Solutions: Provided by your Employee Assistance Program
Positive Thinking and Self-esteem People with low self-esteem find it very difficult to have a positive outlook on life.

Self-esteem is affected by early life experiences and is a blend of internal confidence and external achievements. Self-esteem is something anyone can increase and maintain at a higher level. Two key components of self-esteem are self-image and self-talk.

A positive attitude is at the heart of optimistic and successful people. Successful and confident people have positive attitudes. Self-confidence is based on a belief that one’s efforts and abilities will allow one to reach a goal. Successful and confident people have positive self-images. This image of self—or self-image—is largely developed in early life. Self-image is how you see yourself in relation to the world. Self-image includes:

  • what you think you look like physically—and acceptance of your physical characteristics
  • what kind of person you think you are—your values and beliefs
  • what you think others think of you—how your personality comes across
  • what you believe your strengths and weaknesses are—your ability to have an accurate and objective view of yourself
  • how much you like yourself—and how well you take care of yourself


Stop comparing yourself to others. When you do this, you are likely to compare yourself in a negative way. Besides, each of us is a unique individual with our own strengths and weaknesses. Celebrate your individuality!

Acknowledge your positive qualities. Make a list of your positive attributes. Include appearance, personality and skills. If you have difficulty with this, ask others to help you. They’ll come up with things you might not see in yourself.

Involve yourself in work and life activities that you love. So many people with low self-esteem fail to fill their lives with meaningful activities. Follow the career path that is most rewarding to you. If you are not fully satisfied with your job but are not in a position to make immediate changes in your career, you can still devote leisure time to hobbies and activities that are enjoyable and fulfilling.

Develop a positive personal support network. The people with whom you associate influence your own self-image. Negative people can bring you down. On the other hand, when positive and supportive people surround you, you feel better about yourself.

Speak up for yourself.Learn to be assertive and practice clear communication. Not voicing and acknowledging your needs or setting limits with others means that you are putting up with more stuff than you need to for your own well-being. By learning how to say "no," you are sending the message that you value yourself and that you deserve to be treated with respect.

Lighten up! Take yourself less seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself and see the humorous side of life. Smile as much as you can; it’s contagious!

Accept all compliments graciously. Don’t dismiss or ignore compliments or praise from others. When you do, it not only sends the message that you are not worthy of praise, but also that you don’t value the opinion of the person giving you the compliment.

Take advantage of personal growth programs. Actively pursue an elevated self-image by reading self-help books; listening to inspirational tapes; attending motivational workshops, lectures and classes; starting an exercise program or using life coaches or personal counselors for self-improvement.

Develop tolerance for yourself and others.Remember, nobody’s perfect! Stop criticizing yourself and others for every imperfection or shortcoming. Recognize that a mistake is just a mistake so don’t dwell on it.

Stop putting yourself down. You can’t develop high self-esteem if you constantly berate and belittle yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes. Instead, find ways to learn something valuable from them and then move on. Use positive affirmations to reprogram your negative inner conversations.

Help others. Do something useful for others. Help others feel good about themselves by giving them compliments or acknowledgements for accomplishments. Make a positive contribution to the lives of others through volunteer work or community service.

By Karen S. Dickason, LCSW, CEAP
© 2006 Achieve Solutions®