Building Self-Esteem: A Self-Help Guide - Contents:
- Feelings of low self-esteem
- Self-esteem and depression
- Raise your self-esteem
- Changing negative thoughts
- Activities that build self-esteem
Activities That Will Help You Feel Good About Yourself
Any of the following activities will help you feel better about yourself and reinforce your self-esteem over the long term. Read through them. Do those that seem most comfortable to you. You may want to do some of the other activities at another time. You may find it helpful to repeat some of these activities again and again.
Make Affirming Lists
Making lists, rereading them often, and rewriting them from time to time will help you to feel better about yourself. If you have a journal, you can write your lists there. If you don't, any piece of paper will do.
Make a list of:
- At least five of your strengths, for example, persistence, courage, friendliness, creativity
- At least five things you admire about yourself, for example, the way you have raised your children, your good relationship with your brother, or your spirituality
- The five greatest achievements in your life so far, like recovering from a serious illness, graduating from high school, or learning to use a computer
- At least 20 accomplishments - they can be as simple as learning to tie your shoes, to getting an advanced college degree
- 10 ways you can "treat" or reward yourself that don't include food and that don't cost anything, such as walking in woods, window-shopping, watching children playing on a playground, gazing at a baby's face or at a beautiful flower, or chatting with a friend
- 10 things you can do to make yourself laugh
- 10 things you could do to help someone else
- 10 things that you do that make you feel good about yourself
Reinforcing A Positive Self Image
To do this exercise you will need a piece of paper, a pencil or pen, and a timer or clock. Any kind of paper will do, but if you have paper and pen you really like, that will be even better.
Set a timer for 10 minutes or note the time on your watch or a clock. Write your name across the top of the paper. Then write everything positive and good you can think of about yourself. Include special attributes, talents, and achievements. You can use single words or sentences, whichever you prefer. You can write the same things over and over if you want to emphasize them. Don't worry about spelling or grammar. Your ideas don't have to be organized. Write down whatever comes to mind. You are the only one who will see this paper. Avoid making any negative statements or using any negative words - only positive ones. When the 10 minutes are up, read the paper over to yourself. You may feel sad when you read it over because it is a new, different, and positive way of thinking about yourself - a way that contradicts some of the negative thoughts you may have had about yourself. Those feelings will diminish as your reread this paper. Read the paper over again several times. Put it in a convenient place - your pocket, purse, wallet, or the table beside your bed. Read it over to yourself at least several times a day to keep reminding yourself of how great you are! Find a private space and read it aloud. If you can, read it to a good friend or family member who is supportive.
Developing Positive Affirmations
Affirmations are positive statements that you can make about yourself that make you feel better about yourself. They describe ways you would like to feel about yourself all the time. They may not, however, describe how you feel about yourself right now. The following examples of affirmations will help you in making your own list of affirmations:
- I feel good about myself.
- I take good care of myself. I eat right, get plenty of exercise, do things I enjoy, get good health care, and attend to my personal hygiene needs.
- I spend my time with people who are nice to me and make me feel good about myself.
- I am a good person.
- I deserve to be alive.
- Many people like me.
Make a list of your own affirmations. Keep this list in a handy place, like your pocket or purse. You may want to make copies of your list so you can have them in several different places of easy access. Read the affirmations over and over to yourself aloud whenever you can. Share them with others when you feel like it. Write them down from time to time. As you do this, the affirmations tend to gradually become true for you.
You gradually come to feel better and better about yourself.
Your Personal "Celebratory Scrapbook" And Place To Honor Yourself
Develop a scrapbook that celebrates you and the wonderful person you are. Include pictures of yourself at different ages, writings you enjoy, mementos of things you have done and places you have been, cards you have received, etc. Or set up a place in your home that celebrates "you." It could be on a bureau, shelf, or table. Decorate the space with objects that remind you of the special person you are. If you don't have a private space that you can leave set up, put the objects in a special bag, box, or your purse and set them up in the space whenever you do this work. Take them out and look at them whenever you need to bolster your self-esteem.
At the top of a sheet of paper write "I like _____ (your name) because:" Have friends, acquaintances, family members, etc., write an appreciative statement about you on it. When you read it, don't deny it OR don't argue with what has been written, just accept it! Read this paper over and over. Keep it in a place where you will see it often.
Get a calendar with large blank spaces for each day. Schedule into each day some small thing you would enjoy doing, such as "go into a flower shop and smell the flowers," "call my sister," "draw a sketch of my cat," "buy a new CD," "tell my daughter I love her," "bake brownies," "lie in the sun for 20 minutes," "wear my favorite scent," etc. Now make a commitment to check your "enjoy life" calendar every day and do whatever you have scheduled for yourself.
Mutual Complimenting Exercise
Get together for 10 minutes with a person you like and trust. Set a timer for five minutes or note the time on a watch or clock. One of you begins by complimenting the other person saying everything positive about the other person for the first five minutes. Then the other person does the same thing to that person for the next five minutes. Notice how you feel about yourself before and after this exercise. Repeat it often.
Go to your library. Look up books on self-esteem. Read one or several of them. Try some of the suggested activities.
This guide is just the beginning of the journey. As you work on building your self-esteem you will notice that you feel better more and more often, that you are enjoying your life more than you did before, and that you are doing more of the things you have always wanted to do.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration SMA-3715
Page last modified or reviewed by athealth on January 31, 2014