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Self Esteem: Simple Steps to Build Your Confidence


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  • Текст добавлен: 10 января 2019, 04:24

Текст бизнес-книги "Self Esteem: Simple Steps to Build Your Confidence"

Автор книги: Gael Lindenfield

Раздел: Личностный рост, Книги по психологии

Текущая страница: 1 (всего у книги 4 страниц)

To my little brother John, whom I now look up to with much love and admiration.



Title Page


Note to 2014 Edition


Section 1: Exploring the Essential Elements

Chapter 1 What is Self-esteem?

Section 2: Laying the Foundations for Action

Chapter 2 Ten Golden Keys to Self-esteem

Chapter 3 Strategy for Emotional Healing

Chapter 4 Strategy for Breaking Self-destructive Habits

Chapter 5 Strategies for Self-protection

Section 3: Self-help Programmes

Chapter 6 The Big Recondition

Chapter 7 Regular Maintenance

Chapter 8 Crash Strategy

Section 4: Using Your Strength to Empower

Chapter 9 Building Self-esteem in Others

Further Reading

By the same author

Other Titles in This Series

List of Searchable Terms


About the Publisher


Many thanks again to all the many participants on my courses who have shared so honestly and worked so courageously to rebuild their damaged self-esteem.

Thanks also to James and Marie for sharing some of their enviable knowledge about cars.

Thanks to Ari Badaines for unknowingly sowing one of the seeds which led to the development of my thinking around this subject and also for being such an inspirational and creative psychodrama trainer. I would also add that he deserves considerable credit for helping me to rescue my own flagging self-esteem on several crucial occasions.

Many, many thanks to my family (and Marie) for tolerating the tension and feeding me during the final fraught stages of producing this book.

Finally, as ever, my husband Stuart has been a wonderful support. Not only does he willingly give up his increasingly precious free time to edit on demand but he also acts as a stimulating sounding board for my ideas even when they emerge at the most inconvenient times!

Note to 2014 Edition

It is twenty years since I wrote this book. During this time I have had wonderful feedback on how it has helped many readers from all over the world. It perhaps says something about my own deep-seated self-esteem issues that this has been a great surprise to me!

Reading the book again for this new edition was a great pleasure, as it brought back many memories of the time when I wrote it. It was a wonderful spring and summer. My two daughters were in their late teens and both very happy, confident and excited about their plans for their future lives. I was, too. I also had very adventurous ideas for filling my emptying nest. My own self-esteem had never been higher.

But soon after this book was first published tragedy hit our family. Laura, my youngest daughter, was killed in a freak car accident. Each one of us in the family was of course plunged into deep grief. As anyone who has had a similar experience will verify, this kind of trauma plays havoc with self-esteem. This may not seem an obvious or logical consequence of such a tragedy but I have yet to meet anyone who hasn’t felt this same knock-on effect. Perhaps it is the guilt and powerlessness we feel at not being able to reverse the damage that was done. For me, as a mother, I know that these feelings (however irrational) were there in relation to Laura but they were there also in relation to my other daughter. Her life and confidence were shattered and because of my own fragile emotional state I could not help her in the way that I wanted so much to do so. Also I could not function well at my work and indeed for quite a long time I was dependent on others even to organize my simple day-to-day housekeeping chores.

We did however all get back on our feet much more quickly than I would ever have thought was possible. And, I am sure that much of the credit can go to the strength of our self-esteem, which had been built on the foundations which I wrote about in this book. Every tip and technique in this book had been tried and tested to good effect by me personally and also by my long-suffering family.

Now, as I reach the latter decades of my life, my self-esteem has faced some new challenges. So the strategies have become particularly useful to me once again. Although for the vast majority of time, I am thoroughly enjoying my new senior life, there are many moments when my self-esteem begins to wobble. I understand this is a common experience for people of around my age. Maybe it was too for other generations but I am most aware of our own current issues. I think it is generally accepted that we live in times where youthfulness is idealized and ageing is frequently viewed as a demeaning experience and a depressing nuisance for those going through it and those who have to support them.

But, of course, ageing and bereavement aren’t the only life transitions that can depress our self-esteem. There are many others. The good news is that the lessons and advice in this book can be used over and over again at any stage of your life. They can also be used to help anyone else you care about whose flagging spirits need either a little or large morale boost.

I hope you will find this book and its ideas as helpful as I and so many others have found them to be.


Would you believe me if I told you that I wished I lived in a world where a second edition of this book was not needed?

But it is true. I would genuinely rather be living in a world where everyone’s self-esteem was bursting at the seams. This is because I am totally convinced that it would be a happier, safer and more positively exciting place to be.

At the start of this new millennium, there are some encouraging signs. When I first started writing this book in 1994, awareness on the subject was minimal. The phrase ‘self-esteem-building’ was still mysterious jargon used by a limited few in the world of therapy. Today, only six years later, not only do most people understand what is meant by ‘self-esteem’, they are complaining loudly and clearly when their precious supply is diminished by others. They know the value of this inner resource and are demanding its protection. For example:

in the workplace, employees are demanding more praise and understanding from their bosses

at home, children are demanding their fair share of cuddles or quality time, and rejecting parental put-downs

in relationships, partners are demanding more respect for their individual needs, and making it known if they feel under-valued

even in the ‘public world’, the rich and famous are demanding more protection from the paparazzi, and claiming that the media’s thirst for sleaze is knocking their self-worth and driving them to drink, drugs and depression.

Having said this, I believe that showing more human consideration and respect for each other are not the only answers.

This is why I wrote this book as a self-help guide, and why I have been very pleased to have the opportunity to revise and update it. Perhaps one day my wish will come true, and the tools of self-esteem-building will be in everyone’s natural armoury. Perhaps one day good self-esteem practices will have become cultural and personal habit. But for the moment, in this fast-changing, ever-expanding and globally competitive world, it seems these tools are needed more than they have ever been.

Ultimately, the health of our own self-esteem is our own responsibility.

I believe I have made this new edition much more user-friendly, and hope that you will find it easy to read and dip into when your (or anyone else’s!) self-esteem needs a boost.

An Overview of the Book

Like my other personal development books, this one is also designed as a self-help programme. It can be done on your own or in the more supportive setting of a group.

There are four main sections of the book, each covering a different area:

Section One (Exploring the Essential Elements) explains the concept and effects of self-esteem and how it is built, boosted – and battered.

Section Two (Laying the Foundations for Action) describes the essential healing and self-protective strategies needed to underpin self-esteem-building work.

Section Three (Self-help Programmes) offers practical exercises and checklists to help you rebuild flagging self-worth and keep it in tip-top condition. It includes an exercise which can be used as an annual ‘service’ for your self-esteem, and another which will help you to regain personal power after an emotional trauma such as a rejection, bereavement, divorce or job loss or a major mistake, setback or failure.

Section Four (Using Your Strength to Empower) contains tips and exercises to help you develop your ability to build self-esteem in others. It includes guidelines on how to do this in the three specific roles of Manager, Parent and Citizen.

You will probably derive most benefit from the book if you first read it through reasonably quickly to get an overall idea of the material and practical work it contains. You will then be better able to plan an effective programme for yourself or your group, using the book’s different sections to suit your individual needs.

I hope you find this self-esteem-building work as fascinating and rewarding as I and many thousands of others have done. Good luck!

What is Self-esteem?

In my search for the perfect definition of self-esteem, I have found literally hundreds of different views and descriptions. My head began to reel as I tried to face the task of summarizing all these in a couple of neat paragraphs. Perhaps largely to protect my own mental health, I therefore decided to do something different.

I thought that I would start from the perspective of my own personal experience. After all, as I indicated in the Introduction, I have much more than an academic interest in this subject. Self-esteem-building is still very much part of my own personal as well as professional life.

When I began to reflect on my own experience, I began to think that one of the reasons why there are so many variations in the definition of self-esteem is that it is essentially a ‘state of being’. To make the scene even more complicated, it seems that when we experience our self-esteem, a whole chain of mini-happenings take place. Sometimes it seems these can all take place in the flash of an instant, but at other times they may slowly develop step by step over a much longer period of time.

Self-esteem is a dynamic, subjective event rather than any static, tangible ‘thing’ that can be directly and easily observed and measured.

I form a belief – either consciously or unconsciously – that I am OK human being …

I begin to feel pleasant physical sensations of warmth, relaxation and vitality …

In my mind I make specific appreciations about my value, e.g. I look attractive – I am strong – I am clever …

I form positive value judgements and beliefs about myself and my potential, e.g. I deserve to be happy – have my needs met – be liked and loved by other people …

I experience a sense of increased confidence and optimism …

I feel a sense of trust in the world and people around me …

I form the belief that the world can and is highly likely to be able to meet my needs and wants …

I feel the energy levels in my body begin to rise …

I experience my mind becoming more lively and beginning to fill with ideas …

I begin to take positive action to get my needs and wants met …

I feel a sense of pride and satisfaction and happiness as I experience my needs and wants being met …

I form the belief that I have the power to make myself happy and successful whenever I choose to do so …

I begin to feel my mind working creatively on ways to overcome any challenging obstacles which stand in the way of my path to success and happiness …

I feel my body energized by the excitement of this challenge …

I get into action again …

I judge my actions to be successful …

And then, I begin to experience even more forcibly, the self-esteem ‘happening’ all over again … and again!

High Self-esteem Experience

The Inside Story

On the opposite page is a simple analysis of what happens in my mind and body when I feel a sense of good, sound self-esteem (even though I may not be consciously aware of the process taking place).

I hope this description fits your own experience. If it does not I’d be interested sometime to hear what appears to be happening to you when you perceive your self-esteem to be high. In the meantime, I hope you’ll accept my subjective analysis as a working definition for the purposes of this book!

The Outside Story

Now let’s look at this self-esteem experience from the outer perspective, and examine how it is seen through other people’s eyes.

As you read this next section, try to think of people you know who have some or all of these attributes. Having some visual examples in your mind of self-esteem in action will help to strengthen your motivation to achieve your goal! Seeing certainly helps the believing, especially during some of the uphill steps in changing our psychological selves!


Here are some of the most significant qualities which we can commonly observe in the appearance and behaviour of people whose self-esteem is consistently good.

Calm and Relaxed

They appear to be at ease and in control, even when faced with difficult and daunting challenges.

Their posture is usually upright and there is rarely much sign of tension in their faces or limbs.

After periods of increased pressure they will always take ‘time-out’ to recover and quickly regain their serenity and composure.


They exude a sense of well-being and appear fully ‘at home’ in their well-nourished and well-exercised bodies.

It is obvious that they have taken care to groom and present themselves well even when they have chosen a very casual style of dress.

They never routinely indulge in self-destructive eating, drinking or sleeping habits. They always give themselves extra physical care and attention when they are under stress or experiencing physical illness.

Energetic and Purposeful

They are full of life, both mentally and physically.

They usually enjoy working and undertake whatever task they do with enthusiasm and enjoyment.

They are highly motivated and, unless they are in a period of creative transition and change, always maintain a clear sense of direction.

Although they are careful to stop and recharge their batteries from time to time, you won’t catch them aimlessly drifting or getting stuck in ruts.

Open and Expressive

They are ‘What You See Is What You Get’ people.

They communicate in a direct, straightforward manner and (unless they are poets or politicians, of course!) they tend to speak plainly and use non-verbal gestures which clearly indicate what is going on for them emotionally.

They are very capable of being spontaneous when they choose to be so, but they can summon up superb emotional control when they want their heads to rule their hearts.

Positive and Optimistic

From both the way they talk and act, you get the sense that they are expecting the best from the people and the world around them.

They rarely look disabled by worry and fear and do not appear to brood over regrets.

They view mistakes as useful learning experiences which are unlikely to be repeated.

When they meet obstacles to their progress they openly and safely release their frustration and then return to solve the problem with increased vigour and determination.

You can often hear them talking about the future with excitement, and they view opportunities for change and development with genuine interest and enthusiasm.


They are highly capable of acting independently and autonomously.

They do not constantly seek the approval or opinion of others before making decisions or taking action.

They enjoy their own company and would not necessarily need the fraternity or direction of others to help them relax or work efficiently.

They take full responsibility for securing and overseeing their own financial stability.

When they do decide to innovate or take risks, you can be sure they have prepared suitable contingency plans and will not take help from others for granted.

Sociable and Co-operative

Even if they are naturally introverted by nature (unless they have a good reason not to be so), they are friendly and trusting of other people from any creed or culture.

In meetings and social gatherings they do not hog more than their fair share of attention.

It is obvious that they often seem just as interested in listening to others as they are in having their own voices heard.

They can enjoy being a member of a partnership, a team or a community and are usually willing to compromise and negotiate to secure harmonious relationships and a good deal for the ‘common good’.

They are never threatened by the success and happiness of others, and so can often be seen actively encouraging other people’s development and welfare.

Although they often emerge as the natural leaders of groups, they are also able and willing to share power and authority and delegate appropriately.

Appropriately Assertive

They stand up for their own needs and rights but, equally, they can be relied upon to fight for justice for others as well. If occasionally their assertive attempts to solve important problems fail, they are happy to use both passive or aggressive strategies to obtain fair and sensible resolutions.


Although it is obvious that they have a deservedly high degree of self-worth, they are often self-reflective.

They are happy to acknowledge their imperfections and mistakes as well as their strengths and achievements, because they are continually searching for ways and means to improve their behaviour and performance.

Although they will not waste much energy or time doing battle with aggressive and destructive critics, they do welcome constructive feedback and advice.

You can expect them to be engaged in some ongoing educational or personal development project (even though in our envious eyes they already appear to have reached the pinnacle of perfection!).

Don’t be daunted by this idealized description of a self-esteem paragon of virtue. Even if you were lucky enough to meet a person who displayed all of these characteristics all of the time, I think it is unlikely that you would feel diminished in his or her presence. Contrary to what many people (who mistakenly confuse high self-esteem with arrogance) think, when we are in the company of people with very high self-esteem we tend to feel better, not worse about ourselves. When we are with them we are likely to feel:

At ease. Because they are often so relaxed and we sense that we have full permission to be ourselves. They will not need us to be something that we are not in order to make themselves feel superior or to impress anyone else who may be around.

Safe. Because they will never use bullying tactics to make themselves feel more in control. Our sense of security is enhanced because we know where we stand with them. We trust that they they will give us honest and direct feedback and do not fear any rumblings under the carpet. Knowing that they have a strong survival instinct and are prepared to fight courageously when under threat, we willingly depend on them. We can rest assured that they will readily take the lead and assertively defend anyone’s rights in the event of injustice or abuse.

Valued. Because they tend to show appreciation for each individual’s strengths, efforts and achievements. They do not demand that we are mirror images of them and will actively show respect for our views and values even though these may be very different from their own. Because they are so aware and accepting of their own shortcomings, they do not expect us to be perfect, so we feel we can be both unconditionally liked and loved.

Stimulated. Because they are brilliant and inspiring role-models. Their energy and enthusiasm is highly infectious, so that being with them kindles potential in us that we may never have even dreamed we had. Indeed, in their presence we often feel our courage and motivation grow as our own self-esteem is spontaneously rekindled and nourished.

So although high self-esteem is essentially an internal psychological event, it also can exert a powerfully beneficial effect on the external environment. But of course (as most of us can testify from our own everyday uncomfortable experiences), the reverse is also unfortunately true. People who have low self-esteem not only consistently sabotage their own health, welfare and happiness, but they also frequently exert a depressing and sometimes highly detrimental effect on the world around them.

Let’s remind ourselves of the negative cycle of low self-esteem attitudes and behaviour.

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