I’ve mentioned my self-esteem file in previous posts. Of all my weapons employed in the war against negative thinking, this simple exercise is among the most effective and easiest.
So start one.
Follow these directions:
1) Get a folder (this might require driving to Rite Aid), and write the words “self-esteem file” on the front.
2) E-mail or call four of your closest friends. Say this: “As you may or may not be aware of, I need some affirmations. Lots of them. Because there is a voice inside of me that is constantly telling me that I am a worthless piece of animal waste. I’d like to believe otherwise. That’s where your job comes in. Could you PLEASE list ten positive qualities about me? Why are you my friend? (If you are extremely wealthy or famous, skip that one) Why do you return my calls? (If they don’t, skip that one) What would you say at my funeral (but reassure them that you have no plans of dying right now)? You see, I am starting a self-esteem file, and I’d love for your positive words to be among the first (of the millions of letters that will follow). If you have any. Which I’m sure you must. Right? THANKS SO MUCH.”
3) When you receive them, put them in your file.
4) If a week has gone by and you have not received your ten positive qualities, do two things: pester your lazy so-called friends that you initially asked to do this for you, and find four more responsible and empathetic friends to do it. Repeat number 2.5) Whenever anything (ANYTHING) positive is directed towards you (“Your nose is an interesting shape”), include it in your folder. If it’s a verbal compliment, write that baby down on scrap paper and throw it into the file. Take notes and quote verbatim like you are a reporter for the “New York Times.” (Note: You will become somewhat of an information hoarder, or clutter magnet like I am, but you’ll be a happier hoarder than you would have without all the scrap paper and Stick-Its on your desk reminding you that some people like you.)
Your self-esteem file may stay thin for a year or two. Like mine. But you’ll be amazed at how quickly it thickens and grows and balloons and swells and gets bigger. Before long, it will become the top item that you grab if your house catches on fire.