People come to therapy with the request for help with their self-esteem. Simply put, they say they don’t have enough self-esteem and they want more self-confidence. They describe themselves as having lots of inadequacies and insecurities.
Focus on the positives.
We all have strengths and weaknesses. It’s your choice whether you focus on your capabilities or your deficits. A person with good self-esteem will measure their worth from the positive side. They will operate from their strengths and will use them to enhance their well-being. They recognize their imperfections, but they don’t perseverate on them. They maximize their potential for greatness as opposed to limiting themselves by operating from their deficits.
Know what you want.
Good self-esteem requires that you know what you want and you have plans to attain it. You are flexible and make adjustments when needed. If you want a house on a lake and yet you can’t afford a second home, you find friends to share the investment. You may have to buy the smallest house on the lake as opposed to the mansion. You do what it takes with integrity to get your needs met with flexibility. You adapt your needs to the reality of the situation. Your ultimate dream may be to own the mansion, but in the meantime you’re satisfied with the steps it takes to get you what you want.
Enjoy what you have.
People with good self-esteem pay attention to their needs. They spend time with themselves and they assess what they want out of life. They create plans and put them into action. While they are doing it they enjoy the ride. Do you view life with vigor and enthusiasm? Do you notice and appreciate the everyday things? Do you have the mindset that puts a positive spin on life? People with good self-esteem see things in a positive light. If you don’t, that’s a critical requirement to building good self-esteem.
Make the choice.
Self-esteem doesn’t just happen. As an adult, you make the choice to develop it and to increase it. It takes the right mental attitude and it takes reprogramming your thoughts to create a spin on life. Many people think you’re born with good self-esteem. Although there may be a predisposition for it, it requires cultivating.
Think about your childhood. Can you remember a time when your parents seemed really proud of you? Was your memory about accomplishing something? Perhaps you received all of your badges in Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. Was your self-esteem based on a special talent you possessed (e.g. you were a great gymnast or football player). Did you feel worthy because of a special gift you were blessed with (e.g. an extraordinary intelligence, mechanical mind, and analytical ability)?
I challenge you to think about a time when your parent recognized you for personality strength? Parents were not taught to emphasize personality strengths inherent in each child. Therefore we have learned early that our greatness was tied only to our talents and accomplishments. That can be exhausting for a child—let alone an adult—to maintain. What happens when you no longer dance? Or play sports? Or arthritis takes over your ability to play piano? It can be devastating to the self-esteem.
However, if self-esteem is contingent on who you are as a person, then your personality strengths are always here to stay—you continue to maintain good self-esteem. This allows you to have a better sense of positive identity, which increases self-esteem. Practice these techniques and notice the difference.