The Counselling Centre


Self-esteem is the opinion we have of ourselves. The way we view and feel about ourselves has a profound effect on how we live our lives. These opinions are shaped by experiences in the family, at school, from friendships and in wider society. Self-esteem involves our ability to think, to deal with life and to be happy.

Our self-esteem will continually fluctuate and is affected by events and encounters with other people. We are also constantly judging and evaluating ourselves, often in comparison with others. Observing ourselves in relation to other people can be a helpful source of learning and feedback. Yet all too often comparison slips into competition and others become a yardstick by which we evaluate ourselves as good or bad, competent or inadequate.

The reality is we are all different. Each of us has strengths and limitations which we need to learn about and learn to live with. There are aspects of our behaviour and appearance we may seek to change or develop, but a sense of self is also based on self-awareness and self-acceptance.

Self-esteem is based on your attitude to the following:

  • Your value as a person
  • The job you do
  • Your achievements
  • How you think others see you
  • Your purpose in life
  • Your place in the world
  • Your potential for success
  • Your strengths and weaknesses
  • Your social status and how you relate to others
  • Your independence or ability to stand on your own feet

The Steps of Acquiring Self-Esteem

1. Acknowledge the past.

  • Heal the past. Forgive yourself and others.
  • Acknowledge your past successes.
  • Review your successes daily.
  • List your successes.
  • Talk about your successes with others.

2. Acknowledge and affirm your strengths.

  • Acknowledge your own strengths…inventory your assets.
  • Ask others for feedback as to your strengths.
  • Acknowledge others.
  • Give to others what you want to receive.

3. Clarify your values.

  • Discover / choose your life purpose.
  • Prioritize and focus… "Clarity is power."
  • You can make a fortune doing what you love to do.

4. Plan your future.

  • Set goals-realistic and also challenging.
  • Set weekly measurable objectives.

5. Visualize and affirm your desired outcomes.

  • Utilize the power of words and imagery.
  • Ten or more affirmations on 3 X 5 cards, repeat daily.
  • Daily visualizations- three times a day for ten minutes.
  • The power of expectation.

6. Act to create it.

  • Act as if….
  • Ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, ask… for what you want.

"Winners are those people who make a habit of doing the things losers are uncomfortable doing." - Ed Foreman

7. Respond to feedback.

  • Look for feedback, solicit feedback, be willing to see and hear the feedback that is there.
  • Correct when you are "off course".
  • Ready, Aim, Fire. Take action, then correct based on the feedback you receive.
  • Be flexible. Be creative. Try new methods constantly.

8. Persevere.

  • Keep on keeping on.
  • There is no such thing as failure. There are only opportunities for learning. "You can only learn more."
  • Reinforce your new attitudes and learnings with books and cassette tapes, daily.
  • Reprogram your unconscious or your unconscious will program you.

9. Reap the rewards.

  • If you persevere, the results will show up.
  • You deserve it.

10. Develop an Attitude of Gratitude.

  • Thank all who have contributed to your success.
  • "If you prosper others, they will prosper you."

11. Rest, re-create, realign, maintain and start over.

  • Never think of anything as final, look for new ways to do it better.
  • When you fall short of where you want to be, see it as an opportunity to do the task again-differently and better.
  • Stop frequently and take stock of where you are. What steps were productive, what were not? Change!
  • Expect false starts, aborted finishes. Your goal is continuous improvement, not immediate perfection.

12. Organize support groups.

  • Look for people who can help you deal with important tasks.
  • Don't overload members of your support group - look for different types of help from different persons.
  • Ongoing informal contacts are superior to urgent, crisis requests.
  • Anticipate your needs, request feedback on future needs and goals.
  • As much as possible, make the support process mutual - give as well as receive.
  • Consider what support you can give and graciously offer it.

Attitudes That Increase Self-Esteem

Nobody's Perfect – accept that you will fail at times – but that's Okay. Remember that if you make a mistake or are criticized, it is your behaviour that is the issue, not your worth as a person.

Use words like "I will", not because I should, but because I want to. Don't judge yourself; things aren't always black & white, good & bad, or right & wrong.

In evaluating yourself, focus on the many facets of your personality and abilities. Realize your own potentials. Work towards recognizing that you, like everyone else, have your vulnerabilities. Balance trying to make small realistic changes with accepting the way that you are.

Set realistic expectations. Give yourself credit for your accomplishments, even the small ones. Expect to succeed and each time you do, give yourself a pat on the back.

Recognize your personal rights; i.e., I have the right to say no, I have the right to express my opinion. Plan to be assertive with these rights. Explore your opinions and beliefs before asking for advice or decisions from others. Learn to listen and to trust your own judgments.

Try to accept compliments rather than discounting them. Instead of not believing the compliment, realize that it is most likely that the person is not lying and genuinely means what he or she is saying.

Accept responsibility, you did the best you could at the time. Something positive as well as negative came from the decision. Learn from your experience and accept the best you can do.

Have a fresh outlook on life (break out of your rut) and let your emotions come to the forefront --- Take Risks!!

Do the things you like and enjoy!!

How to Recognize Low Self-Esteem

Ask Yourself:

  • Do you feel self-conscious in social situations?
  • Do you worry about whether other people like to be with you?
  • Do you have difficulty accepting compliments?
  • Do you find it hard to give yourself credit for your accomplishments?
  • Do you seem to need a lot of reinforcement from other people?
  • Do you have trouble trusting your own judgments and decisions?
  • Do you criticize yourself for your faults and weaknesses?
  • Do you filter out positive feedback and filter in negative feedback?
  • Do you frequently compare yourself with others and conclude that you do not measure up?

Worry Wisely

  • Try to focus on what is happening now, not on what could happen.
  • Limit what you will worry about. Only worry about the things you can do something about. We can only control the controllable. If we can't do anything about it then we need to find a way to let it go.
  • If we can do something about what we're worrying about, then do it! (Even if it's just a small thing or a first step.) The greatest antidote to worrying is taking action.
  • Get as much sleep and rest as possible. We worry more when we are overtired.
  • Say good night to worrying. The middle of the night is not the time to concentrate on your worries. Everything looks worse at night. When you find yourself unable to sleep because you're worrying say: I can't do anything about this now; I'll deal with it in the morning.
  • Absorbing yourself in something unrelated to what's stressing you is a great way to relieve mental tension. While the stressful situation doesn't go away, your mind has a rest from worrying and the break may help you see things from a new perspective.

The Counselling Centre offers individual and couples counselling to help with these issues. For more information, call The Counselling Centre at 420-5615 or drop by our office on the 4th floor of the Student Centre.