • Open and assertive in communicating their needs
  • Not overly worried about failing or looking foolish
  • Not harshly or destructively critical of themselves
  • Not aggressively driven to prove themselves
  • Able to laugh at themselves, not taking themselves too seriously

Why Do You Think You Have So Few Strengths Worth Celebrating?

  • Because everyone has always pointed out your shortcomings?
  • Because you rarely get any positive feedback for a job well done?
  • Because the things you do well are so familiar to you that you take them for granted?
  • Because you have learned to focus only on your mistakes?

When You Make A Mistake, Do You Say…

    • “What an idiot! How can you be so stupid?”
    • “Can’t you get anything right? What a loser!”
    • “There you go again! You’re not really up to it, are you?”
    • Who else has talked to you this way in the past? Why are you still listening to them?

You cannot change your past, but you can change the way you talk to yourself today. Start by making a LONG list of all the good things you have ever done. Catch yourself saying nasty things to yourself, then, STOP. Recite your list of achievements to yourself. Convince yourself to be proud of what you have done and what you are working on doing; on anything you have done for another person; on any improvement in your school work; or on how well you manage your time, your money, your friends or your schedule.

Affirmations for Self-Esteem:

  • There are many things I do successfully (Write them down if you have to.)
  • I can improve my self-esteem by meeting my own expectations
  • I don’t have to strive for perfection to approve of myself
  • My worth as a human being does not depend on achieving a perfect weight, or by being the smartest, or the most popular, or… (you fill in the rest!)
  • I alone am responsible for the decisions I make
  • I am a unique individual
  • Persistence will help me succeed
  • Every mistake I make can be an opportunity to learn. I can’t be afraid to make mistakes; this is how I learn to improve.
  • I deserve support and will ask for help when I need it
  • I have the power to forgive myself for past mistakes
  • I will treat myself as someone special
  • I determine what success means to me

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
Winston Churchill

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
Albert Einstein

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”
Sign hanging in Einstein’s office at Princeton U