Do You Know HOW TO Build Self Esteem?

Most of us have a good idea of what Self Esteem is.   It’s the name we give to the way we feel about ourselves, the way we measure what we think is our worth, or the way in which we regard ourselves.

We tend to have low self esteem when we don’t like ourselves, and when we don’t feel we are acceptable.  On the other hand, we tend to have high self esteem when we think we are pretty good and believe that we have something of value to offer to the world.

When I ask people for a step by step plan for building a healthy self esteem, however, most don’t have a clue where to start, which tells me that self esteem for many people happens entirely by accident and at the unconscious discretion of parents or caregivers.

Clearly, that works well for some, but not so well for others.

 thinking pic 2

One of the simplest definitions I have heard to date regarding the development of self esteem came from Dr Phil McGraw.  He said that when we see ourselves consistently acting in ways that please us, we come to like and respect ourselves, and as a result, we develop self esteem.

When we realise that we have the skills that regularly bring success to us, when we create things that work, when we achieve goals, when we meet our own expectations and achieve great results through our actions, the good thoughts we have about ourselves are reinforced and validated.

This is even true if we have developed negative beliefs about ourselves through our childhood.  We can undo these beliefs by literally proving them wrong before our very eyes, and watching ourselves do that helps us to real-eyes that we are more worthy than we might have first thought.

I would add, however, that it is very important to be honest about what pleases us, and sincerely seek our own approval (self esteem) rather than seek approval from someone else (external esteem).  

How can we be sure we are seeking our own approval?  A simple values exercise will help with that.

By getting clear about what we value, and being sure that the values that are influencing our decisions and driving our actions are our own values, we develop a stronger sense of self, and from there, the opportunity for a healthier self esteem is greater.

If building self esteem is important to you right now, and you would like help working out what your personal values, or If you want to make an appointment to seek further support in another area of your life, contact me.

Are You Having or Being? Resilience part VI

Given that our thoughts underpin all of our feelings, and literally create our experience of life, a big part of learning to be resilient means learning to make conscious choices about where we focus our attention, and I’m not just talking about what ‘things’ to focus on.

More importantly, we need to ask ourselves what state we want to give our attention to? A state of having or a state of being?


I received the following in my inbox this morning from Charlie Gilkey @ Productive Flourishing and I had to share it with you.

Charlie wrote:  “We’re in the having mindset when we’re thinking about what different things – usually material things – we want to have in our life. We’ll be much happier when we have that beachside home, that new car, that degree, that new job, that new business opportunity, etc. In the having mindset, our happiness is contingent on us having something else.

The being mindset is much different because it forces us to think about what state we want to be in. When you think about it, the being mindset is that layer under the having mindset; we want to have certain things so that we can feel certain ways. That beachside home allows us to be at peace and relaxed. That new job allows us to feel more confident and be involved in better projects. Having more money allows us to enjoy our lives to a degree that not having it doesn’t.

But here’s the deal: having doesn’t necessarily bring about the being. We get the new beachside home and aren’t any happier because it’s more stuff. The new job increases pressure. When we get more money, we spend more money.

As we get further into the summer, I encourage you to think more about the states of being you want to be in and how you can find them every day. You might find that you already have everything you need. Find the route “straight to happiness” and enjoy the walk down it.”

I could not have said it better myself Charlie.  Thanks.


Turning Your Disadvantages Into Advantages

Part V in the series Resilience – What Is It and Why Do You Need To Get Yourself Some?

Have you ever noticed how easily your flaws and weaknesses come to mind when you’re not feeling so good?

Then, while you are busy berating yourself for being too this, too that, not enough this or not enough of that, your energy levels sink even lower and any energy you might have left to resist the overwhelming wave of negative emotions is almost completely depleted.


At this point, you might go one of two ways.  You might keep putting any and all energy reserves into resistance or you might give up and resign yourself to the fact that you just aren’t good enough.  Either way, your focus is on your negative thoughts, and while you are thinking negative thoughts, you are going to be feeling negative things.

A thought always precedes a feeling, whether it is positive or negative, so it makes sense that if you want to feel positive, you need to have positive thoughts.  Lots of therapists and personal development facilitators encourage their clients to develop an attitude of gratitude by actively seeking out positive things about themselves and their lives, but what if there was another way to move beyond your feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt?

I once heard that the author Stephen King considered going to a therapist to work through his issues and learn how to conquer his demons, but then it occurred to him that rather than pay someone to listen to him, he could write about his “stuff” and get lots of people to pay him.  Talk about turning your disadvantages in to your advantages.

stephen king

When Bob Ansett opened Budget Rent-a-Car outlets in airports, Avis had 70% of the market while Budget was sharing the remaining 30% with 40 other companies.  In order to build their client base they decided to highlight their lack of clients and turn their disadvantage into an advantage by pointing out how much shorter their waiting queues were.  That took them from obscurity to one of the top twelve most recognisable brands in Australia at the time.


I could tell you so many stories of how people have taken what they considered to be negatives and turned them into positives.  I am a great believer that we experience things for a reason and that reason is so that we can help others in similar situations.  I think it gives great purpose to our lives, and purpose gives our lives meaning.

I wonder how you could turn what you believe to be your disadvantages into advantages?

Sacred Days or What Is Resilience and Why Do You Need To Get Yourself Some? Part IV

Do you take Sacred Days for yourself?

Also known as Mental Health Days, Sacred Days are just like holidays (what used to be Holy days) only they aren’t public holidays.  They are very personal and they only hold meaning for you.

It might be the anniversary of a special occasion or event that was important to you.  That event could be a birth, a marriage, a divorce or the death of a loved one.  It could also mark the end of a particularly difficult time in your life such as a serious illness, a significant change of direction in your life that holds great meaning to you, or it might mark the beginning of a new and significant phase in your life – a turning point.

Because we are all so busy today, we often don’t allow ourselves the time and space we need to truly process the emotional implications of the various events in our lives.  This leaves us with a lot of unresolved feelings from the past that build and build until we are so full that the tiniest little upset can tip us over the edge and make it virtually impossible for us to manage ourselves and our feelings in a functional manner in the present.

This is not a good place to be in, emotionally speaking, and it is a long way from being resilient.  Yet some people live most of their lives “full” of unresolved feelings and they have difficulty not taking things personally.

Being resilient means having the capacity to manage life’s challenges appropriately, and being able to bounce back quickly when we are challenged.

Being resilient is about knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are, understanding and acknowledging your needs, and ensuring those needs are adequately met so that most of your energy is available to you in the any given moment.

Being resilient is also about being prepared – having an exit plan, a pre-determined escape route or an outlet that keeps you functioning adequately while you are being challenged.

Taking Sacred Days then becomes a healthy way of making sure we acknowledge and honour our need to process the big events and feelings in life, and a great way of making sure we make space to process them.

Today is a Sacred Day for me.  It is the fourth anniversary of my father’s passing and I choose not to work on this date because I need to honour that place in me that still needs to rest and heal and grieve for him.  As long as I am able I will always keep this space for me and for him.

My Beautiful Dad

My Beautiful Dad

I visited the crematorium this morning where his remains are and I placed flowers on his grave.  I spoke with him for a little while, and even though I know he’s not there, I needed to connect with him there, and I needed to give myself permission to have my feelings.

Everything I have done on this Sacred Day, I have done with patience and love and in as much silence as possible.  No TV, no background noise, not too much activity.  I made sure I connected in meaningful ways with people who are important to me and in the process of all this, I simply felt my feelings and allowed them to be whatever they needed to be.

Do you have particular days or dates that you need to make Sacred?

What is Resilience and Why Do You Need To Get Yourself Some? Part III

Further to my previous posts on resilience and why you need to get some, Part I and Part II, I would like to talk about the importance of strategically stretching yourself through goal-setting.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to deliver a resilience program to 4 groups of young men aged 12 – 18 last year, and I wanted to share part of that experience with you.

They were a diverse group of young men from a range of cultures and backgrounds, and all displaying a broad variety of physical, intellectual and emotional capabilities.

To say that I was constantly challenged to put the skills I was teaching into practice, is probably an accurate description of my own personal experience of the program.

More than that, however, I was honoured that many of these young men allowed me into their inner circles, from where I was able to witness their growth over the course of the program.

I had never run a program quite like that before, and I felt I was definitely stretching myself when I agreed to facilitate it, but we did it, and it was a huge success on many levels.

You can read what others had to say about the program here.

In Part II I discussed the importance of knowing your strengths and keeping your achievements within your view to remind you of your awesomeness.  This can be really difficult for some people, and it is a great idea to revisit the exercise time and again and add to the lists as you grow in strength and confidence.

Stretching yourself outside of your comfort zone is another important part of building resilience, and this is where I, and many of the young men in this program grew greatly during our time together.

It is important to do this in meaningful ways, but we don’t have to take giant leaps of faith from the outset.  Small steps in the right direction are probably best because they can be monitored and managed so much better, and actually bring about a sense of excitement rather than making us feel like we have immersed ourselves in a sea of fear and dread in which we are going to drown for sure.

After taking stock of their lives, most of the young men chose to set goals that would make the biggest difference to them at that point in their lives.  Getting a part time job, giving their studies more attention, repairing a broken relationship, or rekindling a hobby that brought great joy to them were among some of those goals, and while they might not sound like a lot to us, these were enormous to them, without being so big that they didn’t believe they could achieve them.

This is an important fact about using goal setting to stretch yourself and build resilience:

You have to set a goal that you believe you can achieve and in doing so set yourself up for success.  

I knew when I committed to deliver this program that I had the skills and qualifications to do it.  I also had amazing people around me for support and encouragement, so it was safe for me to stretch myself in this way, and a safe bet that it would be a successful experience for all involved.

Climbing ladder

Once you have achieved your goal, you can set another one, and another one, and another one, and each and every success becomes like a new rung in your ladder to a higher, healthier self-esteem.

Can you imagine what sort of a difference that would make to you in your life right now?

Think about setting one goal that means something to you – ideally it will be something small that you have been avoiding or putting off – and I want you to commit to achieving it.

Think through the people, knowledge or resources you will need to achieve your goal and then go about taking the steps you need to achieve it.

Finally, I want you to let me know when you’ve done it.  I really want to hear about your experience.

Go go go…