by Mark Sichel, LCSW and Alicia L. Cervini
Most people who suffer from poor self-esteem are simply forgetting to acknowledge their inner qualities. Many of us can easily acknowledge our accomplishments: I have a college degree, I have a nice car, I make a good living, etc. But accomplishments are qualities of doing. To raise your self-esteem, it is necessary to acknowledge your qualities of being. When was the last time you reminded yourself about your loyalty? Your generosity? Your friendliness? Your sexiness? Understanding and integrating qualities of being can make self-esteem soar.
Unfortunately, in our modern society, it is very difficult to concentrate on our qualities of being. So much emphasis is placed on superficialities in our culture, we quickly "learn" to measure ourselves by our external, rather than our internal, qualities. This leaves many of us feeling badly about ourselves. People become desperate for labels like BMW or Calvin Klein or Prada, or else bid their genes adieu and go under the knife, or even claw their way to the tops of industries that they never really wanted to be a part of in the first place. Our financial or physical net worth becomes the sole indicator of our feelings of self worth.
Who can blame us? We are perpetually bombarded with advertisements for breast enlargement surgery, hair dye, moneymaking schemes, cars, and designer label clothes. We are encouraged to feel poorly about ourselves if we can not afford or embody all of these things. Even when we have these material objects and qualities, it never seems to be enough. We can always go one breast size larger, or one hair shade darker, or one designer label gaudier. The cycle never ends. Satisfaction and happiness is never fully attained.
Our clients have found it useful to create "self worth documents" as reminders of who they really are and where their worth really lies. A Self-Esteem List can be a welcome lifesaver during these difficult times -- a shield against the slings and arrows of outrageous "fortune".
When you complete the following Self-Esteem List, it can be used as a reminder of your very own unique and positive inner qualities. Remember to fully embody and integrate these qualities whenever you're feeling down, and you can improve your self-esteem over the long term. Keep the list on your system as a macro and call it up when you feel down. Print it as a flag to paste on your workstation or as a business card to keep in your wallet. That's what Tom*, a successful, handsome investment banker, did.
Tom had great difficulty seeing his value for anything other than his financial net worth. He experienced great anxiety around women and felt that all he had to offer a woman was his money. When we got him to replace a business card in his wallet with a "Net Worth Card", as a reminder of his many wonderful qualities, he referred to it constantly as a self-esteem booster. Now Tom is married to a woman he loves madly, and they are parents to a beautiful baby boy and have another on the way.
We will provide you now with a list of possible inner qualities. The qualities we've detailed have been derived from doing this very same exercise with clients for many years. Check off those qualities that describe you -- give this some serious effort; you will be surprised and delighted with what you find in your insides. Remember, you haven't been encouraged to think this way so it may be difficult at first, but if you put in some thought into it, you will have a foundation of strengths that will provide you with the assurance to grow, build, and find contentment.
Click here to begin the Self-Esteem Workshop
*The names of all clients have been changed to protect their identities.
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