During a time when my self-esteem was in the crapper my therapist suggested I start a list of things I liked about myself. It sounded so cheesy, like advice I'd find in an Oprah magazine (no offense, Oprah). But he persisted. Write a list of things I liked about myself, put the list on my bedside table and look at it first thing every morning.
The list was very short to start. I liked my hair. That was it. He gave me a few suggestions. Really, he thought I was smart? Yes, he said, put it on the list. So my list grew a bit.
It was a sign of how badly I was feeling that I couldn't come up with much more than platitudes. I was kind. I was honest. Big deal. The breakthrough came when Dr. Greenbaum asked, "What would your friends say about you?" Oh, that was easy! And my list grew some more.
Therese J. Borchard, takes the self-esteem list a step further. On her recent post on the PsychCentral blog she suggests starting a Self-Esteem File by shouting out to friends, family, mentors, co-workers, for their input. Instead of imagining what friends would say about you, you actually ask them to write what they think of you in their own words. Very powerful stuff.
This technique of having a written witness of your positive attributes really does work. Before long instead of dreading the morning, I looked forward to waking up to read my list. It sustained me through the day until I was able to do it on my own. Slowly the attributes weren't what others thought of me, I believed it myself, as if I had swallowed the list and it became a part of me.
So get over the cheesy factor and give it a try. Your self-esteem will grow bit by bit, day by day.
For more on Therese J. Borchard go to Beliefnet.com blog Beyond Blue. She also moderates Group Beyond Blue, the Beliefnet Community online support group for depression. Her memoir “Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes” will be released in May of 2009.