Most people feel bad about themselves from
time to time. Feelings of low self-esteem may be triggered by being
treated poorly by someone else recently or in the past, or by a
person’s own judgments of him or herself. This is normal. However, low
self-esteem is a constant companion for too many people, especially
those who experience depression, anxiety, phobias, psychosis,
delusional thinking, or who have an illness or a disability. If you are
one of these people, you may go through life feeling bad about yourself
needlessly. Low self-esteem keeps you from enjoying life, doing the
things you want to do, and working toward personal goals.
You have a right to feel good about yourself. However, it can be
very difficult to feel good about yourself when you are under the
stress of having symptoms that are hard to manage, when you are dealing
with a disability, when you are having a difficult time, or when others
are treating you badly. At these times, it is easy to be drawn into a
downward spiral of lower and lower self-esteem. For instance, you may
begin feeling bad about yourself when someone insults you, you are
under a lot of pressure at work, or you are having a difficult time
getting along with someone in your family. Then you begin to give
yourself negative self-talk, like "I'm no good." That may make you feel
so bad about yourself that you do something to hurt yourself or someone
else, such as getting drunk or yelling at your children. By using the
ideas and activities in this booklet, you can avoid doing things that
make you feel even worse and do those things that will make you feel
better about yourself.
This document will give you ideas on things you can do to feel better
about yourself – to raise your self-esteem. The ideas have come from
people like yourself, people who realize they have low self-esteem and
are working to improve it.
As you begin to use the methods in this booklet and other methods
that you may think of to improve your self-esteem, you may notice that
you have some feelings of resistance to positive feelings about
yourself. This is normal. Don't let these feelings stop you from
feeling good about yourself. They will diminish as you feel better and
better about yourself. To help relieve these feelings, let your friends
know what you are going through. Have a good cry if you can. Do things
to relax, such as meditating or taking a nice warm bath.
As you read this booklet and work on the exercises, keep the following statement in mind —
"I am a very special, unique, and valuable person.
I deserve to feel good about myself."
Building Self-esteem: A Self-Help Guide, SAMHSA booklet SMA-3715