Improving Self Esteem

by Catherine Rein
(last updated May 11, 2009)

As a young child I suffered from shyness and low self-esteem. It made school a challenge, particularly when dealing with other children in the classroom. Fortunately, I had a strong support system of parents and teachers to help me find my strengths and build my self-esteem.

Building your self-esteem can have a positive impact on your life and on the lives of your family members. With a high self-esteem you'll be able to cope with the stressful events in your life and find opportunities to express your individuality. The strategies listed here are some of the ways to improve your self-esteem:

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). CBT is used to combat negative thinking and change the way you are used to coping to with stressful circumstances. It starts with examining the situations that trouble you and identifying your emotional and physical responses. CBT then asks you to challenge your negative or inaccurate thinking and replace it with positive affirmations, such as replacing "I don't deserve anything better" to "I'm worth the best life has to offer."
  • Self-help Groups. Groups such as Co-Dependents Anonymous can help you restructure your thinking and build the necessary skills for good mental health and high self-esteem. These groups will help you achieve an inner peace and make you more aware of your strengths. They will also help you see challenges as opportunities and help you find ways to express your individual abilities.
  • Individual or Group Therapy. You can find a mental health referral by contacting your local mental health center. Clergy and pastoral counsel may also be able to direct you to sources of support. Talking to friends and family can also be helpful, but remember to trust in your own abilities.

The impact of low self-esteem can trigger unhealthy physical, emotional and behavioral responses. You might recognize physical responses such as a stiff neck, sore back, stomach problems or a rapid heartbeat. Emotional responses include feelings of depression, anger, sadness or anxiety. If you are eating when you are not hungry, working more than usual or obsessing about a situation these might be unhealthy behavioral responses.

Remember that that personality you are born with can be nurtured along and brought out with the right training and support. Once you've broken out of old thought patterns you can build a stronger self-worth and positive thought patterns.

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