Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Ten (or Eleven) Days to Self-Esteem

Each summer I pick a project. Last year’s was to develop my self-esteem. According to David Burns, that should only take ten days. But nine months later, I’m still not there.

From June to August last year, this was the routine: load up the double stroller with any floatable object in our house (wings, inner-tubes, noodles, life vests), drag them (and two sinkable kids) to the pool, score some beach towels from the lost and found, and plant ourselves under one of the few coveted umbrellas.

As soon as we hit the snack bar and caught up on the daily gossip from Mr. Snow Cone, I pulled out Burns’ book, “Ten Days to Self-Esteem,” which is about the size of a floating raft, the word “self-esteem” taller than a fruit freeze pop. But the woman under the next umbrella was reading “ADD and ADHD for Dummies,” so I didn’t feel so bad.


My mind wandered back to my first session with my therapist, almost two years ago. “Why are you here?” my therapist asked me.

“Because I feel like a Krispy Kreme doughnut,” I replied. “I have no center.”

“The lack of self-esteem is one of the most painful symptoms of depression,” writes Burns in “Ten Days.” “The central belief that causes low self-esteem is ‘I’m not a worthwhile human being. I am inferior to others.'”

My problem (and I doubt I’m alone) is that (I still have to use present tense, but will hopefully change to past tense soon) I have a very conditional definition of self-esteem: I earn self-esteem by my accomplishments, my charitable works, and my popularity. My thinking comes from a Calvinist work ethic, which is widespread in our culture. This perspective is groovy and peachy when life is running smoothly, because it motivates a person to work hard and sprint towards her dreams.


But oy vey when the car (or mind or body or spirit) stalls–or (like last year for me) when your best efforts flop miserably.

When I couldn’t contribute my talents and skills toward some project, or volunteer my time toward a noble cause, or gain the respect and love of people around me, I fell apart, into an abyss of anxiety and depression. “I’m a failure,” I repeated to myself.

However, you have to start somewhere to build self-esteem, says Burns. He describes the process of gaining self-esteem like climbing up a ladder. On the first rung of the ladder is “conditional self-esteem:”

“You decide to like yourself because of your strengths rather than hating yourself because of your weaknesses. You stick up for yourself and defend yourself against your critical inner voice. For many people who feel inadequate, this can be an extremely important first step.”


Then you can climb up the next rung on the ladder, to “unconditional self-esteem:”

“You realize that self-esteem is a gift that you and all human beings receive at birth. Your worthwhileness is already there and you don’t have to earn it. It suddenly dawns on you that you will always be worthwhile simply because you are a human being. It ultimately makes no difference if you are fat or thin, young or old, loved or rejected, successful or unsuccessful. Unconditional self-esteem is freely given.”

Um. Maybe I’ll get there next summer? When I give up stealing beach towels from lost and found, gossiping with Mr. Snow Cone, and making fun of the mom reading about ADHD.


The third run of the ladder is sort of like Dante’s Paradise. (Funny, I chose his Purgatory for my high school English paper, because I found the climb to the beatific vision much more interesting than either heaven or hell.) Here, you give up the very notion of self-esteem and abandon the view that there are worthwhile persons and worthless persons. The third rung adopts a Buddhist perspective that considers self-esteem a useless illusion.

All of us want to feel special and worthwhile, so this radical step might feel as good as taking a humongous book on self-esteem to the pool. But Burns says it can be immensely freeing and practical. I don’t know if I believe him (probably why self-esteem didn’t happen for me in ten days like it was supposed to), but this is what he says about giving up your self-esteem (the right way):


“The death of your pride and your ego can lead to new life and to a more profound vision. When you discover that you are nothing, you have nothing to lose, and you inherit the world. Instead of worrying about whether you are sufficiently worthwhile, each day you can have goals that involve learning, personal growth, helping others, being productive, having fun, spending time with people you care about, improving the quality of your relationships, and so on. You will discover unexpected opportunities for intimacy, for productivity, and for joy in daily living.”

That’s a big promise. One recommendation for Burns: use smaller type, please. I’d like to read you at the park, too.

  • Suzanne Staud

    Wonderful article by Therese J. Borchard! Wed., March 7, 2007. Where can I read more of her? Gratefully, Suzanne Staud

  • Talia Mana, Centre for Emotion

    Interesting article. I haven’t read that book but I have ‘Feeling Good’. ‘I earn self-esteem by my accomplishments, my charitable works, and my popularity’ I don’t know if that’s Calvanism. I was very focused on finding self-esteem in accomplishments but it has nothing to do with Calvinism (given I’m agnostic and always have been). I think it’s a case of needing to know that you matter – achievement and contributing to the lives of others are a way to do that.The popularity thing doesn’t do anything for me though. I’ve never cared much whether people like me.

  • http://HASH(0xcee8c9c) Carrie B.

    Although step three(self-esteem is an illusion) is very freeing and can feel really great, my problem comes from feeling that people around me keep worrying about themselves and I wonder about how to connect with them. Any ideas?

  • Sandy Slaga

    Relate a lot, Therese. Thanks.

  • http://HASH(0xceeae30) frank

    I’m a selftaught artist using markers, which no one in twenty-seven years had accepted “markers” seen this exquisite as yet, no one cannot believe their very own eyes. All who have looked upon my work think its color pencil. This low self-esteem has interrupted drawing, because the fact is “maybe some other time” has been long over heard. “I don’t know how to draw sand” for me to sit at the beach. So, I’ll wave to you!!

  • http://HASH(0xceeb940) Haydee

    Great article, I liked how you tied in how we percieve ourselves in respect to our work when we seek our own definition of self-esteem. I found your article spoke to me in terms of how our pride and ego can be stumbling blocks even with a lower self-esteem value. I once valued how I strived to perform a job that at times can be all consuming, recently I realized that my ego and my pride would not let me see that my lower esteem did sometimes come in the form of how I saw my value as an employee, I did not always see my strenghtens.Recently I realized why,I had lost the passion for what I do. Now I am looking at ways to change my course and find my passion.

  • http://HASH(0xceed088) lu

    Good reading material! In my daily prayers I acknowledge that without our Lord, I am nothing! But it is so easy to loose sight of that belief..for me I am very expressive and I say what is on my mind that I would hurt other peoples feelings and when I think of it then my apologies is not enough. I am told that I am too analytical and need to relax. Also, I have noticed that after my divorce I have been very distrusting and overly suspicious and unable to keep a relationship.All in all when I reflect on myself, I realize I am so unhappy and I am in denial knowing that I purposely make others around me to feel unhappy of themselves! I am not a mean person really in fact have been told that I care more for others than myself and should learn to take care of me. Now I am living alone and it seems that my family doesn’t even care and I do not have any friends come over to visit. Actually I do not extend the invitation. What is my problem?!?

  • http://HASH(0xceed3ac) Mickie

    I am saddened that so many people (especially women) struggle to find “self-esteem” and that we measure our worth by our accomplishments. The word “esteem” means “to set a high value on.” I’m sure without a belief in God or in a “higher power” we are left to establish our own self-worth; thus, our belief that our accomplishments give us value and our lack of accomplishment takes away from our value. I am grateful that I know who I am simply because I know beyond all doubt that there is a God who loves me and who created me simply because He wanted to. My “self-esteem” is directly related to that knowledge and my accomplishments (or lack thereof) have nothing to do with my sense of value. And in knowing that I am valued by God, I am free to just be.

  • http://HASH(0xceedb3c) Rita Walters

    I am not sure I agree with your article and I definitely do not agree with Dr. Burns book about Self-Esteem in 10 days. I have read the book. The best book one can read to find worth and esteem about oneself is See Yourself as God Sees You. The best change we can make – and we can do it in 10 minutes or less – is redefine the word self-esteem. Self-esteem is how we define ourselves – and when we define ourselves as a beautiful work of God then we feel much better about ourselvs. I highly recommend that anyone with any self-esteem issues read this book by Josh McDowell…. and then when you look in the mirror you will see the beautiful child of God you are. (And by the way this email comes from a lady who was molested as a child and who was brutally raped in my home 8 years ago, so I have every right to have self-esteem issues. Only I do not define myself according to what happends to me or what I accomplish in my life but I define myself according to the Person Who knows me best – inside and out – and that is my Creator. So next time you go to the pool take this book instead, and you will see yourself, and your self-esteem differently – you will love yourself as He loves you.

  • http://HASH(0xcef03cc) Therese (Tess)

    Thank you! … for your blogs (which I only get to check periodically) …for your humor and perception …for your down-to-earth openness I agree that the marketing tool of large print used to attract buyers to Dr. David Burns’ books such as FEELING GOOD and 10 DAYS TO SELF ESTEEM is the reason many of us choose to plug away at it in the privacy of our own home! For me it has been almost 2 years, but I keep putting it aside to do manic projects. The book comes back out today! PS: I love the towel story! That gave me a good chuckle.

  • http://HASH(0xcef0704) Anne

    I’m currently working my way through Burns’ book and, frankly, while some of his methods make moving from an attitude of self-defeat (that is: one where I get in my own way through needless and baseless criticism) to self-acceptance (one where I recognize that I have *both* strengths and weaknesses and that it’s OK to not be everything to everyone all the time) seem very simple they are helpful. The “10 days” is based on the idea that you’ll do one chapter a day. Definitely not realistic for a lot of reasons. They key, though, is to be mindful: why am I doing what I’m doing? Is it habit? Is it because it is the right thing for me to do right now? Am I doing it because I’m trying to meet some unspoken expectation in pursuit of some goal or feeling? Mindfulness gives us the ability to be in the now and that’s all it takes for many to be happy.

  • HASH(0xcef0938)

    Great article, Therese. And to quote Buddhist Bob…Dylan that is: “When you ain’t got nothin’ you got nothin’ to lose…” from Like a Rollin’ Stone.



  • Debbie

    Thank you Therese! Today I am definitely fighting going down the dark hole of depression which of course has been brought on by low self-esteem and wondering if my ideas will work. (Lack of faith.. oops) The power of prayer is so amazing… The Lord brought me to your words on self-esteem which made me crack-up because I have all the giant books on self-esteem too. Thanks for the smile… I love to read your stuff. Thanks for doing what you do!

  • carol

    I really related to your self-esteem article. I’ve been feeling pretty down about myself lately, very retrospective since I’m nearing the date of major surgery. But this was just what I needed today. I’ve been in a funk all day, didn’t even get dressed to go out to the store for a few things I need. So thanks for the insight – it has helped lift my spirits.

  • JMe Lowden

    Thank you, Therese, for this article. Dr. Burns and I have had a difficult relationship for years. Like so many, I’ve attempted to read his books on self esteem as recommended by therapists. I usually become disheartened by his claim that you can just change the way you think about or talk to yourself for most of your life by following a few prescribed steps. Anyone who thinks that self esteem can be rebuilt in 10 days is rather deluded. Like you, I’ve been working at improving mine for years. Some days or even weeks, it seems as if I’ve finally made some progress. Otherwise, I grasp on to the Lord’s grace that reminds me I am always worthy in his eyes.

  • Regina Soltis

    Great article. I think what most people do not realize is the tremendous impact low self-esteem has on others! People with low self-esteem may behave in ways that hurt others without even knowing it. Low self-esteem can cause one to be self-absorbed, arrogant, aggressive and lacking in sensitivity to others. Some may compensate by behaving as if they are superior. I believe that the goal of developing one’s self-esteem is as beneficial to others as it is to oneself.
    Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Hello, Deeply grateful. Thank you for your brilliant beauty of interpretation.I have found humor to ease me out of many different painful experiences.On different levels as well. Just out a reflex of nerves. My brain would surely shatter under the pressure with out it.Good to be able to see a lighter side of humanity.It’s that experience, that moment in time of pure humility. I have had so much loss in my life over and over again.I have carried shame of secrets of others sexual perversion imposed on me as a little girl. Life long kinds of damaging. Under trial to defend my child’s death. As my very mother hood was put to test to defend the lose of my 5 yr old son who was killed at the negligence of others.AH YES! Wow that felt better!! FREEING! I have had to expose my very soul, but I realize I’m the only one who’s chosen to keep this nasty old worn out baggage.No one wants to carry it for me or with me.I’m tired of moving running.I’m always with me where ever I go.
    Depression is almost a sad joke with me.I must say! Forgive your self as well as the other guy let it go ….

  • Glorian

    Thanks for your enlightening article and also the comments from others.
    Reminds me of the saying..”God does not make junk”. How true!

  • Cherlyn

    Thank you for this article. Coming from an abusive home life, which followed me into my relationships and now with the murder of my son, self-esteem has become even more of a problem for me.
    I am also seeing a therapist – trying to work through issues that were there before my son’s murder – and the new ones that have cropped up since his murder.
    Dealing with major depression and mood swings and thinking everyone else has it together but me – really makes for some low self-esteem problems – not to mention feeling like a failure in my relationships and being a mother.
    I’ve always felt my relationshps, being a mother, my job, my giving was the mode to find self-esteem. However, it isn’t working this time. I believe now with all my heart that the only place I will find any kind of humble self-esteem is with the Lord’s help. I’ve tried therapists, medicines, friends, family, relationships, and all I did was get hurt, pain, anger, and sleepless nights. And, we won’t even talk about all the crying.
    Thanks for the article – it’s just another reminder that I’ve been looking in all the wrong places for self-esteem. For someone else to give me what I have to know in my heart I already have.
    Peace and blessings.

  • gwendelyn

    It’s hard trying to give up self-esteem. It’s more for me like giving up my view of how I viewe myself on the social ladder. I come from a family that has struggled out of poverty. Sometimes it seems usefuf to have self-esteem, but sometimes I confuse this with pride. So then whenever I don’t accomplish something, let’s say a goal, I’m hard on myself and little by little I could become deppressed.
    One day I realized thatI should stop viewing myself as higher than someone else (or lower thatn someone else) because I am not the type to be mean and arrogant. I have some issues with trying to have people like me. Whenever I sense someone’s displeasure with me, even if they’re strngers, I will feel bad, especially since I don’t hang out with my friends (another issue – distancing myself away from my friends because I feel unworthy of being an interesting person). I’ll feel unlikable. It’s like a cycle with me.
    Anyway, I figured I should quit placing a value on myself so this way i don’t get hurt.
    But this idea was just that. Our society is all about earning your worthwhile. This idea is at the pit of my being.
    Anyway, i’m a mother now and I’ve told myself thatI ahve o be strong for my little one. I need him to see a strong person(strong in many ways). Bless you all. take care.

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  • Derrel Stamm

    I found the info. helpful, i base my self esteem on my usefulnes, contributions, how well my life is evolving in its present state. So it was a freeing experience and just let my self be, just because i am.

  • Faith

    Excellent article, you nailed it! I’m a sufferer myself, all my life. Still have the issue of trying to obtain my worth through people pleasing which is abolutely exhausting when we all know that you can’t please everybody.
    Understood what Gwendolyn said, sensing displeasure, imagined or not and false pride. It’s too consuming and sucks the life out of you. You cannot possibly have a quality of life living like that. But the key is suspending the ego, it’s hard but it’s true.
    For a minute forget about the self esteem, take the weight off your shoulders by enjoying your life and working on personal goals, being in the company of friends (just as you are), being a friend and being involved in your life and the things that make you’d be surprized – I think the superficial world takes a toll on us and we forget to just be who we are because we’re so fixated on what we’re not.

  • Sean

    This is very helpful advice, thanks!
    But as for the third rung on the ladder–letting go of the concept of self-esteem–I think most of us don’t believe others are worthless, only ourselves. So, it really doesn’t make sense to believe everyone Except for ourselves is worthwhile anyway–that is what I try to remind myself anyway.
    I wonder who has success with letting go of self-esteem and can still participate in our culture? How does one really avoid the endless messages all around us telling us that we are our accomplishments or lack there of? Nonetheless, it sounds like a terrific idea if it can be made to work for someone.

  • Doug

    Earlier in my life, I struggled with self esteem for many years. As I have grown older, I have turned away from what is acceptible to everyone else and focused on what is important to God. He has chosen a special purpose for each of us during our short time on earth, especially in my life! By living up to His standards for His purpose in my life, it has freed me from worrying about my self esteem. God has created no mistakes and our self esteem is buried in His love for all of us.It is a mission that each of us must follow every day, for only this will lead us to our true purpose in life!

  • Derrie Michalski

    You are one amazing lady!!!! I have been in therapy on and off for most of my life and am now back in therapy and for the 1st time in 36 years I am finally on the journey to truly finding out who I really am and you have really helped me with that with your Self Esteem File, I am coming to realize that I am a good person with alot to offerthe world and other people. My friends/family do genuinely care about me and what happens in my life and are not just “putting Up” with me because they have too. This was a life altering moment in my life and you contributed to it and I want to say THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!

  • Jan Varnes

    It is a daily check in if you will with the self. How much of the self talk stays in is up to us. My eighteen year old can prove the powerful beginings of child hood, tweens, and a young adult that transistions from his dysfunctional parents lives changed his now present walk into life. He is confident and knows the signs of anxiey, and depression and can tell you when they arrive and how he deals with them. It is hard for me because I deal with this esteem-ism as I call it on a daily basis. I raised my son with the values and non perfective life existance and how to not become addicted to any thing or anyone with a moderation approach. When the esteem is damanged early in our lives therapy can help but I have seem Life Coaches take this one step further. This is to help someone accomplish something of value to them and it becomes a defining moment and perhaps just the motivation to move the ill esteemed person toward more and more goals of achievement and continue to create their existance and define who they have become. It is powerful stuff to move past the ism of self esteem. We are in control of only ourselves. So the truth in a journal will show your growth and doubt slowly disapates. I am only speaking of the now. If all changes I shall let know. As the adult I can tell you it worked for me and daily when I hear “You are worth nothing to anyone” I will turn it around with “I am all to myself the I need to be today,I will care for my family as well as I can”
    Good Enough for me and that is alll I need to do to be ok with myself. Jan

  • Tina L. Watts

    Self Esteem is self control, what ever you think and concentrate on is how your values are determined. you have to be able to give a little as well as take alot. you have to take care of your physical body as well as your mental state of mind.. you have to know your limitations
    as well as your stress lever. be all that you can be and at the same time
    you must undrestand you can not be everything to everbody, nor can you help everybody all the time. smile always/ but at the same time do not be ashame to cry. let your yesterday be gone/ live for today / hope for tomorrow. may a joyful noise. keep education fresh.

  • therapydoc

    GREAT post. Dr. Burns has to have a big book,(was this the workbook?) always has and always will, maybe to make up for loss of ego (no doubt, healing). You write beautifully and said it all in 18 short paragraphs.

  • angel andrea

    My self esteem dropped very low, after spiritual leadership abused their authority and my marriage failed at the same time. I too, looked to the hills. which comes my help, my identity and value comes from the Lord God Almighty, I trust that, and hope in his finished work. I recieve grace for every area of my life each day, and leave the rest in hand of the almighty.this grace helps me do wht’s necessary, or find out what is required. I rest at night the same way, giving thanks to the father of heaven. Who loves and know all.
    When I see my self in the image of God, I am not concern about generational, or any other traits, which reflect my flawed self image. I believe that God has me in the beginning and in the end, we will received me.

  • Elisabeth B.

    Sometimes I feel people are driving me insane, literaly. Like I’m losing it in the head and one day I’m going to get lost in a schizophrenic dream and never awake because my mind and it’s paranoia dullusions. What should I do?
    Ps. Spirits hug me at night almost as if there afraid these people will get to my head and make me phycho and spirit don’t want me to leave. I say I’ve been touched by this naughty Angel and forever been changed and somewhat thankfull and regrettfull at the same time. I say sometimes I think this naughty Angel wants my soul more than God. He is so clingy. For four years he’s been my friend ever since i called on him with a ouija board. Now I’ve doon somethings with him when I was 16 that I dare not mention that God will strick with a lightning bolt that I should feel bad but I had enjoyed it so much that I feel bad for not feeling bad.Plus why do I worship God and still have love for this naughty Angel, though some things I did with him I don’t do anymore since I have a human man lover. I’m confused at times where i stand between God and this naughty invisable Angel. I saw invisable spirits three times visual, a lot of times audio, and a lot with other forms of cummunication. Like he touch me arms for yes and no and more I’ve done in past that I don’t do anymore.
    What I prayed to God before that I’m sorry but I have unconditional love for all good and naughty Angels. I hope you take this letter serously because I’m dead right serious. Arn’t you a preacher, if yes then please preach to me about my problem about how I’ve been touched my an Angel and how some humans are driving me insane. Please? Because phsycologists suck at it.

  • Lyn

    I am now an old woman with years of nursing knowledge behind me coupled with a profound spirituality. I was brought up as a Protestant but am not a conventional Christian. I hope and pray that you can get the help you need to establish a more comfortable and happier mental health. Psychiatry can help you immensely. Add prayer to the mix and maybe help from a mental health aware clergy person. The old books”, I’m OK, You’re OK” helped me along with Transactional Analysis techniques. The basis for good living, tranquiity and mental health come, in my opinion, from following the Golden Rule and its basis in the TEN COMMANDMENTS. However, mental health has an inter-relatedness with brain chemistry. You might benefit from prescribed psychotrophic medication to help you enjoy your life more. That need might be continuous and life long, maybe only temporary. Get help at a large hospital facillity where there are many dedicated ,up to date medical and psychiatric personnel to help you while keeping every option maximal.Get help. It is out there. No need for you to be so troubled.

  • suzanne

    I am a complete mess. My husband left me after almost 17 years. I feel like a failure. We have 3 kids and its turned their world upside down. I have never been alone. A divorce seems so final, but he’s called an attorney. We were high school sweet hearts and have been together nearly half of our lives. I don’t know where to begin or what to do. In fact, I’m having trouble even getting out of bed & trying not to cry in front of my kids. Can someone please reassure me, that I’m strong and I can get through this?

  • michelle

    pray… pray… pray… ask God, the archangels, the angels for help… the great Metatron, you will get it… you will go through everything. Inscribe yourself at to Eckhart Tolle – A NEW EARTH / press on GET READY TO BE AWAKENED… TO THE RIGHT OF THE PICTURE OF HIS BOOK, PRESS ON: reserve your seat today AND INSCRIBE YOURSELF. I promise that if u follow these teachings which start Monday. This guy is the writer who wrote: The Power of Now ! His teachings are very powerful. Good luck!
    I pray for you…

  • rita

    I, to have self esteem issues. My issues have to do with everything about myself. I feel rejected because of everything about me is not right. I don’t like that feeling. I don’t like it at all. Having lack of self esteem is a bigger problem than what most people think. It robs people like me out of having the best life now. when I make the effort to make it a good day with a high self esteem, there is always something that makes it spiral back down.

  • Autumn

    When you Stop Wanting to feel like Crap..for Whatever Reason you Feel as Though you Deserve It,or Crave it **for attention or pity or whatever** things will Begin to change.
    Soo many times we fail because we don’t have Faith In Ourselves…*whether or not it’s because others lack faith in us***
    Long story made Short..I’ve been struggling with all these issues for damn near ALL of my 31 years…
    What GOD told me..when I got Really Quiet and Stopped Bitching and Moaning about Being Scared and About Everything I Wanted that I Lacked , This is what HE said
    ” I have Faith in You..It is You that Doubts Yourself..but if I ,Your God, have Faith In You, then Who are You to Doubt Yourself?? Is that Not like Doubting Me??? It’s Your Time Now.Get Out of Your Own Way.You’re Blocking the Beautiful Plans I Have for Your Life.”
    So Now I pray Every Day,that HE’ll help me to learn to Get Out of My Own Way..**it’s Also My Lenten Sacrifice..Giving Up Fear and Pride*** because I know deep down,I Always, More than Anything, have wanted to make HIM proud of me and to do HIS will..and in This, how could I Possibly falter soo badly that I should do Terribly wrong?? The Fact is,I CAn’t.For I Know even if I’m “Off”,HE Will Let Me Know so I can Straighten my aims…and get better and better as time goes on.It’s NOT a Ten Day Thing.It’s a Life-Long Decision you make Every Single Day,Day by Day..and Sometimes on Really BAD can even be SEcond By Second. I’m not on Meds OR anti-depressants..I Don’t Have a Shrink or many friends…but I have THE ONE that Truly matters and Can FIX things..I Have Faith HE will.That’s the End of It.
    I’ve had to Learn to care More for HIS Opinion of me than Others’ and My Own..Cause HIS is the Only Definite Truth…and So I MUST Believe It.

  • Terri Teresa

    I believe giving up the notion of self-esteem is completely liberating. This is not easily written, being as though I am a single mother of 2 small children who has seen her fair (some would say unfair) share of hardship in the past year. However, the Machiavellian attempts to break my Spirit have humbled me completely. At first, naturally, I wanted revenge, but realized it would cause an endless cycle of strife. Then, I figured, I pray a lot and try to be a “good person”, so God should be on my side, right? So I said “Smite then God.” Only then did I realize that God has shown mercy to me in spite of my mistakes, so if He were to smite then, He’d have to smite me also. Now, by being faced with a series of events to break my self esteem, I’m beginning to see that we are all human. Out here trying to find our way. I was able to develop compassion for others and followed the Buddhist principle which regards enemies as our greatest gurus. My hardships have lead to tremendous growth. By having my deepest insecurities exposed publicly, I was able to break down emotional barriers and liberate myself from insecurities. Now I see that I am worthy of love just because I exist, just as everyone else is. Knowing this has helped me get to the point where I can “establish goals that involve learning, personal growth, helping others, being productive, having fun, spending time with people you care about, improving the quality of your relationships” as the article stated.
    On a practical level, I began practicing yoga and meditation and became a member of this site! That’s helped a lot too!
    On a pratical level, I began praticing yoga and meditation and became a member of this site! That’s helped alot too!

  • Cheydia

    Suzanne,I know exactly what you are going through. I was on the other side I filed for divorce from my husband. I was pregant and had a 2 year old son. It won’t be easy I won’t lie to you but it will get better and you will find someone else. You may not believe it right now but you have to. It’s hard knowing one way of living and then be thrust into another. What helped me was moving on with my life and tried so hard not to dwell on what use to be, how will my kids end up and what could have been if I stayed. The kids will follow your lead at least my son did,my daughter has never met her “daddy” and she could really careless she too has replaced him with a father. I went back to school to empower myself, I went back into the workforce,I embraced being a single mom, and I planned events with my children and believe me money played very little in that fun. I don’t know how old your kids are but mine are now 8 and 12. Each day we did something together ex. Monday Spelling Bee Night, Tuesday Math Bee Night, Wed. Card Night, Thurs. Book Club Night, Friday Movie Night, Saturday Game Night Sunday Sports(we would play)and it brought us so close together as a new type of family. I will pray that you find the strength if you ever need to talk send me an email

  • Sharon Smith

    Self-esteem great subject. My little girl Amber died at 5 yrs old.
    She was my only child. Then 2 yrs later, if I wasn’t depressed enough
    already, I got breast cancer with the chemo,radiation etc…I fought like hell to keep it together as well as fight the disease. With the help of people, GOD, prayers and my own courage,determination and desire (key word for me) I am healthy, wiser, stronger and ready to handle anything that comes my way! Lots of Love All

  • Carmen

    This my first time every responding to anything on this board i basically read through everything but this article got my attention and then i started reading the comments. I too have been dealing with self esteem issues…mine started as a child and has been an ongoing problem pretty much all my life from being rejected as a child and molested to being in an abusive marriage….and i’ve felt horrible about myself thinking all my life and feeling this has been my fault and this year i said im going to get my self together no matter what it takes. I’ve been praying harder than i’ve ever done in my life that God deliver me from this low self esteem and now im buying books to help me and admitting to myself that this is a problem but also telling myself that it doesn’t have to be this way that i can have a better life. I said all that to say this…im glad there other people that have had this problem and that im not alone… because for so long i’ve felt like it just has to be just me that is like that because no one else seem to be having this problem…(the poster name autumn really made some good comments that really made me think).

  • Valerie in Dayton, OH

    Self-Esteem, what would that be? I’ve never had any. I try, but something or ME, gets in the way. I think of my value from what I do or what I’ve done. I try to buy friends and family with gifts or whatever, because they won’t come around unless I beg. My children say they hate me, and I have no idea why. I haven’t worked in 7 years from a work injury and now I struggle on Workmens Compensation. I believed before that my job defined who I was. It gave me a reason to be alive. I don’t even have that now. Now that I’ve not been able to work, I feel useless. I have nobody. I’ve never been a drinker or druggy, or broken the law. So, what is wrong with me? My children were raised to be good people and help others and now I’m the enemy. I need people in my life. How do I get my self esteem working so that I feel comfortable enough to find a friend? If I don’t like me, whom else is going to?

  • Ann

    I too have a problem with self-esteem. It does get in the way of trusting people because you’re never sure if they really do accept you. What really should matter is that we accept ourselves first as being a very important person….then it wouldn’t be so hard to accept the other person’s intentions. I have had to apologize more than once when I jumped to the wrong conclusion of others actions. If they have a better self esteem than you do then they really do not understand where you are coming from. I think that low self esteem comes so early in life that we have come to believe we are not worthy of other people’s respect. I am having to work on this but, have taken a chance and do join in groups where I have friends. We need to trust in ourselves and I’m still working on it. Take a chance on yourself and look for positive friends that will help you through the hard times. I too am no longer able to work and at times that makes me feel that I am no longer worthwhile. It will be nice when we can become our own best friend and no longer have to expect praise from others to feel worthwhile!

  • Angelmarie

    self-esteem, i remember my young ages, no body like me because they taught i am snobbish, but the truth was i was very shy to talk to them, or to greet them, b/c sometime’s i felt, they don’t like me, esp. if i am trying to be friendly to somebody else and they ignore me for being not a popular person, and i grow up to be like that, eventhough it’s very painful for me to think nobody like me, and everybody was angry with me with no reason, i decide to be with my family and accept the fact that i’ll be ok. with the help of our almight God, and second with the support of my parents and brother’s and sister’s. and i will never forget the day i was wake up with ailments that make me almost died, my faith and trust to dearest God make me a strong person and believe that i will overcome this problem, i never been lucky to work or either to find love with some opposite person, but to have an ailments that put me on the bed and almost died it’s unacceptable for me that time, i almost gave up my faith and trust to dearest God, but he comfort me, in my dreams and in my life, almost howmany years, i suffer for pain, and i always think i am inferior and i am not lucky, but i never gave up to my dreams and hope and i always trust our dearest God, and now our dearest God, grant all my wishes, but still, i am trials keep holding my life, but positively i will embrassed it with smile and hoping that our dearest God keep holding my life, and i know one day i will gain my self-confidense, thrue our Lord Jesus Christ, believe me you are not alone, everybody is facing it, but to be with God is always a wonderful day you will always have in this world. God bless

  • JJ Jaime

    I feel I got my self esteem by stepping out on my own at a y oung age and facing each problem as it came along. The hardest one was my divorce and I chose to raise two growing sons on my own. The three of us had fun figuring out how to survive and joined in a union that was unbeatable. Of course, there were times, I felt like I was a failure. One time was when my oldest son got kicked out of highschool in the last month of his senior year for smoking in school. However through persistence, boldness and wisdom from a higher power, I was able to persuade the Vice Principal to let him re-enter and receive his high school diploma.
    As he walked off stage toward me, he handed me the diploma and said, “Here Mom you deserve this more than I do.” Of course I handed it back to him and said no, you earned it by learning some things the hard way. Accept it with grace and go on to college, which he did and graduated with high honors.
    Believe in yourself and face those problems with faith and y ou will become a very strong person.

  • Donna

    I’m glad I found this website it really helps me alot at times. It has also helped me deal with different situations. My self esteem has always been low not as bad now as it use to be Thank God I found him and he is in my life. I was a drug abuser and lost the people most important to me my children for many years. I see them now but I can’t make up for what they missed out on a mother. This still hurts my heart. Although my life has changed with the help of God and my love for my children things are better but the guilt and self hatred at times is unbearable. I’ve asked God to forgive me and I feel he has but I ask him to help my children forgive not for me but for them so they can live with some peace. I hope one day for this to happen. I pray for them all the time Thanks for listening.

  • Anne

    This is really a great article and I think Mr. Burns hits on some good goals as you describe them. No one has it all the time. I think we all suffer from some level of defeat at some point but some of us have this “donut hole” quite frequently. /raises hand/ There are alot of “tricks” to working on self-esteem. Many people who have written books, led seminars, etc. There are many things I’ve done to work on self-esteem. Nothing worked perfectly but the trick is to show up for life daily and find something to do each day that adds to the flow of things and try to recognize that in spite of setbacks I’m better than I was for having lived each day. Yes God loves me and I’m worthwhile whether I realize it or not. Some days are better than others. Depression, anxiety, difficulites can make it harder some days to recognize my inner worth. I know that more with each passing day and work to not let that defeat me. Overall one of the most important things I have as I work on self-esteem is linking arms with others who can say “hey I’m there with ya!” or “I’ve been there often”. It helps not to be alone. Thanks for writing this.

  • CherylR

    You see, the problem is when we judge ourselves, allow others to judge us, and interpret behavior with judgmental perceptions. The article you posted, Therese, presents the basic “secret” to the resolution of this issue. That’s the third rung….that “self-esteem is a useless illusion”… is pure truth….and it offers peace and freedom and, indeed, a new way of life. I must add, however, that this is an extremely difficult rung to reach. We live in a world of CONSTANT JUDGMENT and COMPARISON. If we become observers of the “endless chatter” in our brains and the “chatter” of the zabillions of humans around us, we recognize the perfusion of judgment and criticism throughout every aspect of our lives….even religion. So, it takes intense individual work to “turn off” all of that “noise” and focus on our divine source and divine guidance. I realize this may seem a little “out there” and perhaps a little vague to comprehend….but there is so much written about this concept that I encourage people to research the information out there. It is truly emancipating. I write from my heart and my experience. I have finally evolved to a point where I am reaching for the rung with all my might, I am grasping it, and I am holding on for dear life, because I know it is going to save my life, and perhaps maybe I can help lift some others up to that rung so they can save their own lives too. Of course, I fully know and understand that God is holding this very ladder and encouraging me all the way up….and He is the souce of my strength and perseverance to continue that journey “upward.”

  • Barb

    Theresa, I believe your intentions are noble, and yet — you have a rather bitter, “yeah-but” approach to so many things……..I have to wonder if you really embrace all the searching and opportunities for learning that you do. By the way, I have depressive tendencies, have been clinically depressed in my life, and so I understand. But really, we are challenged to transcend many things to move beyond our feeling of being “doomed” to depression/bipolar – without denying the reality of these things, we can simultaneously seek to move above and beyond where we’ve been before, in order to evolve past the “hey, this is just who I am” presentation.
    Just some thoughts to consider.

  • Donica

    To be self absorbed to me is to be self sufficient, capable,and self preservating.

  • SuzanneWA

    To me, self-esteem is found in all the good things (blessings) that the good Lord had seen fit to give us every day. I suffered a bout of the “black dog” yesterday, and it scared me. I thought I was in for an ever-escalating clinical depression, but – when I woke up this morning, Hallaluia, it was GONE! Even if “getting” self-esteem means losing “your pride and your ego,” I see it as more appreciating of God’s grace in our lives. Perhaps I’m evolving in this “self-esteem thing;” what I understand from your article is that we give up all threads of feeling good about ourselves and our accomplishments – which I believe is self-defeating.
    I STILL see myself and my self-worth through other people’s eyes. If this is bad, then I’m damned if I do, and damned if I don’t, according to Mr. Burns. I have climbed out of the depths of depression, and I’ll be doggone if I’m going back. Feeling good about myself is reflected in what I do for myself and others. Being self-absorbed is more like narcissism than anything else – sorry, Donica…
    For those of us with bipolar disorder, self-esteem is an ongoing and sometimes fruitless endeavor. We’re embarrassed when we come down after a manic high, and all the chaos we created at the time. To feel utterly in balance is our goal.
    May God bless you real good!

  • Janis

    I’m 52 yrs. and am the 4th and last child and I had my share of put downs from my older sibblings. I have worked my whole life trying to feel good about myself, and when I messed up I would get rather depressed. I’ve read about a hundred self help books and have never achieved the business oriented success I crave, even tho I am a business oriented person. I’m still working on a career or focus for a career, I should say. I think I have it now tho. My life began it’s turn when I accepted Jesus as my personal savior, but it took about two years to really, really, really be what is called saved. After that I came across a program called, “The Abundance Course” and shortly after that was recommended to read, “The Awakening” by Stephen Levine. They are very similar in thought. The abundance course is a more hands on, mentored program that you order on disc and is the most powerfully enlightening and freeing thing I have ever encountered. It’s easy to learn and oh so powerful. Try it. I think you will be amazed. Remember, give yourself time and dicipline yourself kindly. sincerely, janis



  • JOE

    Thanks for your thoughts and good luck in your quest. Stick with that 3rd rung on the ladder. I’ve just recently gotten there and it is really working for me. Give your self the chance to live with a sense of wonder instead of a sense of “responsibility” of your world for we are here one minute and gone the next. If you can see how we are connected to alll things and so much a part of NATURE. You’ll discoverr your place in all things and the inherent value your integral role in the whole thing brings.

  • tahera

    i beleave from reading this page its already started working. thank u.

  • Patti

    I struggle with self esteem. I struggle with who I am and how others think I should be. After years of therapy, I am slowly changing, but I still criticize myself.

  • Sandra

    I was very lucky to have a mom and dad who gave me unconditional love. They also taught me to trust my own judgement by respecting my child choices and by asking my thoughts on all topics. I quickly learned to love myself and to trust my instincts. Not that the world didn’t throw me a curve or two along the way. I just never thought to condemn myself for making mistakes. I just thought about how I could do better next time and always vowed to do better. I think that self criticism is helpful if you use it to bring about positive changes. I respect and admire others and give praise liberally, out loud to everyone including myself. I routinely tell myself that I am a loving and caring person and that I deserve good things. I don’t dwell on negative thoughts and I try to be positive. Regarding God: Sometimes bad things happen (no reason necessary) and faith in God is a great way to find strength and support. When the world and negative people in it become overwhelming, God is a great listener and shield. When things are good, i always say thank you.

  • Joseph

    “Self” “esteem”, right? That’s two words that mean various ideas. To me I find myself and respect what I find. I find that I am a part of Godness. So, it’s easy to esteem myself. After all, look around!
    The idea that I may be separate or the sleepiness that comes from not knowing oneness allows for lack of self esteem.
    Peace and Love,

  • Dan

    I’ve been told I have low self esteem or none. Mr Burns says a central cause is a feeling of inferiority; I DO NOT feel inferior to others yet feel my life is in the pits quite often. I don’t believe low self esteem is so much an inferiority complex as it is the fact that many of us need more emotional support. We need to feel wanted and needed. I am a very hard working, trusting, honest person; if I don’t feel needed or wanted I feel like nothing. I know my job needs me (yes we are all expendable) but that means nothing if I don’t have another human to share myself with. Holding your own hand isn’t the same as holding your partners. We as humans thrive on companionship and praise, it makes us feel good and good feelings boost self esteem. I know many people who live alone and have very few outside contacts. Most of them are stubborn, very opinionated and want things to be their way. They cut you off if you talk about subjects they disagree with or are done discussing. Often I feel great about ideas I have or thoughts I assemble, only to be shut down by someone close and there goes the self esteem. I know there is truly no reason to feel that way, but I cannot control those feelings all the time. I feel as if they are saying I am not worth their time which makes me feel sad. Maybe I am not really suffering from a self esteem issue so much as I am insecurity. A feeling that no one wants me and then I don’t even want myself.

  • gail lonas

    Self-esteem is accepting yourself, no matter what. We ALL have issues, just different ones.
    Posted by: Gail/March 15, 2008 12:00 pm

  • Damarys Mairena

    I have issues with self esteem , cryticing myself and prejuging everyone and every situations, I think not trusting my gut feeling is being a big part of this, currently I am going throu gh a very adverse situation, life circunstances and the change of my personal status and financial difficulties brough me back to live with my parents,although I’m grateful for everything they have done, I lost my job,my house , and most importantly, my independence and my freedom. I feel rejected and not in control, and I feel stuck between who I am the independent, self-relient wonderful person and what my parents want me to be. Trying to build my social network is being a struggle since I suffered from depresion/ coexisting with anxiety, and is interfering with my relationships. I truly believe, God is being there for me, every second, there are many doors that have closed behind me, and this week he open a new one, after 4 months, unemployed I got the great news, I got a new job, and therefore, a new phase in my life towards a career.. I have a good man by my side, my soulmate, he came in my life when I needed him the most, and I’m grateful to God for sending me to comfort me, and to be my support and my security, I love him and care for him deeply, although we come from different backgrounds and culture and religios background, We are going on 3 years relationship, we had our ups and downs like everyone else, and I feel that we need to bring our relationship to a more serious, to a next level, I’ve being putting it off for a while now, first, because I want to get control of my life again, and be a little bit more stable in all the aspects of my life. I dont know how to approach my family and or if this is the time to even bring this out. I care and love my family deeply, but is it selfish to fight for what I want or in trying to rebuild my life. I’m a good person with a big heart, any comments, help sincerly, a desperate soul for affection and love.

  • Billie

    To all of us who struggle with self-esteem issues:
    While we may have one view about ourself, God sees us in a totally different light. We tend to only see the negatives, but God sees the potential in all of us. Life is full of pits and peaks, but the pits help us to build character so we’ll know how to handle the peaks when we reach them. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (Ecc 3:1) You have to know that there is a time for everything, and as long as you have faith that everything will be alright, it will. We need to stop defining ourselves according to how others see us and start looking in the mirror of the Word of God to see how beautiful we are in God’s eyes. It is important to embrace the good and the bad about ourselves. That’s how we are able to let HIM heal us. No matter where you are in life, if you have a job or if you don’t if you’re in a relationship or if you’re not, know that God is with you. “I’ll tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt:17:20). God says all you need is a little bit of faith and He will carry you the rest of the way. The fastest way out of any circumstance we face in is the distance from our knees to the groud. Tell God all about it, believe, and you will grow in confidence and esteem, because you trust in the Lord.
    God Bless.

  • BaldwinLOURDES19

    I took 1 st credit loans when I was 25 and it aided my family a lot. Nevertheless, I need the auto loan once more time.

  • umbrellas

    Finally see such a good article and pictures. I totally agree with you. And your point of view. And will always support you. Thank you for sharing, it makes me feel a lot. i love Wood Umbrella very much

  • Shyronn Crider

    Ah, being hard on yourself is the detriment of self esteem! It fosters a vicious cycle which is quite hard to stop. I had to come to the point of accepting, not my failure, but the fact that I didn’t or couldn’t put 100% to a project. Reason, I had to many projects going on. I had set myself up to fail. Now I am learning to pick more wisely, to say no, and that there will be times when 100% may not be good enough…but I will be satisfied knowing that I applied 100%. When that happens I have to remember that this one particular failure does not indicate that I as a person am a failure! Improving self esteem
    is a life long learning process!!

  • KC

    This is possibly one of the better sources of information I have stumbled across on this topic. Have you looked into the other side of the topic of SELF ESTEEM AFFIRMATION? Personally, I think a solid argument could be made either way, but please let me know if you know of more sites on the Internet that back up what you are proposing.Self Esteem Affirmations”.

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