By Suzanne E. Harrill
February makes me think of Valentineís Day
with its theme of love. What better time to remind yourself of
all it takes to build your own foundation of love so you can
truly love others. If you value loving and giving to others,
take time to nurture your own self-esteem, build your reserves
so you can give from the overflow. If building your own
self-esteem is new, begin by taking the Self-Esteem Awareness
Inventory, at the end of this article. If you are a seasoned
traveler, review the inventory to enjoy your progress. Let us
first define self-esteem, look at seven concepts to build
self-esteem, and end with the Acorn Analogy to summarize.
Self-esteem very simply is how you feel about
yourself. It is how worthy and deserving of love you believe you
are. It is your feelings of value, love, and respect for
yourself when you are alone and no one else is around.
Self-esteem is based on what you tell yourself about yourself
and the pictures you have of yourself. Some of what you tell
yourself, with your self-talk, is true and some is false. Many
of your thoughts and images of yourself are unconscious and
operate without you knowing about them.
What is sound self-esteem? It
is a feeling of total acceptance and love for yourself as you
are. It is a quiet comfortable place of enjoying being who you
really are: your true Self. When you live being who you really
are, you feel good and want to actualize your life. Here is a
partial list of what high self-esteem includes:
Having an internal locus of control,
getting okayness from within.
Ability to balance extremes within self.
Learning from mistakes and being able to
say, "I made a mistake, Iím sorry."
Taking responsibility for own
perceptions, reactions and not projecting onto others.
Ability to listen to inner self and act
on this guidance.
Having self-respect, self-confidence, and
Having awareness of strengths and
Knowing areas of self to be improved,
what needs to be accepted.
Growing in awareness and taking positive
The journey of self-discovery allows you to
slowly know yourself so you can update any faulty beliefs and
images that hurt your self-esteem. Again, the statements in the
Self-Esteem Awareness Inventory, is a place to start sorting out
what you think and feel about yourself. Each statement is also a
positive affirmation to help override and update faulty beliefs
you have. Repeat the ones that are not totally true for you
daily, say them out loud, write them ten times a day. Make up
some of your own affirmations.
Let us look at seven concepts that build
self-esteem and move it in a positive direction.
Accept yourself, now, as you are, even if
there are things about yourself that you criticize, donít
like, and want to change. Today is your place of power to
accept where you are today on your life journey. It never
Look within to feel good. Positive events
and people outside of yourself cannot be counted upon to be
there for you when you need them. By all means enjoy it when
your outer world loves and supports you, just donít depend
Stop value-judging yourself with
"shoulds" and "oughts." It is not
important want you should do, or should have done, only what
you are willing to do and not do, and the consequences you
are willing to live with after each choice.
Separate yourself from your true Self.
You are not your behavior and accomplishments. You are good
whether your behavior is wise or unwise. The more you
discover and accept who you truly are the easier it is to
think and act in ways that honor and value yourself and
Stop comparing yourself with others. You
are incomparable. There is only one of you on the planet.
Enjoy your uniqueness and stop copying and trying to be what
you are not.
Take responsibility for yourself and your
own life. If you do not like something, it is up to you
alone to make changes. Stop blaming yourself for unwise
choices. Practice forgiveness and learning from your
You are worthy of unconditional love
without earning it. You are worthy simply because you have
been created and you exist.
Now to summarize let us look at The Acorn
Analogy I wrote many years ago. Then there is a copy of, The
Self-Esteem Awareness Inventory taken from my latest book, Seed
Thoughts for Loving Yourself.
The Acorn Analogy
inside you know how to be you, as
an acorn knows how to be a
acorn does the best it can do
at each stage of growth
along its life path.
if the early start was less than perfect,
the eager oak accelerates
its desire to grow
every time that it has
nurturing from nature:
sunlight, rainwater, and
are like the acorn doing your best under
the conditions in which you
yourself with awareness, acceptance,
love, self-respect, and
then watch you grow towards
your full-potential Self!
Self-Esteem Awareness Inventory
Rate yourself on each with a scale of 0 to 4
based upon your current thoughts, feelings, and behaviors: 0 = I
never think, feel, or behave this way. 1 = I do less than half
the time. 2 = I do 50% of the time. 3 = I do more than half the
time. 4 = I always think, feel, or behave this way.
Score Self-Esteem Statements
_____1. I like and accept myself as I am
right now, today, even as I grow and evolve.
_____2. I am worthy simply for who I am, not
what I do. I do not have to earn my worthiness.
_____3. I get my needs met before meeting the
wants of others. I balance my needs with those of my partner and
_____4. I easily release negative feelings
from otherís judgments and focus instead on living my life
with integrity and to the best of my abilities.
_____5. I always tell myself the truth about
what I am feeling.
_____6. I am incomparable and stop comparing
myself with other people.
_____7. I feel of equal value to other
people, regardless of my performance, looks, IQ, achievements,
_____8. I am my own authority. I make
decisions with the intention of furthering my own and othersí
_____9. I learn and grow from my mistakes
rather than deny them or use them to confirm my unworthiness.
____10. I stop my critical self-talk and
replace it with a nurturing, kind, encouraging voice.
____11. I love, respect, and honor myself.
____12. I am not responsible for anyone elseís
actions, needs, choices, thoughts, moods, or feelings, only for
____13. I do not dominate others or allow
others to dominate me.
____14. I have good physical and emotional
boundaries with others.
____15. I feel my own feelings and think my
own thoughts, even when those around me think or feel
____16. I stop using "shoulds" and
"oughts," which are value judgments that put me or
another down. (It is irrelevant what I should have done or
should do. It is more important to know what I am willing to do
and not do.)
____17. I am responsible for changing what I
do not like in my life. I face my problems, fears, and
insecurities and take appropriate steps to heal and grow.
____18. I am a person of my word and follow
through on the things I commit to do.
____19. I forgive myself and others for
making mistakes and being unaware.
____20. I believe my life counts. I find
meaning and have purpose in my life.
____21. I deserve love and happiness even
when others blame or criticize me, for I cannot control what
others think about me.
____22. I take care of myself on all levels:
physical, social, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
____23. I spend quality time with myself on a
____24. I release unreal expectations for
myself and others.
____25. I choose to love and respect all
human beings regardless of their beliefs and actions, whether or
not I have a personal relationship with them.
This is not a test or a precise measure of
self-esteem. It identifies beliefs, feelings, and behaviors that
contribute to your self-esteem. The 25 statements can be used to
update beliefs that have limited your self-esteem. Use the
statements as affirmations to change old, outdated beliefs that
keep you stuck in low self-esteem. Repeat the statements to
yourself often, emphasizing your low scoring answers.