10 Simple Solutions for Building Self-Esteem is a very interest

-
ing and rewarding book! Clearly and warmly written, Schiraldi’s
book is filled with valuable and varied possibilities for enhanc-
ing self-esteem and exploring the wonder and mystery of this
human life.
—Jeffrey Brantley, MD, founder and director of
the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program
at the Duke University Center for Integrative
Medicine, author of Calming Your Anxious Mind,
and coauthor of The Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Skills Workbook and Five Good Minutes
Schiraldi skillfully blends theory and practice into a how-to
manual for developing and strengthening self-esteem. Written
in an easy, conversational style, this engaging book provides
practical suggestions interspersed with real-life scenes.
—A. Dean Byrd, Ph.D., MBA, MPH, president of
Thrasher Research Fund and clinical professor at
the University of Utah School of Medicine, and
Elaine H. Byrd, Ed. D., professor of education
at Utah Valley State College
This is for anyone seeking to manage the stresses of modern life
and to feel good on a daily basis. Packed with simple, under-
standable activities to help reduce stress and make meaning
in life, the book will help anyone who wants to improve his
or her own self-esteem or that of a close friend or loved one.
Marrying the best of Eastern and Western thought in an easy-
to-understand format, Schiraldi empowers the reader to create
their best life possible.
—Marcia Marinelli, Ph.D., NCC, assistant director of
the University of Maryland Counseling Center and
affiliate assistant professor in the Department of
Counseling & Personnel Services at the university
A concise, skills-based approach to building self-esteem.
Schiraldi’s distinction between one’s core worth and things that
help us experience that worth is particularly helpful, as are his
thoughts about identifying and replacing distorted thinking.
Well done
—Claudia A. Howard, M Ed., owner of Individual
Potential Seminars, both speaks and conducts
workshops on self-image, conflict resolution,
and relationship patterns
How to End Self-Doubt,
Gain Confidence &
Create a Positive Self-Image
GLENN R. SCHIRALDI, PH.D.
New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
10
Simple
Solutions
for Building
Self-Esteem
Publisher’s Note
Tis publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject
matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering psychologi-
cal, fnancial, legal, or other professional services. If expert assistance or counseling is needed, the services
of a competent professional should be sought.
Body Appreciation Meditation in chapter 7: Condensed slightly and reprinted with permission from
Canfeld, Jack, (1985), “Body Appreciation,” in Wisdom, Purpose and Love. Copyright 1985, Jack
Canfeld, coauthor, Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Do not reproduce without written permission.
Tis version was originally reprinted with permission in Schiraldi, G. R. (2001). Te Self-Esteem
Workbook. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
Te defusing exercises “Identify the source of the Pain,” “Milk, Milk, Milk,” “Keep a Journal,” and
“Carry It With You” in chapter 3 is adapted with permission from Get Out of Your Mind and Into
Your Life by S.C. Hayes and S. Smith, published by New Harbinger Publications, Oakland, CA in
2005. © by S.C. Hayes and S. Smith, 2005.
Te “Candle of Forgiveness” exercise in chapter 9 is adapted with permission from Act on Life Not
on Anger by G.H. Eifert, M. McKay, and J.P. Forsyth, published by New Harbinger Publications,
Oakland, CA in 2006. © by G.H. Eifert, M. McKay, and J. P. Forsyth, 2006.
Te “Parable of the Broken Microscope Slides” in chapter 9 is adapted with permission from an
unpublished sermon by the Rev. P.C. Shupe. © by P.C. Shupe 2006.
Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books
All Rights Reserved
Printed in the United States of America
Copyright © 2007 by Glenn Schiraldi
New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
5674 Shattuck Avenue
Oakland, CA 94609
www.newharbinger.com
Acquired by Tesilya Hanauer; Cover design by Amy Shoup;
Edited by Karen O’Donnell Stein; Text design by Tracy Carlson
The Library of Congress has Cataloged the print edition as:
Schiraldi, Glenn R., 1947-
10 simple solutions for building self-esteem : how to end self-doubt, gain confdence, and create a
positive self-image / Glenn Schiraldi.
p. cm.
ISBN-13: 978-1-57224-495-5
ISBN-10: 1-57224-495-X
1. Self-esteem. I. Title. II. Title: Ten simple solutions for building self-esteem.
BF697.5.S46S34 2007
158.1--dc22
2007012998
PDF eBook ISBN 978-1-57224-743-7

Contents
        Acknowledgments             
v
        Introduction                        
1
1
    Know What Self-Esteem Is       
3
2
    Be Mindful                         
11
3
    Clear Away Negative Thoughts      
27
4
    Be Aware of Your Strengths                  
45
5
    Use Mindful Meditations 
53
iv 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
  6
    Cultivate Joy    
79
  7
    Appreciate Your Body     
95
  8
    Care for Your Mind by    
        Caring for Your Body     
105
  9
    Develop Your Character and Spirituality      
115
10
    Look Ahead               
147
          Recommended Resources                
157
          References                             
165
AcknowIedgments
I
n this book I have tried to combine the best of Western and
Eastern psychology. I am grateful indeed for the pioneering
work of Drs. Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis, who developed
systematic ways to uproot destructive thought patterns, and to
Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn for developing the Mindfulness-Based Stress
Reduction program, which has enabled mindfulness meditation
practices to be applied to the alleviation of a host of medical
and psychological conditions. Drs. Zindel Segal, Mark Williams,
John Teasdale, and John McQuaid, as well as Paula Carmona,
have brought together mindfulness practices and cognitive
restructuring for the treatment of depression, while Dr. Jeffrey
Brantley has applied mindfulness to the treatment of anxiety. I
am thankful for the work of Dr. Steven Hayes, whose accep-
tance and commitment therapy, itself a skillful blending of West
and East, has contributed much to this book. Mother Teresa,
the Dalai Lama, Sogyal Rinpoche, Viktor Frankl, and many
other extraordinary people have, through their example and
teachings, also influenced this book greatly.
I deeply appreciate the students of all ages at the University
of Maryland for so diligently and graciously experimenting
with the practices in this book over the years, thereby helping
me to better understand how to teach these practices more
effectively.
vi 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Finally, I thank the wonderful, diligent people at New
Harbinger Publications, especially Tesilya Hanauer, Heather
Mitchener, and Karen O’Donnell Stein, the editors who have
worked so thoughtfully with me to bring this book to fruition,
and Tracy Carlson, who skillfully put my words into visual
form.
Parts of this book are adapted from an earlier book of
mine, The Self-Esteem Workbook (Schiraldi 2001).
Introduction
W
hy build self-esteem? The benefits of having self-esteem
are numerous. Self-esteem is strongly associated with
happiness, psychological resilience, and a motivation to
live a productive and healthy life. Those lacking self-esteem are
more likely to experience depression, anxiety, problem anger,
chronic pain, immunosuppression, and a variety of other dis-
tressing physical and psychological symptoms. Indeed, Morris
Rosenberg, Ph.D., the foremost researcher on self-esteem, said
it well when he stated that nothing can be more stressful than
the experience of lacking the basic anchor and security of a
wholesome sense of self-worth. So self-esteem is essential to
our health, coping abilities, survival, and sense of well-being.
During my tenure at the University of Maryland, I devel-
oped a skills-based course that improved self-esteem while
reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and problem anger
in adults eighteen to sixty-eight years of age (Schiraldi and
Brown 2001). It was very good news to discover that mental
health could be improved by employing such an approach.
Those self-esteem skills are described in detail in my earlier
book, The Self-Esteem Workbook (Schiraldi 2001), which you
2 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
might someday find beneficial to tackle. However, if you now
lack the time or readiness, or if current circumstances prevent
you from beginning that systematic approach, then 10 Simple
Solutions to Self-Esteem is for you. It offers a simpler, quicker
approach to increasing self-esteem—one that I hope you will
find richly rewarding.
1
know What
SeIf-Lsteem Is
M
any myths and misunderstandings surround self-esteem.
So let’s begin by clearly understanding where we are
going in this book. Self-esteem is a realistic, apprecia-
tive opinion of oneself. Realistic means we are dealing in the
truth, being accurately and honestly aware of our strengths,
weaknesses, and everything in between. Appreciative, however,
suggests that we have good feelings overall about the person
we see. Think of a friend who knows you well and cherishes
you, recognizing that there is more to you than your faults, and
you’ll get a sense of what appreciative means.
Wholesome self-esteem is the conviction that one is as
worthwhile as anyone else, but not more so. On one hand, we
feel a quiet gladness to be who we are and a sense of dignity
that comes from realizing that we share what all humans
possess—intrinsic worth. On the other hand, those with self-
esteem remain humble, realizing that everyone has much to
learn and that we are all really in the same boat. There is no
need to be arrogant or boastful, no need to think that we are
4 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
more worthwhile as a person than others or more skilled or
important than we really are.
Self-esteem is not the same as being self-centered, self-
absorbed, or selfish. One who feels whole and secure in
him- or herself is freer to be selfless. Can a criminal have high
self-esteem? I suppose it is theoretically possible. However, a
recent study found that aggressive, rebellious children were
more likely to have been bullied; feel rejected, unhappy, and
unloved; and have a poor self-image than less aggressive chil-
dren (Sprott and Doob 2000). So it is important to distinguish
the outer appearance of confidence from the quiet, steady,
inner gladness that characterizes self-esteem.
Self-esteem is also not complacency or overconfidence,
both of which can set us up for failure. Indeed, self-esteem is
a strong motivator to work hard. And self-esteem is not just
important for people in Western cultures; studies have shown
that self-esteem is related to the mental health and happiness
of adults in diverse cultures, including Asian (Lee 2002; Zhang
2005) and Middle Eastern societies (Hobfoll and London 1986;
Hobfoll and Leiberman 1987).
1he 8uiIding 8Iocks of SeIf-Lsteem
Self-esteem rests upon three important factors, or building
blocks. The first two blocks, unconditional worth and uncondi-
tional love, comprise the secure foundation for the third build-
ing block, growth. Generally, growth proceeds more effectively
once the first two blocks are securely in place.
Know What Self-Esteem Is 5
Building Block 1:
unconditional Worth
A basic premise is that all people have equal, immea-
surable, unchanging intrinsic worth as a person. Worth as a
person is neither earned nor increased or diminished by exter-
nal factors, such as the way people treat you, bad decisions, or
fluctuations in your bank account balance. Granted, this is not
the message one hears in the marketplace or in certain social
circles, which assign worth based on social or financial status,
but the assumption of equal worth as a person is not a new
one, and it can be quite empowering. Even very bright people
may struggle with this concept, since they have been given the
message that inner worth can rise or fall with performance or
circumstances. So I’ve found that the following analogy helps.
Perhaps you can visualize a spherical crystal, whose facets
refract light so beautifully.
Figure 1
Self-
Esteem
Growth
Unconditional
Love
Unconditional
Worth
6 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Externals

Core Worth
(Essential, Spiritual Self)
Externals
Figure 2    The Core Self
The crystal represents the core worth of each individual.
Each facet of the crystal represents an attribute needed for
living well. The facets include the capacities to love, think
rationally, sacrifice, persevere, beautify and experience beauty,
and make good decisions. Each facet may be polished and
refined as we develop.
Know What Self-Esteem Is 7
The core self might also be likened to a seed. Think of a
newborn baby. Like that seed, the baby is already whole, pos-
sessing in embryo every attribute needed in order to flourish.
The baby is complete, yet certainly not completed (that is, not
perfect or fully developed).
Externals
Externals are outer events or circumstances that can
alter the way we experience our worth but do not change our
worth. Certain externals or experiences can camouflage or
hide one’s core worth, like a dark cloud or haze that surrounds
and obscures it. Perhaps one has been emotionally, physically,
or sexually abused. Such treatment by others can lead one to
believe that one is defective at the core, even though the core
remains whole and worthwhile. Similarly, people who have
experienced trauma such as rape or combat often feel shattered
inside, but they can benefit from the help of specially trained
trauma counselors to again feel whole, or healed. (Interestingly,
the words whole, heal, and health all derive from the same
root. Please see the Recommended Resources section at the
back of the book for suggestions regarding how to locate help.)
Other externals act like sunlight, illuminating our core worth
and helping us to experience that worth with satisfaction. For
instance, being loved by others or successfully completing an
important task helps us experience our worth more intensely,
which feels good.
However, externals—whether good or bad—are not
the core. If a person equates his or her core human worth
to the value of his or her investment portfolio (an external),
then that person’s self-esteem will rise and fall with the stock
market, going up and down like a roller coaster. Our goal in
this chapter is to learn to separate core worth from externals.
Imagine that the cloud around the crystal (core worth) is sepa-
rated from the crystal and moved away from it, representing
the fact that core worth is independent of externals.
8 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Externals include the state of one’s body (appearance,
vitality, and health), economic status, gender, race, age, job
title, promotions, awards, adversity, relationship or family
(marriage or dating status, number of children, functioning
level of family), popularity, school grades, mistakes, moods,
job or athletic performance, skill levels, and control over
events. It can be difficult to separate core worth from externals
when the media suggests that one is less than worthwhile if one
isn’t powerful, wealthy, young, and beautiful. However, as the
dying wise man counseled his young friend before his death in
Tuesdays with Morrie (Albom 1997, 42), “The culture we have
does not make people feel good about ourselves. And you have
to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t
buy it.” Once we are sure of our equal intrinsic worth, then we
are relieved of the need to compete in order to establish worth.
We are less inclined to judge ourselves and compare ourselves
to others. In short, we become more secure in our own worth,
and thus in ourselves.
Sometimes very bright people have difficulty separating
inner worth from externals. They ask how someone can have
worth when they are not valued by others or when they feel so
worthless. Consider a child who has not accomplished much
of anything yet. Why is that child so precious to his or her
parents? Partly because the parents have chosen to value the
child. Partly because each child has innate qualities that we
enjoy (the delight of the child at play, for example). Despite the
child’s inexperience and rough edges, he or she also has unlim-
ited potential to love, beautify, comfort, laugh, change course
when mistakes are made, be patient, be gentle, be persistent,
develop, and make the world a better place in countless other
ways. We adults can also choose to value our own innate worth
and capacities. And as we look back over our lives and remem-
ber the ways we have contributed to the well-being of ourselves
and others, in any way large or small, we are reminded that
no one is worthless.
Know What Self-Esteem Is 9
Building Block 2:
unconditional love
The psychologist Abraham Maslow (Lowry 1973) noted
that psychological health is not possible without love for the
essential core. Children with self-esteem tend to have parents
who love them. These parents show interest in the children’s
lives, treat them with respect, encourage and support them
as they strive to attain high standards, and care about them
enough to set reasonable limits. The good news is that even
those who did not experience this type of parental love can
learn to become good parents to themselves.
What is love? I suggest that love is (1) a feeling that we
experience, (2) the attitude that wants what is best for the
beloved at each and every moment, (3) a decision and com-
mitment made each day (even if we don’t feel like it), and (4)
a skill that we learn. If the core is like a seed, then love is the
nourishment that helps the seed grow. Love does not create
worth (it already exists). However, love helps us experience
our worth and enjoy the process of growing. Even though we
might not always have the love of others, we can always choose
to love ourselves.
Each individual person has been created to love
and be loved.
—Mother Teresa
Building Block 3: groWth
We tend to feel better about ourselves when we are living
constructively—making reasonable decisions, developing desir-
able attributes, and polishing the rough edges around the core.
10 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Thus, we might think of building block 3 as the process of
completing, coming to flower, or putting love into action.
Growing is a direction and a process, not reaching a destina-
tion. Growing does not change our core worth, but it helps us
to experience it with greater satisfaction. The inner core can
grow even as the body ages or becomes infirm. As the concen-
tration camp survivor Viktor Frankl (1959) noted, people can
attain inner freedom even though their bodies are imprisoned.
We grow as we try to lift others along with ourselves, as we
develop in character and personality, and as we discover ways
to enjoy wholesome pleasures.
Lxercise: Start with the End in Mind
Consider some of the main points that we have explored so far:
Self-esteem is a quiet and relatively unshakeable sense of satisfac-
tion that comes from recognizing and appreciating our existing
worth, and then choosing to love and grow. Self-esteem is not
comparative and competitive. That is, we do not acquire worth by
outshining others. Instead, we learn to recognize and experience
our worth. Self-esteem does not boast or put others down. Rather,
one with self-esteem considers the well-being of others as well as
the well-being of oneself. Self-esteem can be built through persis-
tent effort. The building process is one that involves seeing clearly,
loving, and developing.
For a few moments, reflect upon the following:
How might you appreciate yourself when you are
imperfect, are mistreated, or compare less favorably to
others?
What would be the positive consequences of appreciat-
ing yourself more?
2
8e MindfuI
O
ur experiences in life and our perception of externals can
change the way we feel about ourselves. The wonderful
news, however, is that we can learn how to develop self-
esteem. In building self-esteem, effective attempts will target
thoughts, images, feelings, and behaviors. Which do you think
makes the best starting point? Imagine a cycle that looks like
this:
Figure 3

Feelings

Thoughts

Behaviors

Thoughts
12 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
A parent gives a child an age-appropriate task, such as
taking out the trash (behavior). When the child succeeds, he
or she is praised and thinks, “I can do it; the world is reason-
able” (thoughts). The child then feels confident, which leads to
more constructive thoughts such as “I can probably do other
things and succeed.” As a result, the child might pick up an
instrument and learn to play it (behavior). This in turn leads
to more constructive thoughts, which lead to more feelings of
confidence, and the cycle continues in a way that strengthens
self-esteem. Got the picture? I will often show this cycle to
adults and ask, “So where do you think is the best place to
intervene when trying to build self-esteem—thoughts, behav-
ior, or feelings?” People usually respond that it is best to jump
in at the behaviors and thoughts level. Nothing wrong with
that—in a cyclical model there is no wrong answer. However,
consider this: Where do parents of a newborn intervene when
they hold the baby to the breast, embrace him or her, or look
into the baby’s eyes and smile? Are they teaching the baby how
to think and behave? (Are they saying, “I love you because
you are so smart and will become the CEO of a large cor-
poration?”) Or are they affecting the baby’s feelings? It’s an
interesting question. Usually we adults choose to start with
thoughts and behaviors. It seems safer and more concrete, and
our thoughts and behaviors are important. But the attitudes of
the heart, I wish to suggest, are at least as important.
1he 1ibetan view: MindfuIness
Mindfulness meditation has been found in recent years to
improve a wide range of medical and psychological condi-
tions, ranging from chronic pain to stress, anxiety, depression,
Be Mindful 13
sleep disorders, and eating disorders. It appears to increase
activity in the area of the brain associated with happiness and
optimism. Practitioners of mindfulness often feel more self-
confident and comfortable in their own skin despite external
events. In fact, results have been so impressive that mindfulness
meditation is now being taught in academic medical centers,
pain clinics, hospitals, and schools (including law schools) all
over the world.
Mindfulness meditation was introduced to Western
medical circles in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., at the
University of Massachusetts Medical School, and is based on
the Theravada Buddhist tradition. This tradition explores the
working of the mind and considers how people can be happier
and suffer less. Mindfulness is respectful of and compatible
with other traditions because it does not judge one approach
as better or worse. In the foreword to Kabat-Zinn’s book Full
Catastrophe Living, Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., noted that “mind-
fulness is more than a meditation practice that can have pro-
found medical and psychological benefits; it is also a way of
life that reveals the gentle and loving wholeness that lies at
the heart of our being, even in times of great pain and suffer-
ing” (1990, xvii). Perhaps you already notice that the mindful-
ness approach is consistent with the concepts we explored in
chapter 1.
The peaceful Tibetan masters teach that we are of two
minds: the wisdom mind and the ordinary mind (Rinpoche
1993). (Refer to figure 4 on the next page.)
14 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Wisdom mind and ordinary mind
The wisdom mind represents our true happy nature,
which is similar to the core self. The wisdom mind, like the
core depicted in chapter 1, is kind, wise, and compassionate—
it desires the happiness of others as much as that of ourselves
(which is why it is happy), and it is good humored, hopeful,
peaceful, simple, and integrated. The wisdom mind is charac-
terized by self-esteem and dignity, but also humility—realizing
that all people possess the wisdom mind. However, the ordinary
mind surrounds the wisdom mind like a dark cloud, keeping us
unaware of our true happy nature and causing much suffering
(Rinpoche 1993).
The ordinary mind attaches to swirling, racing thoughts
and disturbing negative emotions. When we say “I am beside
myself with anger (or worry),” we mean that we are caught up
in the ordinary mind and separated from our wisdom mind.
Mindfulness meditation teaches methods of getting beneath
Figure 4

Ordinary


Wisdom
Mind


Mind
Be Mindful 15
these scattered thoughts and distressing feelings to rest in the
peaceful wholeness of the wisdom mind.
Young children do not appear to experience self-dislike.
As we age, however, we learn to endlessly think, judge,
compare, criticize, worry, blame, obsess about faults, evaluate,
and fight against the way life is. We demand that life, or our
selves, be different, and we get angry when we don’t get what
we think we must have. We fear losing what we do have, and
we feel sad when we lose what we think we need in order to be
happy. Mindfulness teaches people how to release the ordinary
mind’s attachments that keep us unhappy, and how to rest in
the wisdom mind. When agitated water is allowed to settle,
it becomes very clear. Likewise, when we allow our minds to
settle, we can see clearly once again. (Later in the book, we’ll
explore meditation methods that help us to do this.)
In mindfulness meditation, the attitudes of the heart are
very important. In fact, in many of the Asian languages, the
word for “mind” is the same as the word for “heart.” Fairly
early in the teaching of this approach, Jon Kabat-Zinn (1990)
introduces the attitudes of mindfulness. However, we might
think of these as attitudes of “heartfulness,” reminding our-
selves that these attitudes are deeper than the chatter of the
mind and are experienced in the body. Let’s explore these, as
they embody the emotional goals of self-esteem building and
form the emotional foundation for our journey.
heartfuIness Attitudes
The ten attitudes of heartfulness, adapted from a work by Jon
Kabat-Zinn (1990), suggest a different way of being—a new
way of relating to ourselves and the world.
Patience. Growth takes a long time. When
we plant a tomato seed, we do not stomp it
1.
16 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
and loudly criticize it for not being a tomato.
Instead we gently place it in fertile soil and
make sure it gets plenty of water and sunlight.
And when a sprout emerges from the soil, we
say, “Oh boy, it’s growing.” We continue to
nurture the plant at all times and take satisfac-
tion in the process. To be patient is to trust and
never give up on the growth process, without
making angry demands and expectations or
worrying that the seed won’t flourish prop-
erly. We usually can’t foresee just how and
when our efforts will bear fruit. “Patience
is a bitter plant, but it has sweet fruit,” as a
German proverb goes. Or, as another saying
goes, “One must wait until evening to see how
splendid the day has been.”
Acceptance. Acceptance means to take in, or
welcome. To accept, then, is to see clearly and
with full awareness the good and bad, suffer-
ing and joy, as part of life, and to experience
life without battling, insisting that things be
different, or immediately trying to change, fix,
or get rid of the present distress. Even if we are
unsure of what to do, we can dispassionately
observe, “This is the way things are right now.”
Once we can accurately see the situation, then
we are free to decide what to do—whether to
act constructively or allow the situation to be
as it is without resisting it.
When we accept guests in our home, we
receive them with pleasure just as they are.
When we accept ourselves, we experience our-
selves with a similar welcoming attitude. We are
aware of our weaknesses (and perhaps become
determined to improve so that we might expe-
2.
Be Mindful 17
rience ourselves with even greater pleasure).
We also recognize that we are not perfect and
cannot will ourselves to immediately become
perfect. So we accept ourselves as we are, for
now. We would do this for a child, and we
can learn to do this with ourselves. As the psy-
chologist Carl Rogers observed, “The curious
paradox is that when I accept myself just as I
am, then I can change” (1987, 17).
Broader than self-acceptance, acceptance
means that we also welcome the world as it is.
That is, we take in all situations and the range
of resulting feelings—embarrassment, fear,
shame, rejection, sadness, disappointment, and
so on—and allow them to be just as they are. In
letting go of aversion to negative feelings, we
become unafraid to completely feel those feel-
ings. We turn toward them, rather than away.
Knowing that feelings come and go, we calmly
and patiently watch them arise and subside at
their own pace, saying to ourselves, “Whatever
I am feeling is okay; it is okay to just feel it.”
Acceptance does not mean passivity,
resignation, or complacency. It simply means
seeing things as they are. And when the deci-
sion to act becomes clear, then we can also
act with acceptance, and without impulsivity,
resistance, or the like. The paradox is that
when we release our death grip on control, we
gain a greater sense of inner control (“Even if
the situation doesn’t improve, I’ll be okay”).
We gain more confidence in our ability to
manage strong emotions.
When we experience pain or discomfort,
the natural inclination is to try to avoid the
18 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
pain or do something to get rid of the source
of the pain. In the case of outer discomfort
caused by a neighbor’s loud radio, for example,
we might take a drive to get away from the
noise or ask the neighbor to turn down the
volume. However, for inner pain this kind of
approach is usually counterproductive. For
example, one who fears a panic attack tenses
up and tries to fight it. This makes the panic
attack more intense and longer lasting. A better
approach would be to relax, and let the attack
come and then pass. Similarly, people who
have experienced traumatic events may try
fruitlessly to get rid of the memories. It would
be better to accept and process the memory. If
someone experiences chronic pain, one of the
worst things to do is to tense up and fight it.
Often learning to just notice the pain, watch-
ing it come and go, helps to diminish the pain.
Tensing, wincing, bracing, or wishing things
weren’t as they are will increase the fight-or-
flight response, which exacerbates distress.
Trying to avoid the pain by running away,
sedating oneself with drugs, shopping, watch-
ing TV, or using some other form of avoidance
only causes the distress to return with greater
intensity. Similarly, noticing our faults and
negative feelings, and holding them in full,
compassionate awareness changes the way we
relate to distress.
Compassion. Perhaps the central and most
important attitude, compassion is sorrow
over the suffering of others, and a desire
to help. It is closely aligned with love, or
3.
Be Mindful 19
loving-kindness, which is the type of uni-
versal or undifferentiated love that consid-
ers the worth and needs of all humans. The
Dalai Lama has noted that in the West com-
passion is an attitude that is only extended
toward others. In Tibet, compassion is felt
toward others and self. He adds that in Tibet
he does not see low self-esteem or depression,
because people there experience compassion
toward all people (Goleman 2003).
The following story of compassion
(Hinckley 2000, 28–29) tells of two boys who
were walking along a road that led through a
field. “They saw an old coat and a badly worn
pair of men’s shoes by the roadside, and, in the
distance, they saw the owner working in the
field. The younger boy suggested that they hide
the shoes, conceal themselves, and watch the
perplexity on the owner’s face when he returned.
The older boy, a benevolent lad, thought that
would not be so good. He said the owner
must be a very poor man. After discussing the
matter, they concluded to try another experi-
ment. Instead of hiding the shoes, they would
put a silver dollar in each one and, concealing
themselves, see what the owner did when he
discovered the money.
“Soon the man returned from the
field, put on his coat, slipped one foot into
a shoe, felt something hard, took it out, and
found a silver dollar. Wonder and surprise
showed in his face. He looked at the dollar
again and again, turned around and could
see nobody, then proceeded to put on the
other shoe where, to his great surprise, he
20 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
found another dollar. His feelings overcame
him and he knelt down and offered aloud a
prayer of thanksgiving, in which he spoke of
his wife being sick and helpless and his chil-
dren without bread.” After invoking a bless-
ing on his benefactors, the man left, and the
boys walked down the road, glad for the good
feeling that their compassion had wrought.
Frank Robinson, a highly talented player
who was honored by the National Baseball Hall
of Fame and became a respected Major League
baseball coach, recently had to pull his third-
string catcher out of a game in the middle of
an inning. The catcher had made two errors
and had been unable to prevent seven stolen
bases. Robinson’s team won the game, and the
catcher, with gracious acceptance, said, “If my
daddy was managing the team, I’m sure he
would have done the same thing.” However,
as tears streamed down Robinson’s face at the
post-game press conference, he said, “I feel for
him … I just appreciate him hanging in there
as long as he did … It was not his fault. We
know his shortcoming[s]. They took advantage
of them today. I felt like I had to do [it] for the
good of the club.” Robinson’s reaction was a
remarkable display of compassion.
Mother Teresa said that each individual
person has been created to love and be loved.
Love heals wounds and nurtures growth. We
admire people who demonstrate compassion
and know how good it feels to experience it,
both as the giver and receiver. So in our effort
to develop heartfulness we form the intention
to be compassionate toward all people, includ-
Be Mindful 21
ing our self—to experience loving-kindness as
we struggle, to have the intention to help as
we try to overcome suffering.
Nonjudgment. A young child plays without
inhibition. Later, the child learns to evalu-
ate and judge. Do you ever stop to consider
how often we adults do this? We say, “I’m not
good at this,” “I’m stupid,” “I’m not as good
as Mary,” “Why can’t I be better than I am?”
“Why is my self-esteem so low?” “I stink,” “I
should be improving faster,” “I’m not doing as
well as I did yesterday,” “I don’t like the way I
am,” “I’ll never get better,” “What if I don’t get
promoted?” “It’s awful to be feeling afraid,” or
“I shouldn’t be feeling sad.” But which works
better, a carrot or a stick? Does saying mean
things motivate effectively? Or do loving-
kindness and encouragement work better? A
person who puts him- or herself down finds it
more difficult to rise. As a tennis coach said,
“Sometimes you just have to stop the nega-
tive thinking and judgments that get in the
way. Just think, ‘Bounce, hit.’” Watch what
happens, without judging yourself. It can be
quite liberating to realize that we don’t have to
overreact to situations by issuing harsh, pun-
ishing judgments that lead to intense negative
emotions. We just note what is happening and
respond as well as we can. If you do notice that
you are judging yourself or your performance,
don’t judge the judging. Thank the ordinary
mind for trying to help you improve, and then
calmly bring your mind back to what you are
doing in the present moment.
4.
22 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Nonattachment. The Eastern masters teach
that attachment is the root of unhappiness.
Thus, if I insist that I need a certain kind of
car in order to be happy, I might be sad if I
don’t have it. If I get that car, I might fear
that it will be damaged. Or I might become
angry if it gets scratched or stolen. Similarly,
if I am attached to my body, my self-esteem
might be lowered as I age or put on a few
pounds. So we can practice loosening our
grip on what we demand in order to have
happiness and self-esteem, trusting that we
already have everything we need for those
two things. This is not meant to suggest that
appreciating and taking care of one’s body
is unimportant—only that externals (money,
recognition, appearance, roles, and the like)
are not the source of self-esteem or happiness.
In India and Africa, monkeys are caught
by attaching a treat-filled coconut to a string.
The coconut has a hole large enough for the
monkey to insert his open hand. Once the
monkey clamps his fist on the banana or sweet
meats inside the coconut, the fist becomes too
large to withdraw. Unwilling to release the
grip, the monkey can be easily captured. In
Tonga, the octopus is a delicacy. Fishermen
dangle a simple lure made from a stone and
shells called a maka-feke from their canoes.
The octopus clamps on to the lure and is then
pulled into the boat (Monson 2006). In both
cases, the attachment is the problem. Various
forms of meditation teach us to release—to
loosen our grip on the things that can prevent
us from experiencing happiness—and relax
5.
Be Mindful 23
into our wisdom minds, where the capacity for
happiness already exists. Paradoxically, as we
release externals and stop struggling so hard
to be something we are not, we gain a greater
appreciation of who we are.
Beginner’s mind. The expert’s mind is closed
to new learning and experience. The beginner’s
mind is open to these. Throughout this book
you will be asked to approach the principles
and skills offered herein with an open mind,
the mind of a child who is experiencing
something for the first time, without overly-
ing expectations or assumptions. Don’t auto-
matically assume that the way you experi-
ence yourself cannot change. Try to balance a
healthy skepticism with a playful openness to
try something new.
Good humor. Much of psychopathology is the
tendency to be overly serious about our present
condition, to take life too seriously. We have
to laugh at ourselves because we all do ridicu-
lous things at times. One of life’s greatest chal-
lenges is how to enjoy it. As you try the skills
in this book, please try to maintain a spark of
good humor and of playfulness.
Commitment. In a loving relationship one
commits to the growth of that relationship.
We form an intention (“May we be happy,”
for example) and look for ways to encourage
growth. In building self-esteem, we create a
similar intention. Committing also means that
we will practice the necessary skills even when
we don’t feel like it. As mountaineer William
H. Murray said, “the moment one definitely
6.
7.
8.
24 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
commits oneself, then Providence moves too”
(1951, 7).
Vastness. The wisdom mind is expansive, deep,
and wide enough to contain any thoughts and
feelings with equanimity. When we are resting
in the wisdom mind, it is as if we are deep in
the peaceful, quiet depths of the ocean. From
this vantage point, we can dispassionately and
compassionately watch unpleasant thoughts
and feelings as though they were waves rising
on the surface and then being absorbed into
the vast ocean. This attitude helps us to be
calmly aware, without being drawn into
harmful judgments about ourselves or the situ-
ations we encounter.
Generosity. Despite being one of the most
important attitudes, generosity is no longer
emphasized very much in Western cultures,
which increasingly seem to favor the acquisi-
tion and hoarding of material wealth. The gen-
erous heart gives from a sense of worth, not a
need to prove one’s worth, knowing that one’s
giving matters. Giving can be very simple—a
smile, our full attention, patience, allowing
people to be just as they are (the gift of accep-
tance), courtesy, a helping hand, encourage-
ment, food, or money—offering what we can,
insofar as this does not create undue hardship
for ourselves. What does this have to do with
self-esteem? Generosity generates a number of
intangible benefits. We see joy in the recipients’
faces that makes us feel glad and connected to
others. Giving helps us to let go of attachments
as we realize after we give things away that we
9.
10.
Be Mindful 25
are really whole, already possessing within us
the seeds of happiness. We might think of gen-
erosity as practice opening up the grasping fist
and letting go of things that are illusory or not
needed for our happiness.
Giving is empowering in other ways as
well. Sometimes we avoid people who are
struggling, fearing that their suffering might
contaminate us and drag us down. In so doing
we close ourselves off from the joy of giving
and loving. When we give with a soft, open,
nonjudgmental heart, we see that we all are
connected. We all suffer for similar reasons,
but we are vast enough to contain suffering
with equanimity and kindness.
Lxercise: Applying the Heartfulness Attitudes
In a separate notebook, describe a self-esteem issue difficulty that
you are having. Then describe how you might approach this issue
using all or a few of the ten heartfulness attitudes. You might find
it helpful to recall times in your life when you experienced or
witnessed these attitudes. For example, can you think of a time
when you were patient with yourself? When others were patient
with you or themselves?
3
CIear Away
hegative
1houghts
S
elf-esteem enables us to experience ourselves accurately
and gladly. What prevents us from doing so? Unreasonably
negative thoughts—which surround and camouflage the
core like a cloud of debris after a storm. Cognitive therapy
(CT) is the branch of psychology that helps people identify,
challenge, and then replace such thoughts. This well-researched
approach is considered a mainstream treatment for depression,
anxiety, and problem anger. Because self-esteem is so strongly
related to these conditions, CT is also very useful for self-
esteem building.
Aaron Beck, MD (1976), and Albert Ellis, Ph.D. (Ellis
and Harper 1975), developed similar approaches for helping
people reshape their thinking habits. Their approaches depict
the way thoughts influence our emotions as follows:
Adversity Thoughts Emotions
28 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Adversity represents a distressing event or situation.
For instance, let’s say that Paula and Lisa grew up with an
extremely abusive father. In response to the abuse (adversity),
Paula thinks, “I’ve been treated so poorly. I must not be worth
anything.” As a result she feels depressed and experiences
herself with dislike (emotions). Lisa responds to the same kind
of abuse with different thoughts. She tells herself, “He might
treat me like dirt, but that’s not who I am inside.” Lisa is upset
by the abusive treatment, but she preserves her self-esteem and
optimism. What determines whether we experience appropri-
ate upset or disturbance at the emotional level is the thoughts
that we choose.
CT shows that the thoughts affecting our emotions pass
through our minds so quickly that we hardly notice them, let
alone stop to test them for reasonableness. Dr. Beck calls these
automatic thoughts (ATs). ATs that are unreasonably negative—
judgmental, unkind, and inaccurate thoughts that make us
feel dissatisfied and uncomfortable with ourselves—are called
distortions.
CT assumes that people are very capable of reasonable
thinking. However, because we are imperfect, we might draw
faulty conclusions from the faulty data we receive. Consider,
for example, what children think about where babies come
from before they have all the facts. They might assume that the
stork brings them, that hospitals dispense them, or that they
grow in the mother’s stomach. Their thinking becomes more
reasonable when they acquire the facts. In the example above,
Paula bought her father’s message that she was worthless—
not because it was true, but because she did not challenge the
message. CT asserts that people can quickly and efficiently
learn to identify their thought patterns, challenge them, and
then replace distortions with more reasonable thoughts. As
they do so, they gain a measure of control over both their
thoughts and their emotions.
Clear Away Negative Thoughts 29
Our thinking patterns, for bad or good, are influenced by
a number of factors. For example, the events we experience can
influence our thoughts. Thus, someone who is abused sexually
or physically might think, “I was treated as an object, so I must
be one.” One’s social environment, which might include the
media, one’s friends, and one’s family, can also influence the
way we learn to think. For example, a father might embrace his
daughter upon learning that she has been raped and simply say,
“That must have been so hard.” How different the daughter’s
thoughts would be if he instead judged her or questioned her
motives. Similarly, the emotions and self-esteem of soldiers can
be influenced by the support they experience upon returning
from a war. Our physical condition—our state of health, or
how rested, nourished, and conditioned we are—also affects
our ability to think clearly. Finally, our coping skills and
behavioral patterns can influence our thinking. Other chap-
ters in this book will address these factors that influence our
thoughts.
Although events can influence our thinking, a basic
assumption of CT is that we are ultimately responsible for
the thoughts that we choose. We can’t always control the way
others treat us. However, we are completely free to control
our thoughts. This assumption does not blame people for
lacking self-esteem. Rather, it empowers us to realize that we
can shape the thoughts that influence self-esteem and avoid
blaming others for our present feelings.
ßistorted 1hinking

So, let’s explore the basic types of distortions (Beck 1995; Ellis
and Harper 1975) and how they can be modified. Because there
are only a handful of distortions, you can learn them and their
replacement thoughts so you can prevent yourself from falling
30 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
into the common thinking traps. With practice you will learn
to replace distortions quickly and without much effort, because
this is what stressful situations often require.
all-or-nothing thinking
Here you hold yourself up to a perfect, or near-perfect,
standard. If you fail to “clear the bar” you conclude that you
are worthless. There is no middle ground or partial credit for
effort. For example, a bright and likeable student once told
me that he was very troubled over a creative writing assign-
ment. The prospect of getting anything less than an A had
him feeling depressed and suicidal. Eventually, he discovered
the distortion: “In my culture, if you don’t reach your goals,
you don’t deserve to live,” he told me. I asked him, “Where
is it written that someone who isn’t perfect is worthless?” He
thought for a while and said, “That’s the first time someone
has told me that I don’t have to be perfect in order to be worth-
while.” Others might question their worth should they fail to
earn a certain salary, lose an argument, or make a mistake.
If you must judge, try judging performance only, not the core
self. You might think, “I batted about eight hundred on this
task. That’s pretty good. Next time I’ll try to do things a bit
differently.”
laBeling
Have you ever noticed that people often label themselves
harshly? “I’m dumb.” “I’m such a loser.” “I’m boring.” “What
an idiot! Why am I so stupid?” (Notice that this last utterance
really isn’t a question as much as it is an expression of resent-
ment. People who use such expressions are more likely to be
Clear Away Negative Thoughts 31
depressed because they keep themselves feeling stuck and pow-
erless.) You might ask if such unkind judgments really serve to
motivate as well as encouragement does. On the other hand,
you might think, “A loser never wins, so why try?” Here’s why
a negative label is unreasonable. When you say “I am stupid
(or dumb, or boring),” you are saying that you are stupid
always and in every situation. This is clearly not true. Howard
Gardner (1993) of Harvard, for example, notes that there are
different ways to manifest intelligence. Some might show their
intelligence through either mathematic or verbal skills. Others
might demonstrate intelligence through personal (emotional
intelligence) skills, interpersonal (people) skills, music, art (or
other spatial skills), or body skills (such as athletics or dance).
The antidote to negative labeling? Again, if you must judge,
judge only the behavior (saying “I didn’t do too well today on
this,” for example). The core is too complex to be described
by a simple label.
overgeneralizing
Ask a pessimist or someone with low self-esteem to
explain why he got into an argument with his spouse and he
is likely to say something like “I’m not very swift” (giving
himself a label). He is likely to make it worse by also think-
ing “I always mess up relationships. I never get them right.”
However, it is less judgmental and more precise to think “I
(or, perhaps, we) haven’t learned how to handle this difficult
topic calmly.” In addition to using “always” and “never,” one
who overgeneralizes also tends to use words like “nobody” and
“everybody.” Rodney Dangerfield quipped that his psychiatrist
once told him, “Don’t be ridiculous. Everybody doesn’t hate
you. Everybody doesn’t know you.” An antidote to overgener-
alization is to use the word “some.” It’s usually more accurate
32 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
to think “Sometimes I do fairly well. Some people like me, at
least somewhat.”
assuming
“Yes,” you might think, “but I know that that waiter dis-
likes me. Look at the way he treated me.” This could be the
distortion known as mind reading. That waiter may or may
not dislike you. He might simply be angry about something
that happened to him twenty minutes or twenty years before.
He might be quite annoyed at something you did, but he may
not dislike you. So his dislike of you is just one possibility. You
won’t know if he actually does feel that way unless you check
it out. In another example, let’s say you’ve been invited to your
neighborhood block party. You might assume that if you go
to the block party everyone will in fact dislike you and you’ll
have a miserable time. This could be the distortion known as
fortune-telling or predicting the future. In fact, some might
like you, some might dislike you, and some might hardly notice
you. You could go to the party with an open or beginner’s
mind and just observe what happens. Sometimes good things
happen, too.
emotional reasoning
Can you remember a teacher who “made you” feel dumb?
Now when you confront a new and challenging situation do
you still feel inadequate and thus think that you really are
inadequate? Or perhaps you once made an unwise decision and
felt so ashamed that you concluded that you are worthless.
Automatically equating feelings with reality is called emotional
reasoning. We can be open to and accepting of feelings, but
Clear Away Negative Thoughts 33
we can also recognize that feelings don’t necessarily represent
reality. Remind yourself that negative feelings are signals of
upset, not statements of fact. Challenge the underlying thoughts.
Asking “What would 100 percent inadequate, worthless, or
bad be like?” helps you to avoid all-or-nothing thinking.
dWelling on the negative
Suppose that you have a beautiful garden. One plant is
not doing so well, so you focus exclusively on that struggling
plant. Soon you forget to notice the other beautiful plants.
Likewise, you might dwell on a mistake or shortcoming to the
point that you ruin your self-esteem, or even your life. You
fail to take into account all the good that exists, all the good
that you have done. When you look into the mirror, do you
zero in on what’s wrong? Or do you notice what’s right—your
overall appearance, your smile, and so on? When you find
yourself dwelling on what’s wrong in yourself or your life, you
might think, “Okay, perhaps this is something I can work on.
In the meantime, what else is going on? What can I notice
that is going well? What would a friend notice in addition
to the faults?” A man once joked to his neighbor, “Why are
you so happy? Your life is just as bad as mine.” Perhaps the
happy person is taking the time to see the bigger picture and
appreciate what isn’t wrong.
rejecting the Positive
Whereas dwelling on the negative overlooks positives,
this distortion actually negates positives. Imagine that someone
compliments you for doing a good job. You say, “No big deal.”
However, it would be much more satisfying to thank the person
34 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
and think, “I’m really glad that I was able to figure out what
was required and do a good job.” Then you’d be validating
both the giver of the compliment and yourself.
making unfavoraBle comParisons
How satisfying it can be to exert ourselves, invest our
talents, and attain goals related to hobbies, education, pro-
fession, recreation, meaningful causes, or relationships. The
examples set by those we respect and admire can inspire us and
suggest possibilities. Trouble arises, however, when we begin
to compare ourselves to others. Now inspiration turns to judg-
ment: “I’m not as smart as Wayne.” “Sandra is a better golfer
than I am.” “John is much more popular than I am.” “I wish
I could be as successful as Randi—she’s a bright manager and
I’m just a salesman.” In each case we get the short end of the
stick, and self-esteem suffers.
The antidote to this distortion is to simply stop comparing
and recognize that each person contributes in unique ways at
his or her own unique pace. I’ll ask my students, “Who is more
important, a surgeon or a general practitioner?” They might
answer, “Well, a surgeon might resolve an acute crisis, but the
general practitioner might prevent it from occurring.” “Who
is more worthwhile, a surgeon or a physical therapist?” I ask.
“Well, the surgeon can save a life, but the therapist might help
to restore physical function and hope,” they respond. When
we consider who is more important to the nation’s health, the
doctor or the garbage collector, we soon realize that people
contribute in very different ways. Why must we compare and
judge? As we step back to see the bigger picture, we begin to
see that each person has a different blend of strengths and
weaknesses. Also, as we compare ourselves to shining examples
of success, we can remember that each person, even an expert,
struggles in certain areas.
Clear Away Negative Thoughts 35
shoulds, oughts, and musts
“Should” statements are perfectionistic, rigid demands
that we make of ourselves, perhaps hoping that such demands
will help us to overcome the discomfort of being imperfect.
Examples include the following: “I should not make mis-
takes,” “I should have known better,” “I ought to be better,”
“I must not fail,” and “I must be a perfect boss [or spouse, or
child].” There is a punitive, scolding quality to these demands.
Although we’d hope that these demands would motivate us to
do better, they usually just make us feel worse. For example,
how do you feel when you tell yourself that you must perform
perfectly, and then you don’t? In fact, research suggests that we
tend to perform better when we strive to do a good job, not
a perfect job, because we are not as uptight when we are just
trying to do a good job.
What would it mean if you didn’t perfectly achieve
what you feel that you must or should? Would it mean that
you are worthless, or just imperfect? Perhaps the only rea-
sonable “should” tells us that we should be just as we are,
given our imperfect background, experience, skill levels, and
understanding. Some would say that a kinder and more effec-
tive way to motivate people is to replace the demands with
“would,” “could,” “want,” “choose,” and “prefer” statements.
So instead of saying “I should,” “I ought to,” or “I must,” we
might think “I want to improve” “I choose to work hard,” “I
would very much like to win the competition,” “I want to be
a loving parent,” “It would be great to reach that goal,” or “I
wonder how I could improve; what would it take?” Please be
aware, though, that “should” statements can be very difficult
to release. It often helps to realize that giving up the “should”
does not mean giving up a cherished value, such as working
hard or doing one’s best. It simply frees us to approach the
goal in a more enjoyable, less judgmental, and, we hope, more
effective way.
36 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
catastroPhizing
When we catastrophize, we take something that is
uncomfortable (such as embarrassment or fear of failure) and
determine that it is unbearable, devastating, intolerable, and
terrible. We might think, for example, “I would never give a
speech. I might stumble and people would laugh. That would
be awful!” or “It would be horrible if I were rejected,” or “I
can’t stand it when my boss criticizes me.” Such statements
increase fear and arousal and undermine confidence. We might
tense up and thus perform below our abilities. We might even
begin to avoid challenging situations, thus depriving ourselves
of opportunities to master our fears and enhance self-esteem.
Catastrophizing often begins with a fearful possibility (such
as “I might fail”), which leads to a negative conclusion (“I’ll
probably fail; I’ll make people angry and disappointed”), and
results in an expectation of the worst (“This will be awful.
Nothing could be worse”). In reality, when we stop catastro-
phizing, we become calmer and think more clearly. We learn
that we can indeed bear adversity, although it is not necessar-
ily convenient or comfortable. Catastrophizing is challenged by
thinking “Okay, I don’t like this, but I can indeed bear it,” “It
could be worse. Nobody is shooting at me. It will pass,” or “I
really can get through this.” With these replacement thoughts,
we learn to turn toward what we fear, rather than away from
it, with calm and full acceptance. In so doing, we become more
self-confident.
Personalizing
Personalizing is thinking that you are more responsible
or involved than the facts indicate. For example, a rape victim
typically thinks that the crime is her fault, rather than the fault
of the perpetrator. Or a man might question what he did to
Clear Away Negative Thoughts 37
deserve his spouse’s angry outbursts, not realizing that his wife
was mad at the world that day.
Personalizing is an attempt to have more control than we
actually have. Ironically, the attempt backfires, since reality
reminds us that we have less control than we want. We don’t
make people do what they do and we can’t always prevent
people from feeling pain. The solution to personalizing is to
ask, “Why might someone behave that way? Is it possible that
this really isn’t about me?”
Blaming
Whereas personalizing places too much responsibility on
ourselves, blaming places too much responsibility on others.
For example, we might say, “I blame my drinking problems on
my parents; they made me drink,” or “I have low self-esteem
because my spouse left me.” The more we avoid taking respon-
sibility for our own well-being, the more we feel helpless and
out of control. So we might instead think, “Yes, this was a dif-
ficult situation. Now I take responsibility for moving past it.”
Lxercise: Distortions Review
Now, let’s look at how the bread and butter of CT, the daily
thought record, is used. This record is most effective when you
already have a reasonable mastery of the distortions. Before you
get started, review the list of distortions above, and then quiz your-
self by thinking of an everyday example of each type of distortion
and coming up with a replacement thought for each.
38 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Applying  Cognitive  Therapy:   
The  Daily  Thought  Record
A tenet of CT is that we don’t improve without practice. The
daily thought record is the basic tool that helps us to slow down
our thinking in order to catch and replace the distortions that we
habitually use.
Identify a situation that undermines your self-esteem, and the
feelings that result. Rate each of the feelings from 1 to 10, with 1
meaning no disturbance and 10 meaning severe disturbance. Then
make a numbered list of your automatic thoughts (ATs) in that situ-
ation, and go back and write down the distortions in parentheses.
Next, for each AT write down a replacement thought that is more
rational. Finally, rate the related feelings again and notice any shift
in intensity. Any reduction in intensity is worthwhile. Below is an
example of a daily thought record.
Distressing Situation (Adversity):
I failed my promotion test.
Resulting Feeling(s) Before Writing
Replacement
Thoughts
After Writing
Replacement
Thoughts
Depressed 9 5
Anxious 7 5
Clear Away Negative Thoughts 39
defusing
In his brilliant book about acceptance and commitment
therapy (ACT, pronounced “act”), Get Out of Your Mind and
Into Your Life, Steven C. Hayes, Ph.D. (2005), asserts that
almost all people suffer some form of intense inner pain at
some times in their lives. The suffering might be depression,
anxiety, substance abuse, or self-dislike and suicidal thoughts,
Automatic Thoughts
(Distortions)
Replacement Thoughts
I’m an idiot. (labeling)
I screw up everything.
(overgeneralizing)

Everyone did better than I
did. (overgeneralizing)
Joe aced it. He’s so much
smarter than I am. (making
unfavorable comparisons)
I’ll fail the retest. It will
be awful. (assuming and
catastrophizing)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
This was a tough test. I’ll
prepare better next time.
This is one test. I do a
number of things well or I
wouldn’t have been recom-
mended for promotion.
Some did better, but some
did worse than I did.
Joe is an excellent test
taker. I have other
strengths. We’re just
different.
If I prepare more effectively
I might pass. I hope I do.
If I don’t pass, I can indeed
live with it, although I’d
prefer to have the addi-
tional pay.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
40 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
and it results from the battles we wage against our thoughts as
we futilely try to get rid of our histories.
Let’s go back to our example of the teacher (or other person)
who made you feel dumb. Years later, the suffering could be
avoided by simply staying away from that teacher (and perhaps
the subject, such as math). However, the problem-solving mind
doesn’t let it end there. It goes on the attack, thinking “What
if I really am dumb? I hate feeling dumb. I can’t be dumb. If I
try hard enough I won’t be dumb. I’ve got to stop thinking that
I’m dumb. If I really try I won’t think I’m dumb anymore.” It’s
as if a war is raging in the mind, a war that doesn’t end as we
get locked into the struggle with the past.
Hayes calls this process fusion. We struggle so long against
negative thoughts, which we assume are true, that we eventu-
ally become identified with the thoughts. The problem-solving
mind usually works well in getting rid of outside problems, like
a leaky faucet. However, the more we try to get rid of inner
problems (for example, by thinking about the past), the more
fused we become with the past. We can’t get rid of the past
event. And, the more we try not to think about it, the more
we think about it, experience the suffering, and even become
the suffering.
You can test this idea. First, really think about a white
elephant for a few moments. Now block out the image and try
not to think about the white elephant at all. Count how many
times you actually think of the white elephant. Of course, you
will think often of the white elephant despite your efforts to
get rid of the idea.
Similarly, we might try to escape pain through avoidance
(using substances, shopping, watching television, working, and
so on). This only works temporarily, and then the pain returns
more strongly. The more we try to numb the pain by shutting
off our emotions, the more we lose our capacities for joy and
engagement with life. So a different approach, defusion, can
be helpful.
Clear Away Negative Thoughts 41
The goal of defusing is to confront our distressing histo-
ries without attachment or aversion, but with complete accep-
tance, compassion, and equanimity. Complete acceptance
doesn’t mean saying, “Okay, I’ll do this exercise quickly so
that I can get rid of my pain.” It means choosing to completely
and fully let the pain in with a kind, welcoming, dispassionate
attitude. Then we can commit to living our lives fully, carry-
ing whatever pain that remains with full acceptance. We still
have the thoughts, but we kindly watch them from a distance
without buying into them. It’s as if the war continues to rage,
but we’ve stepped away from the battlefield, and we watch the
war from a distance with detachment. Hayes (2005) suggests
the following defusing strategies.
Lxercise: Identify the Source of the Pain
List a few painful situations from the past that might
have hurt your self-esteem in some way. Maybe you were
embarrassed, rejected, shamed, disrespected, abused, or
ridiculed. Perhaps you made a bad decision or lost your
composure. In addition to having painful thoughts about
these situations, you probably also experience painful feel-
ings, memories, images, and/or bodily sensations when you
think about them. Simply notice these reactions.
Next, write down how long each situation has bothered
you.
Finally, rather than trying to get rid of these problems, just
let them into your awareness with a soft and open attitude.
You might think, “These are just memories.”
1.
2.
3.
42 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Lxercise: Milk, Milk, Milk 
For a few moments fully experience milk in your mind—
how it looks, feels, and tastes. You might experience it as
cold, white, and creamy.
Now say the word “milk” out loud and repeat it as many
times as you can in forty-five seconds. Then notice what
happens. People often notice that the experience changes.
The meaning falls away from the word, and the word just
becomes a sound.
Now take a negative thought about yourself that you asso-
ciate with one of the painful situations that you listed
above. Perhaps the thought is self-critical and harsh. Put
the thought into a single word, such as “bad,” “loser,”
“dumb,” or “immature.”
Rate from 1 to 10 how distressing the word is. Then rate
how believable it is.
Welcome the word and other aspects of the memory into
your awareness with complete, kind acceptance.
Repeat the word out loud as many times as you can for a
period of forty-five seconds.
Now, again rate how distressing the word is. Did the level
of distress associated with this word go down? Perhaps the word
has lost some of its emotional impact, and the word is now just a
word.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Clear Away Negative Thoughts 43
Lxercise: Keep a Journal
Considerable research supports the benefits of disclosing painful
situations in a journal for fifteen to thirty minutes a day. Describe
in writing the facts about a difficult past event, particularly if you
have never disclosed the event to anyone. For example, you might
write “Mother yelled loudly at me when I broke the plate.” Then
record the associated thoughts and resulting feelings (such as “It
seems unfair that she judged me. I can’t bear it. I feel so sad and
inept. I’m sorry that I disappointed her. I felt really clumsy and
awkward. I started to feel that I’m no good when I make mis-
takes”). After keeping this type of journal for only a few days,
people usually notice an improvement in their mood. They gain a
sense of detachment and objectivity, and a feeling that they under-
stand painful events better.
Lxercise: Carry It with You
Write down all the “stuff” going on inside your head. You might
draw a picture of a big head, and then write down all the negative
thoughts and feelings that you carry. Alternatively, you might sum-
marize in writing what you discovered in the two exercises above.
Carry this summary around with you in a pocket for a day as a
symbolic reminder that you can indeed bear the memories from the
past and carry on with your life.
4
8e Aware of
¥our Strengths
P
eople with self-esteem are not necessarily brighter, more
attractive, or more skillful than those who lack self-esteem.
The difference really lies in the way we view ourselves.
Dwelling on our negative aspects prevents us from enjoying
our core worth and what is presently right about ourselves.
Thinking “I can’t like myself with this or that fault” also blocks
self-acceptance, since it makes eliminating our faults a condi-
tion for worth. There will be a time to polish the rough edges
and to grow. But for now let’s focus on a more essential skill:
doing an inventory of your strengths in order to view your core
worth more accurately.
This chapter will help you to quietly do just that. The
skills that we’ll explore are not exercises in positive thinking.
Rather, they are ways to try to see clearly and honestly what
is already there. Recall our basic premise: each person already
possesses in embryo every attribute needed to live well. The
unique ways by which we express these strengths do not estab-
lish our worth—they remind us of our worth.
Let’s consider creativity. Creativity is a wonderful strength
that helps us invent useful devices, beautify our environment,
46 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
and survive in a changing world. I often ask my students to
raise their hand if they are creative. Typically only a few hands
go up, because they narrowly define creativity as only an artis-
tic talent; they think, in an all-or-nothing fashion, “Well, I’m
not artistic so I must not be creative.” I suggest that every per-
son’s hand could appropriately go up. Why? Because creativity
can be expressed in many ways. Some people paint pictures
and some sculpt. Others are creative in the way that they clean,
cook, dress, bargain, amuse themselves, help others, make chil-
dren laugh, tell stories, get themselves out of a jam, solve prob-
lems, organize, and so forth. Creativity is standard issue, but
it can be expressed in many different ways, and it takes effort
to develop dormant aspects of creativity.
Lxercise: Regarding Your Core Worth 
Imagine a crystal that represents core worth, with each facet rep-
resenting a valued personality trait or attribute that all humans
possess in various stages of development. Let’s consider a list of
these attributes:
Creativity
Flexibility (adapts to changing circumstances, can let
go of a course of action that isn’t working)
Wisdom (discernment, good judgment)
Humor, cheerfulness, playfulness
Character (ethics, integrity, honesty, fairness)
Kindness, compassion
Generosity
Respect for self
Respect and consideration for others
Be Aware of Your Strengths 47
Patience
Self-acceptance
Openness, curiosity, awareness
Self-trust
Determination
Discipline
Courage
Humility
Gratitude
Optimism
Others:
On a sheet of paper, list the above attributes down the left
side. Beside each, draw a scale that looks like this:
Completely
Lacking
Completely
Developed
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Next, rate each attribute in yourself from 0 to 10, where 10
means that the attribute is as well developed as it possibly could
be in a person, and 0 means that the attribute is totally and com-
pletely lacking and is never demonstrated in the least degree. Try
to simply notice the levels of these attributes without making nega-
tive judgments or comparisons. Remember, this is not a contest
against others—because worth is equal and people express that
worth in different ways and speeds. So try to be honest, neither
inflating nor deflating your ratings.
48 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Analysis
When you have finished, step back to see what has been
revealed. If you are in touch with reality, you won’t see a rating
of 0 or 10, since you are neither perfect nor totally lacking in
abilities. In this sense, we are all in the same boat. Each person
is like a portrait in various stages of completion. Each person’s
portrait has a unique blend of colors. The light shines differently
on each portrait, highlighting a different mix of strengths for each
one. So while each person is infinitely worthwhile, each expresses
that worth in an infinite variety of ways. You might take a few
moments to record in a journal your thoughts and feelings about
this exercise. As you consider your unique portrait, which areas do
you most enjoy or find most satisfying?
Lxercise: Cognitive Rehearsal Warm-up
This next skill is very effective and popular among individuals
with whom I have worked. It was developed by three Canadian
researchers (Gauthier, Pellerin, and Renaud 1983), who found
that it increased self-esteem in adult subjects within a matter of
weeks.
As a warm-up, place a check mark next to the appropriate
traits or behavior below if you sometimes are or have been, to a
reasonable extent, any of the following:
Friendly  Logical or reasonable 
Calm or composed  Responsive to beauty or
nature

Flexible or adaptable  Brave 
Be Aware of Your Strengths 49
Principled or ethical  Cooperative 
Expressive or articulate  Sensitive, considerate,
polite, or tactful

Fun loving or playful  Energetic, enthusiastic, or
passionate

Organized, orderly, or
neat
 Optimistic or hopeful 
Humorous, mirthful, or
amusing
 Gentle 
Committed  Punctual 
Loyal, dependable, or
responsible
 Generous 
Trustworthy  Adventurous 
Trusting or able to see
the best in others
 Focused or disciplined 
Spontaneous  Perceptive 
Protective  Affectionate 
Caring or kind  Strong, powerful, forceful,
or persuasive

Conciliatory  Resolute, determined, or
persistent

Dignified or graceful  Patient 
Open minded  Self-assured or
self-confident

Imaginative  Trusting of own instincts
or intuitive

Industrious  Forgiving, or willing to
look beyond faults and
release bitterness

The list above represents personality traits or attributes.
The list below contains various roles that we sometimes assume.
50 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Check if you are sometimes reasonably good in any of the follow-
ing roles:
Listener
Helper
Decision maker
Cook
Cleaner
Worker
Friend
Musician or singer
Learner
Leader or coach
Follower
Organizer
Problem solver
Handyperson
Teacher
Beautifier or designer
Driver
Letter writer
Counselor
Thinker
Athlete





















Socializer
Requester or advocate
“Cheerleader” or
supporter
Example for others
Planner
Mate
Taker of criticism
Risk taker
Enjoyer of hobbies
Mistake corrector
Smiler
Debater
Financial manager or
budgeter
Mediator
Storyteller
Family member
Communicator
Sibling
Parent



















Be Aware of Your Strengths 51
Notice that when we remove the requirement for perfec-
tion we can better appreciate our strengths and the many things
we can do. You are now ready to try the cognitive rehearsal
exercise below.
Lxercise: Cognitive Rehearsal 
On a sheet of paper (or on index cards that you can slip
into a pocket or purse), make a list of ten positive state-
ments about yourself that are meaningful and true. The
statements can come from the lists on the preceding pages
and/or you can generate your own statements. You might
write, for example, “I am a faithful and supportive member
of my family,” “I am disciplined,” or “I am a concerned lis-
tener.” If you mention a role that you perform well, try to
add specific personal characteristics that explain why you
do well in that role. For example, if you say that you are an
effective manager, you might add that you plan thoroughly
and treat people fairly. Roles can change (you might retire
or be fired, for example), but you may express your char-
acter and personality traits across many different roles.
Find a place where you can relax without being disturbed
for about twenty minutes. Reflect upon one statement
and the evidence of its accuracy for one to two minutes.
For example, if you noted in step 1 that you are a fair
manager, you might reflect upon a recent decision you
made in which people were treated equally. Repeat this
for each statement.
Repeat this exercise every day for ten days. Each day, add
an additional statement to your list, and reflect on the evi-
dence of the accuracy of each of these statements as well.
1.
2.
3.
52 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Cognitive rehearsal helps to counter the distortions that
keep the focus on the negative, replacing them with appreciative
thoughts and feelings. In a moment of clarity, Walt Whitman
wrote, “I am larger, better than I thought. I did not think I
held so much goodness” (Warner 2004, 142). Those who have
tried this exercise have made similar statements, including the
following:
“Surprisingly, I felt calm and more in tune
with myself.”
“I was pleased to see the amount of things I
have going for me. It was an eye-opener.”
“I feel a sense of empowerment.”
“I felt a sense of negativity just lift away.”




Several times a day during the course of the ten days, look
at an item on the list, and meditate for about two minutes
on the evidence of its accuracy.
4.
Lxercise: The Goodness Within
Sharon Salzberg (2004) suggests an even simpler way to do this.
Spend fifteen minutes remembering good or kind deeds that you
have done, moments where you have been generous or caring, or
times when you have lifted another person in some way, however
small. Afterward, you might record your memories in a journal as
a concrete reminder of the goodness within you.
5
use MindfuI
Meditations
L
ove is essential for mental health and self-esteem, and
the lack of love seems to contribute to anxiety and low
self-esteem. Young monkeys who do not bond with their
mothers become very anxious. In humans, children who form
loving bonds with their parents tend to demonstrate the ben-
efits of self-esteem, and adult anxiety and low self-esteem are
strongly associated with each other (Brown, Schiraldi, and
Wrobleski 2003). In this chapter we will explore skills that help
us to provide the healing love that might have been in short
supply while we were developing. We will start by exploring
mindfulness meditation approaches, and then introduce related
skills that help us in this process.
MindfuIness
In one sense, mindfulness meditation is the experience of our
true, happy, loving nature—the core self, known in the Tibetan
view as the wisdom mind (see chapter 2).
54 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
The battles that cause most of our suffering rage in the
ordinary mind, where we become attached to racing negative
thoughts and disturbing emotions, pulled away from our peace-
ful, kind center. The present moment becomes poisoned as we
get ensnared and fatigued by these swirling, circling thoughts
and feelings in the ordinary mind. The ordinary mind end-
lessly worries, plans, obsesses, remembers, regrets, evaluates,
demands, criticizes, judges, protests, dramatizes, resents, ques-
tions, and hurries. It is said that we live in our heads while
we miss out on life. And the more we struggle and protest
against what we experience, the more aroused we become and
the more we suffer.
There are three possible responses to distressing circum-
stances. We can fight, flee, or allow. When we fight, we tense
up, and the tensing itself tends to increase arousal and pain.
Cognitive therapy (CT; see chapter 3) focuses on replacing neg-
ative thoughts with more respectful, realistic thoughts, and in
Figure 5



Ordinary

Wisdom
Mind
Mind
Use Mindful Meditations 55
this way it helps us to be kinder to ourselves. We learn this in
a rather active and effortful way. CT is a battle of sorts, albeit
a useful one, whose very language exhorts us to punch back or
fight back against those distortions. Another option is to flee
by avoiding, sedating, dissociating, wishing problems away,
or asking why. None of these approaches is effective in the
long run. Mindfulness uses the approach of allowing, which
complements CT. Allowing, or accepting, means that we stop
struggling with our challenges, and simply hold them in kind
awareness. As we stop struggling and trying to fix problems,
we gain a different perspective, an inner peace and confidence
that we can handle life, and liberation from our attachments
to negative thoughts and feelings.
Mindfulness meditations help us to go beneath the
thoughts of the ordinary mind, which include the thoughts of
self-dislike. As we do, we experience our core self—our true
happy nature, or wisdom mind—whose natural state is com-
passionate, loving toward ourselves and others, vast, dignified,
humble, clear, simple, peaceful, and whole. From the clear
and vast perspective of the wisdom mind, we view thoughts
simply as things that come and go, not who we really are at
the core.
As one of my meditation teachers taught, we need not
fight fear—we need only be aware of love. We need not create
love—we need only be aware of what already exists inside. In
mindfulness, we do not have to fight the thoughts of the ordi-
nary mind. Instead, we greet them cordially, holding them with
the loving-kindness and acceptance of the wisdom mind. As
we become aware of the wisdom mind, it is as though its light
breaks through the ordinary mind and unites with the light
of truth beyond. The light of the wisdom mind penetrates,
softens, or dissolves the intensity of our negative thoughts and
feelings. Rather than fighting the negatives, we simply increase
our experience with the positive emotions. As a result, the
negatives tend to decrease.
56 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
What happens when we simply accept what is, without
fighting or fleeing? Western medical research has found that
mindfulness meditation reduces stress and mental and physical
suffering. It also has been found to improve sleep and physi-
cal health, while increasing self-compassion and empathy for
others. Mindfulness practices put us in touch with our loving
core, who we really are—helping us to restore in us a sense of
wholeness and allowing us to experience our inner strengths
with clarity and love. We gain a sense of confidence from
knowing that we can get beneath negative thoughts and not be
controlled by them. Mindfulness reminds us that we are deeper
than any dislike we experience on the surface.
Mindfulness also provides a way to take care of ourselves
by accepting and soothing our distressing emotions, further
increasing our self-confidence. After all, feelings are part of
what makes us unique. If we try to judge and rid ourselves of
our emotions, we are invalidating an important part of who we
are. If we are more comfortable with our emotions, we become
better able to stay calm and be more fully in contact with dis-
tressing situations. As a result, we respond more appropriately
to crises and make better decisions, without emotional over-
reaction. People often say that mindfulness makes them feel
more comfortable in their own skin.
Please remember that mindfulness does not try to fix
or change situations immediately, but it does change the way
we relate or respond to distressing thoughts and feelings. We
simply allow them to be; we don’t react with strong nega-
tive emotions, tension, bracing, judgments, impulsiveness, or
the like. In mindfulness practice we simply watch calmly and
with loving-kindness, viewing our thoughts and feelings from
the dispassionate perspective of the wisdom mind. Later on,
we might decide to try to change a situation from the strong
position of full awareness. When we are open in this way, we
Use Mindful Meditations 57
become more open to the full range of feelings (all feelings
are considered useful and treated the same), signals from our
bodies (such as fatigue, pain, or true hunger as opposed to
emotional hunger), our inner strengths and capacities, available
choices when we are making a decision, and life’s loveliness.
We are likely to feel less exhausted as we detach from the
battles in our ordinary mind.
So, in mindfulness, we simply pay attention to each
moment fully, calmly, and kindly without trying to change
anything right then. The attention is nonjudgmental because
judging creates mental and physical arousal. (To say “I’m not
good at meditation” or “I don’t think it’s working” is judging.)
Instead, we have a welcoming, openhearted attitude when we
practice. Rather than reacting emotionally, we respond always
with loving-kindness.
MindfuIness-8ased Stress
keduction Sequence
Jon Kabat-Zinn (1990; 2005) is known for introducing mind-
fulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) to Western medical
circles in the late 1970s. Here, we will explore a simplified
version of the eight-week program that he developed. Each
form of meditation will build upon the previous form. So it
will be important to practice each mindfulness meditation in
turn. Kabat-Zinn has stressed the importance of practicing
even when you don’t feel like it. Why? With practice you will
eventually be able to take in distressing thoughts, memories,
emotions, and bodily sensations in the same calm way in which
you might eat a raisin, which is where MBSR begins.
58 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Lxercise: The Raisins
The purpose of this exercise is to eat two raisins mindfully with
full awareness over a ten- to fifteen-minute period.
Hold two raisins gently in the palm of your hand with a
playful, curious attitude.
Pick one up and notice all the details of the raisin—the
ridges, stem, translucence, color, and aroma. Notice the
sensations in your fingers as you feel the surface of the
raisin. Roll it between your fingers next to your ear and
notice what that sounds like.
Notice your body as you hold it, noticing tension as you
move it slowly toward your mouth. Sense the air against
your skin as your hand moves slowly, much as you’d feel
the water against your hand in the bath. Notice whether
your body is signaling hunger. Pay attention to all the
sensations in your hand and arm.
As you get ready to put it in your mouth, you might notice
yourself thinking things like “I like [dislike] raisins. Mom
used to give them to us for snacks. I’d like to eat lunch. I
really don’t have time to do this. There are probably a lot
of calories in this raisin. What’s this got to do with self-
esteem?” This is good. Each time such thoughts arise, greet
them cordially (thinking is what the ordinary mind does),
and simply return your attention to eating the raisin.
Notice how your mouth accepts the raisin. As you let the
raisin sit on your tongue, just sense it there and notice
what it feels like before eating it. After a while place it on
different areas of the tongue. Notice whether you salivate
and taste the raisin.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Use Mindful Meditations 59
Take a single bite and notice the flavor. You might notice
a burst of flavor that is more intense than it seems when
you mindlessly eat raisins.
Chew slowly, paying attention to what that feels like, and
then notice the intent to swallow. As you swallow, follow
the raisin down into your stomach. Notice the aftertaste
and sensations in your body.
When you finish, do it again with the second raisin, being
fully and calmly present for the experience.
Most of the elements of mindfulness are introduced in
this exercise: being calmly present for an experience moment by
moment without judging or emotionally reacting; being aware of
the wandering mind, and gently escorting it back to the moment
without judging; the beginner’s mind (even though you might think
all raisins are the same, eating the second raisin is not the same
experience as eating the first); and realizing how much of life we
miss when we are not mindful. Many notice that the experience
of eating a raisin is more intense when the mind is focused on the
present moment, and that they really notice flavors that they miss
when they are in a hurry. Some say that they’d probably eat less if
they were mindful because they’d enjoy each bite more and would
notice when hunger signals had stopped.
6.
7.
8.
Lxercise: Mindful Breathing
This is a very effective meditation practice that helps us learn to
be more peaceful in our own bodies, and to get under the racing
thoughts in our heads. It takes about ten to fifteen minutes. Practice
it once a day for a week.
60 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Sit comfortably in the meditator’s posture: Feet are flat
on the floor; hands are resting, unfolded, comfortably in
the lap, with palms up or down. The back is comfort-
ably erect. Imagine that the spine is aligned like a column
of golden coins resting one atop the other. The head is
neither forward nor back; the chin is neither up nor down.
The torso is held with dignity and grace, like a majestic
mountain. The mountain is constant and secure, despite
the clouds that cover it or the storms that batter it from
without.
Allow your eyes to close. Release tension in the shoulders,
neck, and jaw. Let the abdomen be soft and relaxed. Permit
your body to relax and settle. Let yourself begin to settle
in the wisdom mind.
Reflect on the attitudes of mindfulness for a moment—
acceptance, loving-kindness, nonjudgment, patience,
nonattachment, beginner’s mind, humor, commitment,
vastness, and generosity. In this meditation, you are not
striving to make anything in particular happen. Just notice
what occurs.
Let awareness go to your breathing, as you breathe abdom-
inally (allow your upper body to be relaxed and still; the
only movement is your abdomen rising as you breathe in
and falling as you breathe out). Notice your breathing as
you would watch waves flow in and out from the shore on
the beach. As your breath is flowing, sense the parts of
your body that are moving. You might sense the rising and
stretching in your abdomen as you breathe in. You might
notice the breath moving through your nostrils and throat
and in and out of your lungs. Perhaps you notice your
heart beating, slightly faster on the in breath and slightly
slower on the out breath. Each breath is different, so pay
attention to the entire breath with the beginner’s mind.
1.
2.
3.
4.
Use Mindful Meditations 61
As you breathe, thoughts will come and go. To fight them
is to increase tension, so simply notice your mind wan-
dering, and each time you notice that it has wandered,
gently bring it back to focusing on breath. The object is
not to stop yourself from thinking. Rather it is to feel sat-
isfaction each time you notice your mind wandering. This
is what the ordinary mind does. Congratulate yourself
each time you mindfully notice this, and gently, kindly,
patiently return your awareness to the breath without
judging. Think of this as practice in responding to life
with loving-kindness.
Release, relax, and rest in the breath. Notice fully each
part of the in breath, the out breath, and each subtle,
changing moment. Rest your mind in your belly, sensing
what that is like.
And now feel the breath as if it were a wave that filled the
entire body. Underneath the breath, notice a deeper calm,
the peace within.
When you are finished, notice how you feel. Let that
feeling go, just as you can let awareness of the breath come
and go.
5.
6.
7.
8.
Lxercise: Body Scan
We feel emotions and physical sensations in the body. Yet we often
try to manage these in the head. We might think, “Oh, no. I don’t
want to feel that emotion. Not again. I’ve got to stop feeling that.”
Or, “This pain is terrible; I’ve got to find a way to kill it.” The
more we fight the feelings and sensations, the more we suffer. We
are often quite out of touch with the body as we live in our heads,
62 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
being more connected to television, computers, or cell phones than
to our bodies. We might be obsessed with the image of our body
in the mirror without being in tune with it, just as we may eat
without really tasting. The body scan meditation will prepare us
to eventually experience emotional and physical discomfort with
kindness and calmness, without trying to push it away, run from
it, or think ourselves out of it. This meditation teaches us to simply
welcome in each sensation. We watch it kindly and dispassionately,
and then let our awareness of the sensation dissolve. As we simply
watch sensations, we notice that they often change; they come and
go. When we do not tense up, but instead relax into the sensation,
our response to the sensation changes. Many people observe that
they feel grounded when they are centered in their bodies instead
of their heads—peacefully observing the comings and goings of
bodily sensations, and holding whatever comes up in calm aware-
ness. The idea in this meditation is not to think about each region
of the body, but to place your awareness deep inside it, feeling
from inside. Practice this meditation for about forty minutes daily,
for at least a week.
Lie down on your back in a place where you are unlikely
to be disturbed. Close your eyes. Remember especially the
attitudes of loving-kindness, patience, acceptance, non-
judgment, letting go, and good humor.
Breathe and let your mind settle; let your mind rest calmly
in your body.
Notice how your body as a whole feels at this moment
without judging. Feel your skin against the carpet or bed.
Notice the temperature of the air around you and how
it feels. Be aware of how your body feels—is it comfort-
able, or is there any tension, pain, or itching? Notice the
intensity of these sensations and whether they change or
stay the same.
1.
2.
3.
Use Mindful Meditations 63
In a moment you will breathe in and out of one region of
your body several times, paying full attention to all the
sensations that you experience. It is as though your mind is
resting in that area of the body. Then, when you are ready,
you will release your awareness, letting awareness of that
region dissolve as you also release tension in that area.
Then you’ll bring your awareness in a similar way to the
next region. Each time your mind wanders, gently bring
it back to the region on which you are focusing, without
judging. Let’s begin. We’ll give directions starting with
your left foot. Then we’ll progress in a similar fashion to
the other regions of the body.
Bring kind, openhearted attention to the toes of your left
foot, letting your mind rest there. Imagine that you are
breathing in and out of your toes. Perhaps you imagine
air from your in breath flowing down through your nose,
lungs, abdomen, and legs into your toes, and then, with
your out breath, out from your toes, up through your body,
and through your nose. Allow yourself to feel any and all
sensations in the toes—pressure from a sock, temperature,
blood flow, pulsing, relaxation, tension, and so on. Notice
any changes in these sensations as you breathe. If you feel
nothing, that is okay. Just notice whatever there is to expe-
rience without commenting or judging. When you are ready
to leave this region, take a deeper and more intentional
breath, following the breath down the toes once again. As
you exhale, let awareness of the toes dissolve, releasing any
tension or discomfort your body is willing to release at this
time, as you bring awareness to the next region of your
body (your left sole). Let your awareness stay in the next
region in the same way for several breaths before moving
on. As thoughts arise, silently say, “Thinking, thinking.”
Gently return your awareness to the region of the body and
your breathing. Approach each region with the beginner’s
mind, as though you’ve never before paid attention to that
4.
5.
64 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
region. Watch whatever you experience without tensing
or judging, but with kind, gentle, softhearted awareness.
Repeat the process for each body part, following the list
below:
Toes of left foot
Left sole
Left heel
Top of left foot
Left ankle
Left shin and calf
Left knee
Left thigh
Left side of groin
Left hip
Toes of right foot
Right sole
Right heel
Top of right foot
Right ankle
Right shin and calf
Right knee
Right thigh
Right side of groin
Right hip
Pelvic region, genitals, and buttocks
Lower back
Upper back
Spinal column
Use Mindful Meditations 65
Stomach
Chest
Ribs
Heart
Lungs
Shoulder blades
Collarbones
Shoulders
Fingers of left hand
Left palm
Back of left hand
Left wrist
Left forearm
Left elbow
Left upper arm
Left armpit
Fingers of right hand
Right palm
Back of right hand
Right wrist
Right forearm
Right elbow
Right upper arm
Right armpit
Neck and throat (notice air flow)
Nose (notice air flow and smells without judgment)
Left ear
Right ear
Eyes
66 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Cheeks
Forehead
Temples
Jaw and mouth
Face
Crown of head
Now be aware of your whole body, breathing in peaceful
stillness. Go beneath your thoughts and feel the wholeness
of the body. Notice what is moving or changing. Breathe
through imaginary airholes in your head and feet. Breathe
in through the head, following the breath down to the
stomach, and, on the out breath, follow the breath down
the legs and out the toes. Then breathe in through the feet,
following the in breath to the stomach, and breathe out
through the head. Ultimately feel your entire body breath-
ing, like waves on the surface of the ocean, as you watch
from the calm and peaceful depths.
6.
Use Mindful Meditations 67
Lxercise: Smile Meditation
This beautiful meditation reminds us that happiness already exists
within us as part of our true, happy nature. It is good to practice
this at the beginning of the day and throughout the day. Allow
about ten to fifteen minutes for this meditation.
Assume the meditator’s posture, sitting comfortably erect,
with feet flat on the floor and hands resting comfortably
in the lap. The spine is straight like a column of golden
coins. The upper body is relaxed but erect, sitting in
graceful dignity like a majestic mountain. Allow your eyes
to close. Let your breathing help you to settle into your
restful wisdom mind.
Think of the playful, good-humored aspects of your true
happy nature, or wisdom mind. Imagine for a moment
what it would be like to smile. Perhaps you notice that
just the idea of a smile tends to evoke feelings of being
content, happy, relaxed, and softhearted. Just the thought
of smiling relaxes and softens your face.
Now allow a genuine half smile to form on your face—
perhaps a little twinkle that causes your eyes to sparkle,
relaxing your face and jaw. The smile spreads across your
face, bathing, soothing, and comforting your face.
Imagine that the smile spreads to the neck and throat,
bringing happiness with it. Just sense happiness in that
region, letting your mind rest there.
Now let happiness spread to the lungs; sense the comfort
it brings to that area. Perhaps happiness feels like a warm
light there. Whatever it is, just accept that and allow it to
be.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
68 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Now let that feeling of happiness fill the heart, warming
and soothing it. Breathe and let the mind rest there. Just
allow happiness to settle in your heart.
Let the happy feeling of that smile spread to the stomach
and any other areas of the body that you wish to focus on.
Just sense the happiness in each region of the body.
Hold any thoughts that arise in kind friendliness, and
return to experiencing the smile and happiness in the body.
Conclude by sensing your whole body breathing and being
comforted by the soothing, happy feeling of a smile.
6.
7.
8.
Lxercise: Sitting with Emotions
The meditation skills offered earlier in this chapter have prepared
you for the following very powerful method of calming distress-
ing emotions, and thereby taking care of yourself. This meditation
teaches us to be calm and nonreactive in the presence of whatever
emotions arise, good or bad.
The Tibetan master Sogyal Rinpoche (1993) teaches that the
dragon, which represents our fears and pain, guards our greatest
treasure. In other words, if we can overcome our tendency to flee
from our fears and pain, then we can discover the deep reservoirs
of peace and strength within. Chieko Okazaki (1993) relates the
story of a Japanese village that had been terrorized by an unseen
dragon, who roared from his cave in the nearby hills. One day, a
little boy decided to approach the cave and invite the dragon to
his birthday party. Despite the dragon’s mighty roar and billowing
smoke, the boy pleaded with the dragon to come. Eventually con-
vinced that the boy was sincere, the dragon burst into tears. His
tears were so voluminous that they created a river upon which the
Use Mindful Meditations 69
dragon and boy floated to the boy’s home. Compassionate aware-
ness changes things in a beautiful way.
The wisdom mind is indeed vast, loving, and accepting—wide
and deep enough to hold any distressing emotion. Thus, we can
be open to whatever exists, penetrating distressing emotions with
healing, loving-kindness. Instead of fighting thoughts, memories,
and feelings, we can learn to just embrace them, remembering com-
passion. It is like sitting with a beloved who is in pain, listening,
and saying “Tell me about it. Whatever it is, it’s okay.” We listen
without judging until the pain subsides and/or the person changes
his response to the pain—relaxing rather than fighting it.
In this meditation, we learn to watch distressing emotions
from the vast, detached perspective of the wisdom mind. The pain
is impersonal; we don’t identify with the pain (“There is pain,”
rather than “I have pain” or “I am the pain”). Remembering that
the ordinary mind creates much suffering as we resist pain (“Why
do I have to suffer? It’s not fair. I can’t stand this pain”), we change
our response to pain by allowing the pain in. However, instead of
bracing and tensing as we fight it, we relax into the pain with full
acceptance. We don’t judge emotions as bad or good; instead we
accept both with equanimity, allowing love to penetrate and dis-
solve the pain. It is recommended that this meditation be practiced
for thirty minutes or more each day for at least a week.
Assume the meditator’s posture, sitting comfortably erect,
with feet flat on the floor and hands resting comfortably
in the lap. The spine is straight, like a column of golden
coins. The upper body is relaxed but erect, sitting in
graceful dignity like a majestic mountain. Allow your eyes
to close. Let your breathing help you to settle into your
peaceful wisdom mind.
Remember the key attitudes of acceptance, compassion,
and nonjudgment. Remember that you are already whole.
Use the beginner’s mind as you explore a new way to expe-
rience feelings.
1.
2.
70 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Be aware of your breathing for several minutes. Let your
belly be soft and relaxed, watching it rise and fall as
you breathe in and out, becoming still, peaceful, settled,
grounded, and really present.
Be aware of any feeling in your body, any sensation as it
comes and goes, without judging or trying to change it.
Whenever you find your mind wandering, congratulate
yourself for noticing this. Remember that thoughts are not
you, and bring your awareness gently back to breathing
and sensing your body.
Recall a difficult situation, perhaps involving work or a
relationship, and the related feelings of unworthiness,
inadequacy, sadness, or worry about the future. Make a
space for this situation. Give deep attention to these feel-
ings. Whatever you are feeling is all right. Greet these feel-
ings cordially, as you would greet an old friend.
Notice where in the body you feel the feelings (your
stomach, chest, or throat, for example). Let yourself feel
the feelings completely, with full acceptance. Don’t think,
“I’ll tighten up and let these feelings in for a minute in
order to get rid of them”—this is not full acceptance.
Rather, create a space that allows the feelings to be com-
pletely accepted.
Breathe into that region of the body with great love, as
if fresh air and sunlight were entering a long-ignored and
darkened room. Follow your breath all the way down
through the nose, throat, lungs, and then to the part of
the body where you sense the distressing emotion(s). Then
follow the breath out of your body, until you find yourself
settling. You might think of a kind, loving, accepting smile
as you do this. Don’t try to change or push the discom-
fort away. Don’t brace or struggle with it. Just embrace it
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
Use Mindful Meditations 71
without judging it, with real acceptance, deep attention,
loving-kindness, and peace. Let the body soften and open
around that area. The wisdom mind is vast enough to hold
these feelings with great compassion; love is big enough to
embrace, welcome, and penetrate the discomfort. Let your
breath caress and soothe the feelings as you would your
adored sleeping baby.
View the discomfort from the dispassionate perspective of
the wisdom mind. It is as if you are watching waves of
discomfort rise on the surface of the ocean, and then be
reabsorbed into the vast ocean. The waves come and go
without changing the basic nature of the ocean. If you find
it helpful, you might think of loved ones who remind you
of loving-kindness and let that loving-kindness penetrate
your awareness as you remember that difficult situation.
Simply notice what happens to the feelings without trying
to make them change.
When you are ready, take a deeper breath into that area
of the body and, as you exhale, widen your focus to your
body as a whole. Pay attention to your whole body’s breath-
ing, being aware of the wholeness and the vast, unlimited
compassion of the wisdom mind that will hold any pain
that comes and goes. Your attention now expands to the
sounds you are hearing, just bringing them into awareness
without commenting or judging. Simply listen with a half
smile. Feel the air against your body; sense your whole
body breathing. Notice all that you are aware of with a
soft and open heart.
To conclude, say the following intentions silently to your-
self: “May I remember loving-kindness. May I be happy.
May I be whole.”
9.
10.
11.
72 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
So long as one is a human being … self-love should
be there.
—Dalai Lama
MindfuIness-8ased Cognitive 1herapy
From cognitive therapy (CT) we learn a useful way for dealing
with the drama that plays out in the ordinary mind: we first
become aware of our distorted automatic thoughts and then
replace these with more constructive thoughts. This tends to
reduce the severity of the disturbing emotions that we experi-
ence. Further relief can be gained by becoming aware of and
replacing our inaccurate core beliefs. In chapter 3 we used
the example of failing a promotion test. This situation trig-
gered various unreasonable negative thoughts, which resulted
in feelings of depression and anxiety. One such thought was
“I’ll fail the retest. It will be awful.” Replacing such thoughts
with more logical thoughts (“If I prepare more effectively, I
might pass”) reduces distress somewhat. In CT, the person is
asked a series of questions that are designed to help him or
her uncover the core belief, such as “Why would failing the
retest be so bad?” and “What would that mean about you?”
Such questions uncover the so-called core belief, which is then
challenged and replaced. For example, a person might reply
that failing the retest would prove that he is inadequate. The
faulty logic of this core belief is challenged (for example, “I
am clearly not always and in every way inadequate”), thus
providing additional relief.
Core beliefs are often learned early in life. They often
take the following forms:
Use Mindful Meditations 73
“I am inadequate [weak, incompetent, help-
less, out of control, not capable enough, no
good].”
“I am unlovable [unlikable, unwanted, reject-
able, different, bad].” (Beck 1995)
Even though they are called “core beliefs,” these do not
accurately reflect the core; they are only thoughts in the ordi-
nary mind. Because they were acquired early in life, they are
accompanied by strong feelings that are difficult to reason
away. Logic does not entirely soothe the feelings. Who has not
felt genuinely inadequate or unlovable at times? One woman
said, “When I wake up all disheveled and grouchy, you can’t
tell me I’m lovable.” As the Zen master Seng-Ts’an said, “If you
work on your mind with your mind, how can you avoid great
confusion?” (Hayes, Strosahl, and Wilson 1999, 12). We might
restate this by saying, “Thinking alone is usually insufficient to
heal deeply held beliefs and feelings.”
Sadly, a “hardened” criminal once exclaimed, “Don’t you
understand that a criminal is who I am!” He had not softened
to the possibility that his perception of his identity was just a
thought. He had attached to the ordinary mind’s thought as if
it were ultimate truth, letting the thought drive his behavior
and self-concept—thus blocking change. Core beliefs have a
way of getting entrenched in the ordinary mind. They are dif-
ficult to uproot with logic alone.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT; Segal,
Williams, and Teasdale 2002; McQuaid and Carmona 2004)
brings the heart back into the picture, giving a complementary
way to handle upsetting thoughts and feelings. This approach
focuses mainly on the feelings (of being unlovable, inadequate,
and so on). Instead of fighting the distorted thoughts, we learn
to accept the thoughts and feelings, letting their intensity dis-
solve as we sit with them with loving-kindness—viewing them
from the nonjudgmental perspective of the wisdom mind. We


74 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
disengage from rumination, going under the thoughts and
holding the feelings with the compassion of a soft heart until
they soften.
Some feel that the approach below provides an easier,
more natural way to get to the core beliefs. Try this several
times over the course of the next week, until you feel comfort-
able with the skill. (See the example at figure 6, below.)
Identify a difficult situation that triggered upsetting
feelings. Write it down. Underneath it, describe and
rate the intensity of the resulting feelings.
In the first of two columns, write down your auto-
matic thoughts, without judging them. Just breathe,
and, with a dispassionate view, write them down.
In the second column, write down a mindful response
for each automatic thought. Mindful responses are brief
phrases or sentences that reflect acceptance and kind-
ness without trying to change the automatic thoughts.
The following examples might help you select suitable
responses:
“Thinking that …”
“It’s just a thought.”
“Believing the thought that …”
“Accepting this thought …”
“Nonjudging.”
“That’s the way it is.” (This is excellent for
“should” statements, such as “I should have
known better” or “I shouldn’t be this way.”)
1.
2.
3.
Use Mindful Meditations 75
“It’s okay (smiling, just holding that thought in
kind awareness).”
“This is difficult. Remember loving-kindness.
Love is deeper than this thought.”
“Feeling compassion …”
“Breathing, letting that thought settle in the
body …”
“Holding this thought softly in awareness …”
“Remembering patience and nonstriving …”
“Just sitting with this thought and emotion …”
“Holding this fear with compassion … it’s okay
to be afraid.”
“Accepting disappointment …”
“Beginner’s mind …” (This is especially useful
when we think “I can’t do this” or “I’m a
loser.”)
Accepting that thought, then letting it go.”
Sit with each automatic thought for a few moments
without trying to modify it. Notice what feelings and
sensations each thought triggers in your body. Breathe
into this with loving-kindness, without judging the
thoughts or feelings, reacting emotionally, or fighting
them, as you hold in awareness the mindful response
to each automatic thought. Notice if the intensity of
the thoughts or feelings changes as you watch them
from the perspective of the wisdom mind.
4.
76 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Figure 6 
MBCT Double-Column Technique
Difficult Situation: My computer freezes as I’m working on an
important project at home at night.
Resulting
Feeling(s)
Internal Ratings Rating After
Sitting with the
Core Belief
Angry 8 6
Frustrated 7 5
Automatic Thoughts Mindful Response
I can’t stand it when this
happens.
It should do what I paid
it to do.
I must meet the deadline.
I must excel.
Having the thought that I
can’t stand this
It is what it is—accepting
Breathing; accepting that
this is difficult
Believing the thought that
I must excel
Uncover the core belief. Regarding the distressing situ-
ation, you can ask yourself questions, such as “Why
is this so bad?” “What’s the worst thing about this?”
“What does this mean about me?” and “What is the
deepest hurt or fear?” Perhaps it is the fear that you
are inadequate, or the feeling that you are alone,
unable to get needed help, as you felt when you were
a child. In our example, you might realize that you
could miss the boss’s deadline because your computer
is malfunctioning, that the boss might criticize you,
and that you might react by thinking (and feeling) that
you are inadequate—which is the core belief.
5.
Use Mindful Meditations 77
Sit with the core belief (and feeling) as you learned
to do in the Sitting with Emotions exercise above.
That is, notice the feeling without judging or reacting
emotionally. Hold it in the body, kindly penetrating
it with soothing loving-kindness until the core belief
and associated feeling begin to soften in intensity.
Remember the dignity and immeasurable worth of
each individual.
Rerate the original feelings in figure 6. Notice how
these might have lessened in intensity.
Notice that MBCT does not change the situation; it only
changes our response to the situation. It teaches us to lessen
the intensity of our emotional reactions so that we can func-
tion at our best.
6.
7.
Lxercise: Time Tripping
This strategy helps us to touch our past selves with love, helping to
soften painful experiences from long ago that might have resulted
in feelings of inadequacy, rejection, powerlessness, shame, loneli-
ness, or the like. Allow about thirty minutes for this exercise.
In a place where you won’t be disturbed, sit in the medita-
tor’s posture, with feet flat on the floor, and hands resting
comfortably in the lap. The spine is straight, like a column
of golden coins. The upper body is relaxed but comfort-
ably erect, sitting in graceful dignity like a majestic moun-
tain. Allow your eyes to close. Let your breathing help you
to settle into your restful wisdom mind.
Think of a painful experience from your past. Call the
person experiencing the painful experience your “younger
self.” Your present self, the “wiser self,” understands the
healing power of compassion and has greater skill and
experience than the younger self had.
1.
2.
78 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Lxercise: The Mindful Mirror
Try this practice each time you see yourself in the mirror over the
next few days.
Look directly and deeply into your eyes with genuine and
heartfelt loving-kindness. Look beyond the wrinkles or blemishes.
If you notice stress in your eyes, try to acknowledge and understand
that, and let the stress dissolve. Continue to look into your eyes,
perhaps with a kind half smile and a feeling of welcoming accep-
tance and good humor, touching the core with loving-kindness.
Imagine that the wiser self goes back in time to visit the
younger self during that difficult time. The wiser self cher-
ishes the core of the younger self and knows that the mis-
treatment or mistake that the younger self has experienced
is not who the younger self is at the core. By the kind
way that the wiser self looks, speaks, and/or touches the
younger self, he or she helps the younger self feel secure,
protected, and loved. From the perspective of experience,
the wiser self senses and provides what the younger self
needed at that time, whether it be encouragement, physical
protection, counsel, hope, an embrace, a wink, or soothing
words. The younger self accepts this kindness, resting in
it. Sense this happening.
3.
It is usually not thinking, or even time, that heals,
but love.
—Anonymous
6
CuItivate Joy
L
ife is difficult, and one of life’s greatest challenges is how
to enjoy it. Cultivating more joy in life promotes self-
esteem by building our confidence in our ability to experi-
ence mastery and pleasure. Creating space for recreative enjoy-
ment is also a way of taking care of ourselves. Since self-esteem
and happiness are strongly correlated (Brown, Schiraldi, and
Wrobleski 2003), and because increasing happiness likely raises
self-esteem, this chapter focuses on ways to increase happiness
and wholesome pleasure.
Although happiness is a more enduring and steady
condition than pleasure, activities that promote wholesome
pleasure (activities that consider the well-being of self and
others and do no harm) are also beneficial. For example, studies
have shown that simply increasing pleasant events can elevate
mood as effectively as trying to eliminate distortions (Jacobson
and Christensen 1996). Before exploring the approaches to
increasing happiness and wholesome pleasure, let’s examine
the factors that can undermine our efforts.
80 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
happiness Myths
Certain myths, which can be readily challenged, appear to
reduce one’s ability to enjoy life:
I must have wealth in order to enjoy life. Once
a person’s income rises above the poverty level,
the amount of money they have bears little
relation to their happiness. In fact, people
tend to be happier when their entertainment
is inexpensive and requires their active partici-
pation. Thus, it is not surprising that passive
entertainment like watching television tends to
lower people’s mood. Greater benefits tend to
result from immersion in activities that require
investment of one’s strengths, such as reading
or helping others.
Playing is somehow immature or wrong. As
Gandhi taught, it is not pleasure, but pleasure
without conscience, that corrupts conscious-
ness. Wholesome pleasure improves happiness
and productivity.
All work must be completed before pleasure
is experienced. Taken to its illogical extreme,
this myth would prevent everyone from having
pleasure, since there is always more work that
could be done.
Only the outcome matters; the process does
not. The process is a journey that can be
enjoyed. The trick is to find satisfaction in our
work and in the other aspects of life. Does it
do us any good to be rich in achievements but
impoverished in joy?




Cultivate Joy 81
I must “succeed” to have worth; my worth
when playing is less than my worth when
producing. This statement erroneously equates
market worth with inner worth. Inner worth
is the same whether we are sleeping, playing,
or producing.
Pleasure decreases productivity. Certainly one
can overdo pleasure or use it to escape life’s
responsibilities. However, happy people tend
to be more productive and make better deci-
sions than unhappy people.
My mistakes and flaws disqualify me from
deserving pleasure. Mistakes and flaws make
us fallible but never undeserving or worthless
at the core.
With all the depression and problems in the
world, it’s nearly impossible to be happy. In
fact, most people are generally happy, irrespec-
tive of gender, race, age, employment status,
and even mental and physical handicaps.
I must be attractive to be happy. Happiness is
an inside job and is relatively independent of
appearance.
Success is being happy. Happiness is loving
yourself, loving others, and getting to do the things
that you love. I love to rock climb, surf, and paint,
to name a few.
—Mike Dolan, former student





82 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
A 1horough MedicaI or
PsychoIogicaI LvaIuation
In a moment, we’ll discuss strategies for increasing happiness
and wholesome pleasure. In general, however, it’s helpful to
first treat conditions that can degrade one’s mood and ability
to experience pleasure, some of which are listed below:
Common mental illnesses, such as depression,
anxiety, and problem anger, are associated
with unhappiness. One type of anxiety dis-
order, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),
can result from abuse; rape; combat; industrial
or traffic accidents; crime; terrorism; torture;
and police, firefighting, and other emergency
service work.
Thyroid imbalance is called the “great mimic,”
because it can cause depression, anxiety, pre-
menstrual symptoms, old-age memory loss,
elevated cholesterol levels, weight gain, and
many other symptoms affecting the mind and
body.
Sleep apnea is characterized by snoring that
stops and starts frequently throughout the
night. This condition can cause oxygen depri-
vation, leading one to feel depressed, fatigued,
and sexually disinterested. It is also a risk
factor for headaches, heart attacks, high blood
pressure, and strokes.
Elevated cholesterol can sometimes cause
depression, as can diabetes.




Cultivate Joy 83
All of these conditions can be successfully treated or
managed with the proper medical or psychological help. A
thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test can detect thyroid
problems that normal blood tests sometimes miss. A variety of
stress management strategies can be used in conjunction with
the treatment of a number of these problems. These strategies
include abdominal breathing, systematic relaxation, exercise,
nutrition, sleep hygiene, time management, and interpersonal
or communication skills. Quitting smoking can also reduce
stress and mood fluctuations. PTSD is best treated by a spe-
cially trained trauma specialist (see Recommended Resources
at the end of the book).
Lveryday MindfuIness
Mindfulness helps us to be fully present in the moment, without
letting our racing thoughts (worries, plans, judgments, and so
on) pull us out of the moment. Everyday mindfulness carries
the benefits of mindfulness meditation, which is a way of being
calm and joyful (see chapter 5). Over the next few days, select
at least one activity to experience mindfully (see the list of
suggestions below). Use your breathing to settle your mind in
your body as you just watch and enjoy all of the aspects of the
activity. As you breathe, allow yourself to rest in your wisdom
mind, feeling serene and at ease. Perhaps you smile slightly as
you relax into the present moment, knowing that each moment
can be peaceful and beautiful. When a thought intrudes, just
notice the thought with a cordial attitude and gently bring your
full attention back to the activity. Simply experience the event
fully, noticing the things we so often miss in our hurried lives.
Go slowly and take in all of the sensations—tastes, sights,
aromas, sounds, textures—and notice how your body feels
before, while, and after you do the activity. Try to only do the
84 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
activity, focusing on nothing else. Watch from the perspective
of the compassionate wisdom mind. You might select an activ-
ity to try from the following list:
Watch something in nature, such as clouds,
rain, stars, the moon, a flower, or a tree.
Eat a meal.
Drive your car.
Wash the car.
Brush your teeth.
Take a shower or bath.
Wash your hands.
Wash dishes.
Walk. (Feel each sensation in your legs as
you mindfully move and your feet meet the
ground.)
Sit in the sun.
Truly listen to someone (without judging or
thinking of what you are going to say; notice
what your body feels and what is in your heart;
try to discern what the person feels in his or
her heart).
Hold a baby.
Get in bed.
Do a hobby.














Cultivate Joy 85
Play a children’s game.
Exercise.
Listen to or tell a joke. (Notice how it feels to
be amused.)
Plan spontaneity. (You might set aside a day
for recreation with only general plans, such
as going to the zoo or driving through the
country, and just enjoy whatever develops.
This can be done alone or with a partner.)
No one can live without delight, and that is why a
man deprived of joy of spirit goes over into carnal
pleasures.
—St. Thomas Aquinas
Cratitude
Happy people tend to be grateful. The pessimist tends to look
at a glass of water that is half full and thinks, “Why is it only
half full? Why can’t it be completely full?” The happy person
thinks, “What beautiful, clear water.” Again, mindfulness
helps us. Eastern spiritual masters teach that we can be content
in any given circumstance, even as we might try to improve
it. At the same time, attachment causes unhappiness. If we
demand money, looks, possessions, titles, or a particular way
of being treated by others, then these things are controlling our




86 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
happiness. If you insist upon having a particular prestigious
position, for example, then how will you feel if you don’t have
it or can’t get it? If you do have it, you might worry that you’ll
be fired. If your authority is challenged, then you might become
angry. Gratitude, however, permits us to celebrate all that we
enjoy, becoming attached neither to the things we possess nor
to the things we lack. Thus, one can enjoy watching the clouds
from a mansion, a hut, or a prison.
Below are a few other ideas for experiencing more
gratitude:
Try keeping a gratitude journal. Each day
record three or four things for which you have
felt grateful over the last twenty-four-hour
period. See if your mood has improved after
a week or so. If it has, keep writing in the
gratitude journal.
Think of people who have made a difference
in your life. You might wish to express heart-
felt gratitude to these people in a phone call
or a note.
Finally, play the reminiscing game with friends
or loved ones. Here, you simply say, “Remember
when we did such and such. Wasn’t that fun?
Didn’t we laugh?”
How much money does it take for one to be
happy? A little bit more than he’s got.
—John D. Rockefeller



Cultivate Joy 87
Sentence Stem CompIetion
Another way to approach pleasant events is the sentence stem
completion activity. This strategy asks you to respond as fast
as you can, without thinking or worrying about the practicality
of your answers. The assumption is that the ideas that matter
most are already inside us and will come out spontaneously.
You can try this with just one other person or several people
sitting in a circle. Each person states the first sentence stem
aloud and then completes it with the first idea that comes to
mind. Continue until the ideas for that sentence stem have run
out, and then move on to the next sentence stem. If you are
trying this strategy alone, simply write down your responses,
one after another, on a sheet of paper. Try these sentence
stems:
What occupied and amused me as a child was …
My idea of a good time is …
My idea of a simple pleasure is …
Something I did as a child that I would still enjoy
is …
This strategy is a very enjoyable way to stimulate creative
thinking. One man, who had grown up in a diplomat’s family,
surprised me by saying that his idea of a good time was reading
the newspaper on the stoop. (Somehow I thought he would say
something like going to the opera or a famous museum.) When
I first began using this strategy, I started to think about the
simple pleasures that I had enjoyed as a child and could still
enjoy, such as climbing a tree or playing children’s games. So I
suggested that my family play Red Light, Green Light at family
gatherings, and we did so until the children got too old. I was
a bit sad that I couldn’t convince the adults to keep playing
88 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
anyway, because we had had so many hearty laughs. But I still
continue to reclaim some simple pleasures from childhood,
such as shooting arrows into the air with the same bow I used
to play with as a child.
1raditions
A tradition is anything that is enjoyed and repeated; it is a
return to the comfortable and familiar. It is also what we lose,
along with some of our humanity, when we become too busy
and have little extra time. Most people have a treasured tradi-
tion or two. Many of these can be preserved or reinstituted. For
some the tradition might be a holiday celebration. For others,
traditions can be simple, such as a sit-down dinner on Sunday
evenings. (One woman said her Mother’s Day tradition was
to go to any restaurant where she didn’t have to “look up to
see the menu.”) Some couples reserve Friday evenings for date
nights, and some families set aside one night a week for playing
games together, telling uplifting stories, and sharing a dessert.
A tradition might also mean working together as a family, or
designating an evening as a time for being with friends, since
we tend to lose friends when we become too busy for them.
Mastery and Competence Imagery
Pat yourself on the back if you have made it this far in life
and have managed to preserve a reasonable degree of sanity.
Can you remember a time in your life when you confronted
a challenge and handled it well, even though it was difficult?
You might think of mastering difficult material in school,
performing a complicated work of music or doing well in an
Cultivate Joy 89
athletic competition, resolving a conflict with another person,
or being afraid but persisting anyway. Do you remember how
good this felt? In order to survive, we’ve each had to master
certain challenges. Take a few moments to identify some of
these moments. Jot them down on a piece of paper. Now take
a few moments to focus on one of these experiences, perhaps
the one that you feel best about. We’ll call this your “mastery
and competence image.” Assume your meditator’s posture—
feet flat on the floor, back comfortably erect, hands resting in
the lap—and relax in your breath. Imagine the experience in
detail—what you did, thought, felt, saw, heard, and sensed in
your body. Take your time, recalling the details until the expe-
rience becomes vivid in your imagination. Then record all of
these details in a notebook or on a piece of paper (writing them
down helps the details to become more vivid and concrete).
This is your mastery and competence image. Because this
imagery is drawn from your real-life experience, this exercise
evokes powerful feelings of confidence and satisfaction that
tend to replace negative feelings and boost self-esteem.
Next, identify an upcoming situation that you associate
with anxiety—perhaps taking a test, negotiating a raise with
the boss, or tackling a difficult assignment. Break the situation
down into a hierarchy of ten to twenty steps, from the least dif-
ficult aspect of the situation to the most difficult. (Alternatively,
your hierarchy can break the feared event into ten to twenty
chronological steps.) After completing the hierarchy, sit in the
meditator’s posture. Think of the least distressing step on the
hierarchy (or the first step, if your hierarchy is chronological),
allowing yourself to fully feel with an open heart any distress
that is associated with that step for a few moments. Relax in
your breathing. Notice where you feel distress in your body and
breathe into that area with compassion. Now bring into aware-
ness your mastery and competence image. Fully and completely
experience all of the details of this image. After you see this
image vividly in your mind, imagine that all of the thoughts,
90 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
feelings, and sensations in your mastery and competence image
fully penetrate that distressing step on the hierarchy. Stay with
this for a few moments until you feel a shift in the feelings
associated with the distressing step.
Repeat this cycle of allowing in the distress and then
penetrating it with your mastery and competence image a few
times until you feel that you can experience this step on the
hierarchy with relatively little distress. Then progress to the
next step on the hierarchy and repeat the procedure. Eventually,
after you’ve transferred feelings of mastery and competence to
each step on the hierarchy, you’ll experience the distressing
event in a calmer, more confident way.
As time permits, call to mind other mastery and compe-
tence images. Describe them in your notebook and make them
a part of your coping repertoire.
Sense of humor
Humor is universally valued and used by resilient survivors.
But it’s much more than telling jokes. Humor is about having
a kind and playful outlook on life—it pleasantly brings us back
to our wisdom mind and helps us to realize that mishaps are
not who we are. Thus, humor affords a presence of mind and
a sense of equanimity in the face of our mistakes. It is about
acceptance, optimism, and clarity. It enables us to say, “You
know, I’m not perfect, but I’m a darn sight better than some
might think.” As one elegant woman I know once said, “We
have to laugh at ourselves because we all do ridiculous things
sometimes.”
Humor helps us endure adversity, making the sour seem
bittersweet, providing comic relief, and lightening things up.
When we find something to laugh about despite the absurdities
Cultivate Joy 91
of life, we are saying “I can figure a way to rise above even
this, at least temporarily; things could be worse.”
A shared laugh brings people together and reminds us
that we are not alone in our misery. The World War II concen-
tration camp survivor Viktor Frankl (1959) told of two prison-
ers who joked about how prison camp lessons could transfer to
real life: they visualized going to a dinner party after the war
and asking that their soup be ladled from the bottom. During
that war, Irene Gut Opdyke hid twelve Jews in the basement of
a villa while she kept house for a German major upstairs (I. G.
Opdyke, personal communication). Despite the grave danger
they were in, she said, they all thought it funny, even farcical,
to think that they were stealing food from beneath the comman-
dant’s nose. Another example of the power of humor took place
during the frightful Battle of the Bulge, when surrounded GIs
maintained strict roadblocks. An American officer approached
one roadblock in a jeep driven by an African-American, but
the officer didn’t know the password. He impatiently reached
for his pistol as he demanded to pass. Eight sentries clicked
the safeties of their rifles as they prepared to fire. At that tense
moment, the driver exclaimed, “Oh, man, you know I ain’t no
Nazi!” The affection and respect with which this story was
told suggested that laughter helped to break down the walls
separating people as it broke up the tension of the moment (R.
B. Jacobs, personal communication).
You might find it helpful to remember the following
principles when cultivating a sense of humor:
Keep humor affectionate and playful, and
good-natured rather than hostile. Wholesome
humor allows us to share our common lot and
faults in life. There is a sense that we’re all
in this together. Avoid sarcasm and ridicule,
which can separate people. Think of humor as
an act of service that can lift people’s spirits
if used kindly.

92 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
We don’t have to try to be funny. Just notice
or describe life’s incongruities, and have the
courage to laugh.
Be yourself. You can either give humor away
(jokes, pranks, good-natured ribbing, endear-
ing nicknames) or you can absorb or appreci-
ate humor (noticing the ridiculous, chuckling
at mistakes, laughing with others). You can be
low key, dry, or boisterous. You might find
that you are funny around close friends, but
not in large groups. All of these approaches
are okay.
Be flexible. Overusing humor can be a form
of escapism and avoidance of genuine feelings.
There are times when it is insensitive or inap-
propriate to laugh. If you are unsure about
your use of humor in a particular situation,
check it out. Explain that you were trying to
lighten things up, and ask if it was all right
with the people around you.
Try noticing the joyful aspects of life before
trying to be funny (“Did you see that beautiful
moon?”). If you can then make another person
laugh, that’s icing on the cake.
Attitudes 1oward Suffering
Life is indeed difficult. Whining, complaining, second-guessing
or pitying ourselves, cursing life, and blaming keep us feeling
powerless and angry, which only increases our suffering. Those
who successfully survive adversity develop a different way to




Cultivate Joy 93
view suffering. For example, prisoners of war learn to acknowl-
edge the internal wounds that they’ve suffered, but they also
realize that their adversity revealed strengths that they other-
wise would not have discovered. Sometimes adversity teaches
us that we can endure more than we assumed we could, or it
forces us to develop persistence and determination. Suffering
can lead to greater empathy and new purpose, inspiring us to
help others. It can also help us to appreciate the simple plea-
sures in life. And watching others endure suffering with dignity
can help us appreciate the character within others. Most resil-
ient survivors would not wish to relive the difficult periods in
their lives, yet most say they would not trade past challenges
for the lessons they’ve taught. Rather than wincing or trying
to avoid pain, we can learn to courageously turn into the wind
of adversity and seek pain’s tutorials.
CuItivate 0ptimism
Optimism is another correlate of happiness, self-esteem, and
resilience. Optimism is not the unrealistic expectation that
everything will turn out well—that would be overconfidence,
which can lead to disappointment and poor performance.
Rather, optimism is the attitude that helps us say:
“If I try, things are likely to turn out as well
as possible.”
“No matter how bad things become, I can find
something to enjoy.”
“If things don’t turn out well in one area,
other areas are likely to turn out well.”
“‘Bad luck’ is not permanent, so I can approach
things with an open, beginner’s mind.”




94 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
The following strategies can help us to cultivate
optimism:
When something does not turn out well, think
like an optimist. Optimists live longer and
have better mental and physical health than
pessimists. They also perform better than pes-
simists in the workplace. A pessimist thinks
(1) “Something is wrong with me at the core”;
(2) “Everything goes wrong like this”; and (3)
“Things will never improve.” An optimist, by
contrast, thinks: (1) “This was a difficult situ-
ation”; (2) “I do other things well”; and (3)
“Things will likely improve.”
Read about people such as Viktor Frankl or
Arthur Ashe who endured suffering with opti-
mism (see Recommended Resources).
When something goes awry, practice the “at
least” exercise: “I lost my home, but at least
I still have my family”; “I lost my job, but at
least I don’t have to tolerate my boss anymore”;
“From this adversity, at least I learned that I
can endure great difficulty.” (The last example
demonstrates “survivor’s pride,” the confi-
dence and strength that one gains from endur-
ing tragedy or hardship.)



7
Appreciate
¥our 8ody
H
ave you ever noticed what you see when you look in the
mirror? Do you view your overall appearance and coun-
tenance cordially and kindly, or do you home right in on
your body’s flaws? One approach leads to a satisfying feeling;
the other results in a feeling of disappointment.
The body is an external. Our inner worth is not related to
our weight, appearance, or health status (although our culture
might lead us to believe otherwise). However, the way we expe-
rience our body typically corresponds to the way we experi-
ence our core selves. If we reject our bodies overall because of
particular perceived flaws, we are also likely to condemn our
core selves for some present imperfections. If our bodies have
been mistreated, ridiculed, or called names, we may learn to
experience our bodies with shame. By extension, this shame
might spread to the core self. Yet we can learn to experience
our bodies with greater appreciation and satisfaction. This in
turn helps us to adopt a more accepting attitude toward our
inner selves.
96 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
The media could lead us to believe that one could not
possibly be happy if one is physically imperfect. Nevertheless,
a fascinating story appeared on 20/20 Downtown about Kevin
Miller, a beloved music teacher who happened to weigh six
hundred pounds (Miller 2000). With the help of his loving
wife, Miller learned that his identity rests inside him. He
learned to accept himself while trying every day to manage his
weight. As a result, his students learned to look beneath super-
ficial, outer appearances. Likewise, when Christopher Reeve of
Superman fame became paralyzed, his wife told him that she
would understand if he wanted to end his life, but that she
still loved him and hoped that he would choose to live. His
child, understanding the difference between core worth and
externals, said that his father could no longer run, but he could
still smile. So the immeasurable worth of the core persists,
despite the imperfections of the body. Just as we can learn to
accept our core worth as different from our externals, we can
also learn to appreciate our bodies, despite their imperfections.
Let’s see how this is done.
Consider the Magnihcence of
the 8ody
It is easy to contemplate the magnificence of a mountain peak,
a field of wheat, a tall building, the ocean at sunset, a stallion
galloping across the plains, a single flower, or a piece of fruit.
Let’s also take a moment to ponder the breathtaking complexi-
ties of the body.
Each of our cells contains the genetic plan for producing
all of the cells in our bodies. The genetic code contains bil-
lions of steps of DNA that would extend more than five feet in
length if stretched out in a line. However, this code is coiled to
a length of only 1/2500 of an inch within the nucleus of each
Appreciate Your Body 97
cell. From this single blueprint, cells divide and specialize, such
that some cells become cells of the heart, others become cells
of the eye, nerves, or bones, and so on. The trillions of cells
in the body, millions of which are replaced each second, would
stretch over a million miles if placed end to end.
The blood vessels of the body stretch over 75,000 miles.
The heart consists of two muscle pumps, one strong enough to
cause blood to course through these many miles of vessels, the
other gentle enough to move blood through the lungs without
bursting the delicate air sacs found there. The heart, weighing
just eleven ounces, beats tirelessly, each day pumping enough
blood to fill several railroad cars. Tissue-thin valves of the
heart usually work flawlessly, without ever pausing, over the
course of an entire lifetime.
The 206 bones of the body are stronger, ounce for ounce,
than steel or reinforced concrete. Science cannot duplicate
the durability and flexibility of a joint like the thumb, which
requires thousands of messages from the brain to direct its
complex movements.
The complicated neural circuitries of the eyes, ears, and
nose enable us to distinguish thousands of colors, sounds, and
smells, while the ear and brain work together to detect the
slightest postural imbalance. Under the skin, an area the size
of a fingernail contains hundreds of nerve endings that detect
touch, temperature, and pain; scores of sweat glands to cool
the body; and numerous melanocytes to defend against the
sun’s rays. The skin can detect and distinguish the sensations
of a hug, a massage, or a pleasant breeze, increasing our capac-
ity for pleasure.
The immune system of the body is more complex than
the most sophisticated army. The salty, acidic skin prevents
many impurities from entering the body. The nose, airways,
and lungs work together to filter, humidify, and regulate tem-
perature of incoming air. Lysozyme in the nose and acids in
the stomach destroy potent incoming microbes, while billions
98 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
of specialized white blood cells work together to neutralize
microbes that enter the body. And the white blood cells remem-
ber the markers of microbes they’ve encountered so that they
can efficiently destroy them in the future.
The immune system is regulated by the brain, through a
complex dance of nerves and hormones, which allows affirma-
tive emotions such as love and hope to sometimes strengthen
the immune system. The brain, weighing in at three pounds,
contains one hundred billion nerve cells and is more complex
than any computer. The brain continuously monitors the body
and then initiates needed adjustments in temperature, blood
sugar, fluid balance, and blood pressure. In addition to permit-
ting logical thinking, the brain allows us to recognize unique
faces, understand subtle facial and vocal expressions, mobi-
lize to fight or flee when we are threatened, remember vital
lessons, and set goals.
Finally, the body is able to convert ingested food to needed
energy, and it has a remarkable capacity to repair itself.
Lxercise: A Simple Body  
Appreciation Activity
As often as you can, stand briefly in front of a mirror or look
directly at your body. Instead of noticing what’s wrong (such as a
blemish, bags under your eyes, or wrinkles), notice what is right,
what is working. Pay attention to your hair, your clean skin, your
ability to stand and move, or the color of your eyes. You might
consider the wonders described above. If you are stumped, simply
move your thumb around and notice the marvelous complexities
and varied movements that are possible. Then expand your aware-
ness to other marvels of the body, outside and in.
Appreciate Your Body 99
Lxercise: Body Appreciation Meditation
This meditation, developed by Jack Canfield in 1985, is a very
effective way to cultivate body appreciation. It is practiced once
a day over about a thirty-minute period and is especially effective
when practiced repeatedly. Sit or lie down in a comfortable place
where you will not be disturbed. Read it slowly, have someone read
it to you, or record it on a tape and play it back.
Welcome. Find a comfortable position, either sitting up
in a chair or lying on your back on the floor or on a
bed. Take a moment to get comfortable. And become
aware of your body now … You may wish to stretch
various parts of your body … your arms, your legs, your
neck, or your back … just to heighten your awareness
of your body. And now begin to take a few deeper,
longer and slower breaths … inhaling through your
nose and exhaling through your mouth, if you are able
to do that. And continue the long, slow rhythmic
breathing …
And now, let’s take a few moments to focus upon,
and appreciate, your body. Feel the air coming in and
out of your lungs, bringing you life energy. And be
aware that your lungs go on breathing, even when you
are not aware of it … breathing in and out, all day long,
all night long, even when you sleep … breathing in
oxygen, breathing in fresh pure air, breathing out the
waste products, cleansing and restoring the entire body,
a constant inflow and outflow of air … just like the
ocean, like the tide coming in and going out. And so
just now, send a beautiful and radiant white light and
love to your lungs and realize that ever since you took
your first breath your lungs have been there for you. No
matter what we do, they still keep breathing in and out,
all day long. And now become aware of your diaphragm,
100 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
that muscle below your lungs that goes up and down
and continually allows your lungs to breathe … and
send light and love to your diaphragm.
And now become aware of your heart. Feel it and
appreciate it. Your heart is a living miracle. It keeps
beating ceaselessly, never asking for anything, a tireless
muscle that continues to constantly serve you … sending
life-giving nutrients throughout your body to every cell.
What a beautiful and powerful instrument! Day in and
day out your heart has been beating. And so see your
heart surrounded by white light and warmth, and say
silently to yourself, “I love you and I appreciate you” to
your heart.
And become aware now of your blood which is
pumped through your heart. It is the river of life for
your body. Millions upon millions of blood cells … red
corpuscles and white corpuscles … anticoagulants and
antibodies … flowing through your bloodstream, fight-
ing off disease, providing you with immunity and
healing … bringing oxygen from your lungs to every
cell in your body … all the way down to your toes and
up into your hair. Feel that blood moving through your
veins and arteries … and surround all of those veins and
arteries with white light. See it dancing in the blood-
stream as if it were bringing joy and love to each cell.
And now become aware of your chest and your
ribcage. You can feel it rising and falling with your
breathing … your ribcage which protects all of the
organs in your body … protects your heart and your
lungs … keeping them safe. So let yourself send love
and light to those bones that make up your ribcage. And
then become aware of your stomach and your intestines
and your kidneys and your liver. All of the organs of
your body that bring in food and digest it and provide
Appreciate Your Body 101
the nutrients for your body … balancing and purifying
your blood … your kidneys and your bladder. See your
whole body from your neck down to your waist sur-
rounded and filled with white light.
And then become aware of your legs … your legs
which allow you to walk and to run and to dance and
to jump. They allow you to stand up in the world, to
move forward and to run and to make yourself breath-
less with exhilaration. Allow yourself to appreciate your
legs and to feel them surrounded with white light.
And see all the muscles and bones in your legs filled
with radiant white light … and say to your legs, “I
love you, legs, and I appreciate all the work that you’ve
done.” And then become aware of your feet. They let
you stay balanced as you go through the world. They
allow you to climb and to run … and they support you
every day … and so thank your feet for being there and
supporting you.
And then become aware of your arms. Your arms
are miracles too. And your hands. Think of all the things
you are able to do because of your hands and your arms.
You can write and type … you can reach out and touch
things. You can pick things up and use them. You can
bring food to your mouth. You can put things away that
you don’t want. You can scratch and itch, turn the pages
of a book, cook food, drive your car, give someone a
massage, tickle someone, defend yourself, or give someone
a hug. You can reach out and make contact with your
world and with others. So see your arms and your hands
surrounded with light, and send them your love.
And then allow yourself to feel gratitude for
having a body, one that you can use every day, to have
the experiences you want to have, and that you need to
grow and to learn from.
102 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
And then become aware of your spine, which
allows you to stand up straight … and it provides a
structure for your whole body … and it provides protec-
tion for your nerves that go from your brain down your
spine and out to the rest of your body. See a golden light
floating up your spine, from the base of your spine at
your pelvis … floating up your spine one vertebra at a
time, moving up your spine, all the way up to your neck
… to the top of your spine where your skull connects
… and let that golden light flow up into your brain.
And then become aware of your vocal cords in
your neck … they allow you to speak, to be heard, to
communicate, to be understood, and to sing and to
chant and to pray, and to shout, and yell with delight
and excitement … to express your feelings and to cry
and to share your deepest thoughts and your dreams.
And then become aware of the left side of your
brain, the part of your brain that analyzes and com-
putes, that solves problems and plans for the future,
that calculates and reasons and deducts and inducts …
And just allow yourself to appreciate what your intellect
does provide for you … and see the left side of your
brain totally filled with golden and white light … and
shimmering little stars, and see that white light cleanse
and awaken and love and nurture that part of your
brain … and then let that light begin to flow across the
bridge from the left side of your brain to the right side
of your brain … the part of your brain that allows you
to feel, to have emotions, to be intuitive, to dream …
to daydream and to visualize, to create, and to talk to
your higher wisdom … the part of your brain that
allows you to write poetry and to draw … and to appre-
ciate art and music. See that side of your brain filled
with white and golden light.
Appreciate Your Body 103
Then sense that light flowing down the nerves
into your eyes … and see and feel your eyes filled with
that light, and realize the beauty that your eyes allow
you to perceive: The flowers and the sunsets and the
beautiful people … all the things that you’ve been able
to appreciate through your eyes.
And then become aware of your nose. It allows
you to smell and to breathe and to taste … all the won-
derful tastes and smells in your life … the beautiful
fragrances of flowers and the essence of all the foods
that you love to eat.
Now become aware of your ears … they allow you
to hear music, to listen to the wind, the sound of the
surf at the ocean, and the singing of birds … and to
listen to the words “I love you” … and to be in discus-
sions and to listen to the ideas of another, to allow
understanding to come forward.
And now feel every part of yourself from head to
toe surrounded and filled with your own love and your
own light … And now take a moment and allow your-
self to apologize to your body for anything you may
have done to it … for the times you weren’t kind to it
and for the times that you didn’t care for it with love …
the times that you didn’t listen to it … for the times that
you put too much food or alcohol or drugs into it … for
the times you were too busy to eat, too busy to exercise
… too busy for a massage or for a hot bath … and for
all the times your body wanted to be hugged or touched
and you held back.
And once again feel your body … and see yourself
surrounded with light … And now let that light begin
to expand out from your body … out into the world …
expanding out, filling the space around you.
104 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
And now begin to bring that light slowly back into
yourself, very slowly, back into your body, into yourself
… and experience yourself here, now, full of light and
full of love and appreciation for your body … And when
you’re ready, perhaps you begin to let yourself stretch
and feel the awareness and aliveness back in your body
… And when you’re ready, you can slowly begin to sit
up and readjust to being in the room and just let your
eyes open, taking as much time as you need to make
that transition.
8
Care for ¥our
Mind by Caring
for ¥our 8ody
B
ecause the mind and body are interactively connected,
taking care of the body is a way to strengthen mental
health and self-esteem. Stated more emphatically, we
can’t expect to feel our best psychologically if we neglect our
physical health. The good news is that (1) we now know how
to optimize physical health, and (2) the investment of time,
money, and effort required to accomplish this is not excessive.
Physical health is like a three-legged stool, which topples if
one of the legs is missing. The three legs of physical health are
sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
SIeep
Although we spend a third of our lives in bed, sleep hasn’t been
seriously studied until recently. Sleep deprivation has become
much more common, and we now know that insufficient
sleep adversely affects mood, immunity, insulin resistance,
106 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
levels of stress hormones, heart disease rates, energy levels,
weight gain, memory, traffic accidents, and work and athletic
performance.
Two factors comprise good sleep (Dement and Vaughan
1999). The first is the amount of sleep. Most adults need more
than eight hours per night to feel and function at their best, but
the typical adult gets less than seven and carries an accumu-
lated sleep debt that exceeds twenty-four hours. A single good
night’s sleep will not pay off this sleep debt but will instead
tend to make one feel drowsier the next day. You can deter-
mine your sleep needs by sleeping as long as you can each
night over a period of several weeks until your sleep levels off
at a consistent number of hours. This is the amount you need.
Alternatively, assume that you need 8.25 hours of sleep per
night. If you feel drowsy after getting this amount of sleep for
several weeks, add twenty minutes or more.
The second factor necessary for good sleep is regularity.
The brain regulates sleep rhythms, which weaken as we age. To
keep sleep cycles regular, we need regular wake-up and retir-
ing times. Adults typically shortchange themselves during the
week and then try to make up the lost hours over the weekend.
This disrupts sleep cycles and tends to promote insomnia and
daytime drowsiness. Try to retire and rise at the same time each
day, even on weekends, varying these times by no more than
an hour from one day to another. If possible, avoid nighttime
shift work, which is associated with higher rates of a number
of diseases and shorter life spans. If your shift times vary, see if
your supervisor will agree to let you move from earlier to later
shifts (the brain handles staying up later better than it does
retiring earlier). Stay on each new shift for as long as possible,
to allow the brain to adjust to the change. For example, you
might try to start with the 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. shift, and
then move to the 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. shift, and finally move
to the 1:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. shift. Ideally, you would maintain
each shift for weeks or even months.
Care for Your Mind by Caring for Your Body 107
Aids to a good night’s sleep include the following:
Get a medical exam to rule out and/or diag-
nose conditions that can impair sleep or cause
daytime fatigue, including thyroid disorders,
diabetes, anemia, bruxism, hyperventilation,
gastroesophageal reflux, or sleep disorders.
If sleep apnea (or another sleep disorder) is
suspected, ask your doctor for an overnight
sleep study in order to evaluate it. Apnea
causes daytime drowsiness, depression, and a
host of other disease symptoms, but it can be
effectively treated.
Treat clinical depression, anxiety, or problem
anger, all of which can degrade sleep. If you
have recurring nightmares, try describing the
nightmare in your journal. Then write down a
different ending—any one you wish. Mentally
rehearse the new dream with its new ending
for a few minutes daily.
Create an optimal sleep climate. Completely
darken the room—cover any clock radios that
may be emitting light and ensure that the
morning sun does not come through windows.
Minimize sounds (use earplugs or white
noise) and movements (keep pets outside of
the bedroom). Maintain a peaceful, soothing
sleep environment in your bedroom by using
it only for activities that are relaxing. Pay bills,
watch television, study, and talk on the phone
in other areas of your home instead of in your
bedroom.



108 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
If you seem to benefit from naps, take them
consistently during the early afternoon. This
is the siesta time in some cultures, when the
body temperature drops. The recommended
nap time is from 15 to 120 minutes, with great
individual variability. If napping seems to
make it difficult for you to fall asleep at night,
then try avoiding naps in order to consolidate
nighttime sleep.
Lose weight through exercise. Losing just a few
pounds reduces snoring, which can also reduce
daytime headaches. Try exercising before
dinner, in order to allow your body time to
relax before bed. Exercise is perhaps the most
effective way to shorten the amount of time
needed to fall asleep, to improve sleep quality
and sleep duration, and to reduce nighttime
awakenings, even in the elderly.
Reduce or eliminate caffeine, nicotine, and
alcohol. These disrupt people’s sleep, even
when they don’t realize it. Try to avoid these
for at least four to six hours before retiring.
Wind down before retiring. Try eating a light
snack of carbohydrates with a tryptophan
source (such as crackers with cheese, sweetened
yogurt, turkey, bananas, oats, eggs, or a few
almonds). Eat dinner early and keep it light,
with a small serving of protein to prevent night-
time hunger. Write down your worries and/or
plan your next day at least an hour before
retiring. Turn lamps to their lowest setting or
use nightlights, to allow your brain to wind
down (strong lights signal the brain to stay




Care for Your Mind by Caring for Your Body 109
awake). Shut off the phone and television at
least an hour before you go to bed, and then
retire when you are sleepy, not when the clock
says to. A warm bath an hour or two before
bedtime promotes sleep.
Don’t rely on sleeping pills. Instead, use
sleep hygiene and skills that reduce stress
and anxiety, which improve sleep without
side effects. Effective sleep programs promote
sleeping regular hours, getting out of bed if
you don’t fall asleep within thirty minutes,
doing something that is not stimulating until
you are ready to try going to bed again, reduc-
ing the intake of liquids in the evening, prac-
ticing relaxation and abdominal breathing, and
reducing catastrophic thoughts (such as “It’s
awful that I can’t fall asleep”). As one guru
taught, “When tired, take sleep.” And remem-
ber that even an extra twenty minutes of sleep
per night can significantly improve mood and
performance.
Lxercise
Dozens of studies have found a link between exercise and self-
esteem (Spence, Poon, and Dyck 1997). Physical activity also
sharpens thinking, improves the mood, raises energy levels,
fights aging, and helps to prevent a host of medical diseases.
The current federal exercise guidelines call for at least thirty
minutes of exercise most, or preferably all, days. If one is trying
to stay or become fairly lean, then the recommended amount
increases to sixty to ninety minutes. These amounts are consid-
erably greater than those recommended previously because the

110 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
country has become so sedentary. Getting this amount of exer-
cise is less difficult than it might seem at first. For example,
one might engage in moderate aerobic exercise most days,
such as walking (or swimming, jogging, biking, stair stepping,
or tai chi) for at least thirty minutes. If you can, supplement
this activity with exercises that build muscular strength and
endurance three or more times a week. For example, in ten to
fifteen minutes, one could do ten repetitions each of several
exercises, such as weight lifting (enough weight to cause mod-
erate fatigue), resistance band exercises, push-ups, or abdomi-
nal crunches. Stretching and flexibility exercises, such as gentle
yoga, can be added, or alternated with resistance exercises.
Below are a few tips that can help you get started:
The greatest fitness gains are typically seen
in people who were previously sedentary.
However, it’s important for you to have rea-
sonable expectations, start very slowly, and
progress very gradually. You will be unlikely to
continue if you overdo it. Take a few months
to work up to your desired exercise levels.
Aim to feel refreshed after you exercise, not
exhausted or sore.
If you are over forty years of age or have health
concerns, such as diabetes or risk factors for
heart disease, discuss your plans with your
physician and undergo a physical exam.
If you can’t do all your exercise at once,
add small amounts of exercise to your daily
routine. Try getting away from your desk for
ten-minute energy walks every ninety minutes
or so. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Or park your car farther away from the office
than you usually do so that you can walk more.



Care for Your Mind by Caring for Your Body 111
While you watch television, you might do light
resistance or flexibility exercises.
Don’t be discouraged if you gain a little muscle
weight as you begin to exercise. Muscle weighs
more than fat, but it burns calories much more
efficiently than fat, so you will become leaner
as you continue to exercise.
hutrition
Along with inactivity, overeating is associated with our growing
obesity epidemic and a number of diseases. But intelligent
eating can improve mood, performance, and energy levels
while helping us to stay lean.
The nation’s dietary guidelines are consistent with abun-
dant research linking nutrition to health. The following are the
daily intake guidelines given by the USDA (2005) for healthy
eating, assuming a total intake of 2,000 calories per day (the
approximate amount considered healthy for most adults):
Fruits. A total of 2 cups of fresh, frozen, or canned
fruit
Vegetables. A total of 2½ cups of cut-up raw or
cooked vegetables (Beans such as black, garbanzo,
soy/tofu, or lentils can be counted here or in the meat
group, but not in both.)
Grains. A total of 6 one-ounce equivalents, where a
one-ounce equivalent is a slice of bread; ¼ to ½ cup
dry cereal; ½ cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal; or 3
cups popcorn

112 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Lean meats and beans. A total of 5½ one-ounce
equivalents, where a one-ounce equivalent is 1 ounce
of cooked fish, poultry, lean meats; an egg; ¼ cup
cooked dry beans or soy/tofu; 1 tablespoon of peanut
butter; or ½ ounce of nuts or seeds
Milk. A total of 3 cups, where a one-cup equivalent
is 1 cup low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt; 1½ ounces
of low-fat or fat-free natural cheese; or 2 ounces of
low-fat or fat-free processed cheese
Oils. A total of 6 one-teaspoon equivalents, where
a teaspoon equivalent is 1 teaspoon vegetable oil or
soft margarine; 1 tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise;
or 2 tablespoons of light salad dressing
A quick look at these guidelines reveals that an optimal
eating plan derives most of its calories from plant sources.
Plant foods provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and
phytochemicals that are all vital for good mental and physical
health. Seek a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in differ-
ent colors. As a general rule, the darker and richer the colors,
the more nutrients the plant contains. So look for red, orange,
yellow, and dark-green plant foods. Most or all of the grains in a
healthy diet will be from whole-grain sources (such as oatmeal,
whole wheat, bulgur, quinoa, brown rice, or popcorn). Aim to
consume some nuts, seeds, and/or legumes most or all days.
Although nuts and seeds can be high in calories, they contain
a number of important nutrients, including healthy fats, and
have been found to come with a number of health benefits. A
one-ounce equivalent of nuts is about a small handful.
Needed unsaturated fats are found in fish and vegetable
oils, with olive and canola oils being among the most beneficial
plant oils. Try to avoid “trans” or hydrogenated fats, found
in commercially prepared snacks, baked goods, baking mixes,
Care for Your Mind by Caring for Your Body 113
stick margarine, and fried fast foods; also try to avoid excessive
amounts of animal fats.
If we focus on obtaining the needed nutrients each day,
we will worry less about what we should avoid, in part because
we’ll be less hungry. The fiber in plant foods, for example,
tends to keep blood sugar levels steady and thus helps to mod-
erate hunger. Consume foods that are high in water volume
and/or fiber and low in fat, including fruits, vegetables, soups,
whole grains, legumes, and low-fat dairy products. These high-
weight, low energy density foods fill us on fewer calories. Dry
snacks (pretzels, chips, cookies, crackers, and dried fruits, for
example), french fries, bagels, cheese, bacon, and cream sauces
are best used sparingly.
The following are some other helpful pointers:
Try not to dip below about 1,600 calories
per day. To do so would likely deprive you of
needed nutrients, while slowing your metabo-
lism and hastening weight gain, especially if
you are not exercising.
Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day,
since this can help to reduce appetite and
fatigue. Fluid can be obtained from the food
and beverages we consume. You will want
to restrict your intake of sweetened drinks,
however, since drinking a single can of soda
per day can account for gaining about sixteen
pounds each year.
Successful dieters have been found to eat
breakfast and four or five smaller meals
daily. They also tend to follow meal plans
that are low in fat and calories, with most of
their calories coming from complex carbohy-
drates (in other words, from unrefined plant



114 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
sources). Minimize your intake of refined car-
bohydrates, such as candy, sugary sodas, high-
fructose corn syrup, and white bread.
Prepare your own meals and avoid restaurant
foods as much as possible. This will help you
control portion size, added fats, and added
salt and sugar. If you order dessert, consider
sharing it. Since the portion sizes at restau-
rants are usually several times larger than the
portion sizes eaten at home, take some of your
restaurant meal home.
If you choose to lose weight, do so very gradu-
ally (perhaps one-half to two pounds per week),
combining moderate exercise with carefully
selected food choices and portion sizes.
How well do these guidelines work? Researchers have
studied Okinawans, who are known for living long and
healthy lives. The Okinawans’ diet generally adheres to the
guidelines we’ve discussed. On average, they consume seven
servings of vegetables, three servings of fruit, and seven serv-
ings of whole grains per day. Seventy-two percent of their diet
by weight comes from plant foods, 11 percent from fish, and
only 3 percent from animal products (meat, poultry, and eggs).
Overall, the diet is low in fat, salt, and sugar and is high in
complex carbohydrates. They practice the rule of stopping
eating when they are 80 percent sated, averaging about 1,800
calories per day, compared to about 2,500 calories consumed
by Americans. The elderly people there also remain physically
and mentally active and take naps. Unfortunately, it is thought
that the health benefits of living on the island of Okinawa
will erode as fast foods and other aspects of modern living are
assimilated into their culture.


9
ßeveIop ¥our
Character and
SpirituaIity
S
elf-esteem, much like happiness, is cultivated from within,
and the process benefits from consistent nourishment and
constructive effort. It’s a common belief that we are born
with an upward reach, a desire to grow and progress toward
our potential, and that we feel better about ourselves as we do
so. This chapter will explore pathways to inner enrichment,
drawing upon themes that are common across diverse cultures
and spiritual traditions.
ßeveIoping Character
Character is one’s moral, or inner, strength. There is nothing
complicated or exclusive about moral living; it is not the prov-
ince of any particular group. Moral behavior is simply behav-
ior that is good, decent, and in the best interest of self and
others. People with character strive to remain true to their
116 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
own standards despite pressure. Morality involves both avoid-
ing what is wrong and doing what is right for its own sake,
even when wrong is done to us. At great risk to his career and
safety, Japanese consul to Lithuania, Chiune Sugihara, defied
his government, feverishly writing visas that saved more than
6,000 Jews from the Nazis. After the war, he was imprisoned
by the Russians and dismissed from his government’s service. A
samurai who had been taught to help those in need, Sugihara
and his wife had decided to follow their consciences simply
because that was the right thing to do. Viktor Frankl (1959)
observed that many prisoners in the World War II concentra-
tion camps became like animals, yet some demonstrated the
highest character imaginable. Each person, he said, can choose
the better course.
Morality is not imposed, it is freely chosen. We might
summarize what we know about character:
People today are less concerned with living eth-
ically compared to people in previous decades.
Studies suggest that many people today lie on
a regular basis and cheat at work.
Moral regrets can negatively affect our mental
health. That is, the quality of our inner expe-
rience changes when we betray values that are
important to us.
Committing to ethical living builds self-esteem
and related traits, such as peace of conscience,
self-respect, self-trust, self-confidence, satis-
faction with life, and wholesome pride and
dignity. Indeed the word “integrity” suggests
a sense of wholeness.
Virtuous people have less to fear, being freer
of condemnation from others and from self.




Develop Your Character and Spirituality 117
They are more likely to be valued by others,
especially if they are not judgmental of others.
In the peace of conscience that comes with
being virtuous, we can see our own wisdom
minds reflected.
Carl Jung stated that there can be no morality
without freedom. We might reverse this state-
ment and say that without morality there is
little inner freedom. That is, without morality,
we are prone to become attached to aggres-
sion, ego, greed, or appetites.
At the root of morality are love and the desire
to live in harmony with self and others. Love
for self, concern for all beings, and the desire
to make the world a better place leads to
moral behavior. As Buddha taught, we will not
harm others if we truly love ourselves, because
harming others destroys our own peace. One
can strive for personal goals without stepping
on others—instead, we can try to lift others
as we climb.
Character requires consistent practice. As
Chambers (1963) said, we can’t take a moral
holiday and still be moral.
Dean John Burt (personal communication) has reasoned
that self-esteem requires ethical self-approval. It is difficult
to approve of oneself if one hurts the self or others, so the
prudent course is to avoid hurting and to seek the good for self
and others. Further, neutral behavior brings the risk of labeling
oneself as insignificant, so it is also prudent to actively strive
to do good.



118 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
reflections
We might ponder the following reflections, drawn from
various cultures:
“Happiness does not consist in pastimes and amuse-
ments, but in virtuous activities.” (Aristotle)
“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing
can bring you peace but triumph of principles.”
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)
“All God’s creatures are his family; and he is the
most beloved of God who does most good to God’s
creatures.” (Muhammad)
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.
Only through experience of trial and suffering can
the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and
success achieved.” (Helen Keller)
“Silver and gold are not the only coin; virtue too
passes current all over the world.” (Euripides)
“Human dignity … can be achieved only in the field
of ethics, and ethical achievement is measured by
the degree in which our actions are governed by
compassion and love, not by greed and aggressive-
ness.” (Arnold J. Toynbee)
“Character is power.” (Booker T. Washington)
“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we
practice to deceive.” (Sir Walter Scott)
Develop Your Character and Spirituality 119
“As long as I listen to my conscience I feel peaceful.”
(Tim Blanchette)
Then you might consider the following questions, sug-
gested by Thomas G. Plante (2004):
Would you trust a business that had cheated
you or lied to you?
Do you tell “little white lies”?
Would someone trust you after catching you
in a lie?
When is it necessary to compromise your integ-
rity by lying? Would the person you’re talking
with be irrevocably damaged by an honest but
tactful response to a question like “How does
this look?” Or might the person who hears “I
don’t think that color flatters you” actually be
more likely to trust your opinion in the future?
Is it wiser in the long run to say “I stopped for
a drink after work” (even though this might
require an apology or explanation) than to lie
and say “I was working late”?
Do you trust yourself more when you do the
right thing?
Would you feel more inner satisfaction if you
were consistently honest and did the right
thing more often?






120 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Lxercise: The Kind Character Inventory
Certain common virtues are valued in virtually all societies and
cultures. Moral development does not require the imposition of
somebody else’s values, but committing to those that we desire
for ourselves because they are in the best interest of ourselves and
others. Below is a list of commonly prized character strengths.
Please complete this exercise dispassionately and without judging
or condemning yourself.
Rate the degree to which you demonstrate each of the fol-
lowing character strengths from 0 to 10, where 0 means
that you never demonstrate that strength at all and 10
means that you demonstrate that strength as well as anyone
possibly could.
Honesty, truthfulness
Fairness
Respect of self
Respect of others
Justice
Tolerance, acceptance of differences
Courtesy
Service, altruism, generosity, elevating others
Honor, integrity
Punctuality (not keeping people waiting)
Loyalty, faithfulness
Ability to keep confidences
1.
Develop Your Character and Spirituality 121
Responsibility, dependability, trustworthiness
(doing what is expected, what one is paid for,
what one commits to)
Courage
Temperance (avoiding excesses in spending, gam-
bling, eating, substance use, and so on)
Environmental stewardship (recycling, conserving
energy, limiting gasoline use, not littering, and so
on)
Care, kindness, thoughtfulness, consideration
(considering impact of one’s own behaviors on
others)
Modesty
Humility
Sexual decency (respecting partner, not exploiting
or manipulating partner)
Tact
Harmlessness (not hurting others verbally or
physically)
Circle each strength that you would wish to further
develop.
Select two or three of the circled strengths that are most
important to you. Then consider the following:
Think of times when you were younger when you
acted with integrity in situations involving these
strengths. How did it feel?
2.
3.
122 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Is your conscience now at peace regarding these
strengths? If not, what would it take for you to
achieve this peace?
Pick one of these character strengths and practice it over
the next month. Commit to a plan. Practice this plan now
in small ways so that you will be able to apply the charac-
ter strength later under pressure.
Commit to the cultivation of additional character strengths,
one at a time, in a similar way over the ensuing months.
Sharon Salzberg (2004) suggests honoring at least five basic
precepts that might help us in gradually cultivating character
strengths: refraining from lying (and using harsh speech), stealing
(taking what is not given), killing or physical violence, using sexual
energy in a way that causes harm, and intoxication (which renders
us less able to control our actions).
Why do you hasten to remove anything which hurts
your eye, while if something affects your soul, you
postpone the cure until next year?
—Horace
forgiving SeIf
The human condition presents a dilemma. We certainly feel better
about ourselves when we live honorably and constructively. Yet
we are human, which means that we are imperfect and inevitably
make choices that are not honorable and constructive, sometimes
4.
5.
Develop Your Character and Spirituality 123
doing things that hurt ourselves and others. In other words, our
behaviors fall short of our ideals, and we make mistakes. If we
attach to the missteps and conclude that we are hopelessly bad,
our self-esteem and motivation to improve will suffer. Forgiving
ourselves allows us a way out of this dilemma. Forgiving helps
us to begin again joyfully despite our errors. Formerly, forgive-
ness was only considered important for spiritual well-being.
However, recent research has shown that forgiving also results
in diverse psychological and medical benefits. As you’ll see in
the following story, it can also have other benefits.
An elderly woman was returning to her van after shop-
ping in the supermarket. As she approached her van, she saw
four young men in it. Putting down her bags, she pulled a gun
out of her purse and shouted, “I have a gun and I know how
to use it.” The young men quickly ran away. The woman got
into the van but was shaking so badly that she couldn’t insert
the key into the ignition. Finally she calmed down enough to
realize that she was in the wrong van. She got out and located
her own van, parked nearby. She felt so bad that she drove
to the police station and explained to the sergeant what she
had done, apologizing profusely. The sergeant laughed and
said, “That’s okay, lady. You see those four young men over
there? They just reported that they were accosted by a crazy
gray-haired lady with a gun.” The men dropped the charges.
Sometimes, when we are just trying to get through life, strug-
gling with its many confusing events and choices, we do the
wrong thing. When this happens, forgiveness is beneficial.
What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness means choosing to release resentment, anger,
bitterness, hatred, and the desire to punish or avenge past
offenses or wrongdoings. We can choose to forgive even when
the offender does not deserve it.
124 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Why do we do this? We forgive in order to dissolve our
attachments to the past. Although an offense in our life might
be long past, we often continue to battle the memory, which
becomes a burden that weighs us down and prevents us from
moving on. In the battle, we might be judging the wrongdoer
for his or her “badness.” We might be planning how we will get
even or punish the offender. In forgiving, we step back from the
battle. We free ourselves from the past, realizing that punishing,
getting even, and judging do not heal. We stop insisting that the
past be changed before we can again be happy, and we instead
take responsibility for our present happiness. Paradoxically, in
releasing the burden, we gain greater control of our lives.
Forgiving ourselves is just as important. If we can’t come
to terms with our own past wrongdoings, then our present
experience becomes colored by shame—we see only the bad in
ourselves. Such a self-concept saps the joy in our life’s journey:
there is no pleasure in unremitting guilt, self-loathing, or self-
condemnation. Shame drains the energy we need to respond
fully to others’ needs. It is difficult to be sensitive to others’
needs when we are focused on, and weakened by, our own
unhealed wounds. We might think that constantly reliving the
offense will prevent its recurrence, but in reality such replaying
tends to diminish the capacity to live well.
Forgiving is not any of the following:
Condoning, excusing, or viewing the offense with
casual complacency. In fact, when forgiving we take
responsibility for improving ourselves and ensuring
that the offense is not repeated.
Completely forgetting. Indeed, we want to preserve
the lesson, but release the painful emotions.
Minimizing the damage that has been done. Instead,
understanding the damage caused helps us to avoid
repeating the offense.
Develop Your Character and Spirituality 125
Allowing offenses to continue. We cannot control
other people’s choices about their behavior.
However, we can ensure that our own behavior
changes. Indeed, we must do our best to make sure
that we are harmless if we are to be happy.
Reconciling with or trusting the offender. When
the wrongdoer is someone else, it may not be wise
to reconcile if that person is likely to repeat the
offense. However, reconciliation with and restoring
trust in self is the goal after forgiving oneself.
the Basic stePs of forgiving self
Confucius said, “The more a man knows, the more he
forgives.” The following steps can help us to apply forgiveness
to ourselves.
Acknowledge the hurt that has been done to others
and self by your behavior. Sit with this idea and con-
sider it in a kind, nonjudgmental way. Realistically
assign responsibility for the offense. For example, a
rape victim might blame herself completely because
she thinks she was careless. A more realistic view is
that the perpetrator was responsible for the crime, not
the victim.
Make amends as much as possible (apologize, restore
what was taken, and so on).
Commit to live as honorably and constructively as
you can, using what you now know. This is all anyone
can do. Realize that the future is still uncharted, and
wrong turns can be expected.
1.
2.
3.
126 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Make friends with guilt. Guilt is a beautiful emotion
that alerts us when something is wrong so that we may
achieve peace with our conscience. Without conscience
there would be no morality. So we can greet guilt cor-
dially and with acceptance, just as we do all other emo-
tions. After we respond to guilt, it has done its job and
we can release it. Hayes (2005, 193) reminds us that
we do not come with owner’s manuals, so “respect-
fully decline your mind’s invitation to beat yourself up
for not knowing what was in the owner’s manual you
were never given … You did the best you could at the
time. You know more now.”
Judge behaviors, not core worth. Remember that who
you are at the core is bigger than your isolated deci-
sions, bad choices, or wrong turns. A bad decision
made one day or during a particular period is not the
essence of who you are. A wrong turn doesn’t mean
we can’t correct course and get back on track, nor does
it mean that the core value is lost. Wrong turns don’t
define us or invalidate our core worth; they only point
out areas to improve. We can accept mistakes as a part
of our history and then move on in life. In forgiving
ourselves, we recognize that we have the potential to
change and to reclaim the goodness within us.
Be willing to constantly feel imperfect. Being imper-
fect, as all of us are, does not negate worth or forever
disqualify us from trying anew. To be human is to err.
It is unkind to condemn oneself for doing so. If we
have stumbled off a path we value, it is only destruc-
tive to think, “You see, I knew I couldn’t do it.” This is
not who you are; it is just a thought. It would be much
better to accept disappointment and think, “Imperfect
people stumble; I can get up and back on the path.”
4.
5.
6.
Develop Your Character and Spirituality 127
Maintain the beginner’s mind. Thinking “I’m no good”
attaches us to the past in a negative and narrow way.
The beginner’s mind keeps us open to who we are and
what we may become. This view is not limited by what
we did in the past; instead it motivates us to reengage
with life in a productive way.
Continue doing good. Reflect upon the good things
you’ve done in the past. Keep doing these things.
Let the offender off the hook. It is said that no one in
his or her right mind will intentionally do a hurtful
thing. One who does wrong might be suffering or
ignorant of how to get his or her needs met construc-
tively. If you have done your best to rectify the offense
and correct your course so you’ll be less likely to do it
again, let yourself off the hook.
Be a good Parent to yourself
Some are too easy on themselves, viewing extremely
hurtful actions casually. Others (perhaps including you, since
you’ve chosen to read this book) are too hard on themselves.
But regardless of our backgrounds, we can learn to become
good parents to ourselves. One way to do this is to learn how
to care for ourselves when we are feeling pain over something
that happened in the past. Consider the internal dialogue a
parent might have about a beloved daughter who feels bad
about a past mistake.
Question: Why did she do that?
Answer: Because she’s imperfect.
Question: Does she deserve forgiveness?
7.
8.
9.
128 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Answer: Not really. She is guilty of the offense.
Question: Does she deserve punishment?
Answer: Yes, if justice is to be served.
Question: Do I trust her completely to be perfect and
never again make a mistake?
Answer: No, but knowing her I’m pretty sure she’ll
try her best to avoid repeating this mistake.
Question: Do I want her to suffer continuously for
the mistake?
Answer: No.
Question: Why not?
Answer: Because I love her and want her to progress
and be happy. Lingering guilt
will only hold her back.
Question: So what’s the best thing to do?
Answer: Instead of condemning her and fixating on
her faults, I’ll reclaim her and free her to
learn and grow. In short, I forgive her.
Now go through this dialogue again. Only this time,
replace the words “she” and “her” with “I,” “me,” and “myself,”
as appropriate.
guilt and self-destructive Pride
A certain kind of self-defeating pride can keep us attached
to guilt. Below are the thoughts of self-defeating pride and
their rejoinders:
Develop Your Character and Spirituality 129
“Other people do those kinds of things, but I’m better
than others and I should have known better.”
Why should you have known better? Are you expect-
ing to be more perfect than you are? Perhaps you
could accept that you’re imperfect, just like everyone
else. Maybe you could stop judging and condemn-
ing yourself and instead focus on improving your
skills or behavior. Maybe you could stop comparing
yourself to others and simply focus on what you are
presently choosing and doing. Let ego and judgment
dissolve in favor of loving-kindness.
“If I try hard enough I’ll be perfect and measure up
to my idealized image.”
If you try very hard, you’ll likely approach your
potential, but you’ll always fall short of perfection.
This is what humans do. Release shame, which causes
us to say “I am no good and will never improve.”
Yes, a mistake means we are fallible. Nevertheless,
we are still infinitely worthwhile and capable of
overcoming our mistakes and changing course.
“Someone who doesn’t meet his or her goals perfectly
doesn’t deserve to feel good. That person should be
punished.”
Again, one who falls short of one’s ideal is fallible,
which doesn’t ever disqualify that person from trying
again and feeling good. We can feel satisfaction from
knowing that we are striving to do the right thing in
the best way that we know. Everyone already suffers
from having shortcomings. We can learn to hold this
suffering with compassion, instead of judgment, pun-
ishment, and condemnation. Compassion is a much
stronger motivator.
130 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
forgiving is difficult
It can be difficult to let go of an offense, because the
problem-solving mind wants to fix and get rid of problems.
This approach works wonderfully for concrete, external prob-
lems such as a flat tire. It does not usually work for internal
problems such as the memory of an event in our past. Sometimes
one must first heal before letting go of old offenses that have
affected us internally, and some feel that divine assistance
facilitates this process. Those who are spiritually inclined
might find comfort in the story below, which I call the “Parable
of the Broken Microscope Slides” (Shupe 2006). One Sunday,
in a small country church in Maine, the pastor gathered the
children around him and told them this tale:
When I was a young grade-school boy in Colorado,
my teacher said, “Take your coats with you to recess.
You won’t be allowed to return to get them.” I
thought, no problem, I won’t be cold. Once outside,
however, I was getting very cold. I was really afraid
to go back to the room, but reasoned it was better
to risk my teacher’s wrath than to freeze to death,
and I was clearly freezing to death. So I snuck back
into the classroom. Back in the closet where the
coats were hung I grabbed my coat and pulled it
down. Along with the coat came a box of brand new
microscope slides crashing down and breaking into
pieces all over the floor. I quickly ran back outside.
Once we came inside, the teacher said,
“Somebody knows who broke those slides. Can anyone
tell me who it was?” I just hung my head and kept my
mouth shut for the rest of the day. Returning home,
I felt really bad and my mother knew something was
wrong, but I said nothing. Finally, I could stand it no
longer and blurted out the story to her. She said, “It’s
Develop Your Character and Spirituality 131
okay. Just tell your teacher what happened and offer
to pay for the slides.” At the time I was only getting
twenty-five cents a week for allowance and figured
I’d be thirty-seven by the time I finished paying. But I
went in and told the teacher: “I was just freezing and
tried to get my coat and I didn’t mean for the slides
to break, and was too embarrassed to tell you, but I
will pay my whole allowance of twenty-five cents a
week.”
At that point the teacher stretched the truth
considerably. He said, “I noticed that only two
slides were broken, so you can pay fifty cents and
that will cover the damage.” I had exactly fifty cents
in the bank and so was extremely relieved.
The moral of the story: God is in the busi-
ness of loving and forgiving. Don’t ever assume
that you’ve done something so bad that God won’t
forgive and love you. Don’t hide from God when
you make a mistake, but turn to Him in your weak-
ness to experience His healing love and mercy.
The thought that God doesn’t forgive people because of
mistakes is just a thought.
Lxercise: Forgiving Self
This activity combines mindfulness and ACT skills that have been
introduced in previous chapters. Remember that trying to erase
a memory doesn’t usually work very well. Instead we can try the
mindfulness method of letting the memory into our awareness
completely and holding it with compassion.
Identify a previous wrong turn (decision, behavior, or
misstep) that still troubles you.
1.
132 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Make a list of the resulting thoughts (such as “I’m no good”
and “That was such a dumb thing to do”). Do this without
judging or emotionally reacting. Whatever you think and
feel is okay. Fully accept the suffering that you caused to
yourself and others.
Reduce each thought to a single word or two that describes
the associated feeling. This process might look like this:
Thought Feeling
“I’m no good.” Bad
“I’m so disappointed
in myself.”
Disappointed
“I fear that this will be
discovered.”
Embarrassed
“I lost my innocence.” Shame
“I lost my sense of
playfulness.”
Numb
“I hurt someone.” Sad
“I lost my family’s
confidence.”
Grief
Recall the Milk, Milk, Milk exercise in chapter 3. In this
exercise you fully experienced milk in your mind, and then
you repeated the word “milk” aloud as fast as you could for
forty-five seconds. In doing this, people usually notice that
the meaning of the word falls away and the word simply
becomes a sound. Now, look at the first feeling word on
your list from step 3 and welcome it into your awareness,
holding it with complete acceptance and kindness. Repeat
the word aloud as fast as you can for forty-five seconds.
2.
3.
4.
Develop Your Character and Spirituality 133
Wisdom tells me I am nothing. Love tells me
I am everything.
—Nisargadatta Maharaj
Repeat this process for the other feeling words. Don’t
judge the feelings or try to get rid of them.
When you have finished, then calm yourself. With a soft
and open heart, sit with the memory that has bothered
you, holding it and any associated feelings, thoughts, or
sensations compassionately, in the vast loving-kindness
of the wisdom mind. Breathe into the memory, and let it
settle.
When you are ready, breathe out and release the memory,
letting awareness of the memory dissolve as you exhale.
Form the intention to forgive. Say the following in your
mind:
For each time I have failed to meet my expectations
and harmed myself or others I offer forgiveness. I seek
to heal so that I will be harmless to others, happy, and
useful.
May I be whole. May I be forgiven. May I release the
pain. May I progress. May anyone I’ve hurt be whole
and happy. May he or she progress.
5.
6.
7.
8.
134 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Lxercise: The Candle of Forgiveness
The following powerful strategy (Eifert, McKay, and Forsyth 2006)
can aid in the difficult process of forgiving. The authors explain
that we can’t develop compassion if we are running away from our
experience. Try spending at least fifteen minutes each day doing
this exercise.
Light a candle, then sit comfortably in the meditator’s posi-
tion (feet flat on floor, spine comfortably erect, upper body relaxed,
hands resting in the lap). Allow your eyes to simply watch the
candle flame.
As you watch the flicker of the candle flame, bring your atten-
tion to the gentle rising and falling of your breath in your chest and
forgiving 0thers
It is stressful to remain angry and bitter about past offenses
committed by others. Such feelings cover the true self. As is the
case with forgiving the self, forgiving others frees us from car-
rying a heavy load and permits us to experience our core self
more favorably. Forgiving is the kind thing to do for oneself; it
is also the kind thing to do for others. Sometimes, though not
always, forgiving helps the offender change. During the Los
Angeles race riots of 1992, Reginald Denny was dragged from
the truck he was driving, beaten, and severely injured. Although
he was angry, he explained that he truly loved the offender and
embraced his parents. The offender’s mother said that Denny’s
response began the process of softening her son’s anger.
Although forgiving an offender might not change that
person, it is an act of strength that changes the forgiver’s expe-
rience. The Dalai Lama has explained that Tibetan monks who
have been tortured by the Chinese don’t typically suffer post-
traumatic stress disorder. This is because the monks see the
offenders as people who are suffering, and they respond with
compassion for them and for themselves.
Develop Your Character and Spirituality 135
belly. Like ocean waves coming in and out, your breath is always
there. Notice its rhythm in your body. Notice each breath. Focus
on each inhale … and exhale. Notice the changing patterns of
sensations in your belly as you breathe in, and as you breathe out.
Take a few minutes to feel the physical sensations as you inhale
and exhale.
Step 1: Acknowledge the Wrong and Hurt
Underneath the Anger
Now allow your awareness to shift to a recent situation where
you became angry. See if you can allow yourself to visualize the
scene fully. What happened? Who else was there? Watch the candle
as you acknowledge the anger situation unfolding in your mind’s
eye. Focus on your breathing as you watch the situation unfold.
With each slow breath, see if you can slow the anger situation
down, like a slow-motion movie. As you do, bring your attention to
any sensations of discomfort that show up. As best you can, bring
an attitude of generous allowing and gentle acceptance to your
experience right now. See if you can make room for the pain and
hurt you had then and that you may be reliving now. Soften to it
… as you breathe in … and out … in and out. Don’t try to fight
what you experience. Open up to all of it: the hurt, pain, sadness,
regret, loss, and resentment. Allow yourself to become more aware
of your hurt and painful emotions [such as any feelings of fear,
abandonment, loneliness, inadequacy, or being devalued by self or
others], and simply acknowledge the hurt you experienced and the
hurt you may have caused. Don’t blame. Simply acknowledge and
become aware of your experience.
Step 2: Separate Hurtful Actions from Your Hurt
and Its Source
Visualize the person who hurt you. As you begin to visualize
that person, allow them to drift over to the candle and become
the candle. Focus on the candle as the person who hurt you, and
136 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
remember what happened. As you focus on the candle, notice what
your mind, the language machine, is doing, and the sensations that
come up. You might see your mind passing judgment … blaming …
and lingering over feelings of sadness … bitterness … resentment.
As these and other thoughts and sensations come into your aware-
ness, simply label them—“There is judgment … blame … tension
… resentment”—and allow them to be. Bring a gentle and kind
awareness to your pain and hurt as you breathe in … and out …
in … and out … slowly, and deeply.
Next, create some space between the actions that made you
feel hurt and angry and the person who committed them. If it
helps, you can visualize the action that hurt you as the flame and
the person who committed the hurt as the candlestick. Notice the
difference between the flame and the candle. The flame is not the
candlestick. The actions of the person who hurt you are not the
same as the person who committed them. As you breathe in and
out, give yourself time to connect with this difference. Bring each
hurtful action into the flame, one by one, and notice it, label it,
and then see the difference between the hurtful action and the
person who committed it. Visualize what was done, not who did
it.
Then, after you spend some time noticing each action, allow
it to disappear up into the heat leaving the candle flame. Keep
watching any tension, discomfort, anger, hurt, or whatever else
your body may be doing. Make room for what you experience as
you return your attention to your body and your breathing. Don’t
change or fix anything.
Step 3: Bring Compassionate Witness to Your Hurt
Next, bring your attention back to the human being symbol-
ized by the candle—the perpetrator of wrongs against you. Notice
how he or she is also a person who is vulnerable to harm, just like
you. At a basic human level, the two of you are not that different.
See if you can allow yourself to take his or her perspective as a
compassionate witness—see what life might be like through that
Develop Your Character and Spirituality 137
person’s eyes. Connect with his or her hardships, losses, missed
opportunities, poor choices, faults and failings, hurts and sadness,
hopes and dreams.
Without condoning that person’s actions, see if you can
connect with his or her humanity and imperfections as you connect
with your own humanity and imperfections, hardships, loss, pain,
and suffering. As a compassionate witness to this other human
being, see if you can connect more deeply with that person as
another human being. Notice the offender’s thoughts and feelings,
knowing that you’ve also experienced similar types of thoughts and
feelings. What might it be like to have lived the life of the person
who offended you? As best you can, bring an attitude of generous
allowing and gentle acceptance to what you experience now.
Step 4: Extend Forgiveness, Let Go, and Move On
Now see if you can bring into awareness what your life would
be like if you let go of all the negative energy you are holding on
to—your grievances, grudges, bitterness, and anger. Connect with
the reasons behind why you want to be free from anger and the
desire for revenge. Allow yourself to visualize an alternative future
full of the things you have missed out on or given up by not offer-
ing forgiveness. See if you can connect with your future without
[forgetting] about what has happened in the past, and without car-
rying the weight of bitterness, anger, and resentment toward the
person who hurt you.
Allow yourself to take the courageous step forward in your
life of letting go of your anger and resentment. Perhaps you can feel
the burden and weight of past hurts and unresolved anger begin
to lift from your shoulders. Take time to really connect with this
relief as you imagine yourself separating from the resentment and
bitterness you have carried for so long. Allow all of it to drift away
with each out breath, and with each in breath welcome peace and
forgiveness. Continue to breathe in … and out. Slowly. Deeply.
When you’re ready, bring into your awareness how you have
needed other people’s forgiveness in the past. Imagine extending
138 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
that forgiveness to the person who hurt or offended you. What
could you say to that person now? As you think about this, notice
any discomfort showing up and how your mind is reacting. If the
thought “The person doesn’t deserve that” shows up, just notice
that thought and gently let it go. Return your focus to your breath-
ing as you remind yourself that kind and gentle acts of forgiveness
are for you, not for others. Imagine the weight of the burden being
lifted from you as you choose to give forgiveness. Allow yourself
to connect with the sense of healing and control that comes along
with this. As you give the powerful gift of forgiveness, notice some
budding feelings of softness where before there was only hardness,
hurt, and pain.
Embrace this moment of peace as you return to the image of
the person who offended you. Gently extend your hands as you
say, “In forgiving you, I forgive myself. In letting go of my anger
toward you, I bring peace to myself. I invite peace and compassion
into my life and into my hurt and pain. I choose to let go of this
burden that I have been carrying for so long.” Repeat these phrases
slowly as you extend forgiveness.
Stay with and simply observe and label whatever thoughts
and feelings come up as you extend this act of forgiveness. Sense
the emotional relief that comes when the burden of a grudge is
melting away. See if you can notice the peace and feeling of inner
strength that comes about as you extend compassion and forgive-
ness in this moment. Then, when you’re ready, bring awareness
back into the room, to your body, and the flicker of the candle
flame. Finish this exercise by blowing out the candle as a symbolic
gesture of your commitment to forgive and let go, and your readi-
ness to move on with your life.
Sometimes we cling to resentment, thinking that it will
protect us from being hurt again. If releasing resentment is
difficult, accept that difficulty without judging. Each attempt
Develop Your Character and Spirituality 139
is useful. Additional healing may need to precede forgiveness.
Continue to extend healing compassion to your hurts.
SpirituaI ContempIation
Just as people who feel bonded to loving adults tend to feel
a sense of inner security, people who feel close to God often
report feeling a deeper sense of security and an affirmation of
their worth. This seems to be supported by research in recent
decades indicating that spirituality and religious involvement
offer wide-ranging psychological and physical benefits—
including less anxiety, depression, suicide, substance use, and
physical disease; greater life satisfaction; improved marital
satisfaction; and extended longevity.
For example, using Gallup Poll data on adults age eigh-
teen to ninety-eight, J. R. Peacock and M. M. Poloma (1999)
investigated relationships between life satisfaction and religious
and spiritual variables. Previous research (Pollner 1989) had
found that one’s relationship with God was a stronger correlate
of life satisfaction than race, income, age, marital status, and
church attendance. Peacock and Poloma found that perceived
closeness to God was the strongest correlate of life satisfaction
across the life course, followed by prayer experience (feeling
God’s presence, inspiration, or peace during prayer), church or
synagogue membership, church or synagogue attendance, and
practicing various types of prayer.
closeness to god
The word contemplation derives from two Latin roots:
con, meaning “with,” and templus, meaning “a space to medi-
tate.” Thus, spiritual contemplation implies making room in our
140 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
lives to experience God’s presence. An intention shared by most
spiritual traditions is to help individuals draw closer to God,
who, depending upon one’s tradition, might be addressed as the
One, One Being, the Beloved, Creative Power, Compassionate
One, Allah, Providence, Source of All Being, Lord, the Absolute,
Adonai (Supreme Being), Shekkinah (Indwelling One), Master
of the Universe, Higher Power, Father, Abba (in Aramaic this is
an intimate form of address used by children for their father),
or various other titles.
In many spiritual traditions, the purposes of spiritual
contemplation are described as detaching from thought and
opening ourselves to God’s nearness; trusting in God; resting
and refreshing in God’s loving presence; sensing divine union,
communion, and connection; experiencing an intimate, loving
relationship with God; and finding the sacred in ourselves and
in everyday moments. These purposes are suggested by the fol-
lowing reflections:
“Heaven means to be one with God.” (Confucius)
“When my father and my mother forsake me, then
the Lord will take me up.” (Psalms 27:10)
“When you have succeeded in enshrining God
within your heart, you will see Him everywhere.”
(Swami Sivananda)
“The highest aim of man: the knowledge of God.”
(Moses Maimonides)
“God is at home. We are the ones who have gone
out for a walk.” (Meister Eckhart)
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
“[When Peter] exclaimed, ‘Lord, if it be thou, bid
me come unto thee on the water.’ Christ’s answer to
Develop Your Character and Spirituality 141
him was as it always is every time: ‘Come.’” (Jeffrey
R. Holland)
“As you move one step toward the One, the One
moves ten steps closer to you.” (Sacred tradition
attributed to Muhammad)
“Whenever we find mention of God’s greatness,
we also find mention of His humility. He is great
enough that a single human being can be as signifi-
cant to Him as an entire universe.” (Talmud)
“Whether you love God or love a human being, if
you love enough you will come into the presence of
Love itself.” (Rumi)
“What we love we become. Those who call on God
with sincerity will find the living presence of that God
within themselves.” (Kabir Edmund Helminski)
“The Lord is my shepherd … He leadeth me beside
the still waters …” (Psalms 23:1–2)
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in
me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.”
(John 17:21)
“Man does not need a tour of the world’s cathedrals
to come in contact with the deity. He just needs to
look within. To do this one must sit still.” (Albert
Schweitzer)
“My presence shall go with thee and I will give thee
rest.” (Exodus 31:14–15)
“In giving ourselves to God, we discover who we
really are.” (Anonymous)
“Know ye not … that the Spirit of God dwelleth in
you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)
142 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Lxercise: Spiritual Contemplation
God speaks in the silence of the heart … and we listen.
—Mother Teresa
This meditation typically takes about twenty to thirty minutes.
Find a place where you won’t be disturbed, and begin. (You might
consider prerecording this script or having someone read it aloud
to you.)
Prepare your body and mind. You might wish to stretch,
walk, or bathe before starting. As well as you can, release
anger, hatred, fear, and any other negative attachments.
Sit in the meditator’s posture (feet flat on the floor, back
comfortably erect, hands resting in the lap). Remember
the attitudes of mindfulness, especially compassion, accep-
tance, patience, nonjudgment, and good humor.
Close your eyes.
Peacefully watch your breath. Let your mind and body settle
in your breath. Allow the agitated water of the soul to also
settle and become clear … quiet … still. Anchor in your
breathing, getting beneath the thoughts of the ordinary
mind. Don’t judge the wandering mind. When thoughts
arise (such as “I don’t think I’m doing this right”; “I do not
deserve to do this”; “This feels really good—I don’t want it
to end”; and “What if this doesn’t work?”) just recognize
these as thoughts, and bring your attention back to resting
in your breath.
If you find it helpful, say silently or aloud several
times a soothing word (such as “love,” “near,” “peace,”
“calm,” “one,” or “Abba”) or phrase (such as “divine
1.
2.
3.
4.
Develop Your Character and Spirituality 143
presence,” “closer to Thee,” or “love of God”). Repeating
the word or phrase for a while helps to quiet the mind.
Let a half smile form on your face and notice how that
feels. Then let that smile and feeling of contentment spread
throughout your body.
And now consider God’s infinite, tender loving-kindness
and mercy. Spend a few moments pondering all the divine
gifts that inspire feelings of gratitude … anything great or
small that blesses your life or helps you … anything beauti-
ful and good. Notice what comes to awareness. (Perhaps
you think of the smiles of loved ones … a drink of clear,
cold water or clear water to bathe in … the fragrance of
mowed grass or flowers … the breeze on your skin …
clouds … a bed to sleep in … what the body can do—move,
enjoy sexual intimacy, speak … tasty food … toothpaste.)
As you notice the creative power hidden in all of these,
perhaps you also recognize the creative power hidden in
you … that you belong … a valued part of the larger whole
… a universe where all things are interconnected. And we
refer to this creative power in the universe in an intimate
way, calling God our Lord, helper, protector, comforter …
and appreciate that the master of creation cares for, and is
near to, each created individual. Meditate on this love for
a few moments. Allow feelings of gratitude and happiness
to rest in your body.
Take a slightly deeper breath and let it go. And now turn
inwardly toward God … aware of God’s loving-kindness
… receptive to God’s presence. You might see yourself
picking up your concerns and approaching God … reach-
ing toward … with a soft and open heart … feeling God’s
presence nearer. Whatever you feel is okay, whether it is
comfort … security … warmth … contentment … light …
or just quiet, simple stillness … In your own way open to
5.
6.
7.
144 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
other Ways to draW closer
to god
Spiritual contemplation is but one way to experience
closeness to God. Praying is another complementary path.
Prayer can be ritualistic (as in reading from a book of prayers
or reciting a memorized prayer) or expressed from the heart,
and it can come in the form of adoration or praise, grati-
tude, conversation (speaking in your own language and words
and talking over problems, plans, or concerns), and petition
(asking for assistance, guidance in decisions, or forgiveness).
Reading sacred writings, attending worship services, doing acts
of service (sometimes called “love in action”), and living in a
holy way are also ways of opening ourselves to God’s near-
ness. Mother Teresa taught that holiness is a simple duty for
everyone; one can be holy in any state or position in life. In
so doing, we can choose to release habits that are self-destruc-
tive or harmful to others and choose to go about doing good
in a variety of ways (such as rendering small acts of kindness
that presence … Release, relax, and rest in God’s loving
presence … feeling at home … peaceful, healing commu-
nion … with the wonder of the beginner’s mind … not
trying to make anything happen, but patiently receptive to
whatever way you experience divine presence in the quiet
stillness of your heart.
Rest in that quiet peacefulness and security for several
minutes, breathing gently.
Be aware that you can remember divine presence through-
out the day, and that you can repeat this meditation. When
you are ready, slowly open your eyes.
8.
9.
Develop Your Character and Spirituality 145
to family members). Father Thomas Keating (1992), who writes
extensively on contemplation, says that repentance is changing the
direction in which one is looking for happiness.
The spirit is the true self, not that physical figure which
can be pointed out by your finger.
—Cicero
10
Look Ahead
O
ptimism, which correlates with self-esteem, lets us look
forward to a satisfying life. Life satisfaction is built
upon emotional intelligence skills (such as healing and
taking care of ourselves emotionally), persisting in doing what
is working, personal growth, and cultivating meaning and
purpose, among other things. This chapter will explore three
remaining processes related to self-esteem and life satisfaction:
personality development, cultivating meaning and purpose,
and relapse prevention.
PersonaIity ßeveIopment: 0pening to
What We May 8ecome
Personality development becomes enjoyable when the secure
foundations of unconditional worth and unconditional love
are in place. But there is a driven, joyless quality in trying to
improve when these foundation stones are lacking. So it is best
to learn the skills in this chapter last, after you have worked
to boost your feeling of self-worth, and self-love.
148 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
We call personality development a process because it is
ongoing, never fully completed. The journey can be traveled
with a kind and playful attitude. Think about the enjoyable
aspects of people you know—friends, relatives, neighbors, chil-
dren, coworkers, or famous people. We don’t change overnight,
and we wouldn’t wish to become just like somebody else, but
we can trust ourselves to cultivate our latent personality traits
in a way that is unique to ourselves. Consider the below list of
traits that are generally valued in people:
Appreciative Playful
Determined, resolute Warm
Open to new experiences Sincere
Sense of wonder/delight/awe Comfortable with the
full range of
emotions
Flexible (not rigid; Grateful
adaptable, willing to bend)
Gentle Courteous
Enthusiastic Attuned to others,
attentive, interested
Friendly, inviting Courageous
(persists despite fear)
Vulnerable (does anyone Respectful
enjoy those who think
they’re perfect?)
Strong Thoughtful
Hardworking Safe, comfortable to
be with
Look Ahead 149
Calm Self-reliant
(not needy)
Articulate Encouraging
Organized Steady
Humble Adventurous
Patient Kind
Poised, graceful Tactful
Fun loving Upbeat (doesn’t dwell
on negatives)
Independent, self-motivated Curious
Forgiving
Can you think of other traits that you would add? If you
were to select five personality traits to cultivate, just for fun,
which would they be? Circle these. Then simply be open to
cultivating these traits in your life. You might meditate from
time to time on how your life would be different if these traits
were more fully developed. For example, if you’d like to cul-
tivate courtesy, you might reflect upon how saying thank you,
letting drivers go in front of you, doing nice things for others,
or smiling at salesclerks would make you and others feel. The
wonderful thing is that personality growth can continue even
as our aging bodies decline.
Man’s only legitimate end in life is to finish God’s
work—to bring to full growth the capacities and
talents implanted in us.
—Eric Hoffer
150 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Meaning and Purpose
Self-esteem correlates highly with one’s sense of meaning and
purpose. The famous concentration camp survivor Viktor
Frankl (1959) observed that knowing one’s life has meaning
and purpose confers a calm inner strength that enables people
to endure great suffering. Frankl explained that the concentra-
tion camps caused some to sink to depravity, but others rose
to greater heights of character and selfless service. Survivor’s
pride, felt by resilient people who have lived through great
suffering, includes individuals (1) discovering that they have
an existing inner strength that is greater than adversity, and
(2) knowing that their lives still have meaning and purpose.
Meaning and purpose derive from discovering and develop-
ing character and personality strengths. They also derive from
the use of these strengths to benefit others, which Aristotle
described as a pathway to happiness.
Studies have shown that defining success primarily
in material ways leads to poorer psychological adjustment.
However, a common theme across cultures is that those who
think of others and aim to better the world discover greater
happiness and awareness of their inner worth. People who
understand this early in life are fortunate. In the Japanese
culture, kigatsuku is the inner spirit that helps us see the needs
of others and help without being told. The gifted teacher
Chieko Okazaki relates that when she was a child her mother
would say, “I’m looking for a kigatsuku girl to help me with the
dishes.” Pretty soon she learned to see what was needed and
then help without being asked. Traveling widely today doing
public service, she might pick up trash in a public bathroom,
which she feels privileged to use, explaining that helping is
everybody’s job.
How might we make the world a better place? There
are many ways. When someone asked Mother Teresa how
he might help her, she simply said, “Come and see.” We can
Look Ahead 151
simply observe what needs to be done, and do it as best we
can. This might mean providing physical help (such as cleaning
or giving a ride) or giving a smile, a listening ear, or encour-
agement. Simple expressions of help can be given to family,
friends, coworkers, or strangers. Or, if we have the means, we
might donate time or money to a worthwhile cause (such as
a soup kitchen, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Habitat for
Humanity, or a political campaign). Further, you can think
of your job as a way to contribute. For example, one janitor
might view his job as simply cleaning and getting rid of trash.
Another might view it as creating an environment that helps
educators teach and a generation of children to learn.
Another way to make the world better is to beautify or
improve our environment for the sake of others. This could
involve artistic expression (such as painting or poetry), invent-
ing, sprucing up your home or workplace, or picking up litter
on your walking path. Additionally, you can think about what
it would be like to be in another person’s shoes and see how
your behaviors affect that person. Plante (2004) reminds us that
the hotel housekeeper cleans up others’ messes and might be
ignored by the guests. Perhaps she would appreciate receiving
a simple greeting from the guests she cleans for. A salesclerk
might be tired after a long day of dealing with demanding cus-
tomers. An empathic smile or a word of thanks for her service
might go a long way.
S. C. Hayes (2005; Eifert, McKay, and Forsyth 2006)
reminds us that we all carry burdens—perhaps memories,
partially healed wounds, worries, self-doubts, or fears. Rather
than trying to ignore, deny, or hide these, you can think of
them as passengers on the bus that you are driving through
life. You compassionately acknowledge that they are aboard,
but you needn’t listen to every demand to stop, take a detour,
or let them drive. In this way we can move ahead purposefully
in life, even with these imperfections. Remember that you are
driving, not being driven. Choose a pace that is comfortable.
152 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
You can’t do everything, and you can’t do it all at once. But
you can experience the security and satisfaction of doing what
you can do.
There is no greater satisfaction for a just and
well-meaning person than the knowledge that he
has devoted his best energies to the service of the
good cause.
—Albert Einstein
keIapse Prevention
We have explored many useful skills for building self-esteem.
As is the case with learning to play an instrument or a sport,
we improve our skills with practice. These skills can soften the
blows of difficult life situations, helping to preserve self-esteem
in the face of adversity.
The final skill, relapse prevention, will allow you to
anticipate and develop a coping plan for a difficult situation
that could threaten your self-esteem. This is how well-trained
athletes, warriors, firefighters, and other individuals anticipat-
ing stressful situations prepare—they rehearse what they will
think and do before, during, and after encountering a dis-
tressing or challenging event. The principle is that we are less
likely to be thrown by a difficult situation if we are prepared
for it.
Look Ahead 153
Lxercise: Stress Inoculation
Identify a difficult situation that could undermine your
self-esteem. This might be something like performing
poorly on an important task, failing to meet important
personal goals, or encountering a situation that could lead
to rejection, mistreatment, or criticism.
Place a check by any statement that might be useful in
coping with such a difficult situation.
Before
This could be difficult and challenging. I’ll take a
breath and do the best I can.
If I stay calm and do my best there’s a good chance
that I’ll do well.
No matter what happens, I’ll still be a worthwhile
person.
Nobody’s perfect. Relax and do what you can.
This is an opportunity to stretch myself. I view it as an
opportunity.
I’m not afraid to risk and fall short, because I know
that my worth comes from within, not from my
performance.
It will be fun to succeed. If I don’t, it won’t be the end
of the world.
I’ll gain useful experience, even if I fall short of my
goal.
I’ll focus on doing what I can and not worry about how
things turn out.
1.
2.









154 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
I’ll aim for an excellent job, not perfection.
I have as much right as anyone to try at this.
I’ll feel the satisfaction of giving this my best shot, and
I won’t worry too much about the outcome.
I’ll calmly size things up and then handle it as well as I
know how. That’s all anyone can ask of a person.
Other statements:
During
Stay calm and focus on the task. (Worries take us off
task.)
Easy does it—one step at a time.
It’s natural to feel fear, tension, and frustration.
Whatever I feel is okay.
It’s too bad that things aren’t more perfect, but it’s not
a catastrophe.
Sometimes we just have days like this. Keep trucking.
I accept that this is a difficult situation.
Whatever happens, I’ll be okay inside.
Things needn’t go perfectly.
Remember to laugh. I may not be perfect, but I know
that I’m still cool inside.
Other statements:
After
If things went well:
I did a good job. That went well.
















Look Ahead 155
I tried my best and feel satisfied with the outcome.
It’s fun to tackle challenges and do well.
Other statements:
If things didn’t go well:
I’m new at this. I’ll try a different approach next time.
That really was a difficult situation.
That’s water under the bridge.
Everyone makes mistakes.
Eventually I’ll figure out how to succeed at this.
Even though I’m disappointed, I’m still a worthwhile
person.
Despite the outcome, I have the right to learn from this
and try again.
Even though my skills weren’t adequate for the task,
I’m worthwhile as a person.
Okay, now what? What’s the best thing I can do now?
This, too, will pass.
I feel satisfaction in knowing that I tried my best.
Okay, so I didn’t do as well as I wanted to today.
Perhaps with rest and more practice I can improve.
Even if people judge me harshly, I can view the situa-
tion kindly.
Because of this disappointment I will be especially com-
passionate toward myself.
A slip isn’t permanent.


















156 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in
which you can walk with love and reverence.
—Henry David Thoreau
Where there is life there is hope.
Years from now, will this really matter?
Other statements:
Write down several of your favorite statements from each
category.
If you have read the preceding chapters, take this opportu-
nity to review them to identify the principles and skills that
are most useful for you. Then list what you will do before,
during, and after the difficult situation. For example, before
confronting the situation you might wish to exercise and
do the body scan to calm down, and use your mastery and
competence imagery to build confidence. During the dif-
ficult situation, you might wish to relax your body and
breathe mindfully to remain calm, as you implement pre-
planned strategies. Afterward, you might use your daily
thought record and defusing skills, and your cognitive
rehearsal, smile meditation, sitting with emotions, mindful
mirror, and forgiving skills. (If you have not read the previ-
ous chapters, return to this step after doing so.)
Mentally rehearse what you will do and say before, during,
and after confronting the difficult situation until you feel
reasonably confident in your ability to cope with the situ-
ation. You can prepare for any difficult situation in this
way.



3.
4.
5.
kecommended
kesources
8ooks and videos on SeIf-Lsteem and
LmotionaI WeII-8eing
Coopersmith, S. The Antecedents of Self-Esteem. San Francisco,
CA: Freeman. A scholarly work about the causes and con-
sequences of various levels of self-esteem.
Rosenberg, M. Society and the Adolescent Self-Image. Princeton,
NJ: Princeton University Press. Another scholarly classic.
Hayes, S. C., with S. Smith. Get Out of Your Mind and Into
Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications. This brilliant
book explores the suffering we create in our minds by
futilely trying to get rid of our histories. It teaches how
158 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
to accept and then disengage from our inner battles, so
that we can live a valued life. ACT has been found to
reduce depression and anxiety and is useful for self-esteem
issues.
Dr. Seuss. Oh, The Places You’ll Go. New York: Random House.
A clever, humorous treatise on human growth and fallibil-
ity. Written for children. Or is it?
Mother Teresa: A Film by Ann and Jeanette Petrie with a
Narration by Richard Attenborough. Petrie Productions.
Videocassette. San Francisco: Dorason Corp. A powerful
object lesson in unconditional love. Although this is out of
production, it is well worth the search.
Kevin Miller. 20/20 Downtown. Segment Two, 1/20/00. ABC
News Home Video. Videocassette. A morbidly obese
person nevertheless manages to preserve self-esteem.
Schiraldi, G. R. The Self-Esteem Workbook. Oakland, CA: New
Harbinger Publications. Based on the successful “Stress
and the Healthy Mind” course, University of Maryland.
Contains detailed instructions for many effective skills.
Schiraldi, G. R. The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook:
A Guide to Healing, Recovery and Growth. Chicago:
McGraw-Hill. “The most valuable, user-friendly manual
on PTSD I have ever seen. Must reading for victims,
their families, and their therapists,” according to Dr.
George Everly, Executive Editor, International Journal of
Emergency Mental Health.
Schiraldi, G. R., and M. H. Kerr. The Anger Management
Sourcebook. Chicago: McGraw-Hill. Problem anger may be
an expression of self-dislike. This book offers more practi-
cal skills on forgiving. “A must for those who are serious
about managing their anger more effectively,” accord-
Recommended Resources 159
ing to Dr. R. J. Hedaya, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry,
Georgetown University Hospital.
Schiraldi, G. R. World War II Survivors: Lessons in Resilience.
Ellicott City, MD: Chevron. Extraordinary survivors
describe the strengths that enabled them to function under
extreme duress, preserve sanity, and return to lead pro-
ductive lives. Self-esteem is an important component of
resilience.
Schiraldi, G. R. Conquer Anxiety, Worry and Nervous Fatigue:
A Guide to Greater Peace. Ellicott City, MD: Chevron.
Anxiety and self-esteem are highly correlated, from
hyperventilation to worrisome thoughts. “The best book
for anxiety we’ve ever seen,” said the staff at the Sidran
Foundation.
Schiraldi, G. R. Facts to Relax By: A Guide to Relaxation and
Stress Reduction. Provo, UT: Utah Valley Regional Medical
Center. A range of traditional techniques and resources.
(Utah Valley RMC, IHC University, 1134 North 500 West,
Suite 204, Provo, UT 84604, tel. 801-357-7176)
Seligman, M. E. P. The Optimistic Child. New York: Houghton
Mifflin. Using cognitive therapy to immunize children
at risk for depression by building resilience. See Penn
Resiliency Project (www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu/prpsum.htm)
to learn more.
Seligman, M. E. P. Authentic Happiness. New York: Free Press.
Happiness and self-esteem overlap in many ways, including
the signature strengths discussed here.
Frankl, V. Man’s Search for Meaning. Boston: Beacon. The
classic work on discovering meaning in one’s life out of
suffering, written by the Holocaust survivor who founded
logotherapy.
160 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Ashe, A., and A. Ramparsad. Days of Grace: A Memoir. New
York: Ballantine. Despite fighting prejudice and AIDS
contracted during heart surgery, Arthur Ashe retained his
dignity and optimism.
Opdyke, I. G., with J. Armstrong. In My Hands: Memories of
a Holocaust Rescuer. New York: Anchor. A young Catholic
girl in Poland risked her life to save Jews during WWII.
Despite incredible hardship, she remained softhearted and
optimistic.
Marx, J. Season of Life. New York: Simon & Schuster. Inspired
by Viktor Frankl, former NFL star Joe Ehrmann now
teaches highly successful young athletes that manhood is
not found in athletic prowess, sexual exploitation, and
materialism, but in love and meaning.
Eyre, L., and R. Eyre. Twelve Children’s Stories for Teaching
Children Joy. Salt Lake City, UT: Homebase. Includes
clever instructions for appreciating unique differences.
Burns, D. Feeling Good. New York: Signet. A practical book
on replacing the thinking distortions that cause depression
and undermine self-esteem.
8ooks and videos on PhysicaI heaIth
Flow Motion: The Simplified T’ai Chi Workout. Video by
C. J. McPhee and D. Ross, Tai Chi Video Productions
(Lightworks Audio & Video, Los Angeles, 800-795-8273,
or Collage Video, 800-433-6769). A gentle way to utilize
the mind-body connection, lower blood pressure, and
improve fitness.
Recommended Resources 161
Christensen, A. Easy Does It Yoga. New York: Fireside.
Instructions for gentle postures for the aged, injured, or
inactive. Many are useful for anyone and can be done at
one’s desk to relax and increase energy and flexibility.
Jacobs, G. D. Say Good Night to Insomnia: A Drug-Free Program
Developed at Harvard Medical School. New York: Owl.
Practical ways to improve sleep quality and quantity.
USDA. 2005. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. See
www.mypyramid.gov for personalized interactive nutri-
tional information.
8ooks on SpirituaI ContempIation
and Meditation
Kabat-Zinn, J. Full Catastrophe Living. New York: Bantam
Dell. Perhaps the best book on mindfulness meditation, a
practice that has been found to reduce a host of medical
and psychological symptoms.
Gefen, N. F. Discovering Jewish Meditation: Instruction and
Guidance for Learning an Ancient Spiritual Practice.
Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights. In a warm and readable
style, it provides practical instruction for lay readers.
Kaplan, A. Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide. New York:
Schocken. Rich in insights.
Dalai Lama, and H. C. Cutler. The Art of Happiness: A
Handbook for Living. New York: Riverhead. Profound
insights on self-esteem and compassion.
162 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Hanh, T. N. Peace Is Every Step. New York: Bantam. Peaceful
monk’s practical ways to cultivate inner peace, joy, seren-
ity, and balance.
Douglas-Klotz, N. The Sufi Book of Life: 99 Pathways of the
Heart for the Modern Dervish. New York: Penguin Compass.
Sufi meditation with a light touch.
Keating, T. Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative
Dimension of the Gospel. New York: Continuum. Father
Keating provides a Christian perspective.
8ooks and videos on CoupIe and
famiIy SkiIIs
Markman, H., S. Stanley, and S. L. Blumberg. Fighting for
Your Marriage: Positive Steps for Preventing Divorce and
Preserving a Lasting Love. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Based on solid research, this book provides practical advice
on everything from conflict resolution to increasing fun.
Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program [PREP]:
Resources for a Loving Relationship. Denver, CO. (800-
366-0166) Fighting for Your Marriage and other books.
Four excellent videos to help develop communication
skills, solve problems, and promote intimacy. The PREP
approach is well researched and respected.
Lundberg, G., and J. Lundberg. I Don’t Have to Make Everything
All Better. New York: Viking Penguin. Treasure chest of
methods for relating to people. Learn how to walk along-
side people emotionally, rather than arguing or criticizing.
Lundberg, G., and J. Lundberg. Married for Better, Not Worse:
The Fourteen Secrets to a Happy Marriage. New York:
Recommended Resources 163
Viking. Another down-to-earth treasure for creating a sat-
isfying marriage.
Latham, G. I. The Power of Positive Parenting: A Wonderful
Way to Raise Children. North Logan, UT: P&T Ink. Useful
and thorough guide to steady, consistent, and peaceful
parenting.
Garcia-Prats, C. M., and J. A. Garcia-Prats. Good Families
Don’t Just Happen: What We Learned from Raising Our
Ten Sons and How It Can Work for You. Holbrook, MA:
Adams Media Corporation. Principle-based skills, starting
with respect between spouses.
Eyre, L., and R. Eyre. Teaching Children Joy. Salt Lake City,
UT: Deseret. When we can teach it to children, then we
have learned it.
kesources for heaIing from 1rauma
Trauma, which usually affects self-esteem, typically requires
specially trained therapists.
Sidran Institute is a national nonprofit organization that helps
people understand, recover from, and treat traumatic stress
and related conditions. Provides information, treatment
resources, reading lists, educational materials, and a caring
ear at no charge to trauma survivors and family members.
(To find a nearby trauma therapist, contact Sidran Institute,
200 East Joppa Road, Suite 207, Baltimore, MD 21286,
tel. 410-825-8888, help@sidran.org, www.sidran.org.)
Intensive Trauma Therapy. Combines art therapy with video-
taping and hypnosis in a very effective approach to individ-
ual treatment. Offers one- and two-week intensives. (314
Scott Ave., Morgantown, WV 26508, tel. 304-291-2912)
keferences
Albom, M. 1997. Tuesdays with Morrie. New York: Broadway.
Beck, A. 1976. Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders.
New York: Meridian.
Beck, J. S. 1995. Cognitive Therapy: Basics and Beyond. New
York: Guilford Press.
Brown, S. L., G. R. Schiraldi, and M. Wrobleski. 2003.
Psychological strengths as correlates of happiness and
health in college students. Paper presented at the Second
International Positive Psychology Summit, Washington
DC.
Chambers, O. 1963. My Utmost for His Highest. Uhrichsville,
OH: Barbour.
Dement, W. C., and C. Vaughan. 1999. The Promise of Sleep.
New York: Delacorte.
Eifert, G. H., M. McKay, and J. P. Forsyth. 2006. ACT on
Life Not on Anger: The New Acceptance and Commitment
166 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Therapy Guide to Problem Anger. Oakland, CA: New
Harbinger Publications.
Ellis, A., and R. A. Harper. 1975. A New Guide to Rational
Living. North Hollywood, CA: Wilshire.
Frankl, V. E. 1959. Man’s Search for Meaning: An Introduction
to Logotherapy. Boston: Beacon.
Gardner, H. 1993. Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple
Intelligences. New York: Basic.
Gauthier, J., D. Pellerin, and P. Renaud. 1983. The enhance-
ment of self-esteem: A comparison of two cognitive strate-
gies. Cognitive Therapy and Research 7(5):389–98.
Goleman, D., ed. 2003. Healing Emotions: Conversations with
the Dalai Lama on Mindfulness, Emotions, and Health.
Boston: Shambhala.
Hayes, S. C., with S. Smith. 2005. Get Out of Your Mind and
Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment
Therapy. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
Hayes, S. C., K. D. Strosahl, and K. G. Wilson. 1999. ACT:
An Experiential Approach to Behavior Change. New York:
Guilford Press.
Hinckley, G. B. 2000. Standing for Something: Ten Neglected
Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes. New York:
Random House.
Hobfoll, S. E., and J. R. Leiberman. 1987. Personality and
social resources in immediate and continued stress resis-
tance among women. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology 52(1):18–26.
Hobfoll, S., and P. London. 1986. The relationship of self-
concept and social support to emotional distress among
References 167
women during war. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology
4(2):l89–203.
Jacobson, N., and A. Christensen. 1996. Integrative Couple
Therapy: Promoting Acceptance and Change. New York:
W. W. Norton and Company.
Kabat-Zinn, J. 1990. Full Catastrophe Living. New York:
Bantam Dell.
———. 2005. Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the
World Through Mindfulness. New York: Hyperion.
Keating, T. 1992. Invitation to Love: The Way of Christian
Contemplation. New York: Continuum.
Lee, H. J. 2002. Psychosocial variables associated with resil-
ience among mother-daughter dyads. Doctoral diss.,
University of Maryland.
Lowry, R. J., ed. 1973. Dominance, Self-Esteem, Self-
Actualization: Germinal Papers of A. H. Maslow. Monterey,
CA: Brooks/Cole.
McQuaid, J. R., and P. E. Carmona. 2004. Peaceful Mind:
Using Mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Psychology
to Overcome Depression. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger
Publications.
Miller, K. 2000. Interview by Anderson Cooper, 20/20
Downtown, ABC (January 20).
Monson, T. 2006. True to the faith. Ensign 36(5):18–21.
Murray, W. H. 1951. The Scottish Himalayan Expedition.
London: J. M. Dent and Sons.
Okazaki, C. N. 1993. Lighten Up! Salt Lake City, UT:
Deseret.
168 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
Peacock, J. R., and M. M. Poloma. 1999. Religiosity and life
satisfaction across the life course. Social Indicators Research
48:321–45.
Plante, T. G. 2004. Do the Right Thing: Living Ethically
in an Unethical World. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger
Publications.
Pollner, M. 1989. Divine relations, social relations, and well-
being. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 30(1):46–53.
Rinpoche, S. 1993. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. New
York: HarperCollins.
Rogers, C. R. 1987. On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View
of Psychotherapy. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Salzberg, S. 2004. Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of
Happiness. Boston: Shambhala.
Schiraldi, G. R. 2001. The Self-Esteem Workbook. Oakland,
CA: New Harbinger Publications.
Schiraldi, G. R., and S. L. Brown. 2001. Primary prevention
for mental health: Results of an exploratory cognitive-
behavioral college course. Journal of Primary Prevention
22(10):55–67.
Segal, Z. V., J. M. G. Williams, and J. D. Teasdale. 2002.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression: A
New Approach to Preventing Relapse. New York: Guilford
Press.
Shupe, P. C. 2006. Parable of the broken slides. Sermon deliv-
ered at Foreside Community Church, Falmouth, ME
(March 26).
Spence, J., P. Poon, and P. Dyck. 1997. The effect of physi-
cal activity participation on self-concept: A meta analysis.
Journal of Sports Exercise Psychology 19:S109.
References 169
Sprott, J. B., and A. N. Doob. 2000. Bad, sad, and rejected:
The lives of aggressive children. Canadian Journal of
Criminology 42(2):123–33.
USDA. 2005. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. www
.mypyramid.gov.
Warner, M., ed. 2004. The Portable Walt Whitman. New York:
Penguin.
Zhang, L. 2005. Prediction of Chinese life satisfaction:
Contribution of collective self-esteem. International Journal
of Psychology 40(3):189–200.
8iographicaI
Sketch
Glenn R. Schiraldi, Ph.D., has served on the stress management
faculties at the Pentagon, the International Critical Incident
Stress Foundation, and the University of Maryland, where he
received the Outstanding Teaching Award in the College of
Health and Human Performance. He is the author of various
articles and books on human mental and physical health. His
books on stress-related topics include The Self-Esteem Workbook;
The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook; World War II
Survivors: Lessons in Resilience; Conquer Anxiety, Worry, and
Nervous Fatigue; The Anger Management Sourcebook; Hope
and Help for Depression; and Facts to Relax By. Glenn’s writing
excellence has been recognized by various scholarly and popular
sources, including the Washington Post, the American Journal
of Health Promotion, the Mind/Body Health Review, and the
International Stress and Tension Control Society Newsletter.
While serving at the Pentagon, he helped to design and
implement a series of prototype courses in stress management
for the Department of the Army—including hostility/anger
management and communication skills. He conducts resilience
training for the prevention of post-traumatic stress disorder for
the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. Serving
172 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem
at the University of Maryland since 1980, he has pioneered
a number of mind-body courses, which have taught skills to
a wide range of adults to prevent stress-related mental and
physical illness. He also served on the board of directors of
the Depression and Related Affective Disorders Association,
founded as a Johns Hopkins University Department of
Psychiatry cooperative, and he presently serves on the edito-
rial board of the International Journal of Emergency Mental
Health, and on the ABC News Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
working group.
He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West
Point, and holds graduate degrees from BYU (summa cum
laude) and the University of Maryland.
To order, call toll free 1-800-748-6273 or visit our online bookstore at www.newharbinger.com
(V, MC, AMEX • prices subject to change without notice)
a v a i l a b l e f r o m n e w h a r b i n g e r p u b l i c a t i o n s
a n d f i n e b o o k s e l l e r s e v e r y wh e r e
THE SELF-ESTEEM WORKBOOK
$18.95 • Item Code: 2523
WOMEN WHO WORRY TOO MUCH
$13.95 • Item Code: 4127
HOW TO STOP BACKING DOWN
& START TALKING BACK
$13.95 • Item Code: 4178
THE SELF-ESTEEM COMPANION
$14.95 • Item Code: 4119
SELF-ESTEEM, THIRD EDITION
$15.95 • Item Code: 1985
more real tools for real change
from newharbingerpublications

10 Simple Solutions for Building Self-Esteem is a very interesting and rewarding book! Clearly and warmly written, Schiraldi’s book is filled with valuable and varied possibilities for enhancing self-esteem and exploring the wonder and mystery of this human life. —Jeffrey Brantley, MD, founder and director of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program at the Duke University Center for Integrative Medicine, author of Calming Your Anxious Mind, and coauthor of The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook and Five Good Minutes

Schiraldi skillfully blends theory and practice into a how-to manual for developing and strengthening self-esteem. Written in an easy, conversational style, this engaging book provides practical suggestions interspersed with real-life scenes. —A. Dean Byrd, Ph.D., MBA, MPH, president of Thrasher Research Fund and clinical professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine, and Elaine H. Byrd, Ed. D., professor of education at Utah Valley State College

This is for anyone seeking to manage the stresses of modern life and to feel good on a daily basis. Packed with simple, understandable activities to help reduce stress and make meaning in life, the book will help anyone who wants to improve his or her own self-esteem or that of a close friend or loved one. Marrying the best of Eastern and Western thought in an easyto-understand format, Schiraldi empowers the reader to create their best life possible. —Marcia Marinelli, Ph.D., NCC, assistant director of the University of Maryland Counseling Center and affiliate assistant professor in the Department of Counseling & Personnel Services at the university

A concise, skills-based approach to building self-esteem. Schiraldi’s distinction between one’s core worth and things that help us experience that worth is particularly helpful, as are his thoughts about identifying and replacing distorted thinking. Well done —Claudia A. Howard, M Ed., owner of Individual Potential Seminars, both speaks and conducts workshops on self-image, conflict resolution, and relationship patterns

New Harbinger Publications.D. .10 Simple Solutions for Building Self-Esteem How to End Self-Doubt. Gain Confidence & Create a Positive Self-Image GLENN R. PH. Inc. SCHIRALDI.

© by S. published by New Harbinger Publications. and J. 2005. Self-esteem. coauthor. Milk. CA in 2006. CA: New Harbinger Publications.C. Text design by Tracy Carlson The Library of Congress has Cataloged the print edition as: Schiraldi. Oakland. Cover design by Amy Shoup.com Acquired by Tesilya Hanauer. p. Title: Ten simple solutions for building self-esteem.. published by New Harbinger Publications. Forsyth. Oakland. Purpose and Love. 5674 Shattuck Avenue Oakland. Inc. M.1--dc22 2007012998 PDF eBook ISBN 978-1-57224-743-7 . Jack. P. McKay. G. Jack Canfield. © by P. Oakland. and create a positive self-image / Glenn Schiraldi. (2001). The “Parable of the Broken Microscope Slides” in chapter 9 is adapted with permission from an unpublished sermon by the Rev. Edited by Karen O’Donnell Stein.H. Smith. The Self-Esteem Workbook. legal. Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Glenn R. If expert assistance or counseling is needed. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering psychological. Copyright 1985. Body Appreciation Meditation in chapter 7: Condensed slightly and reprinted with permission from Canfield. gain confidence. the services of a competent professional should be sought. The “Candle of Forgiveness” exercise in chapter 9 is adapted with permission from Act on Life Not on Anger by G. Forsyth.newharbinger. cm. The defusing exercises “Identify the source of the Pain. Hayes and S. CA in 2005.P. Eifert.C. Title. Shupe 2006.Publisher’s Note This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered.C. Eifert. or other professional services. Shupe. CA 94609 www. “Body Appreciation. This version was originally reprinted with permission in Schiraldi. I. ISBN-13: 978-1-57224-495-5 ISBN-10: 1-57224-495-X 1. R. financial. McKay. and J. (1985). Hayes and S. P. © by G. BF697.5.H. II.” “Milk. 194710 simple solutions for building self-esteem : how to end self-doubt.S46S34 2007 158. Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books All Rights Reserved Printed in the United States of America Copyright © 2007 by Glenn Schiraldi New Harbinger Publications. 2006. Milk. Smith. M.” “Keep a Journal. Do not reproduce without written permission.” in Wisdom.C.” and “Carry It With You” in chapter 3 is adapted with permission from Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life by S.

Contents

        Acknowledgments            Introduction     

   

     

    v         1  

1  2  3  4  5 

  Know What Self-Esteem Is      Be Mindful   

3

                      11       27       45

  Clear Away Negative Thoughts    Be Aware of Your Strengths      Use Mindful Meditations 

53

  6    7    8    9  10 

  Cultivate Joy  

           

79 95 105

  Appreciate Your Body 

  Care for Your Mind by           Caring for Your Body 

  Develop Your Character and Spirituality       115   Look Ahead            147

          Recommended Resources              References       

            157                      165

iv

10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem

Acknowledgments

I

n this book I have tried to combine the best of Western and Eastern psychology. I am grateful indeed for the pioneering work of Drs. Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis, who developed systematic ways to uproot destructive thought patterns, and to Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn for developing the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, which has enabled mindfulness meditation practices to be applied to the alleviation of a host of medical and psychological conditions. Drs. Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, John Teasdale, and John McQuaid, as well as Paula Carmona, have brought together mindfulness practices and cognitive restructuring for the treatment of depression, while Dr. Jeffrey Brantley has applied mindfulness to the treatment of anxiety. I am thankful for the work of Dr. Steven Hayes, whose acceptance and commitment therapy, itself a skillful blending of West and East, has contributed much to this book. Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Sogyal Rinpoche, Viktor Frankl, and many other extraordinary people have, through their example and teachings, also influenced this book greatly. I deeply appreciate the students of all ages at the University of Maryland for so diligently and graciously experimenting with the practices in this book over the years, thereby helping me to better understand how to teach these practices more effectively.

diligent people at New Harbinger Publications. and Tracy Carlson. Parts of this book are adapted from an earlier book of mine. especially Tesilya Hanauer. and Karen O’Donnell Stein. the editors who have worked so thoughtfully with me to bring this book to fruition. I thank the wonderful. who skillfully put my words into visual form.Finally. The Self-Esteem Workbook (Schiraldi 2001). Heather Mitchener. vi 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem .

and a variety of other distressing physical and psychological symptoms. It was very good news to discover that mental health could be improved by employing such an approach. Morris Rosenberg. Indeed. said it well when he stated that nothing can be more stressful than the experience of lacking the basic anchor and security of a wholesome sense of self-worth. Those lacking self-esteem are more likely to experience depression. survival. and sense of well-being. chronic pain. The Self-Esteem Workbook (Schiraldi 2001). which you W . coping abilities.Introduction hy build self-esteem? The benefits of having self-esteem are numerous.. During my tenure at the University of Maryland. and problem anger in adults eighteen to sixty-eight years of age (Schiraldi and Brown 2001). the foremost researcher on self-esteem. I developed a skills-based course that improved self-esteem while reducing symptoms of depression. Those self-esteem skills are described in detail in my earlier book. and a motivation to live a productive and healthy life. anxiety. psychological resilience. Self-esteem is strongly associated with happiness. So self-esteem is essential to our health. Ph. immunosuppression. problem anger. anxiety.D.

quicker approach to increasing self-esteem—one that I hope you will find richly rewarding. However. then 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem is for you. or if current circumstances prevent you from beginning that systematic approach.might someday find beneficial to tackle. if you now lack the time or readiness.  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . It offers a simpler.

Appreciative. Self-esteem is a realistic. On one hand. and you’ll get a sense of what appreciative means. and everything in between. So let’s begin by clearly understanding where we are going in this book. appreciative opinion of oneself. suggests that we have good feelings overall about the person we see. however. recognizing that there is more to you than your faults. Wholesome self-esteem is the conviction that one is as worthwhile as anyone else. Realistic means we are dealing in the truth. On the other hand.1 M Know What Self-Esteem Is any myths and misunderstandings surround self-esteem. but not more so. weaknesses. no need to think that we are . being accurately and honestly aware of our strengths. realizing that everyone has much to learn and that we are all really in the same boat. we feel a quiet gladness to be who we are and a sense of dignity that comes from realizing that we share what all humans possess—intrinsic worth. There is no need to be arrogant or boastful. Think of a friend who knows you well and cherishes you. those with selfesteem remain humble.

 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . However. inner gladness that characterizes self-esteem.more worthwhile as a person than others or more skilled or important than we really are. The first two blocks. growth. So it is important to distinguish the outer appearance of confidence from the quiet. studies have shown that self-esteem is related to the mental health and happiness of adults in diverse cultures. or selfish. including Asian (Lee 2002. feel rejected. Can a criminal have high self-esteem? I suppose it is theoretically possible. and have a poor self-image than less aggressive children (Sprott and Doob 2000). comprise the secure foundation for the third building block. selfabsorbed. both of which can set us up for failure. Self-esteem is not the same as being self-centered. a recent study found that aggressive. Generally. self-esteem is a strong motivator to work hard. Indeed. unconditional worth and unconditional love.or herself is freer to be selfless. Zhang 2005) and Middle Eastern societies (Hobfoll and London 1986. Hobfoll and Leiberman 1987). and unloved. One who feels whole and secure in him. steady. The Building Blocks of Self-Esteem Self-esteem rests upon three important factors. or building blocks. unhappy. And self-esteem is not just important for people in Western cultures. growth proceeds more effectively once the first two blocks are securely in place. Self-esteem is also not complacency or overconfidence. rebellious children were more likely to have been bullied.

SelfEsteem Growth Unconditional Worth Figure 1 Unconditional Love Building Block 1: unconditional Worth A basic premise is that all people have equal. such as the way people treat you. So I’ve found that the following analogy helps. bad decisions. immeasurable. and it can be quite empowering. which assign worth based on social or financial status. whose facets refract light so beautifully. unchanging intrinsic worth as a person. Know What Self-Esteem Is  . Even very bright people may struggle with this concept. Worth as a person is neither earned nor increased or diminished by external factors. Perhaps you can visualize a spherical crystal. but the assumption of equal worth as a person is not a new one. since they have been given the message that inner worth can rise or fall with performance or circumstances. this is not the message one hears in the marketplace or in certain social circles. or fluctuations in your bank account balance. Granted.

sacrifice.Externals Core Worth (Essential. persevere. and make good decisions. Each facet of the crystal represents an attribute needed for living well. beautify and experience beauty.  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . Spiritual Self) Externals Figure 2    The Core Self The crystal represents the core worth of each individual. The facets include the capacities to love. Each facet may be polished and refined as we develop. think rationally.

Similarly. Perhaps one has been emotionally. people who have experienced trauma such as rape or combat often feel shattered inside. the words whole. For instance. Such treatment by others can lead one to believe that one is defective at the core. physically.The core self might also be likened to a seed. then that person’s self-esteem will rise and fall with the stock market.) Other externals act like sunlight. The baby is complete. yet certainly not completed (that is. not perfect or fully developed). even though the core remains whole and worthwhile. Externals Externals are outer events or circumstances that can alter the way we experience our worth but do not change our worth. possessing in embryo every attribute needed in order to flourish. If a person equates his or her core human worth to the value of his or her investment portfolio (an external). heal. being loved by others or successfully completing an important task helps us experience our worth more intensely. externals—whether good or bad—are not the core. and health all derive from the same root. representing the fact that core worth is independent of externals. illuminating our core worth and helping us to experience that worth with satisfaction. which feels good. Certain externals or experiences can camouflage or hide one’s core worth. or sexually abused. Like that seed. like a dark cloud or haze that surrounds and obscures it. going up and down like a roller coaster. However. Our goal in this chapter is to learn to separate core worth from externals. Know What Self-Esteem Is  . but they can benefit from the help of specially trained trauma counselors to again feel whole. (Interestingly. Please see the Recommended Resources section at the back of the book for suggestions regarding how to locate help. Think of a newborn baby. Imagine that the cloud around the crystal (core worth) is separated from the crystal and moved away from it. the baby is already whole. or healed.

Despite the child’s inexperience and rough edges. gender.  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . and beautiful. skill levels. popularity. In short.” Once we are sure of our equal intrinsic worth. race. They ask how someone can have worth when they are not valued by others or when they feel so worthless. for example). Sometimes very bright people have difficulty separating inner worth from externals. be persistent. However. then we are relieved of the need to compete in order to establish worth. age. moods.Externals include the state of one’s body (appearance. functioning level of family). Partly because each child has innate qualities that we enjoy (the delight of the child at play. don’t buy it. and health). mistakes. and control over events. relationship or family (marriage or dating status. be patient. we become more secure in our own worth. And as we look back over our lives and remember the ways we have contributed to the well-being of ourselves and others. awards. and make the world a better place in countless other ways. adversity. wealthy. 42). job title. We are less inclined to judge ourselves and compare ourselves to others. change course when mistakes are made. job or athletic performance. It can be difficult to separate core worth from externals when the media suggests that one is less than worthwhile if one isn’t powerful. be gentle. in any way large or small. promotions. economic status. We adults can also choose to value our own innate worth and capacities. develop. laugh. we are reminded that no one is worthless. number of children. Why is that child so precious to his or her parents? Partly because the parents have chosen to value the child. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work. vitality. he or she also has unlimited potential to love. young. “The culture we have does not make people feel good about ourselves. beautify. and thus in ourselves. school grades. comfort. Consider a child who has not accomplished much of anything yet. as the dying wise man counseled his young friend before his death in Tuesdays with Morrie (Albom 1997.

Each individual person has been created to love and be loved. Know What Self-Esteem Is  . However. These parents show interest in the children’s lives. and (4) a skill that we learn. we can always choose to love ourselves. love helps us experience our worth and enjoy the process of growing. Even though we might not always have the love of others. (3) a decision and commitment made each day (even if we don’t feel like it). —Mother Teresa Building Block 3: groWth We tend to feel better about ourselves when we are living constructively—making reasonable decisions. developing desirable attributes. treat them with respect. encourage and support them as they strive to attain high standards. then love is the nourishment that helps the seed grow. Children with self-esteem tend to have parents who love them. Love does not create worth (it already exists).Building Block 2: unconditional love The psychologist Abraham Maslow (Lowry 1973) noted that psychological health is not possible without love for the essential core. and polishing the rough edges around the core. If the core is like a seed. (2) the attitude that wants what is best for the beloved at each and every moment. and care about them enough to set reasonable limits. What is love? I suggest that love is (1) a feeling that we experience. The good news is that even those who did not experience this type of parental love can learn to become good parents to themselves.

but it helps us to experience it with greater satisfaction. Self-esteem does not boast or put others down. Exercise: Start with the End in Mind Consider some of the main points that we have explored so far: Self-esteem is a quiet and relatively unshakeable sense of satisfaction that comes from recognizing and appreciating our existing worth. Growing does not change our core worth. and then choosing to love and grow.Thus. As the concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl (1959) noted. we might think of building block 3 as the process of completing. or putting love into action. and as we discover ways to enjoy wholesome pleasures. That is. are mistreated. and developing. not reaching a destination. as we develop in character and personality. The inner core can grow even as the body ages or becomes infirm. reflect upon the following: How might you appreciate yourself when you are imperfect. or compare less favorably to others? What would be the positive consequences of appreciating yourself more? 10 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . Rather. The building process is one that involves seeing clearly. coming to flower. For a few moments. Instead. Self-esteem can be built through persistent effort. we do not acquire worth by outshining others. Self-esteem is not comparative and competitive. we learn to recognize and experience our worth. We grow as we try to lift others along with ourselves. Growing is a direction and a process. loving. people can attain inner freedom even though their bodies are imprisoned. one with self-esteem considers the well-being of others as well as the well-being of oneself.

however. The wonderful news. Which do you think makes the best starting point? Imagine a cycle that looks like this: Feelings Thoughts Behaviors Figure 3 . and behaviors.2 O Thoughts Be Mindful ur experiences in life and our perception of externals can change the way we feel about ourselves. feelings. images. In building self-esteem. effective attempts will target thoughts. is that we can learn how to develop selfesteem.

and our thoughts and behaviors are important. such as taking out the trash (behavior). and the cycle continues in a way that strengthens self-esteem. ranging from chronic pain to stress. The child then feels confident. are at least as important. anxiety. But the attitudes of the heart. depression. However. When the child succeeds. The Tibetan View: Mindfulness Mindfulness meditation has been found in recent years to improve a wide range of medical and psychological conditions. consider this: Where do parents of a newborn intervene when they hold the baby to the breast.A parent gives a child an age-appropriate task. the world is reasonable” (thoughts). “So where do you think is the best place to intervene when trying to build self-esteem—thoughts. behavior. Usually we adults choose to start with thoughts and behaviors. or feelings?” People usually respond that it is best to jump in at the behaviors and thoughts level. embrace him or her. It seems safer and more concrete. which leads to more constructive thoughts such as “I can probably do other things and succeed. This in turn leads to more constructive thoughts. 1 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . I wish to suggest. or look into the baby’s eyes and smile? Are they teaching the baby how to think and behave? (Are they saying. he or she is praised and thinks. Nothing wrong with that—in a cyclical model there is no wrong answer. “I love you because you are so smart and will become the CEO of a large corporation?”) Or are they affecting the baby’s feelings? It’s an interesting question. the child might pick up an instrument and learn to play it (behavior). “I can do it. which lead to more feelings of confidence. Got the picture? I will often show this cycle to adults and ask.” As a result.

The peaceful Tibetan masters teach that we are of two minds: the wisdom mind and the ordinary mind (Rinpoche 1993). noted that “mindfulness is more than a meditation practice that can have profound medical and psychological benefits.) Be Mindful 13 . It appears to increase activity in the area of the brain associated with happiness and optimism. Mindfulness meditation was introduced to Western medical circles in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn. even in times of great pain and suffering” (1990..D. and schools (including law schools) all over the world. Mindfulness is respectful of and compatible with other traditions because it does not judge one approach as better or worse. Ph. and eating disorders. at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. In fact. Perhaps you already notice that the mindfulness approach is consistent with the concepts we explored in chapter 1. Joan Borysenko. it is also a way of life that reveals the gentle and loving wholeness that lies at the heart of our being. In the foreword to Kabat-Zinn’s book Full Catastrophe Living. results have been so impressive that mindfulness meditation is now being taught in academic medical centers. pain clinics. Ph.D. This tradition explores the working of the mind and considers how people can be happier and suffer less. Practitioners of mindfulness often feel more selfconfident and comfortable in their own skin despite external events. xvii). and is based on the Theravada Buddhist tradition.. (Refer to figure 4 on the next page.sleep disorders. hospitals.

When we say “I am beside myself with anger (or worry). hopeful. The wisdom mind. However. the ordinary mind surrounds the wisdom mind like a dark cloud. like the core depicted in chapter 1. The wisdom mind is characterized by self-esteem and dignity. wise. Mindfulness meditation teaches methods of getting beneath 1 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . is kind. peaceful. The ordinary mind attaches to swirling. and it is good humored. but also humility—realizing that all people possess the wisdom mind. simple.Ordinary Wisdom Mind Mind Figure 4 Wisdom mind and ordinary mind The wisdom mind represents our true happy nature. and integrated. and compassionate— it desires the happiness of others as much as that of ourselves (which is why it is happy). racing thoughts and disturbing negative emotions. keeping us unaware of our true happy nature and causing much suffering (Rinpoche 1993).” we mean that we are caught up in the ordinary mind and separated from our wisdom mind. which is similar to the core self.

the word for “mind” is the same as the word for “heart. Jon Kabat-Zinn (1990) introduces the attitudes of mindfulness. we learn to endlessly think. the attitudes of the heart are very important. (Later in the book. When agitated water is allowed to settle. adapted from a work by Jon Kabat-Zinn (1990). compare. evaluate. criticize. However.” reminding ourselves that these attitudes are deeper than the chatter of the mind and are experienced in the body. and we feel sad when we lose what we think we need in order to be happy. Heartfulness Attitudes The ten attitudes of heartfulness. as they embody the emotional goals of self-esteem building and form the emotional foundation for our journey. 1. Mindfulness teaches people how to release the ordinary mind’s attachments that keep us unhappy. when we allow our minds to settle. We fear losing what we do have. and we get angry when we don’t get what we think we must have. be different. Growth takes a long time. we do not stomp it Be Mindful 1 . and fight against the way life is. worry. suggest a different way of being—a new way of relating to ourselves and the world. obsess about faults. in many of the Asian languages. Let’s explore these. We demand that life. and how to rest in the wisdom mind. or our selves. Young children do not appear to experience self-dislike. As we age. Likewise.these scattered thoughts and distressing feelings to rest in the peaceful wholeness of the wisdom mind. we’ll explore meditation methods that help us to do this. blame. however. In fact. we can see clearly once again. we might think of these as attitudes of “heartfulness. Patience.) In mindfulness meditation. it becomes very clear. When we plant a tomato seed.” Fairly early in the teaching of this approach. judge.

When we accept ourselves.and loudly criticize it for not being a tomato. When we accept guests in our home. or immediately trying to change. is to see clearly and with full awareness the good and bad. suffering and joy. we experience ourselves with a similar welcoming attitude. “One must wait until evening to see how splendid the day has been. then we are free to decide what to do—whether to act constructively or allow the situation to be as it is without resisting it. “This is the way things are right now. then. fix. To accept.” We continue to nurture the plant at all times and take satisfaction in the process. Instead we gently place it in fertile soil and make sure it gets plenty of water and sunlight. Acceptance. we can dispassionately observe. And when a sprout emerges from the soil. Even if we are unsure of what to do. and to experience life without battling. without making angry demands and expectations or worrying that the seed won’t flourish properly. as another saying goes. or welcome.” Once we can accurately see the situation. we say. Or. “Oh boy. or get rid of the present distress. but it has sweet fruit.” 2. To be patient is to trust and never give up on the growth process.” as a German proverb goes. as part of life. we receive them with pleasure just as they are. Acceptance means to take in. We are aware of our weaknesses (and perhaps become determined to improve so that we might expe- 1 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . We usually can’t foresee just how and when our efforts will bear fruit. it’s growing. insisting that things be different. “Patience is a bitter plant.

then we can also act with acceptance. or complacency. It simply means seeing things as they are. That is.” Acceptance does not mean passivity. disappointment. resistance. and we can learn to do this with ourselves. 17). the natural inclination is to try to avoid the Be Mindful 1 . it is okay to just feel it. When we experience pain or discomfort. I’ll be okay”). As the psychologist Carl Rogers observed. we calmly and patiently watch them arise and subside at their own pace. we become unafraid to completely feel those feelings. resignation. fear. The paradox is that when we release our death grip on control. rejection. In letting go of aversion to negative feelings. and so on—and allow them to be just as they are. “Whatever I am feeling is okay. then I can change” (1987. for now. sadness.rience ourselves with even greater pleasure). “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am. shame. We turn toward them. and without impulsivity. We would do this for a child. We also recognize that we are not perfect and cannot will ourselves to immediately become perfect. Broader than self-acceptance. So we accept ourselves as we are. saying to ourselves. And when the decision to act becomes clear. rather than away. Knowing that feelings come and go. we gain a greater sense of inner control (“Even if the situation doesn’t improve. We gain more confidence in our ability to manage strong emotions. we take in all situations and the range of resulting feelings—embarrassment. acceptance means that we also welcome the world as it is. or the like.

people who have experienced traumatic events may try fruitlessly to get rid of the memories. for example. and a desire to help.pain or do something to get rid of the source of the pain. wincing. Often learning to just notice the pain. 3. compassion is sorrow over the suffering of others. we might take a drive to get away from the noise or ask the neighbor to turn down the volume. In the case of outer discomfort caused by a neighbor’s loud radio. for inner pain this kind of approach is usually counterproductive. or wishing things weren’t as they are will increase the fight-orflight response. For example. noticing our faults and negative feelings. If someone experiences chronic pain. watching it come and go. It would be better to accept and process the memory. watching TV. Similarly. one who fears a panic attack tenses up and tries to fight it. or using some other form of avoidance only causes the distress to return with greater intensity. However. which exacerbates distress. one of the worst things to do is to tense up and fight it. Tensing. It is closely aligned with love. Compassion. A better approach would be to relax. Trying to avoid the pain by running away. and let the attack come and then pass. helps to diminish the pain. shopping. or 1 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . and holding them in full. Perhaps the central and most important attitude. bracing. sedating oneself with drugs. This makes the panic attack more intense and longer lasting. Similarly. compassionate awareness changes the way we relate to distress.

and found a silver dollar. After discussing the matter. they saw the owner working in the field. took it out. conceal themselves. a benevolent lad. He adds that in Tibet he does not see low self-esteem or depression. they concluded to try another experiment. “They saw an old coat and a badly worn pair of men’s shoes by the roadside. concealing themselves. felt something hard. “Soon the man returned from the field.loving-kindness. He said the owner must be a very poor man. 28–29) tells of two boys who were walking along a road that led through a field. in the distance. The following story of compassion (Hinckley 2000. because people there experience compassion toward all people (Goleman 2003). they would put a silver dollar in each one and. which is the type of universal or undifferentiated love that considers the worth and needs of all humans. turned around and could see nobody. put on his coat. slipped one foot into a shoe. The Dalai Lama has noted that in the West compassion is an attitude that is only extended toward others. then proceeded to put on the other shoe where. The older boy. to his great surprise. compassion is felt toward others and self. and. see what the owner did when he discovered the money. he Be Mindful 1 . Instead of hiding the shoes. The younger boy suggested that they hide the shoes. Wonder and surprise showed in his face. He looked at the dollar again and again. and watch the perplexity on the owner’s face when he returned. thought that would not be so good. In Tibet.

I felt like I had to do [it] for the good of the club. Mother Teresa said that each individual person has been created to love and be loved. Robinson’s team won the game. His feelings overcame him and he knelt down and offered aloud a prayer of thanksgiving. So in our effort to develop heartfulness we form the intention to be compassionate toward all people. the man left. includ- 0 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem .” Robinson’s reaction was a remarkable display of compassion. with gracious acceptance. and the boys walked down the road. said. and the catcher. The catcher had made two errors and had been unable to prevent seven stolen bases. a highly talented player who was honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and became a respected Major League baseball coach. We know his shortcoming[s]. Frank Robinson. both as the giver and receiver.” After invoking a blessing on his benefactors. as tears streamed down Robinson’s face at the post-game press conference. “I feel for him … I just appreciate him hanging in there as long as he did … It was not his fault. Love heals wounds and nurtures growth. glad for the good feeling that their compassion had wrought.” However. They took advantage of them today.found another dollar. “If my daddy was managing the team. recently had to pull his thirdstring catcher out of a game in the middle of an inning. We admire people who demonstrate compassion and know how good it feels to experience it. he said. I’m sure he would have done the same thing. in which he spoke of his wife being sick and helpless and his children without bread.

“Sometimes you just have to stop the negative thinking and judgments that get in the way. without judging yourself.” “I don’t like the way I am.” “Why can’t I be better than I am?” “Why is my self-esteem so low?” “I stink. Later. ‘Bounce. We just note what is happening and respond as well as we can. A young child plays without inhibition.” “I’m not doing as well as I did yesterday.or herself down finds it more difficult to rise.” “What if I don’t get promoted?” “It’s awful to be feeling afraid. Nonjudgment. the child learns to evaluate and judge. and then calmly bring your mind back to what you are doing in the present moment.” “I’m stupid. Be Mindful 1 . If you do notice that you are judging yourself or your performance.’” Watch what happens. 4. to have the intention to help as we try to overcome suffering.” “I’ll never get better. don’t judge the judging.” or “I shouldn’t be feeling sad.” “I should be improving faster. Thank the ordinary mind for trying to help you improve. Just think. As a tennis coach said.ing our self—to experience loving-kindness as we struggle. a carrot or a stick? Does saying mean things motivate effectively? Or do lovingkindness and encouragement work better? A person who puts him.” “I’m not as good as Mary. punishing judgments that lead to intense negative emotions. Do you ever stop to consider how often we adults do this? We say. hit. “I’m not good at this.” But which works better. It can be quite liberating to realize that we don’t have to overreact to situations by issuing harsh.

and the like) are not the source of self-esteem or happiness. In both cases. I might be sad if I don’t have it. Thus. recognition. So we can practice loosening our grip on what we demand in order to have happiness and self-esteem.5. In Tonga. Similarly. Once the monkey clamps his fist on the banana or sweet meats inside the coconut. trusting that we already have everything we need for those two things. If I get that car. Or I might become angry if it gets scratched or stolen. my self-esteem might be lowered as I age or put on a few pounds. In India and Africa. appearance. if I insist that I need a certain kind of car in order to be happy. the monkey can be easily captured. the fist becomes too large to withdraw. The octopus clamps on to the lure and is then pulled into the boat (Monson 2006). The Eastern masters teach that attachment is the root of unhappiness. if I am attached to my body. Various forms of meditation teach us to release—to loosen our grip on the things that can prevent us from experiencing happiness—and relax  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . the octopus is a delicacy. Nonattachment. Fishermen dangle a simple lure made from a stone and shells called a maka-feke from their canoes. The coconut has a hole large enough for the monkey to insert his open hand. roles. Unwilling to release the grip. This is not meant to suggest that appreciating and taking care of one’s body is unimportant—only that externals (money. the attachment is the problem. I might fear that it will be damaged. monkeys are caught by attaching a treat-filled coconut to a string.

as we release externals and stop struggling so hard to be something we are not. As you try the skills in this book. We have to laugh at ourselves because we all do ridiculous things at times. without overlying expectations or assumptions. Good humor. The beginner’s mind is open to these. Don’t automatically assume that the way you experience yourself cannot change. We form an intention (“May we be happy. Throughout this book you will be asked to approach the principles and skills offered herein with an open mind. the mind of a child who is experiencing something for the first time. Much of psychopathology is the tendency to be overly serious about our present condition. where the capacity for happiness already exists. 3 . we gain a greater appreciation of who we are. In a loving relationship one commits to the growth of that relationship. Murray said. 8. The expert’s mind is closed to new learning and experience. As mountaineer William H. “the moment one definitely Be Mindful 7. to take life too seriously. In building self-esteem. Commitment. Try to balance a healthy skepticism with a playful openness to try something new. 6. Committing also means that we will practice the necessary skills even when we don’t feel like it. One of life’s greatest challenges is how to enjoy it. Paradoxically. please try to maintain a spark of good humor and of playfulness. Beginner’s mind. we create a similar intention.into our wisdom minds.” for example) and look for ways to encourage growth.

or money—offering what we can. we can dispassionately and compassionately watch unpleasant thoughts and feelings as though they were waves rising on the surface and then being absorbed into the vast ocean. without being drawn into harmful judgments about ourselves or the situations we encounter. Giving helps us to let go of attachments as we realize after we give things away that we 10. When we are resting in the wisdom mind. not a need to prove one’s worth. The generous heart gives from a sense of worth. patience. allowing people to be just as they are (the gift of acceptance). We see joy in the recipients’ faces that makes us feel glad and connected to others.  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . quiet depths of the ocean. and wide enough to contain any thoughts and feelings with equanimity. which increasingly seem to favor the acquisition and hoarding of material wealth. generosity is no longer emphasized very much in Western cultures. knowing that one’s giving matters. it is as if we are deep in the peaceful. then Providence moves too” (1951. The wisdom mind is expansive. From this vantage point. 9. a helping hand. What does this have to do with self-esteem? Generosity generates a number of intangible benefits. This attitude helps us to be calmly aware. Despite being one of the most important attitudes.commits oneself. Generosity. Giving can be very simple—a smile. courtesy. insofar as this does not create undue hardship for ourselves. food. 7). our full attention. encouragement. Vastness. deep.

Giving is empowering in other ways as well. You might find it helpful to recall times in your life when you experienced or witnessed these attitudes. Exercise: Applying the Heartfulness Attitudes In a separate notebook. In so doing we close ourselves off from the joy of giving and loving. We all suffer for similar reasons. describe a self-esteem issue difficulty that you are having. can you think of a time when you were patient with yourself? When others were patient with you or themselves? Be Mindful  . Sometimes we avoid people who are struggling. Then describe how you might approach this issue using all or a few of the ten heartfulness attitudes. When we give with a soft. we see that we all are connected. open. but we are vast enough to contain suffering with equanimity and kindness. fearing that their suffering might contaminate us and drag us down. We might think of generosity as practice opening up the grasping fist and letting go of things that are illusory or not needed for our happiness.are really whole. nonjudgmental heart. already possessing within us the seeds of happiness. For example.

.

D. What prevents us from doing so? Unreasonably negative thoughts—which surround and camouflage the core like a cloud of debris after a storm. CT is also very useful for selfesteem building. Their approaches depict the way thoughts influence our emotions as follows: Thoughts Emotions . Cognitive therapy (CT) is the branch of psychology that helps people identify. and then replace such thoughts. challenge. Because self-esteem is so strongly related to these conditions. MD (1976). developed similar approaches for helping people reshape their thinking habits. (Ellis and Harper 1975). and Albert Ellis. Ph.3 S Adversity Clear Away Negative Thoughts elf-esteem enables us to experience ourselves accurately and gladly. and problem anger. Aaron Beck. This well-researched approach is considered a mainstream treatment for depression. anxiety.

but that’s not who I am inside. let alone stop to test them for reasonableness. “He might treat me like dirt. However. we might draw faulty conclusions from the faulty data we receive. She tells herself. ATs that are unreasonably negative— judgmental. or that they grow in the mother’s stomach. for example. CT assumes that people are very capable of reasonable thinking. “I’ve been treated so poorly. and inaccurate thoughts that make us feel dissatisfied and uncomfortable with ourselves—are called distortions. For instance. because we are imperfect. let’s say that Paula and Lisa grew up with an extremely abusive father. what children think about where babies come from before they have all the facts. CT asserts that people can quickly and efficiently learn to identify their thought patterns. Consider. As they do so.” Lisa is upset by the abusive treatment. that hospitals dispense them. In response to the abuse (adversity). challenge them. Beck calls these automatic thoughts (ATs). Their thinking becomes more reasonable when they acquire the facts.Adversity represents a distressing event or situation. unkind. but she preserves her self-esteem and optimism. they gain a measure of control over both their thoughts and their emotions. Lisa responds to the same kind of abuse with different thoughts. Dr. Paula bought her father’s message that she was worthless— not because it was true. and then replace distortions with more reasonable thoughts. They might assume that the stork brings them.” As a result she feels depressed and experiences herself with dislike (emotions). Paula thinks. CT shows that the thoughts affecting our emotions pass through our minds so quickly that we hardly notice them. What determines whether we experience appropriate upset or disturbance at the emotional level is the thoughts that we choose. In the example above. I must not be worth anything.  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . but because she did not challenge the message.

and conditioned we are—also affects our ability to think clearly. Other chapters in this book will address these factors that influence our thoughts. Because there are only a handful of distortions.” How different the daughter’s thoughts would be if he instead judged her or questioned her motives. However. “That must have been so hard. for bad or good. Our physical condition—our state of health. Although events can influence our thinking. it empowers us to realize that we can shape the thoughts that influence self-esteem and avoid blaming others for our present feelings. Ellis and Harper 1975) and how they can be modified. someone who is abused sexually or physically might think. the events we experience can influence our thoughts. nourished. For example. let’s explore the basic types of distortions (Beck 1995. Thus. and one’s family. a basic assumption of CT is that we are ultimately responsible for the thoughts that we choose. one’s friends. you can learn them and their replacement thoughts so you can prevent yourself from falling Clear Away Negative Thoughts  . We can’t always control the way others treat us. which might include the media. “I was treated as an object. are influenced by a number of factors. can also influence the way we learn to think. we are completely free to control our thoughts. our coping skills and behavioral patterns can influence our thinking. This assumption does not blame people for lacking self-esteem.Our thinking patterns. Finally. Similarly. or how rested.” One’s social environment. Distorted Thinking So. a father might embrace his daughter upon learning that she has been raped and simply say. so I must be one. Rather. For example. the emotions and self-esteem of soldiers can be influenced by the support they experience upon returning from a war.

You might think. try judging performance only. “Where is it written that someone who isn’t perfect is worthless?” He thought for a while and said.” “I’m boring. If you must judge. That’s pretty good. all-or-nothing thinking Here you hold yourself up to a perfect. People who use such expressions are more likely to be 30 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . because this is what stressful situations often require. I asked him.into the common thinking traps. standard.” “What an idiot! Why am I so stupid?” (Notice that this last utterance really isn’t a question as much as it is an expression of resentment. a bright and likeable student once told me that he was very troubled over a creative writing assignment. “I batted about eight hundred on this task. if you don’t reach your goals.” he told me. The prospect of getting anything less than an A had him feeling depressed and suicidal. Eventually. If you fail to “clear the bar” you conclude that you are worthless. you don’t deserve to live. not the core self. With practice you will learn to replace distortions quickly and without much effort. “That’s the first time someone has told me that I don’t have to be perfect in order to be worthwhile.” “I’m such a loser.” Others might question their worth should they fail to earn a certain salary.” laBeling Have you ever noticed that people often label themselves harshly? “I’m dumb. There is no middle ground or partial credit for effort. he discovered the distortion: “In my culture. or make a mistake. Next time I’ll try to do things a bit differently. lose an argument. or near-perfect. For example.

music. The antidote to negative labeling? Again.” In addition to using “always” and “never. or body skills (such as athletics or dance). judge only the behavior (saying “I didn’t do too well today on this.” one who overgeneralizes also tends to use words like “nobody” and “everybody. Some might show their intelligence through either mathematic or verbal skills. art (or other spatial skills). interpersonal (people) skills. you might think. Howard Gardner (1993) of Harvard.” However.) You might ask if such unkind judgments really serve to motivate as well as encouragement does. notes that there are different ways to manifest intelligence.” An antidote to overgeneralization is to use the word “some. This is clearly not true. if you must judge. Everybody doesn’t hate you. Others might demonstrate intelligence through personal (emotional intelligence) skills. or boring). I never get them right. The core is too complex to be described by a simple label. “A loser never wins. Everybody doesn’t know you. so why try?” Here’s why a negative label is unreasonable.” for example).” you are saying that you are stupid always and in every situation. for example.” Rodney Dangerfield quipped that his psychiatrist once told him. overgeneralizing Ask a pessimist or someone with low self-esteem to explain why he got into an argument with his spouse and he is likely to say something like “I’m not very swift” (giving himself a label). “Don’t be ridiculous. we) haven’t learned how to handle this difficult topic calmly. it is less judgmental and more precise to think “I (or.” It’s usually more accurate Clear Away Negative Thoughts 31 . When you say “I am stupid (or dumb. He is likely to make it worse by also thinking “I always mess up relationships. perhaps. On the other hand.depressed because they keep themselves feeling stuck and powerless.

and some might hardly notice you. He might simply be angry about something that happened to him twenty minutes or twenty years before. Automatically equating feelings with reality is called emotional reasoning. That waiter may or may not dislike you. let’s say you’ve been invited to your neighborhood block party. “but I know that that waiter dislikes me.” assuming “Yes. but 3 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem .to think “Sometimes I do fairly well. but he may not dislike you. He might be quite annoyed at something you did. In fact. Some people like me. too. Look at the way he treated me. Sometimes good things happen.” This could be the distortion known as mind reading. In another example. So his dislike of you is just one possibility. some might dislike you. You could go to the party with an open or beginner’s mind and just observe what happens. emotional reasoning Can you remember a teacher who “made you” feel dumb? Now when you confront a new and challenging situation do you still feel inadequate and thus think that you really are inadequate? Or perhaps you once made an unwise decision and felt so ashamed that you concluded that you are worthless. You won’t know if he actually does feel that way unless you check it out. You might assume that if you go to the block party everyone will in fact dislike you and you’ll have a miserable time. We can be open to and accepting of feelings. some might like you.” you might think. at least somewhat. This could be the distortion known as fortune-telling or predicting the future.

perhaps this is something I can work on. Remind yourself that negative feelings are signals of upset. you might think. Imagine that someone compliments you for doing a good job. it would be much more satisfying to thank the person Clear Away Negative Thoughts 33 . In the meantime. not statements of fact. worthless. your smile. Asking “What would 100 percent inadequate. You say. or bad be like?” helps you to avoid all-or-nothing thinking. rejecting the Positive Whereas dwelling on the negative overlooks positives.we can also recognize that feelings don’t necessarily represent reality. When you look into the mirror. so you focus exclusively on that struggling plant. One plant is not doing so well. do you zero in on what’s wrong? Or do you notice what’s right—your overall appearance. Likewise. this distortion actually negates positives. Challenge the underlying thoughts. “Why are you so happy? Your life is just as bad as mine.” Perhaps the happy person is taking the time to see the bigger picture and appreciate what isn’t wrong.” However. “Okay. “No big deal. what else is going on? What can I notice that is going well? What would a friend notice in addition to the faults?” A man once joked to his neighbor. all the good that you have done. or even your life. and so on? When you find yourself dwelling on what’s wrong in yourself or your life. dWelling on the negative Suppose that you have a beautiful garden. You fail to take into account all the good that exists. Soon you forget to notice the other beautiful plants. you might dwell on a mistake or shortcoming to the point that you ruin your self-esteem.

we soon realize that people contribute in very different ways. “Well. we can remember that each person. “Who is more important. when we begin to compare ourselves to others. struggles in certain areas. “I’m really glad that I was able to figure out what was required and do a good job. meaningful causes. a surgeon might resolve an acute crisis. and attain goals related to hobbies. as we compare ourselves to shining examples of success. invest our talents. and self-esteem suffers. however. making unfavoraBle comParisons How satisfying it can be to exert ourselves. I’ll ask my students. The examples set by those we respect and admire can inspire us and suggest possibilities. The antidote to this distortion is to simply stop comparing and recognize that each person contributes in unique ways at his or her own unique pace. but the general practitioner might prevent it from occurring. we begin to see that each person has a different blend of strengths and weaknesses.” Then you’d be validating both the giver of the compliment and yourself. a surgeon or a physical therapist?” I ask. 3 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . Now inspiration turns to judgment: “I’m not as smart as Wayne. a surgeon or a general practitioner?” They might answer.” they respond. even an expert.” “Who is more worthwhile. or relationships. profession. education.” “John is much more popular than I am. the doctor or the garbage collector. Why must we compare and judge? As we step back to see the bigger picture.and think. When we consider who is more important to the nation’s health. the surgeon can save a life.” “I wish I could be as successful as Randi—she’s a bright manager and I’m just a salesman.” “Sandra is a better golfer than I am. Trouble arises. “Well.” In each case we get the short end of the stick. recreation. Also. but the therapist might help to restore physical function and hope.

such as working hard or doing one’s best. not a perfect job.” “I ought to.” and “I must be a perfect boss [or spouse. and then you don’t? In fact. more effective way.shoulds. rigid demands that we make of ourselves. because we are not as uptight when we are just trying to do a good job. What would it mean if you didn’t perfectly achieve what you feel that you must or should? Would it mean that you are worthless.” “could. experience.” or “I must.” “I must not fail. Clear Away Negative Thoughts 3 .” and “prefer” statements. we hope. scolding quality to these demands.” we might think “I want to improve” “I choose to work hard. though. less judgmental.” “I would very much like to win the competition. perhaps hoping that such demands will help us to overcome the discomfort of being imperfect. So instead of saying “I should. given our imperfect background. and understanding.” or “I wonder how I could improve. or child]. that “should” statements can be very difficult to release.” “I should have known better.” “want. what would it take?” Please be aware.” “choose.” “It would be great to reach that goal. Examples include the following: “I should not make mistakes. how do you feel when you tell yourself that you must perform perfectly. they usually just make us feel worse.” “I ought to be better. Although we’d hope that these demands would motivate us to do better. It simply frees us to approach the goal in a more enjoyable. and musts “Should” statements are perfectionistic. oughts. skill levels. It often helps to realize that giving up the “should” does not mean giving up a cherished value.” “I want to be a loving parent. and. research suggests that we tend to perform better when we strive to do a good job. For example.” There is a punitive. or just imperfect? Perhaps the only reasonable “should” tells us that we should be just as we are. Some would say that a kinder and more effective way to motivate people is to replace the demands with “would.

although it is not necessarily convenient or comfortable.” With these replacement thoughts.” “It could be worse. intolerable. I might stumble and people would laugh. rather than away from it. Nothing could be worse”).” Such statements increase fear and arousal and undermine confidence. with calm and full acceptance. In reality. I’ll make people angry and disappointed”). Catastrophizing often begins with a fearful possibility (such as “I might fail”). we take something that is uncomfortable (such as embarrassment or fear of failure) and determine that it is unbearable. devastating. and results in an expectation of the worst (“This will be awful. We might even begin to avoid challenging situations. We learn that we can indeed bear adversity. Or a man might question what he did to 3 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . we become more self-confident. For example. “I would never give a speech. That would be awful!” or “It would be horrible if I were rejected. I don’t like this. We might tense up and thus perform below our abilities. we learn to turn toward what we fear. In so doing.” or “I really can get through this. when we stop catastrophizing.” or “I can’t stand it when my boss criticizes me. rather than the fault of the perpetrator. but I can indeed bear it. and terrible.catastroPhizing When we catastrophize. thus depriving ourselves of opportunities to master our fears and enhance self-esteem. we become calmer and think more clearly. which leads to a negative conclusion (“I’ll probably fail. Personalizing Personalizing is thinking that you are more responsible or involved than the facts indicate. We might think. It will pass. for example. a rape victim typically thinks that the crime is her fault. Catastrophizing is challenged by thinking “Okay. Nobody is shooting at me.

the daily thought record.” The more we avoid taking responsibility for our own well-being. we might say. Before you get started. “I blame my drinking problems on my parents. review the list of distortions above.” Exercise: Distortions Review Now.” or “I have low self-esteem because my spouse left me. since reality reminds us that we have less control than we want. the more we feel helpless and out of control. Clear Away Negative Thoughts 3 . “Why might someone behave that way? Is it possible that this really isn’t about me?” Blaming Whereas personalizing places too much responsibility on ourselves. We don’t make people do what they do and we can’t always prevent people from feeling pain. this was a difficult situation. is used. not realizing that his wife was mad at the world that day. let’s look at how the bread and butter of CT. Ironically. Personalizing is an attempt to have more control than we actually have. For example. blaming places too much responsibility on others. This record is most effective when you already have a reasonable mastery of the distortions.deserve his spouse’s angry outbursts. The solution to personalizing is to ask. they made me drink. “Yes. Now I take responsibility for moving past it. and then quiz yourself by thinking of an everyday example of each type of distortion and coming up with a replacement thought for each. So we might instead think. the attempt backfires.

Distressing Situation (Adversity): I failed my promotion test. The daily thought record is the basic tool that helps us to slow down our thinking in order to catch and replace the distortions that we habitually use. Finally. for each AT write down a replacement thought that is more rational. Then make a numbered list of your automatic thoughts (ATs) in that situation. rate the related feelings again and notice any shift in intensity. Next. Below is an example of a daily thought record. and go back and write down the distortions in parentheses. Rate each of the feelings from 1 to 10. with 1 meaning no disturbance and 10 meaning severe disturbance.Applying Cognitive Therapy:   The Daily Thought Record A tenet of CT is that we don’t improve without practice. Any reduction in intensity is worthwhile. Identify a situation that undermines your self-esteem. Resulting Feeling(s) Before Writing Replacement Thoughts 9 7 After Writing Replacement Thoughts 5 5 Depressed Anxious 3 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . and the feelings that result.

3. Joe aced it. I can indeed live with it.D. anxiety. I’m an idiot. This was a tough test. Everyone did better than I did. This is one test. It will be awful. or self-dislike and suicidal thoughts. (overgeneralizing) Replacement Thoughts 1. I hope I do. Some did better.Automatic Thoughts (Distortions) 1. (overgeneralizing) 4. I have other strengths. I’ll prepare better next time. 2. If I prepare more effectively I might pass. but some did worse than I did. asserts that almost all people suffer some form of intense inner pain at some times in their lives. Ph. 3. The suffering might be depression. (assuming and catastrophizing) defusing In his brilliant book about acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT. (making unfavorable comparisons) 5. Clear Away Negative Thoughts 3 . He’s so much smarter than I am. If I don’t pass. (labeling) 2. (2005). 4. substance abuse. pronounced “act”). I do a number of things well or I wouldn’t have been recommended for promotion. We’re just different. Steven C. Joe is an excellent test taker. Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life. I’ll fail the retest. Hayes. 5. although I’d prefer to have the additional pay. I screw up everything.

and it results from the battles we wage against our thoughts as we futilely try to get rid of our histories. Let’s go back to our example of the teacher (or other person) who made you feel dumb. watching television. the more we lose our capacities for joy and engagement with life. 0 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . such as math). like a leaky faucet. shopping. However. the problem-solving mind doesn’t let it end there. The more we try to numb the pain by shutting off our emotions. and so on).” It’s as if a war is raging in the mind. can be helpful. However. that we eventually become identified with the thoughts. Count how many times you actually think of the white elephant. you will think often of the white elephant despite your efforts to get rid of the idea. It goes on the attack. I can’t be dumb. the more we try not to think about it. And. This only works temporarily. The problem-solving mind usually works well in getting rid of outside problems. Of course. a war that doesn’t end as we get locked into the struggle with the past. I’ve got to stop thinking that I’m dumb. Hayes calls this process fusion. by thinking about the past). and then the pain returns more strongly. Now block out the image and try not to think about the white elephant at all. the more we try to get rid of inner problems (for example. experience the suffering. really think about a white elephant for a few moments. You can test this idea. which we assume are true. First. we might try to escape pain through avoidance (using substances. Similarly. We struggle so long against negative thoughts. the more we think about it. defusion. the more fused we become with the past. We can’t get rid of the past event. Years later. thinking “What if I really am dumb? I hate feeling dumb. If I really try I won’t think I’m dumb anymore. the suffering could be avoided by simply staying away from that teacher (and perhaps the subject. and even become the suffering. working. So a different approach. If I try hard enough I won’t be dumb.

abused. Next. rejected. You might think. rather than trying to get rid of these problems. Simply notice these reactions. Then we can commit to living our lives fully. It’s as if the war continues to rage. disrespected. shamed. dispassionate attitude. Clear Away Negative Thoughts 1 . but we kindly watch them from a distance without buying into them. Maybe you were embarrassed. images. We still have the thoughts. and equanimity. just let them into your awareness with a soft and open attitude.” It means choosing to completely and fully let the pain in with a kind.” 2. but we’ve stepped away from the battlefield. I’ll do this exercise quickly so that I can get rid of my pain. “Okay. Perhaps you made a bad decision or lost your composure. “These are just memories. Exercise: Identify the Source of the Pain 1. and/or bodily sensations when you think about them. In addition to having painful thoughts about these situations. Complete acceptance doesn’t mean saying. welcoming.The goal of defusing is to confront our distressing histories without attachment or aversion. 3. write down how long each situation has bothered you. Finally. or ridiculed. carrying whatever pain that remains with full acceptance. but with complete acceptance. List a few painful situations from the past that might have hurt your self-esteem in some way. Hayes (2005) suggests the following defusing strategies. memories. compassion. you probably also experience painful feelings. and we watch the war from a distance with detachment.

Exercise: Milk. 3. such as “bad. and tastes.  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem .” “loser. Repeat the word out loud as many times as you can for a period of forty-five seconds. and the word is now just a word.” or “immature. Now take a negative thought about yourself that you associate with one of the painful situations that you listed above.” Rate from 1 to 10 how distressing the word is. feels. Welcome the word and other aspects of the memory into your awareness with complete. and creamy. again rate how distressing the word is. Milk  1. People often notice that the experience changes. 2. Put the thought into a single word. Did the level of distress associated with this word go down? Perhaps the word has lost some of its emotional impact. Now. For a few moments fully experience milk in your mind— how it looks. You might experience it as cold. Milk. Perhaps the thought is self-critical and harsh. kind acceptance.” “dumb. white. 5. 4. 6. Then rate how believable it is. Then notice what happens. and the word just becomes a sound. Now say the word “milk” out loud and repeat it as many times as you can in forty-five seconds. The meaning falls away from the word.

you might write “Mother yelled loudly at me when I broke the plate. I can’t bear it. Exercise: Carry It with You Write down all the “stuff” going on inside your head. Carry this summary around with you in a pocket for a day as a symbolic reminder that you can indeed bear the memories from the past and carry on with your life.Exercise: Keep a Journal Considerable research supports the benefits of disclosing painful situations in a journal for fifteen to thirty minutes a day. They gain a sense of detachment and objectivity. you might summarize in writing what you discovered in the two exercises above. I’m sorry that I disappointed her. people usually notice an improvement in their mood. Alternatively. and a feeling that they understand painful events better. I felt really clumsy and awkward. I started to feel that I’m no good when I make mistakes”). Describe in writing the facts about a difficult past event. and then write down all the negative thoughts and feelings that you carry. You might draw a picture of a big head. For example. I feel so sad and inept. Clear Away Negative Thoughts 3 . particularly if you have never disclosed the event to anyone. After keeping this type of journal for only a few days.” Then record the associated thoughts and resulting feelings (such as “It seems unfair that she judged me.

.

4 P Be Aware of Your Strengths eople with self-esteem are not necessarily brighter. Thinking “I can’t like myself with this or that fault” also blocks self-acceptance. The unique ways by which we express these strengths do not establish our worth—they remind us of our worth. Dwelling on our negative aspects prevents us from enjoying our core worth and what is presently right about ourselves. This chapter will help you to quietly do just that. Let’s consider creativity. since it makes eliminating our faults a condition for worth. The skills that we’ll explore are not exercises in positive thinking. Rather. There will be a time to polish the rough edges and to grow. Creativity is a wonderful strength that helps us invent useful devices. or more skillful than those who lack self-esteem. The difference really lies in the way we view ourselves. more attractive. they are ways to try to see clearly and honestly what is already there. beautify our environment. But for now let’s focus on a more essential skill: doing an inventory of your strengths in order to view your core worth more accurately. Recall our basic premise: each person already possesses in embryo every attribute needed to live well. .

they think. get themselves out of a jam. I’m not artistic so I must not be creative. Let’s consider a list of these attributes: Creativity Flexibility (adapts to changing circumstances. integrity. because they narrowly define creativity as only an artistic talent. Others are creative in the way that they clean. compassion Generosity Respect for self Respect and consideration for others  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . “Well. Creativity is standard issue. make children laugh. Typically only a few hands go up. dress. Why? Because creativity can be expressed in many ways. solve problems. in an all-or-nothing fashion. I often ask my students to raise their hand if they are creative. help others. and it takes effort to develop dormant aspects of creativity. bargain. cook. Exercise: Regarding Your Core Worth  Imagine a crystal that represents core worth. amuse themselves. and so forth.” I suggest that every person’s hand could appropriately go up. playfulness Character (ethics. but it can be expressed in many different ways. cheerfulness. can let go of a course of action that isn’t working) Wisdom (discernment. good judgment) Humor. tell stories. Some people paint pictures and some sculpt. organize. fairness) Kindness. honesty.and survive in a changing world. with each facet representing a valued personality trait or attribute that all humans possess in various stages of development.

Be Aware of Your Strengths  . neither inflating nor deflating your ratings.Patience Self-acceptance Openness. Beside each. rate each attribute in yourself from 0 to 10. Try to simply notice the levels of these attributes without making negative judgments or comparisons. this is not a contest against others—because worth is equal and people express that worth in different ways and speeds. draw a scale that looks like this: Completely Lacking Completely Developed 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next. Remember. where 10 means that the attribute is as well developed as it possibly could be in a person. curiosity. list the above attributes down the left side. awareness Self-trust Determination Discipline Courage Humility Gratitude Optimism Others: On a sheet of paper. and 0 means that the attribute is totally and completely lacking and is never demonstrated in the least degree. So try to be honest.

Each person’s portrait has a unique blend of colors. each expresses that worth in an infinite variety of ways. Each person is like a portrait in various stages of completion. step back to see what has been revealed.Analysis When you have finished. who found that it increased self-esteem in adult subjects within a matter of weeks. since you are neither perfect nor totally lacking in abilities. Pellerin. In this sense. which areas do you most enjoy or find most satisfying? Exercise: Cognitive Rehearsal Warm-up This next skill is very effective and popular among individuals with whom I have worked. you won’t see a rating of 0 or 10. and Renaud 1983). As you consider your unique portrait. So while each person is infinitely worthwhile. You might take a few moments to record in a journal your thoughts and feelings about this exercise. It was developed by three Canadian researchers (Gauthier. highlighting a different mix of strengths for each one. As a warm-up. place a check mark next to the appropriate traits or behavior below if you sometimes are or have been. we are all in the same boat. The light shines differently on each portrait. If you are in touch with reality. to a reasonable extent. any of the following:     Friendly Calm or composed Flexible or adaptable    Logical or reasonable Responsive to beauty or nature Brave 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem .

powerful. determined. enthusiastic.                 Principled or ethical Expressive or articulate Fun loving or playful Organized. or responsible Trustworthy Trusting or able to see the best in others Spontaneous Protective Caring or kind Conciliatory Dignified or graceful Open minded Imaginative Industrious                  Cooperative Sensitive. or tactful Energetic. The list below contains various roles that we sometimes assume. mirthful. or neat Humorous. forceful. or passionate Optimistic or hopeful Gentle Punctual Generous Adventurous Focused or disciplined Perceptive Affectionate Strong. Be Aware of Your Strengths  . orderly. or willing to look beyond faults and release bitterness The list above represents personality traits or attributes. or persistent Patient Self-assured or self-confident Trusting of own instincts or intuitive Forgiving. considerate. polite. or persuasive Resolute. or amusing Committed Loyal. dependable.

Check if you are sometimes reasonably good in any of the following roles:                      Listener Helper Decision maker Cook Cleaner Worker Friend Musician or singer Learner Leader or coach Follower Organizer Problem solver Handyperson Teacher Beautifier or designer Driver Letter writer Counselor Thinker Athlete                    Socializer Requester or advocate “Cheerleader” or supporter Example for others Planner Mate Taker of criticism Risk taker Enjoyer of hobbies Mistake corrector Smiler Debater Financial manager or budgeter Mediator Storyteller Family member Communicator Sibling Parent 0 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem .

” or “I am a concerned listener. Find a place where you can relax without being disturbed for about twenty minutes. but you may express your character and personality traits across many different roles. add an additional statement to your list. Exercise: Cognitive Rehearsal  1. You might write. for example). you might reflect upon a recent decision you made in which people were treated equally. you might add that you plan thoroughly and treat people fairly. Reflect upon one statement and the evidence of its accuracy for one to two minutes. for example.Notice that when we remove the requirement for perfection we can better appreciate our strengths and the many things we can do. Roles can change (you might retire or be fired. “I am a faithful and supportive member of my family. if you say that you are an effective manager. You are now ready to try the cognitive rehearsal exercise below. if you noted in step 1 that you are a fair manager. try to add specific personal characteristics that explain why you do well in that role. Repeat this for each statement. make a list of ten positive statements about yourself that are meaningful and true. Each day. and reflect on the evidence of the accuracy of each of these statements as well. The statements can come from the lists on the preceding pages and/or you can generate your own statements. 3. For example.” If you mention a role that you perform well. Be Aware of Your Strengths 1 . On a sheet of paper (or on index cards that you can slip into a pocket or purse). For example. Repeat this exercise every day for ten days.” “I am disciplined. 2.

including the following:     “Surprisingly. and meditate for about two minutes on the evidence of its accuracy. Cognitive rehearsal helps to counter the distortions that keep the focus on the negative. Those who have tried this exercise have made similar statements. In a moment of clarity.  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . 142). “I am larger. or times when you have lifted another person in some way. however small.” “I felt a sense of negativity just lift away.4. you might record your memories in a journal as a concrete reminder of the goodness within you. I felt calm and more in tune with myself. It was an eye-opener. I did not think I held so much goodness” (Warner 2004. moments where you have been generous or caring. replacing them with appreciative thoughts and feelings.” Exercise: The Goodness Within Sharon Salzberg (2004) suggests an even simpler way to do this.” “I feel a sense of empowerment. Afterward. Several times a day during the course of the ten days. Walt Whitman wrote. Spend fifteen minutes remembering good or kind deeds that you have done. look at an item on the list.” “I was pleased to see the amount of things I have going for me. better than I thought.

mindfulness meditation is the experience of our true. Schiraldi. known in the Tibetan view as the wisdom mind (see chapter 2). and the lack of love seems to contribute to anxiety and low self-esteem. . children who form loving bonds with their parents tend to demonstrate the benefits of self-esteem. loving nature—the core self. Young monkeys who do not bond with their mothers become very anxious. and Wrobleski 2003). and adult anxiety and low self-esteem are strongly associated with each other (Brown. and then introduce related skills that help us in this process. happy. In humans.5 L Mindfulness Use Mindful Meditations ove is essential for mental health and self-esteem. We will start by exploring mindfulness meditation approaches. In one sense. In this chapter we will explore skills that help us to provide the healing love that might have been in short supply while we were developing.

We can fight. judges. It is said that we live in our heads while we miss out on life. There are three possible responses to distressing circumstances. resents. realistic thoughts. plans. demands. see chapter 3) focuses on replacing negative thoughts with more respectful. The present moment becomes poisoned as we get ensnared and fatigued by these swirling. The ordinary mind endlessly worries. protests. When we fight. And the more we struggle and protest against what we experience. where we become attached to racing negative thoughts and disturbing emotions. we tense up. pulled away from our peaceful. Cognitive therapy (CT. and the tensing itself tends to increase arousal and pain. the more aroused we become and the more we suffer. regrets. dramatizes. and in  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . kind center. criticizes. flee. questions. or allow. evaluates. circling thoughts and feelings in the ordinary mind.Ordinary Wisdom Mind Mind Figure 5 The battles that cause most of our suffering rage in the ordinary mind. and hurries. remembers. obsesses.

and whole. We learn this in a rather active and effortful way. or accepting. As we do. As one of my meditation teachers taught. vast. Mindfulness meditations help us to go beneath the thoughts of the ordinary mind. From the clear and vast perspective of the wisdom mind. we do not have to fight the thoughts of the ordinary mind. Rather than fighting the negatives. As we stop struggling and trying to fix problems. Instead. Allowing. which complements CT. softens. simple. the negatives tend to decrease. peaceful. it is as though its light breaks through the ordinary mind and unites with the light of truth beyond. and simply hold them in kind awareness. The light of the wisdom mind penetrates. sedating. whose very language exhorts us to punch back or fight back against those distortions. Mindfulness uses the approach of allowing. or dissolves the intensity of our negative thoughts and feelings. In mindfulness. None of these approaches is effective in the long run. clear. or asking why. which include the thoughts of self-dislike. we need not fight fear—we need only be aware of love. dignified. not who we really are at the core. Another option is to flee by avoiding. dissociating. and liberation from our attachments to negative thoughts and feelings. As a result. we experience our core self—our true happy nature. humble. or wisdom mind—whose natural state is compassionate. Use Mindful Meditations  . albeit a useful one. we simply increase our experience with the positive emotions. we view thoughts simply as things that come and go.this way it helps us to be kinder to ourselves. holding them with the loving-kindness and acceptance of the wisdom mind. means that we stop struggling with our challenges. we greet them cordially. wishing problems away. We need not create love—we need only be aware of what already exists inside. CT is a battle of sorts. As we become aware of the wisdom mind. we gain a different perspective. loving toward ourselves and others. an inner peace and confidence that we can handle life.

What happens when we simply accept what is, without fighting or fleeing? Western medical research has found that mindfulness meditation reduces stress and mental and physical suffering. It also has been found to improve sleep and physical health, while increasing self-compassion and empathy for others. Mindfulness practices put us in touch with our loving core, who we really are—helping us to restore in us a sense of wholeness and allowing us to experience our inner strengths with clarity and love. We gain a sense of confidence from knowing that we can get beneath negative thoughts and not be controlled by them. Mindfulness reminds us that we are deeper than any dislike we experience on the surface. Mindfulness also provides a way to take care of ourselves by accepting and soothing our distressing emotions, further increasing our self-confidence. After all, feelings are part of what makes us unique. If we try to judge and rid ourselves of our emotions, we are invalidating an important part of who we are. If we are more comfortable with our emotions, we become better able to stay calm and be more fully in contact with distressing situations. As a result, we respond more appropriately to crises and make better decisions, without emotional overreaction. People often say that mindfulness makes them feel more comfortable in their own skin. Please remember that mindfulness does not try to fix or change situations immediately, but it does change the way we relate or respond to distressing thoughts and feelings. We simply allow them to be; we don’t react with strong negative emotions, tension, bracing, judgments, impulsiveness, or the like. In mindfulness practice we simply watch calmly and with loving-kindness, viewing our thoughts and feelings from the dispassionate perspective of the wisdom mind. Later on, we might decide to try to change a situation from the strong position of full awareness. When we are open in this way, we 

10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem

become more open to the full range of feelings (all feelings are considered useful and treated the same), signals from our bodies (such as fatigue, pain, or true hunger as opposed to emotional hunger), our inner strengths and capacities, available choices when we are making a decision, and life’s loveliness. We are likely to feel less exhausted as we detach from the battles in our ordinary mind. So, in mindfulness, we simply pay attention to each moment fully, calmly, and kindly without trying to change anything right then. The attention is nonjudgmental because judging creates mental and physical arousal. (To say “I’m not good at meditation” or “I don’t think it’s working” is judging.) Instead, we have a welcoming, openhearted attitude when we practice. Rather than reacting emotionally, we respond always with loving-kindness.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Sequence
Jon Kabat-Zinn (1990; 2005) is known for introducing mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) to Western medical circles in the late 1970s. Here, we will explore a simplified version of the eight-week program that he developed. Each form of meditation will build upon the previous form. So it will be important to practice each mindfulness meditation in turn. Kabat-Zinn has stressed the importance of practicing even when you don’t feel like it. Why? With practice you will eventually be able to take in distressing thoughts, memories, emotions, and bodily sensations in the same calm way in which you might eat a raisin, which is where MBSR begins.

Use Mindful Meditations 

Exercise: The Raisins
The purpose of this exercise is to eat two raisins mindfully with full awareness over a ten- to fifteen-minute period. 1. 2. Hold two raisins gently in the palm of your hand with a playful, curious attitude. Pick one up and notice all the details of the raisin—the ridges, stem, translucence, color, and aroma. Notice the sensations in your fingers as you feel the surface of the raisin. Roll it between your fingers next to your ear and notice what that sounds like. Notice your body as you hold it, noticing tension as you move it slowly toward your mouth. Sense the air against your skin as your hand moves slowly, much as you’d feel the water against your hand in the bath. Notice whether your body is signaling hunger. Pay attention to all the sensations in your hand and arm. As you get ready to put it in your mouth, you might notice yourself thinking things like “I like [dislike] raisins. Mom used to give them to us for snacks. I’d like to eat lunch. I really don’t have time to do this. There are probably a lot of calories in this raisin. What’s this got to do with selfesteem?” This is good. Each time such thoughts arise, greet them cordially (thinking is what the ordinary mind does), and simply return your attention to eating the raisin. Notice how your mouth accepts the raisin. As you let the raisin sit on your tongue, just sense it there and notice what it feels like before eating it. After a while place it on different areas of the tongue. Notice whether you salivate and taste the raisin.

3.

4.

5. 

10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem

Use Mindful Meditations  . paying attention to what that feels like. the beginner’s mind (even though you might think all raisins are the same. and gently escorting it back to the moment without judging. Take a single bite and notice the flavor. Notice the aftertaste and sensations in your body. Many notice that the experience of eating a raisin is more intense when the mind is focused on the present moment. Practice it once a day for a week. eating the second raisin is not the same experience as eating the first). and then notice the intent to swallow. and realizing how much of life we miss when we are not mindful. and to get under the racing thoughts in our heads. being fully and calmly present for the experience. It takes about ten to fifteen minutes.6. and that they really notice flavors that they miss when they are in a hurry. Chew slowly. 8. You might notice a burst of flavor that is more intense than it seems when you mindlessly eat raisins. do it again with the second raisin. being aware of the wandering mind. 7. As you swallow. When you finish. Most of the elements of mindfulness are introduced in this exercise: being calmly present for an experience moment by moment without judging or emotionally reacting. Some say that they’d probably eat less if they were mindful because they’d enjoy each bite more and would notice when hunger signals had stopped. Exercise: Mindful Breathing This is a very effective meditation practice that helps us learn to be more peaceful in our own bodies. follow the raisin down into your stomach.

so pay attention to the entire breath with the beginner’s mind. commitment.1. The back is comfortably erect. you are not striving to make anything in particular happen. with palms up or down. 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem 2. the only movement is your abdomen rising as you breathe in and falling as you breathe out). Perhaps you notice your heart beating. 3. hands are resting. 4. Let awareness go to your breathing. nonjudgment. You might notice the breath moving through your nostrils and throat and in and out of your lungs. and jaw. Notice your breathing as you would watch waves flow in and out from the shore on the beach. comfortably in the lap. As your breath is flowing. The torso is held with dignity and grace. the chin is neither up nor down. loving-kindness. In this meditation. neck. Permit your body to relax and settle. slightly faster on the in breath and slightly slower on the out breath. Reflect on the attitudes of mindfulness for a moment— acceptance. Just notice what occurs. Imagine that the spine is aligned like a column of golden coins resting one atop the other. You might sense the rising and stretching in your abdomen as you breathe in. Each breath is different. sense the parts of your body that are moving. as you breathe abdominally (allow your upper body to be relaxed and still. Let yourself begin to settle in the wisdom mind. beginner’s mind. Allow your eyes to close. vastness. nonattachment. The head is neither forward nor back. The mountain is constant and secure. Let the abdomen be soft and relaxed. Sit comfortably in the meditator’s posture: Feet are flat on the floor. humor. patience. unfolded. and generosity. like a majestic mountain. 0 . Release tension in the shoulders. despite the clouds that cover it or the storms that batter it from without.

gently bring it back to focusing on breath. and gently. Rather it is to feel satisfaction each time you notice your mind wandering. Yet we often try to manage these in the head. Think of this as practice in responding to life with loving-kindness. Underneath the breath. As you breathe. relax. This is what the ordinary mind does. And now feel the breath as if it were a wave that filled the entire body. the more we suffer. and rest in the breath. and each time you notice that it has wandered. I’ve got to stop feeling that. Not again. Notice fully each part of the in breath. notice a deeper calm.” Or. Let that feeling go.” The more we fight the feelings and sensations. I don’t want to feel that emotion.5. kindly. Release. patiently return your awareness to the breath without judging. We might think. the out breath. 7. I’ve got to find a way to kill it. When you are finished. and each subtle. Use Mindful Meditations 1 . the peace within. just as you can let awareness of the breath come and go. “This pain is terrible. The object is not to stop yourself from thinking. Exercise: Body Scan We feel emotions and physical sensations in the body. thoughts will come and go. so simply notice your mind wandering. To fight them is to increase tension. 6. changing moment. Congratulate yourself each time you mindfully notice this. no. 8. We are often quite out of touch with the body as we live in our heads. notice how you feel. sensing what that is like. “Oh. Rest your mind in your belly.

As we simply watch sensations. pain. just as we may eat without really tasting. Be aware of how your body feels—is it comfortable. The idea in this meditation is not to think about each region of the body. 2. Practice this meditation for about forty minutes daily. computers. and good humor. Notice the temperature of the air around you and how it feels. Many people observe that they feel grounded when they are centered in their bodies instead of their heads—peacefully observing the comings and goings of bodily sensations. and holding whatever comes up in calm awareness. for at least a week. acceptance. or is there any tension. but to place your awareness deep inside it. feeling from inside. or cell phones than to our bodies. When we do not tense up. Lie down on your back in a place where you are unlikely to be disturbed. nonjudgment. letting go. Notice how your body as a whole feels at this moment without judging. or itching? Notice the intensity of these sensations and whether they change or stay the same. This meditation teaches us to simply welcome in each sensation. 3. Breathe and let your mind settle. let your mind rest calmly in your body. we notice that they often change. The body scan meditation will prepare us to eventually experience emotional and physical discomfort with kindness and calmness. Remember especially the attitudes of loving-kindness.  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . and then let our awareness of the sensation dissolve. 1.being more connected to television. We might be obsessed with the image of our body in the mirror without being in tune with it. patience. they come and go. without trying to push it away. Close your eyes. Feel your skin against the carpet or bed. our response to the sensation changes. but instead relax into the sensation. run from it. We watch it kindly and dispassionately. or think ourselves out of it.

Let your awareness stay in the next region in the same way for several breaths before moving on. releasing any tension or discomfort your body is willing to release at this time. gently bring it back to the region on which you are focusing. Then we’ll progress in a similar fashion to the other regions of the body. and then. temperature. As you exhale. Each time your mind wanders. Bring kind. Notice any changes in these sensations as you breathe. when you are ready. letting awareness of that region dissolve as you also release tension in that area. out from your toes. silently say.” Gently return your awareness to the region of the body and your breathing. In a moment you will breathe in and out of one region of your body several times. 3 . as you bring awareness to the next region of your body (your left sole). as though you’ve never before paid attention to that Use Mindful Meditations 5. thinking. Approach each region with the beginner’s mind. Imagine that you are breathing in and out of your toes. and through your nose. It is as though your mind is resting in that area of the body. Then you’ll bring your awareness in a similar way to the next region. relaxation. letting your mind rest there. When you are ready to leave this region. without judging. pulsing. Let’s begin. up through your body. Perhaps you imagine air from your in breath flowing down through your nose. As thoughts arise. blood flow. Then. Allow yourself to feel any and all sensations in the toes—pressure from a sock. and so on. with your out breath.4. If you feel nothing. that is okay. lungs. paying full attention to all the sensations that you experience. openhearted attention to the toes of your left foot. let awareness of the toes dissolve. tension. and legs into your toes. take a deeper and more intentional breath. “Thinking. Just notice whatever there is to experience without commenting or judging. We’ll give directions starting with your left foot. you will release your awareness. abdomen. following the breath down the toes once again.

and buttocks Lower back Upper back Spinal column  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . softhearted awareness. but with kind.region. genitals. following the list below: Toes of left foot Left sole Left heel Top of left foot Left ankle Left shin and calf Left knee Left thigh Left side of groin Left hip Toes of right foot Right sole Right heel Top of right foot Right ankle Right shin and calf Right knee Right thigh Right side of groin Right hip Pelvic region. Repeat the process for each body part. gentle. Watch whatever you experience without tensing or judging.

Stomach Chest Ribs Heart Lungs Shoulder blades Collarbones Shoulders Fingers of left hand Left palm Back of left hand Left wrist Left forearm Left elbow Left upper arm Left armpit Fingers of right hand Right palm Back of right hand Right wrist Right forearm Right elbow Right upper arm Right armpit Neck and throat (notice air flow) Nose (notice air flow and smells without judgment) Left ear Right ear Eyes Use Mindful Meditations  .

 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . following the breath down to the stomach. Breathe through imaginary airholes in your head and feet. follow the breath down the legs and out the toes. breathing in peaceful stillness. Notice what is moving or changing. Go beneath your thoughts and feel the wholeness of the body. on the out breath. and breathe out through the head. and. following the in breath to the stomach. Breathe in through the head. Ultimately feel your entire body breathing. as you watch from the calm and peaceful depths. Then breathe in through the feet. like waves on the surface of the ocean.Cheeks Forehead Temples Jaw and mouth Face Crown of head 6. Now be aware of your whole body.

Exercise: Smile Meditation This beautiful meditation reminds us that happiness already exists within us as part of our true. The spine is straight like a column of golden coins. 4. sitting in graceful dignity like a majestic mountain. Whatever it is. Just the thought of smiling relaxes and softens your face. Now let happiness spread to the lungs. relaxing your face and jaw. good-humored aspects of your true happy nature. Assume the meditator’s posture. 5. or wisdom mind. Allow about ten to fifteen minutes for this meditation. sitting comfortably erect. bringing happiness with it. The upper body is relaxed but erect. 3. Let your breathing help you to settle into your restful wisdom mind. Use Mindful Meditations  . It is good to practice this at the beginning of the day and throughout the day. The smile spreads across your face. Think of the playful. and softhearted. Perhaps you notice that just the idea of a smile tends to evoke feelings of being content. happy nature. letting your mind rest there. relaxed. and comforting your face. Imagine for a moment what it would be like to smile. bathing. with feet flat on the floor and hands resting comfortably in the lap. Now allow a genuine half smile to form on your face— perhaps a little twinkle that causes your eyes to sparkle. happy. soothing. Perhaps happiness feels like a warm light there. just accept that and allow it to be. Just sense happiness in that region. sense the comfort it brings to that area. 2. Imagine that the smile spreads to the neck and throat. Allow your eyes to close. 1.

guards our greatest treasure. Let the happy feeling of that smile spread to the stomach and any other areas of the body that you wish to focus on. Conclude by sensing your whole body breathing and being comforted by the soothing. and return to experiencing the smile and happiness in the body. Breathe and let the mind rest there. the dragon burst into tears. and thereby taking care of yourself. good or bad. who roared from his cave in the nearby hills. One day. 7. Now let that feeling of happiness fill the heart. In other words. Just allow happiness to settle in your heart.6. Exercise: Sitting with Emotions The meditation skills offered earlier in this chapter have prepared you for the following very powerful method of calming distressing emotions. happy feeling of a smile. Just sense the happiness in each region of the body. the boy pleaded with the dragon to come. Despite the dragon’s mighty roar and billowing smoke. Eventually convinced that the boy was sincere. This meditation teaches us to be calm and nonreactive in the presence of whatever emotions arise. Chieko Okazaki (1993) relates the story of a Japanese village that had been terrorized by an unseen dragon. warming and soothing it. The Tibetan master Sogyal Rinpoche (1993) teaches that the dragon. then we can discover the deep reservoirs of peace and strength within. His tears were so voluminous that they created a river upon which the  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . if we can overcome our tendency to flee from our fears and pain. a little boy decided to approach the cave and invite the dragon to his birthday party. which represents our fears and pain. 8. Hold any thoughts that arise in kind friendliness.

penetrating distressing emotions with healing. It is recommended that this meditation be practiced for thirty minutes or more each day for at least a week. Let your breathing help you to settle into your peaceful wisdom mind. detached perspective of the wisdom mind.dragon and boy floated to the boy’s home. Instead of fighting thoughts. loving-kindness. with feet flat on the floor and hands resting comfortably in the lap. Whatever it is. compassion. instead of bracing and tensing as we fight it. like a column of golden coins. we can be open to whatever exists.” We listen without judging until the pain subsides and/or the person changes his response to the pain—relaxing rather than fighting it. Remembering that the ordinary mind creates much suffering as we resist pain (“Why do I have to suffer? It’s not fair. we learn to watch distressing emotions from the vast. instead we accept both with equanimity. it’s okay. listening. Thus. sitting in graceful dignity like a majestic mountain. The upper body is relaxed but erect. allowing love to penetrate and dissolve the pain. Remember the key attitudes of acceptance. we don’t identify with the pain (“There is pain. Allow your eyes to close. Compassionate awareness changes things in a beautiful way.  . It is like sitting with a beloved who is in pain. Remember that you are already whole. 1. In this meditation. loving. Use the beginner’s mind as you explore a new way to experience feelings. Assume the meditator’s posture. sitting comfortably erect. I can’t stand this pain”). Use Mindful Meditations 2.” rather than “I have pain” or “I am the pain”). we can learn to just embrace them. we change our response to pain by allowing the pain in. and feelings. and saying “Tell me about it. and accepting—wide and deep enough to hold any distressing emotion. memories. We don’t judge emotions as bad or good. and nonjudgment. we relax into the pain with full acceptance. The wisdom mind is indeed vast. The pain is impersonal. remembering compassion. However. The spine is straight.

Don’t think. until you find yourself settling. without judging or trying to change it. and the related feelings of unworthiness. congratulate yourself for noticing this. perhaps involving work or a relationship. Don’t brace or struggle with it. Notice where in the body you feel the feelings (your stomach. loving. Then follow the breath out of your body. becoming still. Be aware of any feeling in your body. Let yourself feel the feelings completely. and really present. inadequacy. peaceful. Recall a difficult situation. sadness. Make a space for this situation. Give deep attention to these feelings. with full acceptance. throat. Just embrace it 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem 4. 5. Don’t try to change or push the discomfort away. Rather. for example). “I’ll tighten up and let these feelings in for a minute in order to get rid of them”—this is not full acceptance. watching it rise and fall as you breathe in and out. or throat. Whenever you find your mind wandering. Be aware of your breathing for several minutes. accepting smile as you do this. chest. Remember that thoughts are not you. any sensation as it comes and goes. 6. Follow your breath all the way down through the nose.3. and then to the part of the body where you sense the distressing emotion(s). as if fresh air and sunlight were entering a long-ignored and darkened room. and bring your awareness gently back to breathing and sensing your body. Whatever you are feeling is all right. Breathe into that region of the body with great love. Let your belly be soft and relaxed. or worry about the future. as you would greet an old friend. 0 . settled. 7. 8. grounded. You might think of a kind. lungs. Greet these feelings cordially. create a space that allows the feelings to be completely accepted.

When you are ready.” 10. loving-kindness. View the discomfort from the dispassionate perspective of the wisdom mind. say the following intentions silently to yourself: “May I remember loving-kindness. Feel the air against your body. It is as if you are watching waves of discomfort rise on the surface of the ocean. love is big enough to embrace. The wisdom mind is vast enough to hold these feelings with great compassion. and penetrate the discomfort.without judging it. The waves come and go without changing the basic nature of the ocean. To conclude. Notice all that you are aware of with a soft and open heart. unlimited compassion of the wisdom mind that will hold any pain that comes and goes. May I be happy. Simply notice what happens to the feelings without trying to make them change. and then be reabsorbed into the vast ocean. welcome. being aware of the wholeness and the vast. Your attention now expands to the sounds you are hearing. as you exhale. and peace. May I be whole. you might think of loved ones who remind you of loving-kindness and let that loving-kindness penetrate your awareness as you remember that difficult situation. widen your focus to your body as a whole. deep attention. Use Mindful Meditations 1 . with real acceptance. Pay attention to your whole body’s breathing. 9. If you find it helpful. sense your whole body breathing. Let the body soften and open around that area. Simply listen with a half smile. 11. take a deeper breath into that area of the body and. Let your breath caress and soothe the feelings as you would your adored sleeping baby. just bringing them into awareness without commenting or judging.

So long as one is a human being … self-love should be there. thus providing additional relief. One such thought was “I’ll fail the retest. a person might reply that failing the retest would prove that he is inadequate. —Dalai Lama Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy From cognitive therapy (CT) we learn a useful way for dealing with the drama that plays out in the ordinary mind: we first become aware of our distorted automatic thoughts and then replace these with more constructive thoughts. It will be awful. which resulted in feelings of depression and anxiety. This situation triggered various unreasonable negative thoughts. They often take the following forms:  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . Further relief can be gained by becoming aware of and replacing our inaccurate core beliefs. The faulty logic of this core belief is challenged (for example. For example.” Replacing such thoughts with more logical thoughts (“If I prepare more effectively. In CT. In chapter 3 we used the example of failing a promotion test. This tends to reduce the severity of the disturbing emotions that we experience. I might pass”) reduces distress somewhat. the person is asked a series of questions that are designed to help him or her uncover the core belief. “I am clearly not always and in every way inadequate”). Core beliefs are often learned early in life. which is then challenged and replaced. such as “Why would failing the retest be so bad?” and “What would that mean about you?” Such questions uncover the so-called core belief.

“If you work on your mind with your mind.” Sadly. Because they were acquired early in life. “Thinking alone is usually insufficient to heal deeply held beliefs and feelings.” As the Zen master Seng-Ts’an said. no good]. inadequate.” (Beck 1995)  Even though they are called “core beliefs. bad]. letting their intensity dissolve as we sit with them with loving-kindness—viewing them from the nonjudgmental perspective of the wisdom mind. Logic does not entirely soothe the feelings. Williams. a “hardened” criminal once exclaimed. not capable enough. and Wilson 1999. We Use Mindful Meditations 3 . Segal. they are accompanied by strong feelings that are difficult to reason away. unwanted. out of control. We might restate this by saying. He had attached to the ordinary mind’s thought as if it were ultimate truth. you can’t tell me I’m lovable. “When I wake up all disheveled and grouchy. This approach focuses mainly on the feelings (of being unlovable. letting the thought drive his behavior and self-concept—thus blocking change. 12). rejectable. “Don’t you understand that a criminal is who I am!” He had not softened to the possibility that his perception of his identity was just a thought. Core beliefs have a way of getting entrenched in the ordinary mind. Instead of fighting the distorted thoughts. They are difficult to uproot with logic alone. they are only thoughts in the ordinary mind.” “I am unlovable [unlikable. different.” these do not accurately reflect the core. McQuaid and Carmona 2004) brings the heart back into the picture. and so on). giving a complementary way to handle upsetting thoughts and feelings. “I am inadequate [weak. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT. Who has not felt genuinely inadequate or unlovable at times? One woman said. Strosahl. and Teasdale 2002. how can you avoid great confusion?” (Hayes. we learn to accept the thoughts and feelings. incompetent. helpless.

Underneath it.” (This is excellent for “should” statements. Write it down. going under the thoughts and holding the feelings with the compassion of a soft heart until they soften. (See the example at figure 6. The following examples might help you select suitable responses: “Thinking that …” “It’s just a thought.” “That’s the way it is.) 1. describe and rate the intensity of the resulting feelings. Mindful responses are brief phrases or sentences that reflect acceptance and kindness without trying to change the automatic thoughts. write down a mindful response for each automatic thought. Try this several times over the course of the next week. and. with a dispassionate view. In the first of two columns.disengage from rumination. until you feel comfortable with the skill.”) 2. more natural way to get to the core beliefs. without judging them. Identify a difficult situation that triggered upsetting feelings. write them down. such as “I should have known better” or “I shouldn’t be this way. below.  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . Some feel that the approach below provides an easier. write down your automatic thoughts.” “Believing the thought that …” “Accepting this thought …” “Nonjudging. 3. In the second column. Just breathe.

Notice if the intensity of the thoughts or feelings changes as you watch them from the perspective of the wisdom mind.” “Feeling compassion …” “Breathing. without judging the thoughts or feelings. Remember loving-kindness.”) Accepting that thought. Breathe into this with loving-kindness.” “Accepting disappointment …” “Beginner’s mind …” (This is especially useful when we think “I can’t do this” or “I’m a loser. reacting emotionally.” 4.“It’s okay (smiling. Notice what feelings and sensations each thought triggers in your body. letting that thought settle in the body …” “Holding this thought softly in awareness …” “Remembering patience and nonstriving …” “Just sitting with this thought and emotion …” “Holding this fear with compassion … it’s okay to be afraid. as you hold in awareness the mindful response to each automatic thought. or fighting them. then letting it go. Sit with each automatic thought for a few moments without trying to modify it.” “This is difficult. just holding that thought in kind awareness). Love is deeper than this thought. Use Mindful Meditations  .

such as “Why is this so bad?” “What’s the worst thing about this?” “What does this mean about me?” and “What is the deepest hurt or fear?” Perhaps it is the fear that you are inadequate. or the feeling that you are alone. Resulting Feeling(s) Angry Frustrated Automatic Thoughts I can’t stand it when this happens. It should do what I paid it to do.Figure 6  MBCT Double-Column Technique Difficult Situation: My computer freezes as I’m working on an important project at home at night. 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem  . Regarding the distressing situation. that the boss might criticize you. I must meet the deadline. and that you might react by thinking (and feeling) that you are inadequate—which is the core belief. In our example. Internal Ratings Rating After Sitting with the Core Belief 6 5 Mindful Response Having the thought that I can’t stand this It is what it is—accepting Breathing. unable to get needed help. I must excel. you can ask yourself questions. as you felt when you were a child. 5. you might realize that you could miss the boss’s deadline because your computer is malfunctioning. accepting that this is difficult Believing the thought that I must excel 8 7 Uncover the core belief.

The spine is straight. Remember the dignity and immeasurable worth of each individual.” Your present self. Notice that MBCT does not change the situation. Rerate the original feelings in figure 6. The upper body is relaxed but comfortably erect. Exercise: Time Tripping This strategy helps us to touch our past selves with love. Let your breathing help you to settle into your restful wisdom mind. with feet flat on the floor. like a column of golden coins. rejection. the “wiser self. 1. Allow about thirty minutes for this exercise. Think of a painful experience from your past. Call the person experiencing the painful experience your “younger self. Use Mindful Meditations 2. notice the feeling without judging or reacting emotionally.” understands the healing power of compassion and has greater skill and experience than the younger self had. In a place where you won’t be disturbed. Notice how these might have lessened in intensity. shame. helping to soften painful experiences from long ago that might have resulted in feelings of inadequacy. it only changes our response to the situation. It teaches us to lessen the intensity of our emotional reactions so that we can function at our best. sitting in graceful dignity like a majestic mountain. That is. and hands resting comfortably in the lap. 7. kindly penetrating it with soothing loving-kindness until the core belief and associated feeling begin to soften in intensity. Sit with the core belief (and feeling) as you learned to do in the Sitting with Emotions exercise above.  . powerlessness. Hold it in the body. or the like. sit in the meditator’s posture. loneliness.6. Allow your eyes to close.

The younger self accepts this kindness. Imagine that the wiser self goes back in time to visit the younger self during that difficult time. The wiser self cherishes the core of the younger self and knows that the mistreatment or mistake that the younger self has experienced is not who the younger self is at the core. that heals. and let the stress dissolve. a wink. but love. —Anonymous  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . Continue to look into your eyes. or even time. From the perspective of experience. If you notice stress in your eyes. Sense this happening. resting in it. an embrace. try to acknowledge and understand that. touching the core with loving-kindness. Exercise: The Mindful Mirror Try this practice each time you see yourself in the mirror over the next few days. physical protection. and/or touches the younger self. It is usually not thinking. speaks. and loved. Look directly and deeply into your eyes with genuine and heartfelt loving-kindness.3. the wiser self senses and provides what the younger self needed at that time. Look beyond the wrinkles or blemishes. whether it be encouragement. protected. he or she helps the younger self feel secure. hope. perhaps with a kind half smile and a feeling of welcoming acceptance and good humor. counsel. By the kind way that the wiser self looks. or soothing words.

activities that promote wholesome pleasure (activities that consider the well-being of self and others and do no harm) are also beneficial. studies have shown that simply increasing pleasant events can elevate mood as effectively as trying to eliminate distortions (Jacobson and Christensen 1996). Before exploring the approaches to increasing happiness and wholesome pleasure. this chapter focuses on ways to increase happiness and wholesome pleasure. Creating space for recreative enjoyment is also a way of taking care of ourselves.6 L Cultivate Joy ife is difficult. For example. Since self-esteem and happiness are strongly correlated (Brown. Although happiness is a more enduring and steady condition than pleasure. . let’s examine the factors that can undermine our efforts. Schiraldi. and because increasing happiness likely raises self-esteem. and Wrobleski 2003). and one of life’s greatest challenges is how to enjoy it. Cultivating more joy in life promotes selfesteem by building our confidence in our ability to experience mastery and pleasure.

Only the outcome matters. Playing is somehow immature or wrong. it is not pleasure. The process is a journey that can be enjoyed. Wholesome pleasure improves happiness and productivity. which can be readily challenged. The trick is to find satisfaction in our work and in the other aspects of life. In fact. Once a person’s income rises above the poverty level. this myth would prevent everyone from having pleasure. such as reading or helping others. Does it do us any good to be rich in achievements but impoverished in joy? 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem    0 . As Gandhi taught. but pleasure without conscience. Taken to its illogical extreme. that corrupts consciousness.Happiness Myths Certain myths. Thus. the amount of money they have bears little relation to their happiness. Greater benefits tend to result from immersion in activities that require investment of one’s strengths. the process does not. people tend to be happier when their entertainment is inexpensive and requires their active participation. it is not surprising that passive entertainment like watching television tends to lower people’s mood. All work must be completed before pleasure is experienced. appear to reduce one’s ability to enjoy life:  I must have wealth in order to enjoy life. since there is always more work that could be done.

happy people tend to be more productive and make better decisions than unhappy people. Pleasure decreases productivity. I must “succeed” to have worth. My mistakes and flaws disqualify me from deserving pleasure. I must be attractive to be happy. age. and getting to do the things that you love. my worth when playing is less than my worth when producing. and paint. race. irrespective of gender. With all the depression and problems in the world. Mistakes and flaws make us fallible but never undeserving or worthless at the core. However. to name a few. employment status. Certainly one can overdo pleasure or use it to escape life’s responsibilities. Inner worth is the same whether we are sleeping. Happiness is loving yourself. and even mental and physical handicaps. I love to rock climb. —Mike Dolan. In fact. most people are generally happy. surf. former student Cultivate Joy 1 . or producing.     Success is being happy. it’s nearly impossible to be happy. This statement erroneously equates market worth with inner worth. Happiness is an inside job and is relatively independent of appearance. loving others. playing.

heart attacks. This condition can cause oxygen deprivation. as can diabetes. and other emergency service work. Sleep apnea is characterized by snoring that stops and starts frequently throughout the night. It is also a risk factor for headaches. rape.” because it can cause depression. some of which are listed below:  Common mental illnesses. In general. fatigued. high blood pressure. however. combat. weight gain. leading one to feel depressed. such as depression. anxiety. and police. premenstrual symptoms. crime. elevated cholesterol levels. Thyroid imbalance is called the “great mimic. post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One type of anxiety disorder. can result from abuse.     10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . it’s helpful to first treat conditions that can degrade one’s mood and ability to experience pleasure. and sexually disinterested. and many other symptoms affecting the mind and body. and strokes. Elevated cholesterol can sometimes cause depression. torture. old-age memory loss. industrial or traffic accidents. firefighting. anxiety. and problem anger. terrorism. we’ll discuss strategies for increasing happiness and wholesome pleasure.A Thorough Medical or Psychological Evaluation In a moment. are associated with unhappiness.

When a thought intrudes. systematic relaxation. and interpersonal or communication skills. feeling serene and at ease. while.All of these conditions can be successfully treated or managed with the proper medical or psychological help. time management. A variety of stress management strategies can be used in conjunction with the treatment of a number of these problems. sounds. sights. select at least one activity to experience mindfully (see the list of suggestions below). Everyday mindfulness carries the benefits of mindfulness meditation. sleep hygiene. and after you do the activity. A thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test can detect thyroid problems that normal blood tests sometimes miss. which is a way of being calm and joyful (see chapter 5). judgments. These strategies include abdominal breathing. exercise. without letting our racing thoughts (worries. PTSD is best treated by a specially trained trauma specialist (see Recommended Resources at the end of the book). noticing the things we so often miss in our hurried lives. plans. just notice the thought with a cordial attitude and gently bring your full attention back to the activity. Go slowly and take in all of the sensations—tastes. Simply experience the event fully. Everyday Mindfulness Mindfulness helps us to be fully present in the moment. Use your breathing to settle your mind in your body as you just watch and enjoy all of the aspects of the activity. knowing that each moment can be peaceful and beautiful. Quitting smoking can also reduce stress and mood fluctuations. Over the next few days. allow yourself to rest in your wisdom mind. textures—and notice how your body feels before. Perhaps you smile slightly as you relax into the present moment. nutrition. As you breathe. and so on) pull us out of the moment. aromas. Try to only do the Cultivate Joy 3 .

Wash dishes. Do a hobby. Hold a baby. Get in bed. the moon. Watch from the perspective of the compassionate wisdom mind. a flower. Drive your car. stars. such as clouds. Wash the car. Brush your teeth. focusing on nothing else.) Sit in the sun. 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem       . Wash your hands. (Feel each sensation in your legs as you mindfully move and your feet meet the ground. Truly listen to someone (without judging or thinking of what you are going to say. Eat a meal. You might select an activity to try from the following list:          Watch something in nature. notice what your body feels and what is in your heart. Take a shower or bath.activity. try to discern what the person feels in his or her heart). rain. or a tree. Walk.

attachment causes unhappiness. then these things are controlling our Cultivate Joy  . (You might set aside a day for recreation with only general plans. The pessimist tends to look at a glass of water that is half full and thinks. Exercise. titles.” Again. (Notice how it feels to be amused. “Why is it only half full? Why can’t it be completely full?” The happy person thinks. —St. and that is why a man deprived of joy of spirit goes over into carnal pleasures.    Play a children’s game. or a particular way of being treated by others. If we demand money. At the same time. This can be done alone or with a partner. and just enjoy whatever develops.) No one can live without delight. clear water. Eastern spiritual masters teach that we can be content in any given circumstance. “What beautiful. Listen to or tell a joke. mindfulness helps us. possessions. such as going to the zoo or driving through the country. Thomas Aquinas Gratitude Happy people tend to be grateful. even as we might try to improve it.) Plan spontaneity. looks.

you might worry that you’ll be fired. If you insist upon having a particular prestigious position. Think of people who have made a difference in your life. —John D.happiness. Below are a few other ideas for experiencing more gratitude:  Try keeping a gratitude journal. Finally. Each day record three or four things for which you have felt grateful over the last twenty-four-hour period. Thus. becoming attached neither to the things we possess nor to the things we lack. You might wish to express heartfelt gratitude to these people in a phone call or a note. play the reminiscing game with friends or loved ones. or a prison. Wasn’t that fun? Didn’t we laugh?”   How much money does it take for one to be happy? A little bit more than he’s got. If it has. for example. permits us to celebrate all that we enjoy. If your authority is challenged. See if your mood has improved after a week or so. you simply say. Rockefeller  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . one can enjoy watching the clouds from a mansion. then how will you feel if you don’t have it or can’t get it? If you do have it. Gratitude. then you might become angry. Here. “Remember when we did such and such. keep writing in the gratitude journal. a hut. however.

You can try this with just one other person or several people sitting in a circle. who had grown up in a diplomat’s family. One man. So I suggested that my family play Red Light. without thinking or worrying about the practicality of your answers. and then move on to the next sentence stem. simply write down your responses. on a sheet of paper. If you are trying this strategy alone.) When I first began using this strategy. such as climbing a tree or playing children’s games. Continue until the ideas for that sentence stem have run out. Each person states the first sentence stem aloud and then completes it with the first idea that comes to mind. I was a bit sad that I couldn’t convince the adults to keep playing Cultivate Joy  . surprised me by saying that his idea of a good time was reading the newspaper on the stoop. Green Light at family gatherings. I started to think about the simple pleasures that I had enjoyed as a child and could still enjoy. The assumption is that the ideas that matter most are already inside us and will come out spontaneously.Sentence Stem Completion Another way to approach pleasant events is the sentence stem completion activity. (Somehow I thought he would say something like going to the opera or a famous museum. one after another. This strategy asks you to respond as fast as you can. Try these sentence stems: What occupied and amused me as a child was … My idea of a good time is … My idea of a simple pleasure is … Something I did as a child that I would still enjoy is … This strategy is a very enjoyable way to stimulate creative thinking. and we did so until the children got too old.

Mastery and Competence Imagery Pat yourself on the back if you have made it this far in life and have managed to preserve a reasonable degree of sanity. and sharing a dessert. Many of these can be preserved or reinstituted. (One woman said her Mother’s Day tradition was to go to any restaurant where she didn’t have to “look up to see the menu. For some the tradition might be a holiday celebration.anyway. It is also what we lose. since we tend to lose friends when we become too busy for them. Can you remember a time in your life when you confronted a challenge and handled it well. A tradition might also mean working together as a family. even though it was difficult? You might think of mastering difficult material in school.”) Some couples reserve Friday evenings for date nights. For others. along with some of our humanity. when we become too busy and have little extra time. or designating an evening as a time for being with friends. such as a sit-down dinner on Sunday evenings. such as shooting arrows into the air with the same bow I used to play with as a child. But I still continue to reclaim some simple pleasures from childhood. it is a return to the comfortable and familiar. because we had had so many hearty laughs. Traditions A tradition is anything that is enjoyed and repeated. and some families set aside one night a week for playing games together. telling uplifting stories. Most people have a treasured tradition or two. traditions can be simple. performing a complicated work of music or doing well in an  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem .

” Assume your meditator’s posture— feet flat on the floor. allowing yourself to fully feel with an open heart any distress that is associated with that step for a few moments. (Alternatively. Jot them down on a piece of paper. negotiating a raise with the boss. Break the situation down into a hierarchy of ten to twenty steps. This is your mastery and competence image. Relax in your breathing. hands resting in the lap—and relax in your breath.athletic competition. Take a few moments to identify some of these moments. resolving a conflict with another person. Now bring into awareness your mastery and competence image. we’ve each had to master certain challenges. if your hierarchy is chronological). Notice where you feel distress in your body and breathe into that area with compassion. and sensed in your body. this exercise evokes powerful feelings of confidence and satisfaction that tend to replace negative feelings and boost self-esteem. Imagine the experience in detail—what you did. Cultivate Joy  . Because this imagery is drawn from your real-life experience. Take your time. Fully and completely experience all of the details of this image. We’ll call this your “mastery and competence image. Then record all of these details in a notebook or on a piece of paper (writing them down helps the details to become more vivid and concrete). or tackling a difficult assignment. or being afraid but persisting anyway. felt. back comfortably erect. Now take a few moments to focus on one of these experiences. imagine that all of the thoughts. from the least difficult aspect of the situation to the most difficult. thought.) After completing the hierarchy. Next. Do you remember how good this felt? In order to survive. sit in the meditator’s posture. recalling the details until the experience becomes vivid in your imagination. Think of the least distressing step on the hierarchy (or the first step. perhaps the one that you feel best about. your hierarchy can break the feared event into ten to twenty chronological steps. heard. saw. After you see this image vividly in your mind. identify an upcoming situation that you associate with anxiety—perhaps taking a test.

Then progress to the next step on the hierarchy and repeat the procedure. It is about acceptance. but I’m a darn sight better than some might think. Eventually. But it’s much more than telling jokes. Sense of Humor Humor is universally valued and used by resilient survivors. and lightening things up. more confident way. you’ll experience the distressing event in a calmer. “We have to laugh at ourselves because we all do ridiculous things sometimes. and clarity.feelings.” Humor helps us endure adversity. optimism. I’m not perfect. When we find something to laugh about despite the absurdities 0 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . Describe them in your notebook and make them a part of your coping repertoire. It enables us to say. As time permits. providing comic relief. after you’ve transferred feelings of mastery and competence to each step on the hierarchy. Stay with this for a few moments until you feel a shift in the feelings associated with the distressing step. and sensations in your mastery and competence image fully penetrate that distressing step on the hierarchy. Humor is about having a kind and playful outlook on life—it pleasantly brings us back to our wisdom mind and helps us to realize that mishaps are not who we are.” As one elegant woman I know once said. making the sour seem bittersweet. Repeat this cycle of allowing in the distress and then penetrating it with your mastery and competence image a few times until you feel that you can experience this step on the hierarchy with relatively little distress. “You know. humor affords a presence of mind and a sense of equanimity in the face of our mistakes. Thus. call to mind other mastery and competence images.

Avoid sarcasm and ridicule. man. B. G. but the officer didn’t know the password. Irene Gut Opdyke hid twelve Jews in the basement of a villa while she kept house for a German major upstairs (I. Eight sentries clicked the safeties of their rifles as they prepared to fire. you know I ain’t no Nazi!” The affection and respect with which this story was told suggested that laughter helped to break down the walls separating people as it broke up the tension of the moment (R. when surrounded GIs maintained strict roadblocks. The World War II concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl (1959) told of two prisoners who joked about how prison camp lessons could transfer to real life: they visualized going to a dinner party after the war and asking that their soup be ladled from the bottom. the driver exclaimed. You might find it helpful to remember the following principles when cultivating a sense of humor:  Keep humor affectionate and playful. At that tense moment. There is a sense that we’re all in this together. personal communication). “Oh. we are saying “I can figure a way to rise above even this. they all thought it funny. Another example of the power of humor took place during the frightful Battle of the Bulge. even farcical. and good-natured rather than hostile. at least temporarily. Cultivate Joy 1 . things could be worse. personal communication). she said. During that war. Opdyke. which can separate people. An American officer approached one roadblock in a jeep driven by an African-American. Despite the grave danger they were in. to think that they were stealing food from beneath the commandant’s nose. He impatiently reached for his pistol as he demanded to pass. Think of humor as an act of service that can lift people’s spirits if used kindly. Jacobs.” A shared laugh brings people together and reminds us that we are not alone in our misery.of life. Wholesome humor allows us to share our common lot and faults in life.

You can either give humor away (jokes. Those who successfully survive adversity develop a different way to  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . cursing life. check it out. We don’t have to try to be funny. or boisterous. There are times when it is insensitive or inappropriate to laugh. and ask if it was all right with the people around you. which only increases our suffering. laughing with others). Explain that you were trying to lighten things up. second-guessing or pitying ourselves. and blaming keep us feeling powerless and angry. Overusing humor can be a form of escapism and avoidance of genuine feelings. chuckling at mistakes. Be flexible. but not in large groups. pranks. You can be low key. Whining. If you are unsure about your use of humor in a particular situation. dry.    Attitudes Toward Suffering Life is indeed difficult. endearing nicknames) or you can absorb or appreciate humor (noticing the ridiculous. Be yourself. If you can then make another person laugh. complaining. that’s icing on the cake. You might find that you are funny around close friends. Try noticing the joyful aspects of life before trying to be funny (“Did you see that beautiful moon?”). Just notice or describe life’s incongruities. good-natured ribbing. All of these approaches are okay. and have the courage to laugh.

Rather. I can find something to enjoy. we can learn to courageously turn into the wind of adversity and seek pain’s tutorials. yet most say they would not trade past challenges for the lessons they’ve taught. things are likely to turn out as well as possible. or it forces us to develop persistence and determination. beginner’s mind.” “‘Bad luck’ is not permanent. optimism is the attitude that helps us say:     “If I try. inspiring us to help others. and resilience. It can also help us to appreciate the simple pleasures in life. For example. self-esteem.” Cultivate Joy 3 .” “No matter how bad things become.” “If things don’t turn out well in one area.view suffering. Optimism is not the unrealistic expectation that everything will turn out well—that would be overconfidence. Suffering can lead to greater empathy and new purpose. Rather than wincing or trying to avoid pain. prisoners of war learn to acknowledge the internal wounds that they’ve suffered. other areas are likely to turn out well. but they also realize that their adversity revealed strengths that they otherwise would not have discovered. which can lead to disappointment and poor performance. And watching others endure suffering with dignity can help us appreciate the character within others. so I can approach things with an open. Most resilient survivors would not wish to relive the difficult periods in their lives. Sometimes adversity teaches us that we can endure more than we assumed we could. Cultivate Optimism Optimism is another correlate of happiness.

but at least I don’t have to tolerate my boss anymore”. (2) “I do other things well”. (2) “Everything goes wrong like this”.The following strategies can help us to cultivate optimism:  When something does not turn out well. and (3) “Things will never improve.” Read about people such as Viktor Frankl or Arthur Ashe who endured suffering with optimism (see Recommended Resources). by contrast. “From this adversity. and (3) “Things will likely improve. They also perform better than pessimists in the workplace. thinks: (1) “This was a difficult situation”. but at least I still have my family”. A pessimist thinks (1) “Something is wrong with me at the core”.” (The last example demonstrates “survivor’s pride. Optimists live longer and have better mental and physical health than pessimists. at least I learned that I can endure great difficulty. think like an optimist.” An optimist. When something goes awry. practice the “at least” exercise: “I lost my home.)    10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . “I lost my job.” the confidence and strength that one gains from enduring tragedy or hardship.

The body is an external. or do you home right in on your body’s flaws? One approach leads to a satisfying feeling. Yet we can learn to experience our bodies with greater appreciation and satisfaction. If our bodies have been mistreated. If we reject our bodies overall because of particular perceived flaws. Our inner worth is not related to our weight. appearance. or health status (although our culture might lead us to believe otherwise). we may learn to experience our bodies with shame. This in turn helps us to adopt a more accepting attitude toward our inner selves. or called names. the other results in a feeling of disappointment. However. By extension. . ridiculed. this shame might spread to the core self.7 H Appreciate Your Body ave you ever noticed what you see when you look in the mirror? Do you view your overall appearance and countenance cordially and kindly. we are also likely to condemn our core selves for some present imperfections. the way we experience our body typically corresponds to the way we experience our core selves.

a field of wheat. outer appearances. Just as we can learn to accept our core worth as different from our externals.The media could lead us to believe that one could not possibly be happy if one is physically imperfect. a beloved music teacher who happened to weigh six hundred pounds (Miller 2000). Each of our cells contains the genetic plan for producing all of the cells in our bodies. but that she still loved him and hoped that he would choose to live. However. He learned to accept himself while trying every day to manage his weight. So the immeasurable worth of the core persists. Let’s see how this is done. a fascinating story appeared on 20/20 Downtown about Kevin Miller. we can also learn to appreciate our bodies. Let’s also take a moment to ponder the breathtaking complexities of the body. Consider the Magnificence of the Body It is easy to contemplate the magnificence of a mountain peak. a tall building. but he could still smile. or a piece of fruit. despite their imperfections. Likewise. when Christopher Reeve of Superman fame became paralyzed. this code is coiled to a length of only 1/2500 of an inch within the nucleus of each  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . With the help of his loving wife. As a result. understanding the difference between core worth and externals. said that his father could no longer run. The genetic code contains billions of steps of DNA that would extend more than five feet in length if stretched out in a line. his wife told him that she would understand if he wanted to end his life. Miller learned that his identity rests inside him. His child. the ocean at sunset. Nevertheless. his students learned to look beneath superficial. a stallion galloping across the plains. despite the imperfections of the body. a single flower.

From this single blueprint. beats tirelessly. increasing our capacity for pleasure. sounds. The skin can detect and distinguish the sensations of a hug. while billions Appreciate Your Body  . cells divide and specialize. or a pleasant breeze. millions of which are replaced each second. others become cells of the eye. ounce for ounce. The heart consists of two muscle pumps. and nose enable us to distinguish thousands of colors. Tissue-thin valves of the heart usually work flawlessly. The salty. a massage. over the course of an entire lifetime. and smells. than steel or reinforced concrete. and numerous melanocytes to defend against the sun’s rays. without ever pausing. The nose. The trillions of cells in the body. The complicated neural circuitries of the eyes. airways. and pain. The immune system of the body is more complex than the most sophisticated army. ears. scores of sweat glands to cool the body. Science cannot duplicate the durability and flexibility of a joint like the thumb. or bones. one strong enough to cause blood to course through these many miles of vessels. and so on. The 206 bones of the body are stronger. such that some cells become cells of the heart. each day pumping enough blood to fill several railroad cars. Lysozyme in the nose and acids in the stomach destroy potent incoming microbes. weighing just eleven ounces.cell. temperature. and regulate temperature of incoming air. nerves. an area the size of a fingernail contains hundreds of nerve endings that detect touch.000 miles. Under the skin. while the ear and brain work together to detect the slightest postural imbalance. the other gentle enough to move blood through the lungs without bursting the delicate air sacs found there. and lungs work together to filter. which requires thousands of messages from the brain to direct its complex movements. would stretch over a million miles if placed end to end. The blood vessels of the body stretch over 75. The heart. humidify. acidic skin prevents many impurities from entering the body.

The immune system is regulated by the brain. fluid balance. your ability to stand and move. The brain continuously monitors the body and then initiates needed adjustments in temperature. the body is able to convert ingested food to needed energy.  10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . your clean skin. The brain. contains one hundred billion nerve cells and is more complex than any computer. Then expand your awareness to other marvels of the body. outside and in. and set goals. In addition to permitting logical thinking. Finally. Exercise: A Simple Body   Appreciation Activity As often as you can. what is working. understand subtle facial and vocal expressions. and it has a remarkable capacity to repair itself. which allows affirmative emotions such as love and hope to sometimes strengthen the immune system. Pay attention to your hair. And the white blood cells remember the markers of microbes they’ve encountered so that they can efficiently destroy them in the future. remember vital lessons. mobilize to fight or flee when we are threatened. simply move your thumb around and notice the marvelous complexities and varied movements that are possible. If you are stumped. notice what is right. and blood pressure. weighing in at three pounds.of specialized white blood cells work together to neutralize microbes that enter the body. bags under your eyes. through a complex dance of nerves and hormones. You might consider the wonders described above. the brain allows us to recognize unique faces. or the color of your eyes. or wrinkles). blood sugar. stand briefly in front of a mirror or look directly at your body. Instead of noticing what’s wrong (such as a blemish.

have someone read it to you. Welcome. even when you are not aware of it … breathing in and out. And continue the long. Read it slowly. like the tide coming in and going out. cleansing and restoring the entire body. breathing in fresh pure air. and appreciate. they still keep breathing in and out. And be aware that your lungs go on breathing. if you are able to do that. all day long. Feel the air coming in and out of your lungs. is a very effective way to cultivate body appreciation. your legs. And now become aware of your diaphragm. all day long. Sit or lie down in a comfortable place where you will not be disturbed. or your back … just to heighten your awareness of your body. And so just now. It is practiced once a day over about a thirty-minute period and is especially effective when practiced repeatedly. And now begin to take a few deeper. Take a moment to get comfortable. No matter what we do. Appreciate Your Body  . developed by Jack Canfield in 1985. your neck. And become aware of your body now … You may wish to stretch various parts of your body … your arms. or record it on a tape and play it back. either sitting up in a chair or lying on your back on the floor or on a bed. Find a comfortable position. longer and slower breaths … inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. bringing you life energy. your body. a constant inflow and outflow of air … just like the ocean. breathing out the waste products. send a beautiful and radiant white light and love to your lungs and realize that ever since you took your first breath your lungs have been there for you. all night long. slow rhythmic breathing … And now.Exercise: Body Appreciation Meditation This meditation. let’s take a few moments to focus upon. even when you sleep … breathing in oxygen.

It keeps beating ceaselessly. Feel it and appreciate it.that muscle below your lungs that goes up and down and continually allows your lungs to breathe … and send light and love to your diaphragm. What a beautiful and powerful instrument! Day in and day out your heart has been beating. Feel that blood moving through your veins and arteries … and surround all of those veins and arteries with white light. never asking for anything. Your heart is a living miracle. And so see your heart surrounded by white light and warmth. See it dancing in the bloodstream as if it were bringing joy and love to each cell. And become aware now of your blood which is pumped through your heart. And now become aware of your chest and your ribcage. All of the organs of your body that bring in food and digest it and provide 100 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . a tireless muscle that continues to constantly serve you … sending life-giving nutrients throughout your body to every cell. And now become aware of your heart. fighting off disease. and say silently to yourself. You can feel it rising and falling with your breathing … your ribcage which protects all of the organs in your body … protects your heart and your lungs … keeping them safe. It is the river of life for your body. “I love you and I appreciate you” to your heart. providing you with immunity and healing … bringing oxygen from your lungs to every cell in your body … all the way down to your toes and up into your hair. And then become aware of your stomach and your intestines and your kidneys and your liver. So let yourself send love and light to those bones that make up your ribcage. Millions upon millions of blood cells … red corpuscles and white corpuscles … anticoagulants and antibodies … flowing through your bloodstream.

You can reach out and make contact with your world and with others. Your arms are miracles too. and I appreciate all the work that you’ve done. You can pick things up and use them. You can scratch and itch. turn the pages of a book. to have the experiences you want to have. Think of all the things you are able to do because of your hands and your arms. And your hands. You can put things away that you don’t want. give someone a massage. They let you stay balanced as you go through the world. You can write and type … you can reach out and touch things. tickle someone. drive your car. They allow you to stand up in the world. or give someone a hug. Allow yourself to appreciate your legs and to feel them surrounded with white light. So see your arms and your hands surrounded with light. And then become aware of your legs … your legs which allow you to walk and to run and to dance and to jump. And then allow yourself to feel gratitude for having a body. “I love you. And see all the muscles and bones in your legs filled with radiant white light … and say to your legs. legs. Appreciate Your Body 101 . and that you need to grow and to learn from. See your whole body from your neck down to your waist surrounded and filled with white light.the nutrients for your body … balancing and purifying your blood … your kidneys and your bladder. They allow you to climb and to run … and they support you every day … and so thank your feet for being there and supporting you.” And then become aware of your feet. to move forward and to run and to make yourself breathless with exhilaration. one that you can use every day. cook food. and send them your love. defend yourself. And then become aware of your arms. You can bring food to your mouth.

to create. See a golden light floating up your spine. that calculates and reasons and deducts and inducts … And just allow yourself to appreciate what your intellect does provide for you … and see the left side of your brain totally filled with golden and white light … and shimmering little stars. and to shout. And then become aware of the left side of your brain. See that side of your brain filled with white and golden light. and to sing and to chant and to pray. to be understood. to be heard. to be intuitive. from the base of your spine at your pelvis … floating up your spine one vertebra at a time. and to talk to your higher wisdom … the part of your brain that allows you to write poetry and to draw … and to appreciate art and music. to have emotions. that solves problems and plans for the future. and yell with delight and excitement … to express your feelings and to cry and to share your deepest thoughts and your dreams. all the way up to your neck … to the top of your spine where your skull connects … and let that golden light flow up into your brain. to communicate. the part of your brain that analyzes and computes. 10 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . to dream … to daydream and to visualize. And then become aware of your vocal cords in your neck … they allow you to speak. which allows you to stand up straight … and it provides a structure for your whole body … and it provides protection for your nerves that go from your brain down your spine and out to the rest of your body. and see that white light cleanse and awaken and love and nurture that part of your brain … and then let that light begin to flow across the bridge from the left side of your brain to the right side of your brain … the part of your brain that allows you to feel.And then become aware of your spine. moving up your spine.

to listen to the wind. too busy to exercise … too busy for a massage or for a hot bath … and for all the times your body wanted to be hugged or touched and you held back. Appreciate Your Body 103 . It allows you to smell and to breathe and to taste … all the wonderful tastes and smells in your life … the beautiful fragrances of flowers and the essence of all the foods that you love to eat. And once again feel your body … and see yourself surrounded with light … And now let that light begin to expand out from your body … out into the world … expanding out. Now become aware of your ears … they allow you to hear music. And then become aware of your nose. to allow understanding to come forward. the sound of the surf at the ocean. and the singing of birds … and to listen to the words “I love you” … and to be in discussions and to listen to the ideas of another. filling the space around you.Then sense that light flowing down the nerves into your eyes … and see and feel your eyes filled with that light. And now feel every part of yourself from head to toe surrounded and filled with your own love and your own light … And now take a moment and allow yourself to apologize to your body for anything you may have done to it … for the times you weren’t kind to it and for the times that you didn’t care for it with love … the times that you didn’t listen to it … for the times that you put too much food or alcohol or drugs into it … for the times you were too busy to eat. and realize the beauty that your eyes allow you to perceive: The flowers and the sunsets and the beautiful people … all the things that you’ve been able to appreciate through your eyes.

into yourself … and experience yourself here. 10 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . back into your body. perhaps you begin to let yourself stretch and feel the awareness and aliveness back in your body … And when you’re ready. full of light and full of love and appreciation for your body … And when you’re ready.And now begin to bring that light slowly back into yourself. you can slowly begin to sit up and readjust to being in the room and just let your eyes open. taking as much time as you need to make that transition. now. very slowly.

sleep hasn’t been seriously studied until recently.8 B Sleep Care for Your Mind by Caring for Your Body ecause the mind and body are interactively connected. The three legs of physical health are sleep. and effort required to accomplish this is not excessive. insulin resistance. Although we spend a third of our lives in bed. we can’t expect to feel our best psychologically if we neglect our physical health. immunity. exercise. money. taking care of the body is a way to strengthen mental health and self-esteem. Physical health is like a three-legged stool. and we now know that insufficient sleep adversely affects mood. and nutrition. and (2) the investment of time. . Stated more emphatically. The good news is that (1) we now know how to optimize physical health. Sleep deprivation has become much more common. which topples if one of the legs is missing.

For example. assume that you need 8. The first is the amount of sleep. to 9:00 a. Adults typically shortchange themselves during the week and then try to make up the lost hours over the weekend. avoid nighttime shift work. add twenty minutes or more.m. shift. to 1:00 a. you would maintain each shift for weeks or even months.25 hours of sleep per night. to allow the brain to adjust to the change. If you feel drowsy after getting this amount of sleep for several weeks. Try to retire and rise at the same time each day. Ideally. but the typical adult gets less than seven and carries an accumulated sleep debt that exceeds twenty-four hours.m. 10 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem .m.m. Two factors comprise good sleep (Dement and Vaughan 1999). to 5:00 p. memory. Alternatively. shift. which weaken as we age.m. we need regular wake-up and retiring times. shift. which is associated with higher rates of a number of diseases and shorter life spans. The brain regulates sleep rhythms. varying these times by no more than an hour from one day to another. The second factor necessary for good sleep is regularity. This is the amount you need. weight gain. You can determine your sleep needs by sleeping as long as you can each night over a period of several weeks until your sleep levels off at a consistent number of hours.levels of stress hormones. and work and athletic performance. Stay on each new shift for as long as possible. This disrupts sleep cycles and tends to promote insomnia and daytime drowsiness. A single good night’s sleep will not pay off this sleep debt but will instead tend to make one feel drowsier the next day. To keep sleep cycles regular. and finally move to the 1:00 a. traffic accidents. even on weekends. heart disease rates. If possible. you might try to start with the 9:00 a. Most adults need more than eight hours per night to feel and function at their best. see if your supervisor will agree to let you move from earlier to later shifts (the brain handles staying up later better than it does retiring earlier). energy levels.m. If your shift times vary. and then move to the 5:00 p.

anemia. or sleep disorders. and talk on the phone in other areas of your home instead of in your bedroom. anxiety. If you have recurring nightmares. study. ask your doctor for an overnight sleep study in order to evaluate it. Completely darken the room—cover any clock radios that may be emitting light and ensure that the morning sun does not come through windows. or problem anger. diabetes. Mentally rehearse the new dream with its new ending for a few minutes daily. hyperventilation. soothing sleep environment in your bedroom by using it only for activities that are relaxing. Maintain a peaceful. Minimize sounds (use earplugs or white noise) and movements (keep pets outside of the bedroom). Treat clinical depression. and a host of other disease symptoms. depression.   Care for Your Mind by Caring for Your Body 10 . all of which can degrade sleep. including thyroid disorders. If sleep apnea (or another sleep disorder) is suspected. watch television. Then write down a different ending—any one you wish.Aids to a good night’s sleep include the following:  Get a medical exam to rule out and/or diagnose conditions that can impair sleep or cause daytime fatigue. try describing the nightmare in your journal. but it can be effectively treated. Create an optimal sleep climate. Apnea causes daytime drowsiness. gastroesophageal reflux. Pay bills. bruxism.

If napping seems to make it difficult for you to fall asleep at night. Reduce or eliminate caffeine. oats. Lose weight through exercise. Wind down before retiring. Write down your worries and/or plan your next day at least an hour before retiring. even in the elderly. sweetened yogurt. and to reduce nighttime awakenings. Try eating a light snack of carbohydrates with a tryptophan source (such as crackers with cheese. or a few almonds). If you seem to benefit from naps. turkey. Try exercising before dinner. Try to avoid these for at least four to six hours before retiring. even when they don’t realize it. which can also reduce daytime headaches. bananas. in order to allow your body time to relax before bed. eggs. This is the siesta time in some cultures. with great individual variability. These disrupt people’s sleep. The recommended nap time is from 15 to 120 minutes. to allow your brain to wind down (strong lights signal the brain to stay 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem    10 . Turn lamps to their lowest setting or use nightlights. to improve sleep quality and sleep duration. with a small serving of protein to prevent nighttime hunger. and alcohol. then try avoiding naps in order to consolidate nighttime sleep. Exercise is perhaps the most effective way to shorten the amount of time needed to fall asleep. when the body temperature drops. Eat dinner early and keep it light. take them consistently during the early afternoon. nicotine. Losing just a few pounds reduces snoring.

improves the mood. getting out of bed if you don’t fall asleep within thirty minutes. A warm bath an hour or two before bedtime promotes sleep. days. then the recommended amount increases to sixty to ninety minutes. which improve sleep without side effects. or preferably all. As one guru taught. If one is trying to stay or become fairly lean. These amounts are considerably greater than those recommended previously because the Care for Your Mind by Caring for Your Body 10 . practicing relaxation and abdominal breathing.  Don’t rely on sleeping pills. The current federal exercise guidelines call for at least thirty minutes of exercise most. raises energy levels. “When tired.awake). Shut off the phone and television at least an hour before you go to bed. not when the clock says to. and then retire when you are sleepy. Exercise Dozens of studies have found a link between exercise and selfesteem (Spence. Poon. and reducing catastrophic thoughts (such as “It’s awful that I can’t fall asleep”). Physical activity also sharpens thinking. Effective sleep programs promote sleeping regular hours.” And remember that even an extra twenty minutes of sleep per night can significantly improve mood and performance. use sleep hygiene and skills that reduce stress and anxiety. fights aging. reducing the intake of liquids in the evening. Instead. take sleep. and helps to prevent a host of medical diseases. doing something that is not stimulating until you are ready to try going to bed again. and Dyck 1997).

such as weight lifting (enough weight to cause moderate fatigue). For example. or alternated with resistance exercises. You will be unlikely to continue if you overdo it. Or park your car farther away from the office than you usually do so that you can walk more. Try getting away from your desk for ten-minute energy walks every ninety minutes or so. Below are a few tips that can help you get started:  The greatest fitness gains are typically seen in people who were previously sedentary. and progress very gradually. one could do ten repetitions each of several exercises. stair stepping. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Getting this amount of exercise is less difficult than it might seem at first. such as walking (or swimming. biking. If you can. Aim to feel refreshed after you exercise. Take a few months to work up to your desired exercise levels. 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem   110 . If you are over forty years of age or have health concerns. can be added. If you can’t do all your exercise at once. or abdominal crunches.country has become so sedentary. add small amounts of exercise to your daily routine. supplement this activity with exercises that build muscular strength and endurance three or more times a week. such as gentle yoga. such as diabetes or risk factors for heart disease. discuss your plans with your physician and undergo a physical exam. one might engage in moderate aerobic exercise most days. resistance band exercises. push-ups. However. or tai chi) for at least thirty minutes. in ten to fifteen minutes. For example. jogging. not exhausted or sore. it’s important for you to have reasonable expectations. start very slowly. Stretching and flexibility exercises.

Muscle weighs more than fat. garbanzo. A total of 6 one-ounce equivalents. so you will become leaner as you continue to exercise. frozen. and energy levels while helping us to stay lean. or canned fruit Vegetables. Nutrition Along with inactivity. assuming a total intake of 2. A total of 2 cups of fresh. or lentils can be counted here or in the meat group. but it burns calories much more efficiently than fat. But intelligent eating can improve mood.  Don’t be discouraged if you gain a little muscle weight as you begin to exercise.) Grains. you might do light resistance or flexibility exercises. The following are the daily intake guidelines given by the USDA (2005) for healthy eating. or cereal. ½ cup cooked rice. where a one-ounce equivalent is a slice of bread. performance. soy/tofu.000 calories per day (the approximate amount considered healthy for most adults): Fruits. or 3 cups popcorn Care for Your Mind by Caring for Your Body 111 . but not in both. The nation’s dietary guidelines are consistent with abundant research linking nutrition to health. overeating is associated with our growing obesity epidemic and a number of diseases.While you watch television. ¼ to ½ cup dry cereal. pasta. A total of 2½ cups of cut-up raw or cooked vegetables (Beans such as black.

or popcorn). Seek a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in different colors. baked goods. the darker and richer the colors. an egg. or ½ ounce of nuts or seeds Milk. A total of 5½ one-ounce equivalents. Although nuts and seeds can be high in calories. lean meats. and/or legumes most or all days. As a general rule. antioxidants. 1 tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise. yellow. quinoa. Plant foods provide fiber. or 2 tablespoons of light salad dressing A quick look at these guidelines reveals that an optimal eating plan derives most of its calories from plant sources. orange. brown rice. found in commercially prepared snacks. minerals. 1 tablespoon of peanut butter. where a one-cup equivalent is 1 cup low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt. bulgur. A one-ounce equivalent of nuts is about a small handful. where a one-ounce equivalent is 1 ounce of cooked fish. and dark-green plant foods.Lean meats and beans. Aim to consume some nuts. or 2 ounces of low-fat or fat-free processed cheese Oils. A total of 3 cups. Needed unsaturated fats are found in fish and vegetable oils. the more nutrients the plant contains. 11 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . Most or all of the grains in a healthy diet will be from whole-grain sources (such as oatmeal. whole wheat. vitamins. So look for red. baking mixes. Try to avoid “trans” or hydrogenated fats. ¼ cup cooked dry beans or soy/tofu. 1½ ounces of low-fat or fat-free natural cheese. and phytochemicals that are all vital for good mental and physical health. poultry. including healthy fats. A total of 6 one-teaspoon equivalents. with olive and canola oils being among the most beneficial plant oils. where a teaspoon equivalent is 1 teaspoon vegetable oil or soft margarine. they contain a number of important nutrients. seeds. and have been found to come with a number of health benefits.

however. The fiber in plant foods. They also tend to follow meal plans that are low in fat and calories. and fried fast foods. with most of their calories coming from complex carbohydrates (in other words. cheese. cookies. bagels. These highweight. we will worry less about what we should avoid. also try to avoid excessive amounts of animal fats. french fries. for example).stick margarine. The following are some other helpful pointers:  Try not to dip below about 1. since this can help to reduce appetite and fatigue. You will want to restrict your intake of sweetened drinks. bacon. tends to keep blood sugar levels steady and thus helps to moderate hunger. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. chips. and dried fruits. crackers.600 calories per day. Consume foods that are high in water volume and/or fiber and low in fat. whole grains. If we focus on obtaining the needed nutrients each day. in part because we’ll be less hungry. since drinking a single can of soda per day can account for gaining about sixteen pounds each year. and cream sauces are best used sparingly. Fluid can be obtained from the food and beverages we consume. for example. while slowing your metabolism and hastening weight gain. Successful dieters have been found to eat breakfast and four or five smaller meals daily. Dry snacks (pretzels. especially if you are not exercising. vegetables. including fruits. from unrefined plant Care for Your Mind by Caring for Your Body   113 . To do so would likely deprive you of needed nutrients. legumes. low energy density foods fill us on fewer calories. and low-fat dairy products. soups.

three servings of fruit. Seventy-two percent of their diet by weight comes from plant foods. On average. such as candy. If you choose to lose weight. averaging about 1. it is thought that the health benefits of living on the island of Okinawa will erode as fast foods and other aspects of modern living are assimilated into their culture. This will help you control portion size. sugary sodas. and eggs). take some of your restaurant meal home. Minimize your intake of refined carbohydrates.800 calories per day. They practice the rule of stopping eating when they are 80 percent sated. and added salt and sugar. If you order dessert. highfructose corn syrup. salt.sources). added fats. do so very gradually (perhaps one-half to two pounds per week). and white bread. 11 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . the diet is low in fat. they consume seven servings of vegetables. consider sharing it.500 calories consumed by Americans. The elderly people there also remain physically and mentally active and take naps. 11 percent from fish. who are known for living long and healthy lives. compared to about 2. Since the portion sizes at restaurants are usually several times larger than the portion sizes eaten at home. Unfortunately. and sugar and is high in complex carbohydrates. combining moderate exercise with carefully selected food choices and portion sizes. The Okinawans’ diet generally adheres to the guidelines we’ve discussed.  Prepare your own meals and avoid restaurant foods as much as possible. Overall. and seven servings of whole grains per day.  How well do these guidelines work? Researchers have studied Okinawans. poultry. and only 3 percent from animal products (meat.

is cultivated from within. and the process benefits from consistent nourishment and constructive effort. and in the best interest of self and others. It’s a common belief that we are born with an upward reach. Developing Character Character is one’s moral. People with character strive to remain true to their . strength. This chapter will explore pathways to inner enrichment.9 S Develop Your Character and Spirituality elf-esteem. There is nothing complicated or exclusive about moral living. decent. and that we feel better about ourselves as we do so. it is not the province of any particular group. or inner. Moral behavior is simply behavior that is good. drawing upon themes that are common across diverse cultures and spiritual traditions. much like happiness. a desire to grow and progress toward our potential.

We might summarize what we know about character:  People today are less concerned with living ethically compared to people in previous decades. self-respect. he was imprisoned by the Russians and dismissed from his government’s service. Studies suggest that many people today lie on a regular basis and cheat at work. Virtuous people have less to fear. Viktor Frankl (1959) observed that many prisoners in the World War II concentration camps became like animals. Sugihara and his wife had decided to follow their consciences simply because that was the right thing to do. can choose the better course. such as peace of conscience. and wholesome pride and dignity. self-confidence.own standards despite pressure. self-trust. Japanese consul to Lithuania. Each person. Chiune Sugihara. it is freely chosen. That is. satisfaction with life. Moral regrets can negatively affect our mental health. A samurai who had been taught to help those in need. Morality involves both avoiding what is wrong and doing what is right for its own sake. feverishly writing visas that saved more than 6. yet some demonstrated the highest character imaginable. At great risk to his career and safety. he said. defied his government. Indeed the word “integrity” suggests a sense of wholeness. Morality is not imposed. being freer of condemnation from others and from self. Committing to ethical living builds self-esteem and related traits. After the war. the quality of our inner experience changes when we betray values that are important to us.000 Jews from the Nazis. even when wrong is done to us. 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem    11 .

They are more likely to be valued by others, especially if they are not judgmental of others. In the peace of conscience that comes with being virtuous, we can see our own wisdom minds reflected.  Carl Jung stated that there can be no morality without freedom. We might reverse this statement and say that without morality there is little inner freedom. That is, without morality, we are prone to become attached to aggression, ego, greed, or appetites. At the root of morality are love and the desire to live in harmony with self and others. Love for self, concern for all beings, and the desire to make the world a better place leads to moral behavior. As Buddha taught, we will not harm others if we truly love ourselves, because harming others destroys our own peace. One can strive for personal goals without stepping on others—instead, we can try to lift others as we climb. Character requires consistent practice. As Chambers (1963) said, we can’t take a moral holiday and still be moral.

Dean John Burt (personal communication) has reasoned that self-esteem requires ethical self-approval. It is difficult to approve of oneself if one hurts the self or others, so the prudent course is to avoid hurting and to seek the good for self and others. Further, neutral behavior brings the risk of labeling oneself as insignificant, so it is also prudent to actively strive to do good.

Develop Your Character and Spirituality

11

reflections
We might ponder the following reflections, drawn from various cultures: “Happiness does not consist in pastimes and amusements, but in virtuous activities.” (Aristotle) “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but triumph of principles.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson) “All God’s creatures are his family; and he is the most beloved of God who does most good to God’s creatures.” (Muhammad) “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” (Helen Keller) “Silver and gold are not the only coin; virtue too passes current all over the world.” (Euripides) “Human dignity … can be achieved only in the field of ethics, and ethical achievement is measured by the degree in which our actions are governed by compassion and love, not by greed and aggressiveness.” (Arnold J. Toynbee) “Character is power.” (Booker T. Washington) “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” (Sir Walter Scott)

11

10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem

“As long as I listen to my conscience I feel peaceful.” (Tim Blanchette) Then you might consider the following questions, suggested by Thomas G. Plante (2004):  Would you trust a business that had cheated you or lied to you? Do you tell “little white lies”? Would someone trust you after catching you in a lie? When is it necessary to compromise your integrity by lying? Would the person you’re talking with be irrevocably damaged by an honest but tactful response to a question like “How does this look?” Or might the person who hears “I don’t think that color flatters you” actually be more likely to trust your opinion in the future? Is it wiser in the long run to say “I stopped for a drink after work” (even though this might require an apology or explanation) than to lie and say “I was working late”? Do you trust yourself more when you do the right thing? Would you feel more inner satisfaction if you were consistently honest and did the right thing more often?

 

Develop Your Character and Spirituality

11

Moral development does not require the imposition of somebody else’s values. altruism. acceptance of differences Courtesy Service. Below is a list of commonly prized character strengths. but committing to those that we desire for ourselves because they are in the best interest of ourselves and others.Exercise: The Kind Character Inventory Certain common virtues are valued in virtually all societies and cultures. truthfulness Fairness Respect of self Respect of others Justice Tolerance. 1. where 0 means that you never demonstrate that strength at all and 10 means that you demonstrate that strength as well as anyone possibly could. Honesty. generosity. Please complete this exercise dispassionately and without judging or condemning yourself. integrity Punctuality (not keeping people waiting) Loyalty. faithfulness Ability to keep confidences 10 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . Rate the degree to which you demonstrate each of the following character strengths from 0 to 10. elevating others Honor.

trustworthiness (doing what is expected. kindness. not littering. 3. eating. what one is paid for. consideration (considering impact of one’s own behaviors on others) Modesty Humility Sexual decency (respecting partner. gambling.Responsibility. not exploiting or manipulating partner) Tact Harmlessness (not hurting others verbally or physically) 2. conserving energy. thoughtfulness. and so on) Environmental stewardship (recycling. substance use. How did it feel? Develop Your Character and Spirituality 11 . dependability. limiting gasoline use. Circle each strength that you would wish to further develop. what one commits to) Courage Temperance (avoiding excesses in spending. Then consider the following: Think of times when you were younger when you acted with integrity in situations involving these strengths. Select two or three of the circled strengths that are most important to you. and so on) Care.

Commit to the cultivation of additional character strengths. using sexual energy in a way that causes harm. Practice this plan now in small ways so that you will be able to apply the character strength later under pressure. which means that we are imperfect and inevitably make choices that are not honorable and constructive. and intoxication (which renders us less able to control our actions). killing or physical violence. in a similar way over the ensuing months. while if something affects your soul. sometimes 1 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . Sharon Salzberg (2004) suggests honoring at least five basic precepts that might help us in gradually cultivating character strengths: refraining from lying (and using harsh speech). Yet we are human. Commit to a plan. We certainly feel better about ourselves when we live honorably and constructively. what would it take for you to achieve this peace? 4. you postpone the cure until next year? —Horace Forgiving Self The human condition presents a dilemma. Pick one of these character strengths and practice it over the next month. one at a time. 5. Why do you hasten to remove anything which hurts your eye.Is your conscience now at peace regarding these strengths? If not. stealing (taking what is not given).

parked nearby. Forgiving helps us to begin again joyfully despite our errors. An elderly woman was returning to her van after shopping in the supermarket.” The men dropped the charges. Putting down her bags. As she approached her van. She felt so bad that she drove to the police station and explained to the sergeant what she had done. If we attach to the missteps and conclude that we are hopelessly bad. She got out and located her own van. Develop Your Character and Spirituality 13 . You see those four young men over there? They just reported that they were accosted by a crazy gray-haired lady with a gun. “That’s okay. she pulled a gun out of her purse and shouted. it can also have other benefits. and the desire to punish or avenge past offenses or wrongdoings. Formerly. we do the wrong thing. apologizing profusely. our self-esteem and motivation to improve will suffer. bitterness. What is forgiveness? Forgiveness means choosing to release resentment. lady. and we make mistakes. when we are just trying to get through life. The sergeant laughed and said. our behaviors fall short of our ideals. Finally she calmed down enough to realize that she was in the wrong van. hatred. We can choose to forgive even when the offender does not deserve it. she saw four young men in it.” The young men quickly ran away. As you’ll see in the following story. However.doing things that hurt ourselves and others. When this happens. In other words. Sometimes. forgiveness is beneficial. Forgiving ourselves allows us a way out of this dilemma. anger. forgiveness was only considered important for spiritual well-being. “I have a gun and I know how to use it. struggling with its many confusing events and choices. recent research has shown that forgiving also results in diverse psychological and medical benefits. The woman got into the van but was shaking so badly that she couldn’t insert the key into the ignition.

in releasing the burden. If we can’t come to terms with our own past wrongdoings. then our present experience becomes colored by shame—we see only the bad in ourselves. Forgiving is not any of the following: Condoning. getting even. and weakened by. or selfcondemnation. We free ourselves from the past. or viewing the offense with casual complacency. It is difficult to be sensitive to others’ needs when we are focused on. realizing that punishing.” We might be planning how we will get even or punish the offender. Such a self-concept saps the joy in our life’s journey: there is no pleasure in unremitting guilt. Completely forgetting.Why do we do this? We forgive in order to dissolve our attachments to the past. 1 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . and we instead take responsibility for our present happiness. excusing. we gain greater control of our lives. we want to preserve the lesson. when forgiving we take responsibility for improving ourselves and ensuring that the offense is not repeated. but release the painful emotions. which becomes a burden that weighs us down and prevents us from moving on. we step back from the battle. Instead. We might think that constantly reliving the offense will prevent its recurrence. our own unhealed wounds. Forgiving ourselves is just as important. we often continue to battle the memory. understanding the damage caused helps us to avoid repeating the offense. In fact. In the battle. Minimizing the damage that has been done. but in reality such replaying tends to diminish the capacity to live well. self-loathing. and judging do not heal. Shame drains the energy we need to respond fully to others’ needs. We stop insisting that the past be changed before we can again be happy. In forgiving. we might be judging the wrongdoer for his or her “badness. Indeed. Paradoxically. Although an offense in our life might be long past.

We cannot control other people’s choices about their behavior. 3. restore what was taken. we can ensure that our own behavior changes. Make amends as much as possible (apologize. Realistically assign responsibility for the offense. and wrong turns can be expected. Realize that the future is still uncharted. Commit to live as honorably and constructively as you can. However. However. Acknowledge the hurt that has been done to others and self by your behavior. 1 . “The more a man knows. For example. not the victim. it may not be wise to reconcile if that person is likely to repeat the offense. a rape victim might blame herself completely because she thinks she was careless.” The following steps can help us to apply forgiveness to ourselves. reconciliation with and restoring trust in self is the goal after forgiving oneself. we must do our best to make sure that we are harmless if we are to be happy.Allowing offenses to continue. When the wrongdoer is someone else. the more he forgives. Sit with this idea and consider it in a kind. A more realistic view is that the perpetrator was responsible for the crime. and so on). the Basic stePs of forgiving self Confucius said. Develop Your Character and Spirituality 2. nonjudgmental way. This is all anyone can do. using what you now know. 1. Reconciling with or trusting the offender. Indeed.

we recognize that we have the potential to change and to reclaim the goodness within us. We can accept mistakes as a part of our history and then move on in life. it is just a thought. Remember that who you are at the core is bigger than your isolated decisions. it is only destructive to think. Be willing to constantly feel imperfect. After we respond to guilt. bad choices. nor does it mean that the core value is lost. A bad decision made one day or during a particular period is not the essence of who you are. just as we do all other emotions. It is unkind to condemn oneself for doing so.” This is not who you are. Without conscience there would be no morality. Being imperfect. 193) reminds us that we do not come with owner’s manuals. I can get up and back on the path. 6. If we have stumbled off a path we value. In forgiving ourselves. “You see. so “respectfully decline your mind’s invitation to beat yourself up for not knowing what was in the owner’s manual you were never given … You did the best you could at the time. You know more now. it has done its job and we can release it. Guilt is a beautiful emotion that alerts us when something is wrong so that we may achieve peace with our conscience. “Imperfect people stumble.” Judge behaviors.4. So we can greet guilt cordially and with acceptance. they only point out areas to improve. does not negate worth or forever disqualify us from trying anew. Make friends with guilt. I knew I couldn’t do it.” 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem 5. To be human is to err. Wrong turns don’t define us or invalidate our core worth. It would be much better to accept disappointment and think. as all of us are. Hayes (2005. not core worth. 1 . or wrong turns. A wrong turn doesn’t mean we can’t correct course and get back on track.

One who does wrong might be suffering or ignorant of how to get his or her needs met constructively. If you have done your best to rectify the offense and correct your course so you’ll be less likely to do it again.7. Question: Answer: Question: Why did she do that? Because she’s imperfect. let yourself off the hook. Be a good Parent to yourself Some are too easy on themselves. Others (perhaps including you. The beginner’s mind keeps us open to who we are and what we may become. One way to do this is to learn how to care for ourselves when we are feeling pain over something that happened in the past. Thinking “I’m no good” attaches us to the past in a negative and narrow way. But regardless of our backgrounds. 9. instead it motivates us to reengage with life in a productive way. It is said that no one in his or her right mind will intentionally do a hurtful thing. Keep doing these things. Continue doing good. Reflect upon the good things you’ve done in the past. Let the offender off the hook. since you’ve chosen to read this book) are too hard on themselves. This view is not limited by what we did in the past. Consider the internal dialogue a parent might have about a beloved daughter who feels bad about a past mistake. viewing extremely hurtful actions casually. 8. we can learn to become good parents to ourselves. Maintain the beginner’s mind. Does she deserve forgiveness? Develop Your Character and Spirituality 1 .

guilt and self-destructive Pride A certain kind of self-defeating pride can keep us attached to guilt. I’ll reclaim her and free her to learn and grow. Do I want her to suffer continuously for the mistake? No. Does she deserve punishment? Yes. Why not? Because I love her and want her to progress and be happy.” “me. if justice is to be served. Only this time. So what’s the best thing to do? Instead of condemning her and fixating on her faults. She is guilty of the offense. I forgive her.” and “myself.Answer: Question: Answer: Question: Answer: Question: Answer: Question: Answer: Not really. Question: Answer: Now go through this dialogue again. replace the words “she” and “her” with “I. but knowing her I’m pretty sure she’ll try her best to avoid repeating this mistake. Below are the thoughts of self-defeating pride and their rejoinders: 1 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . Lingering guilt will only hold her back. In short.” as appropriate. Do I trust her completely to be perfect and never again make a mistake? No.

which causes us to say “I am no good and will never improve. Let ego and judgment dissolve in favor of loving-kindness. “If I try hard enough I’ll be perfect and measure up to my idealized image.” Again. Maybe you could stop judging and condemning yourself and instead focus on improving your skills or behavior. Everyone already suffers from having shortcomings.“Other people do those kinds of things. instead of judgment.” If you try very hard. “Someone who doesn’t meet his or her goals perfectly doesn’t deserve to feel good. Develop Your Character and Spirituality 1 . punishment. That person should be punished. a mistake means we are fallible. We can learn to hold this suffering with compassion. Maybe you could stop comparing yourself to others and simply focus on what you are presently choosing and doing. but I’m better than others and I should have known better.” Yes. Nevertheless. We can feel satisfaction from knowing that we are striving to do the right thing in the best way that we know. and condemnation. but you’ll always fall short of perfection. Release shame. This is what humans do.” Why should you have known better? Are you expecting to be more perfect than you are? Perhaps you could accept that you’re imperfect. just like everyone else. we are still infinitely worthwhile and capable of overcoming our mistakes and changing course. Compassion is a much stronger motivator. which doesn’t ever disqualify that person from trying again and feeling good. one who falls short of one’s ideal is fallible. you’ll likely approach your potential.

I could stand it no longer and blurted out the story to her. “Somebody knows who broke those slides.” I thought. Returning home. I was really afraid to go back to the room. the teacher said. She said. I was getting very cold. because the problem-solving mind wants to fix and get rid of problems. Once we came inside. I quickly ran back outside. external problems such as a flat tire. You won’t be allowed to return to get them. “It’s 130 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . I won’t be cold. “Take your coats with you to recess. I felt really bad and my mother knew something was wrong. Sometimes one must first heal before letting go of old offenses that have affected us internally. Once outside. and I was clearly freezing to death. Those who are spiritually inclined might find comfort in the story below. my teacher said. in a small country church in Maine. One Sunday. but reasoned it was better to risk my teacher’s wrath than to freeze to death. This approach works wonderfully for concrete. the pastor gathered the children around him and told them this tale: When I was a young grade-school boy in Colorado. Along with the coat came a box of brand new microscope slides crashing down and breaking into pieces all over the floor. and some feel that divine assistance facilitates this process. Finally. however.forgiving is difficult It can be difficult to let go of an offense. Can anyone tell me who it was?” I just hung my head and kept my mouth shut for the rest of the day. It does not usually work for internal problems such as the memory of an event in our past. Back in the closet where the coats were hung I grabbed my coat and pulled it down. no problem. but I said nothing. which I call the “Parable of the Broken Microscope Slides” (Shupe 2006). So I snuck back into the classroom.

or misstep) that still troubles you. so you can pay fifty cents and that will cover the damage. but I will pay my whole allowance of twenty-five cents a week. But I went in and told the teacher: “I was just freezing and tried to get my coat and I didn’t mean for the slides to break. Don’t hide from God when you make a mistake. Identify a previous wrong turn (decision. but turn to Him in your weakness to experience His healing love and mercy.” I had exactly fifty cents in the bank and so was extremely relieved. Develop Your Character and Spirituality 131 . Just tell your teacher what happened and offer to pay for the slides. Don’t ever assume that you’ve done something so bad that God won’t forgive and love you. The moral of the story: God is in the business of loving and forgiving.okay. Instead we can try the mindfulness method of letting the memory into our awareness completely and holding it with compassion. behavior. The thought that God doesn’t forgive people because of mistakes is just a thought. Remember that trying to erase a memory doesn’t usually work very well. “I noticed that only two slides were broken. He said. 1. and was too embarrassed to tell you.” At that point the teacher stretched the truth considerably.” At the time I was only getting twenty-five cents a week for allowance and figured I’d be thirty-seven by the time I finished paying. Exercise: Forgiving Self This activity combines mindfulness and ACT skills that have been introduced in previous chapters.

2.” “I’m so disappointed in myself. Milk.” “I lost my innocence. Fully accept the suffering that you caused to yourself and others. look at the first feeling word on your list from step 3 and welcome it into your awareness. In doing this. Milk exercise in chapter 3. Do this without judging or emotionally reacting. Recall the Milk. This process might look like this: Thought “I’m no good. and then you repeated the word “milk” aloud as fast as you could for forty-five seconds. people usually notice that the meaning of the word falls away and the word simply becomes a sound.” “I lost my family’s confidence. Now. Reduce each thought to a single word or two that describes the associated feeling. holding it with complete acceptance and kindness. Whatever you think and feel is okay. Make a list of the resulting thoughts (such as “I’m no good” and “That was such a dumb thing to do”).” “I lost my sense of playfulness. 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem 13 . 4.” “I fear that this will be discovered.” “I hurt someone. In this exercise you fully experienced milk in your mind. Repeat the word aloud as fast as you can for forty-five seconds.” Feeling Bad Disappointed Embarrassed Shame Numb Sad Grief 3.

thoughts. May I be whole. Breathe into the memory. then calm yourself. breathe out and release the memory. letting awareness of the memory dissolve as you exhale.5. happy. May I be forgiven. When you have finished. 8. I seek to heal so that I will be harmless to others. and let it settle. Repeat this process for the other feeling words. Form the intention to forgive. or sensations compassionately. May he or she progress. and useful. May anyone I’ve hurt be whole and happy. in the vast loving-kindness of the wisdom mind. holding it and any associated feelings. Wisdom tells me I am nothing. —Nisargadatta Maharaj Develop Your Character and Spirituality 133 . Love tells me I am everything. When you are ready. Say the following in your mind: For each time I have failed to meet my expectations and harmed myself or others I offer forgiveness. With a soft and open heart. Don’t judge the feelings or try to get rid of them. 6. May I release the pain. 7. sit with the memory that has bothered you. May I progress.

and Forsyth 2006) can aid in the difficult process of forgiving. Although forgiving an offender might not change that person. McKay. forgiving others frees us from carrying a heavy load and permits us to experience our core self more favorably. he explained that he truly loved the offender and embraced his parents. Allow your eyes to simply watch the candle flame. then sit comfortably in the meditator’s position (feet flat on floor. Try spending at least fifteen minutes each day doing this exercise. During the Los Angeles race riots of 1992. spine comfortably erect. forgiving helps the offender change. hands resting in the lap). As is the case with forgiving the self. bring your attention to the gentle rising and falling of your breath in your chest and 13 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . This is because the monks see the offenders as people who are suffering. Forgiving is the kind thing to do for oneself. Exercise: The Candle of Forgiveness The following powerful strategy (Eifert. The authors explain that we can’t develop compassion if we are running away from our experience. The Dalai Lama has explained that Tibetan monks who have been tortured by the Chinese don’t typically suffer posttraumatic stress disorder. beaten. and they respond with compassion for them and for themselves. though not always. Light a candle. Sometimes. and severely injured. upper body relaxed.Forgiving Others It is stressful to remain angry and bitter about past offenses committed by others. it is also the kind thing to do for others. Reginald Denny was dragged from the truck he was driving. Such feelings cover the true self. The offender’s mother said that Denny’s response began the process of softening her son’s anger. Although he was angry. As you watch the flicker of the candle flame. it is an act of strength that changes the forgiver’s experience.

Simply acknowledge and become aware of your experience. Notice each breath. pain. Don’t try to fight what you experience. Step 1: Acknowledge the Wrong and Hurt Underneath the Anger Now allow your awareness to shift to a recent situation where you became angry. see if you can slow the anger situation down. As you do. Like ocean waves coming in and out. Allow yourself to become more aware of your hurt and painful emotions [such as any feelings of fear. See if you can allow yourself to visualize the scene fully. See if you can make room for the pain and hurt you had then and that you may be reliving now. loneliness. and as you breathe out. Don’t blame. abandonment. bring your attention to any sensations of discomfort that show up. and Develop Your Character and Spirituality 13 . inadequacy. What happened? Who else was there? Watch the candle as you acknowledge the anger situation unfolding in your mind’s eye. or being devalued by self or others]. regret. Notice its rhythm in your body. sadness. With each slow breath.belly. loss. Open up to all of it: the hurt. Soften to it … as you breathe in … and out … in and out. like a slow-motion movie. Step 2: Separate Hurtful Actions from Your Hurt and Its Source Visualize the person who hurt you. As you begin to visualize that person. allow them to drift over to the candle and become the candle. Notice the changing patterns of sensations in your belly as you breathe in. bring an attitude of generous allowing and gentle acceptance to your experience right now. Focus on your breathing as you watch the situation unfold. Focus on the candle as the person who hurt you. Take a few minutes to feel the physical sensations as you inhale and exhale. As best you can. and simply acknowledge the hurt you experienced and the hurt you may have caused. Focus on each inhale … and exhale. your breath is always there. and resentment.

you can visualize the action that hurt you as the flame and the person who committed the hurt as the candlestick. allow it to disappear up into the heat leaving the candle flame. At a basic human level. give yourself time to connect with this difference. bring your attention back to the human being symbolized by the candle—the perpetrator of wrongs against you. The flame is not the candlestick. the two of you are not that different. or whatever else your body may be doing. and deeply. notice what your mind. create some space between the actions that made you feel hurt and angry and the person who committed them. Bring a gentle and kind awareness to your pain and hurt as you breathe in … and out … in … and out … slowly. simply label them—“There is judgment … blame … tension … resentment”—and allow them to be. As you focus on the candle. As you breathe in and out. the language machine. Notice the difference between the flame and the candle. and then see the difference between the hurtful action and the person who committed it. Step 3: Bring Compassionate Witness to Your Hurt Next. If it helps. Make room for what you experience as you return your attention to your body and your breathing. Then. Don’t change or fix anything. hurt. just like you. and notice it. and the sensations that come up. Notice how he or she is also a person who is vulnerable to harm. The actions of the person who hurt you are not the same as the person who committed them. See if you can allow yourself to take his or her perspective as a compassionate witness—see what life might be like through that 13 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem .remember what happened. You might see your mind passing judgment … blaming … and lingering over feelings of sadness … bitterness … resentment. label it. Next. after you spend some time noticing each action. Keep watching any tension. Bring each hurtful action into the flame. not who did it. one by one. discomfort. As these and other thoughts and sensations come into your awareness. anger. Visualize what was done. is doing.

Allow all of it to drift away with each out breath. hurts and sadness. and without carrying the weight of bitterness. Without condoning that person’s actions. Perhaps you can feel the burden and weight of past hurts and unresolved anger begin to lift from your shoulders. knowing that you’ve also experienced similar types of thoughts and feelings. Deeply. and anger. and resentment toward the person who hurt you. Connect with his or her hardships. bring an attitude of generous allowing and gentle acceptance to what you experience now.person’s eyes. see if you can connect more deeply with that person as another human being. and with each in breath welcome peace and forgiveness. What might it be like to have lived the life of the person who offended you? As best you can. missed opportunities. poor choices. pain. Step 4: Extend Forgiveness. hopes and dreams. Allow yourself to take the courageous step forward in your life of letting go of your anger and resentment. and Move On Now see if you can bring into awareness what your life would be like if you let go of all the negative energy you are holding on to—your grievances. Take time to really connect with this relief as you imagine yourself separating from the resentment and bitterness you have carried for so long. Notice the offender’s thoughts and feelings. and suffering. bring into your awareness how you have needed other people’s forgiveness in the past. Imagine extending Develop Your Character and Spirituality 13 . faults and failings. anger. Let Go. losses. loss. See if you can connect with your future without [forgetting] about what has happened in the past. Continue to breathe in … and out. Connect with the reasons behind why you want to be free from anger and the desire for revenge. When you’re ready. As a compassionate witness to this other human being. bitterness. grudges. Allow yourself to visualize an alternative future full of the things you have missed out on or given up by not offering forgiveness. hardships. see if you can connect with his or her humanity and imperfections as you connect with your own humanity and imperfections. Slowly.

bring awareness back into the room. not for others. and the flicker of the candle flame.” Repeat these phrases slowly as you extend forgiveness. If releasing resentment is difficult. notice any discomfort showing up and how your mind is reacting. Gently extend your hands as you say. and your readiness to move on with your life. notice some budding feelings of softness where before there was only hardness. I invite peace and compassion into my life and into my hurt and pain. Return your focus to your breathing as you remind yourself that kind and gentle acts of forgiveness are for you. In letting go of my anger toward you. What could you say to that person now? As you think about this. to your body.that forgiveness to the person who hurt or offended you. Sometimes we cling to resentment. I choose to let go of this burden that I have been carrying for so long. Each attempt 13 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . As you give the powerful gift of forgiveness. Then. “In forgiving you. Finish this exercise by blowing out the candle as a symbolic gesture of your commitment to forgive and let go. Embrace this moment of peace as you return to the image of the person who offended you. I bring peace to myself. thinking that it will protect us from being hurt again. Imagine the weight of the burden being lifted from you as you choose to give forgiveness. just notice that thought and gently let it go. when you’re ready. Sense the emotional relief that comes when the burden of a grudge is melting away. and pain. accept that difficulty without judging. hurt. Stay with and simply observe and label whatever thoughts and feelings come up as you extend this act of forgiveness. See if you can notice the peace and feeling of inner strength that comes about as you extend compassion and forgiveness in this moment. If the thought “The person doesn’t deserve that” shows up. I forgive myself. Allow yourself to connect with the sense of healing and control that comes along with this.

and extended longevity. Peacock and Poloma found that perceived closeness to God was the strongest correlate of life satisfaction across the life course. church or synagogue attendance. meaning “with. greater life satisfaction. age. closeness to god The word contemplation derives from two Latin roots: con. and church attendance. Continue to extend healing compassion to your hurts. using Gallup Poll data on adults age eighteen to ninety-eight. people who feel close to God often report feeling a deeper sense of security and an affirmation of their worth. or peace during prayer). R. This seems to be supported by research in recent decades indicating that spirituality and religious involvement offer wide-ranging psychological and physical benefits— including less anxiety. For example.” Thus. improved marital satisfaction. spiritual contemplation implies making room in our Develop Your Character and Spirituality 13 . meaning “a space to meditate. Poloma (1999) investigated relationships between life satisfaction and religious and spiritual variables. church or synagogue membership. M. and physical disease. substance use. followed by prayer experience (feeling God’s presence. inspiration.” and templus. suicide. marital status. J. and practicing various types of prayer. Previous research (Pollner 1989) had found that one’s relationship with God was a stronger correlate of life satisfaction than race.is useful. income. Spiritual Contemplation Just as people who feel bonded to loving adults tend to feel a sense of inner security. Peacock and M. depression. Additional healing may need to precede forgiveness.

communion. and connection. or various other titles. the Absolute. One Being. In many spiritual traditions. These purposes are suggested by the following reflections: “Heaven means to be one with God.” (Confucius) “When my father and my mother forsake me. An intention shared by most spiritual traditions is to help individuals draw closer to God. Adonai (Supreme Being). Source of All Being. might be addressed as the One.” (Moses Maimonides) “God is at home. Providence. ‘Lord. the Beloved.” (Matthew 11:28) “[When Peter] exclaimed. then the Lord will take me up. We are the ones who have gone out for a walk. trusting in God.” (Meister Eckhart) “Come unto me. depending upon one’s tradition. who.” (Swami Sivananda) “The highest aim of man: the knowledge of God. Lord. sensing divine union. you will see Him everywhere.lives to experience God’s presence. Master of the Universe. Creative Power. all ye that labour and are heavy laden. Allah. Shekkinah (Indwelling One). Compassionate One. resting and refreshing in God’s loving presence. the purposes of spiritual contemplation are described as detaching from thought and opening ourselves to God’s nearness.” (Psalms 27:10) “When you have succeeded in enshrining God within your heart. Father.’ Christ’s answer to 10 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . bid me come unto thee on the water. Abba (in Aramaic this is an intimate form of address used by children for their father). and I will give you rest. and finding the sacred in ourselves and in everyday moments. experiencing an intimate. if it be thou. loving relationship with God. Higher Power.

that they also may be one in us.” (Sacred tradition attributed to Muhammad) “Whenever we find mention of God’s greatness.” (Exodus 31:14–15) “In giving ourselves to God.” (Albert Schweitzer) “My presence shall go with thee and I will give thee rest. and I in thee.” (Anonymous) “Know ye not … that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) Develop Your Character and Spirituality 11 . we also find mention of His humility.” (John 17:21) “Man does not need a tour of the world’s cathedrals to come in contact with the deity. the One moves ten steps closer to you.” (Kabir Edmund Helminski) “The Lord is my shepherd … He leadeth me beside the still waters …” (Psalms 23:1–2) “That they all may be one. Father. if you love enough you will come into the presence of Love itself.” (Talmud) “Whether you love God or love a human being. as thou. He is great enough that a single human being can be as significant to Him as an entire universe.him was as it always is every time: ‘Come. He just needs to look within. art in me. Those who call on God with sincerity will find the living presence of that God within themselves.” (Rumi) “What we love we become. To do this one must sit still. Holland) “As you move one step toward the One.’” (Jeffrey R. we discover who we really are.

You might wish to stretch. getting beneath the thoughts of the ordinary mind. and good humor. fear.Exercise: Spiritual Contemplation God speaks in the silence of the heart … and we listen. patience. When thoughts arise (such as “I don’t think I’m doing this right”.) 1. walk. Close your eyes.” “peace. Sit in the meditator’s posture (feet flat on the floor.” “near.” “calm.” “one. “This feels really good—I don’t want it to end”. hatred. Prepare your body and mind. Don’t judge the wandering mind. If you find it helpful. and begin. Remember the attitudes of mindfulness. —Mother Teresa This meditation typically takes about twenty to thirty minutes. 4. acceptance. (You might consider prerecording this script or having someone read it aloud to you. especially compassion. 3. or bathe before starting. Peacefully watch your breath. Allow the agitated water of the soul to also settle and become clear … quiet … still. Anchor in your breathing. Let your mind and body settle in your breath. 1 .” or “Abba”) or phrase (such as “divine 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem 2. Find a place where you won’t be disturbed. and “What if this doesn’t work?”) just recognize these as thoughts. “I do not deserve to do this”. As well as you can. back comfortably erect. and bring your attention back to resting in your breath. release anger. say silently or aloud several times a soothing word (such as “love. hands resting in the lap). nonjudgment. and any other negative attachments.

enjoy sexual intimacy. Then let that smile and feeling of contentment spread throughout your body. perhaps you also recognize the creative power hidden in you … that you belong … a valued part of the larger whole … a universe where all things are interconnected. And now turn inwardly toward God … aware of God’s loving-kindness … receptive to God’s presence. simple stillness … In your own way open to Develop Your Character and Spirituality 6. cold water or clear water to bathe in … the fragrance of mowed grass or flowers … the breeze on your skin … clouds … a bed to sleep in … what the body can do—move. Whatever you feel is okay. speak … tasty food … toothpaste.” or “love of God”). each created individual. helper. 5. (Perhaps you think of the smiles of loved ones … a drink of clear. Notice what comes to awareness. Allow feelings of gratitude and happiness to rest in your body. Repeating the word or phrase for a while helps to quiet the mind. whether it is comfort … security … warmth … contentment … light … or just quiet. Spend a few moments pondering all the divine gifts that inspire feelings of gratitude … anything great or small that blesses your life or helps you … anything beautiful and good. Let a half smile form on your face and notice how that feels. Meditate on this love for a few moments. And we refer to this creative power in the universe in an intimate way. calling God our Lord. 13 . Take a slightly deeper breath and let it go. 7. tender loving-kindness and mercy. protector.) As you notice the creative power hidden in all of these.” “closer to Thee. comforter … and appreciate that the master of creation cares for. And now consider God’s infinite.presence. and is near to. You might see yourself picking up your concerns and approaching God … reaching toward … with a soft and open heart … feeling God’s presence nearer.

guidance in decisions. or concerns). healing communion … with the wonder of the beginner’s mind … not trying to make anything happen. we can choose to release habits that are self-destructive or harmful to others and choose to go about doing good in a variety of ways (such as rendering small acts of kindness 1 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . one can be holy in any state or position in life. 9. breathing gently. and living in a holy way are also ways of opening ourselves to God’s nearness. but patiently receptive to whatever way you experience divine presence in the quiet stillness of your heart. slowly open your eyes. 8. When you are ready. plans. conversation (speaking in your own language and words and talking over problems. gratitude. and that you can repeat this meditation. Reading sacred writings. Mother Teresa taught that holiness is a simple duty for everyone. Rest in that quiet peacefulness and security for several minutes.that presence … Release. other Ways to draW closer to god Spiritual contemplation is but one way to experience closeness to God. doing acts of service (sometimes called “love in action”). Prayer can be ritualistic (as in reading from a book of prayers or reciting a memorized prayer) or expressed from the heart. and petition (asking for assistance. or forgiveness). Praying is another complementary path. and it can come in the form of adoration or praise. and rest in God’s loving presence … feeling at home … peaceful. Be aware that you can remember divine presence throughout the day. relax. attending worship services. In so doing.

says that repentance is changing the direction in which one is looking for happiness. —Cicero Develop Your Character and Spirituality 1 . The spirit is the true self.to family members). who writes extensively on contemplation. Father Thomas Keating (1992). not that physical figure which can be pointed out by your finger.

.

lets us look forward to a satisfying life. So it is best to learn the skills in this chapter last. persisting in doing what is working. among other things. and relapse prevention. . and self-love. But there is a driven. This chapter will explore three remaining processes related to self-esteem and life satisfaction: personality development. joyless quality in trying to improve when these foundation stones are lacking. Life satisfaction is built upon emotional intelligence skills (such as healing and taking care of ourselves emotionally). cultivating meaning and purpose. after you have worked to boost your feeling of self-worth. and cultivating meaning and purpose.10 O Look Ahead ptimism. personal growth. Personality Development: Opening to What We May Become Personality development becomes enjoyable when the secure foundations of unconditional worth and unconditional love are in place. which correlates with self-esteem.

The journey can be traveled with a kind and playful attitude. attentive. and we wouldn’t wish to become just like somebody else. resolute Open to new experiences Sense of wonder/delight/awe Playful Warm Sincere Comfortable with the full range of emotions Grateful Courteous Attuned to others. inviting Vulnerable (does anyone enjoy those who think they’re perfect?) Strong Hardworking Thoughtful Safe. Think about the enjoyable aspects of people you know—friends. neighbors. coworkers. children. willing to bend) Gentle Enthusiastic Friendly. never fully completed. Consider the below list of traits that are generally valued in people: Appreciative Determined. comfortable to be with 1 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . We don’t change overnight. but we can trust ourselves to cultivate our latent personality traits in a way that is unique to ourselves.We call personality development a process because it is ongoing. or famous people. relatives. interested Courageous (persists despite fear) Respectful Flexible (not rigid. adaptable.

which would they be? Circle these. Man’s only legitimate end in life is to finish God’s work—to bring to full growth the capacities and talents implanted in us.Calm Articulate Organized Humble Patient Poised. or smiling at salesclerks would make you and others feel. Then simply be open to cultivating these traits in your life. if you’d like to cultivate courtesy. You might meditate from time to time on how your life would be different if these traits were more fully developed. doing nice things for others. you might reflect upon how saying thank you. just for fun. —Eric Hoffer Look Ahead 1 . self-motivated Forgiving Self-reliant (not needy) Encouraging Steady Adventurous Kind Tactful Upbeat (doesn’t dwell on negatives) Curious Can you think of other traits that you would add? If you were to select five personality traits to cultivate. The wonderful thing is that personality growth can continue even as our aging bodies decline. For example. graceful Fun loving Independent. letting drivers go in front of you.

Survivor’s pride. The gifted teacher Chieko Okazaki relates that when she was a child her mother would say. a common theme across cultures is that those who think of others and aim to better the world discover greater happiness and awareness of their inner worth. which she feels privileged to use. she simply said. They also derive from the use of these strengths to benefit others. “Come and see. The famous concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl (1959) observed that knowing one’s life has meaning and purpose confers a calm inner strength that enables people to endure great suffering.Meaning and Purpose Self-esteem correlates highly with one’s sense of meaning and purpose. Studies have shown that defining success primarily in material ways leads to poorer psychological adjustment. which Aristotle described as a pathway to happiness. includes individuals (1) discovering that they have an existing inner strength that is greater than adversity. People who understand this early in life are fortunate. In the Japanese culture.” We can 10 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem .” Pretty soon she learned to see what was needed and then help without being asked. “I’m looking for a kigatsuku girl to help me with the dishes. Frankl explained that the concentration camps caused some to sink to depravity. felt by resilient people who have lived through great suffering. she might pick up trash in a public bathroom. kigatsuku is the inner spirit that helps us see the needs of others and help without being told. Traveling widely today doing public service. explaining that helping is everybody’s job. but others rose to greater heights of character and selfless service. However. and (2) knowing that their lives still have meaning and purpose. How might we make the world a better place? There are many ways. Meaning and purpose derive from discovering and developing character and personality strengths. When someone asked Mother Teresa how he might help her.

A salesclerk might be tired after a long day of dealing with demanding customers. S. Another might view it as creating an environment that helps educators teach and a generation of children to learn. or hide these. This could involve artistic expression (such as painting or poetry). or picking up litter on your walking path. Habitat for Humanity. C. worries. An empathic smile or a word of thanks for her service might go a long way. McKay. or strangers. you can think about what it would be like to be in another person’s shoes and see how your behaviors affect that person. Eifert. or encouragement. Perhaps she would appreciate receiving a simple greeting from the guests she cleans for. Or. and do it as best we can. a listening ear. and Forsyth 2006) reminds us that we all carry burdens—perhaps memories. This might mean providing physical help (such as cleaning or giving a ride) or giving a smile. one janitor might view his job as simply cleaning and getting rid of trash. or fears. inventing. or a political campaign). Remember that you are driving. take a detour. Simple expressions of help can be given to family. Hayes (2005. if we have the means. self-doubts. Plante (2004) reminds us that the hotel housekeeper cleans up others’ messes and might be ignored by the guests. For example. coworkers. even with these imperfections. Rather than trying to ignore. Additionally.simply observe what needs to be done. not being driven. Another way to make the world better is to beautify or improve our environment for the sake of others. you can think of them as passengers on the bus that you are driving through life. deny. Choose a pace that is comfortable. Look Ahead 11 . sprucing up your home or workplace. you can think of your job as a way to contribute. friends. or let them drive. we might donate time or money to a worthwhile cause (such as a soup kitchen. but you needn’t listen to every demand to stop. Further. You compassionately acknowledge that they are aboard. Mothers Against Drunk Driving. partially healed wounds. In this way we can move ahead purposefully in life.

we improve our skills with practice. The principle is that we are less likely to be thrown by a difficult situation if we are prepared for it. firefighters. —Albert Einstein Relapse Prevention We have explored many useful skills for building self-esteem. helping to preserve self-esteem in the face of adversity.You can’t do everything. As is the case with learning to play an instrument or a sport. The final skill. This is how well-trained athletes. relapse prevention. and you can’t do it all at once. But you can experience the security and satisfaction of doing what you can do. during. There is no greater satisfaction for a just and well-meaning person than the knowledge that he has devoted his best energies to the service of the good cause. and other individuals anticipating stressful situations prepare—they rehearse what they will think and do before. and after encountering a distressing or challenging event. warriors. These skills can soften the blows of difficult life situations. will allow you to anticipate and develop a coping plan for a difficult situation that could threaten your self-esteem. 1 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem .

it won’t be the end of the world. Relax and do what you can.          This could be difficult and challenging. I view it as an opportunity. I’m not afraid to risk and fall short. Place a check by any statement that might be useful in coping with such a difficult situation. I’ll focus on doing what I can and not worry about how things turn out. If I don’t. Before 2. It will be fun to succeed. Identify a difficult situation that could undermine your self-esteem. or criticism. I’ll take a breath and do the best I can. I’ll still be a worthwhile person. This is an opportunity to stretch myself. because I know that my worth comes from within. not from my performance. If I stay calm and do my best there’s a good chance that I’ll do well. This might be something like performing poorly on an important task. mistreatment. I’ll gain useful experience. Look Ahead 13 .Exercise: Stress Inoculation 1. No matter what happens. Nobody’s perfect. even if I fall short of my goal. failing to meet important personal goals. or encountering a situation that could lead to rejection.

I have as much right as anyone to try at this. That went well. 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . Remember to laugh.               I’ll aim for an excellent job. I’ll be okay inside. It’s too bad that things aren’t more perfect. not perfection. but it’s not a catastrophe. That’s all anyone can ask of a person. and I won’t worry too much about the outcome. Sometimes we just have days like this. Things needn’t go perfectly. and frustration. I may not be perfect. tension. Keep trucking. I accept that this is a difficult situation. (Worries take us off task. I’ll feel the satisfaction of giving this my best shot. Whatever I feel is okay. but I know that I’m still cool inside. It’s natural to feel fear. Other statements: After If things went well:  1 I did a good job. Other statements: During Stay calm and focus on the task.) Easy does it—one step at a time. I’ll calmly size things up and then handle it as well as I know how. Whatever happens.

I’ll try a different approach next time. I’m still a worthwhile person. so I didn’t do as well as I wanted to today. Even though my skills weren’t adequate for the task. Even if people judge me harshly. I have the right to learn from this and try again. It’s fun to tackle challenges and do well. now what? What’s the best thing I can do now? This.                  I tried my best and feel satisfied with the outcome. Everyone makes mistakes. Eventually I’ll figure out how to succeed at this. Because of this disappointment I will be especially compassionate toward myself. Other statements: If things didn’t go well: I’m new at this. Look Ahead 1 . I feel satisfaction in knowing that I tried my best. That’s water under the bridge. That really was a difficult situation. Despite the outcome. A slip isn’t permanent. Even though I’m disappointed. I can view the situation kindly. I’m worthwhile as a person. too. Okay. will pass. Okay. Perhaps with rest and more practice I can improve.

in which you can walk with love and reverence. will this really matter? Other statements: Write down several of your favorite statements from each category. take this opportunity to review them to identify the principles and skills that are most useful for you. You can prepare for any difficult situation in this way. (If you have not read the previous chapters. and after confronting the difficult situation until you feel reasonably confident in your ability to cope with the situation. you might use your daily thought record and defusing skills. Where there is life there is hope. —Henry David Thoreau 1 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . Then list what you will do before. as you implement preplanned strategies. During the difficult situation. and use your mastery and competence imagery to build confidence. before confronting the situation you might wish to exercise and do the body scan to calm down. and after the difficult situation.   3. you might wish to relax your body and breathe mindfully to remain calm. Years from now. If you have read the preceding chapters. return to this step after doing so. during. For example. smile meditation. sitting with emotions. Pursue some path. during. mindful mirror. Afterward. 5.) Mentally rehearse what you will do and say before. and forgiving skills. 4. and your cognitive rehearsal. however narrow and crooked.

Recommended Resources

Books and Videos on Self-Esteem and Emotional Well-Being
Coopersmith, S. The Antecedents of Self-Esteem. San Francisco, CA: Freeman. A scholarly work about the causes and consequences of various levels of self-esteem. Rosenberg, M. Society and the Adolescent Self-Image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Another scholarly classic. Hayes, S. C., with S. Smith. Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications. This brilliant book explores the suffering we create in our minds by futilely trying to get rid of our histories. It teaches how

to accept and then disengage from our inner battles, so that we can live a valued life. ACT has been found to reduce depression and anxiety and is useful for self-esteem issues. Dr. Seuss. Oh, The Places You’ll Go. New York: Random House. A clever, humorous treatise on human growth and fallibility. Written for children. Or is it? Mother Teresa: A Film by Ann and Jeanette Petrie with a Narration by Richard Attenborough. Petrie Productions. Videocassette. San Francisco: Dorason Corp. A powerful object lesson in unconditional love. Although this is out of production, it is well worth the search. Kevin Miller. 20/20 Downtown. Segment Two, 1/20/00. ABC News Home Video. Videocassette. A morbidly obese person nevertheless manages to preserve self-esteem. Schiraldi, G. R. The Self-Esteem Workbook. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications. Based on the successful “Stress and the Healthy Mind” course, University of Maryland. Contains detailed instructions for many effective skills. Schiraldi, G. R. The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook: A Guide to Healing, Recovery and Growth. Chicago: McGraw-Hill. “The most valuable, user-friendly manual on PTSD I have ever seen. Must reading for victims, their families, and their therapists,” according to Dr. George Everly, Executive Editor, International Journal of Emergency Mental Health. Schiraldi, G. R., and M. H. Kerr. The Anger Management Sourcebook. Chicago: McGraw-Hill. Problem anger may be an expression of self-dislike. This book offers more practical skills on forgiving. “A must for those who are serious about managing their anger more effectively,” accord-

1

10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem

ing to Dr. R. J. Hedaya, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Georgetown University Hospital. Schiraldi, G. R. World War II Survivors: Lessons in Resilience. Ellicott City, MD: Chevron. Extraordinary survivors describe the strengths that enabled them to function under extreme duress, preserve sanity, and return to lead productive lives. Self-esteem is an important component of resilience. Schiraldi, G. R. Conquer Anxiety, Worry and Nervous Fatigue: A Guide to Greater Peace. Ellicott City, MD: Chevron. Anxiety and self-esteem are highly correlated, from hyperventilation to worrisome thoughts. “The best book for anxiety we’ve ever seen,” said the staff at the Sidran Foundation. Schiraldi, G. R. Facts to Relax By: A Guide to Relaxation and Stress Reduction. Provo, UT: Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. A range of traditional techniques and resources. (Utah Valley RMC, IHC University, 1134 North 500 West, Suite 204, Provo, UT 84604, tel. 801-357-7176) Seligman, M. E. P. The Optimistic Child. New York: Houghton Mifflin. Using cognitive therapy to immunize children at risk for depression by building resilience. See Penn Resiliency Project (www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu/prpsum.htm) to learn more. Seligman, M. E. P. Authentic Happiness. New York: Free Press. Happiness and self-esteem overlap in many ways, including the signature strengths discussed here. Frankl, V. Man’s Search for Meaning. Boston: Beacon. The classic work on discovering meaning in one’s life out of suffering, written by the Holocaust survivor who founded logotherapy.

Recommended Resources

1

Salt Lake City. Despite fighting prejudice and AIDS contracted during heart surgery. Burns. D. Ross. Books and Videos on Physical Health Flow Motion: The Simplified T’ai Chi Workout. J. Includes clever instructions for appreciating unique differences. A.. and A. or Collage Video. A young Catholic girl in Poland risked her life to save Jews during WWII. I. Marx. Days of Grace: A Memoir. with J. Eyre. 800-433-6769). J. Armstrong.. Twelve Children’s Stories for Teaching Children Joy. and improve fitness.. In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer. Eyre. she remained softhearted and optimistic. UT: Homebase. G. Opdyke. Season of Life. Despite incredible hardship. sexual exploitation. and materialism. A practical book on replacing the thinking distortions that cause depression and undermine self-esteem. Arthur Ashe retained his dignity and optimism. L. McPhee and D.Ashe. New York: Signet. Feeling Good. Los Angeles. Ramparsad. former NFL star Joe Ehrmann now teaches highly successful young athletes that manhood is not found in athletic prowess. New York: Simon & Schuster. Video by C. and R. 10 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . New York: Ballantine. 800-795-8273. Inspired by Viktor Frankl. Tai Chi Video Productions (Lightworks Audio & Video. A gentle way to utilize the mind-body connection. lower blood pressure. but in love and meaning. New York: Anchor.

C. Many are useful for anyone and can be done at one’s desk to relax and increase energy and flexibility. and H. New York: Bantam Dell. Profound insights on self-esteem and compassion. New York: Riverhead. Woodstock. USDA. or inactive. injured. New York: Owl. Full Catastrophe Living. Say Good Night to Insomnia: A Drug-Free Program Developed at Harvard Medical School. Kaplan. Books on Spiritual Contemplation and Meditation Kabat-Zinn. VT: Jewish Lights. Cutler. Jacobs. N. New York: Fireside. J. Instructions for gentle postures for the aged. Practical ways to improve sleep quality and quantity. A.gov for personalized interactive nutritional information. Easy Does It Yoga.mypyramid. D. See www. Rich in insights. Discovering Jewish Meditation: Instruction and Guidance for Learning an Ancient Spiritual Practice. New York: Schocken. A. Perhaps the best book on mindfulness meditation. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. F. The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living. Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide. 2005. Recommended Resources 11 . it provides practical instruction for lay readers.Christensen. a practice that has been found to reduce a host of medical and psychological symptoms. Gefen. Dalai Lama. In a warm and readable style. G.

N. Keating. I Don’t Have to Make Everything All Better. Learn how to walk alongside people emotionally. G. Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel. Blumberg. and balance. The PREP approach is well researched and respected. and J.. The Sufi Book of Life: 99 Pathways of the Heart for the Modern Dervish. this book provides practical advice on everything from conflict resolution to increasing fun. T. Four excellent videos to help develop communication skills. Treasure chest of methods for relating to people. New York: Continuum. New York: Penguin Compass. G. solve problems. Lundberg. Based on solid research.Hanh. Open Mind. Books and Videos on Couple and Family Skills Markman. and promote intimacy. H. Peaceful monk’s practical ways to cultivate inner peace. and J.. New York: 1 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . and S. N. Father Keating provides a Christian perspective. Denver. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Peace Is Every Step. Sufi meditation with a light touch. Stanley. New York: Viking Penguin. Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program [PREP]: Resources for a Loving Relationship.. Lundberg. L. Married for Better. New York: Bantam. Lundberg. Fighting for Your Marriage: Positive Steps for Preventing Divorce and Preserving a Lasting Love. joy. Not Worse: The Fourteen Secrets to a Happy Marriage. Lundberg. serenity. rather than arguing or criticizing. Douglas-Klotz. T. S. (800366-0166) Fighting for Your Marriage and other books. CO.

(To find a nearby trauma therapist.Viking. (314 Scott Ave. UT: Deseret. Sidran Institute is a national nonprofit organization that helps people understand. and treat traumatic stress and related conditions. When we can teach it to children. Suite 207.and two-week intensives. The Power of Positive Parenting: A Wonderful Way to Raise Children.) Intensive Trauma Therapy. North Logan. A. UT: P&T Ink. Baltimore. which usually affects self-esteem. L. then we have learned it. and peaceful parenting. reading lists. C. contact Sidran Institute. starting with respect between spouses. tel. I. Useful and thorough guide to steady. www. Combines art therapy with videotaping and hypnosis in a very effective approach to individual treatment. MA: Adams Media Corporation. 200 East Joppa Road. Salt Lake City. Provides information. Latham. Morgantown. tel. MD 21286.org. Teaching Children Joy. M. Good Families Don’t Just Happen: What We Learned from Raising Our Ten Sons and How It Can Work for You. educational materials. treatment resources.org. Another down-to-earth treasure for creating a satisfying marriage. help@sidran. and a caring ear at no charge to trauma survivors and family members. G. recover from.sidran. and J. Garcia-Prats. and R.. Eyre. 410-825-8888. Offers one. Principle-based skills. 304-291-2912) Recommended Resources 13 .. WV 26508. Garcia-Prats.. Holbrook. Resources for Healing from Trauma Trauma. typically requires specially trained therapists. consistent. Eyre.

.

W. G. J.. R. and C. Dement. ACT on Life Not on Anger: The New Acceptance and Commitment . OH: Barbour. O. 2006. Brown. A. Chambers. Tuesdays with Morrie. G. 1976. New York: Meridian. Vaughan. Beck. S. P. L. 1995. The Promise of Sleep. Cognitive Therapy: Basics and Beyond. 1997. Psychological strengths as correlates of happiness and health in college students.. Beck. Schiraldi. New York: Delacorte. Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders. Washington DC.. McKay. and M. M. 1963. Eifert. S. Paper presented at the Second International Positive Psychology Summit. M. 1999. My Utmost for His Highest. H. Uhrichsville.References Albom. 2003. and J. C. New York: Guilford Press. Forsyth. Wrobleski. New York: Broadway.

1983... Gauthier. London. Gardner. G. 1987. CA: New Harbinger Publications.. Emotions. with S. ACT: An Experiential Approach to Behavior Change. C. B. Hayes. North Hollywood. and P. Ellis. J. Hinckley.Therapy Guide to Problem Anger. S. The relationship of selfconcept and social support to emotional distress among 1 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . 1993. S. Wilson. and P. A. 1999. 2000. Oakland. Boston: Beacon. and Health. Strosahl. C. G. 1959. New York: Guilford Press. CA: Wilshire.. Healing Emotions: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on Mindfulness. New York: Random House. Hobfoll. S. Leiberman. Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. The enhancement of self-esteem: A comparison of two cognitive strategies. D. Harper. and K. A New Guide to Rational Living. H. and J.. Pellerin. S. D. E. Frankl. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 52(1):18–26. V. Oakland. and R. Man’s Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy. CA: New Harbinger Publications. E. 2003. K. Goleman.. Renaud. R. Standing for Something: Ten Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes. Boston: Shambhala. 2005. ed. 1975.. 1986. Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. New York: Basic. D. Personality and social resources in immediate and continued stress resistance among women. Hayes. Cognitive Therapy and Research 7(5):389–98. Smith. A. Hobfoll.

2004. The Scottish Himalayan Expedition. T. N. Maslow.. Dent and Sons. R. Invitation to Love: The Way of Christian Contemplation. 2002. 1990.women during war. McQuaid. Doctoral diss. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 4(2):l89–203. Jacobson. J. Carmona. New York: Hyperion. 2000.. N. Norton and Company. 1973. J. SelfActualization: Germinal Papers of A. ed. 2005. New York: Bantam Dell. 1993. Self-Esteem. Interview by Anderson Cooper. ABC (January 20). K. J. Oakland. H. 2006. Monterey. CA: New Harbinger Publications. UT: Deseret. H.. Murray. Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness. W. Dominance. Lighten Up! Salt Lake City. and A. Kabat-Zinn. University of Maryland. H. Psychosocial variables associated with resilience among mother-daughter dyads. Okazaki. New York: W. Full Catastrophe Living. T. Lee. 1992. W. New York: Continuum. 20/20 Downtown. Keating. Monson. Integrative Couple Therapy: Promoting Acceptance and Change. London: J. ———. Miller. Ensign 36(5):18–21. References 1 . CA: Brooks/Cole. R. Lowry. Christensen. 1951. J. and P.. True to the faith. C. Peaceful Mind: Using Mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Psychology to Overcome Depression. M. E. 1996.

Social Indicators Research 48:321–45. M. Journal of Primary Prevention 22(10):55–67.. 1989. The effect of physical activity participation on self-concept: A meta analysis. V. G. Poloma. Oakland. Williams.. Brown. and S. P. ME (March 26). G. Religiosity and life satisfaction across the life course. 1 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem . CA: New Harbinger Publications. Oakland. and M. Rogers. R. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 30(1):46–53. Plante. 2001. Salzberg. Boston: Shambhala. Schiraldi. R. 2006. 1987. C. L. 1999. Segal. Teasdale. J. and P. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. 2002. Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness. Rinpoche. 1997. J. Shupe. Journal of Sports Exercise Psychology 19:S109. D. Z. The Self-Esteem Workbook. 2004. Falmouth. CA: New Harbinger Publications. 1993. Do the Right Thing: Living Ethically in an Unethical World. Parable of the broken slides. S. Dyck. Divine relations. Sermon delivered at Foreside Community Church. New York: HarperCollins. 2001.. and J. P. Poon. G. M. R. New York: Guilford Press. R. Spence. On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy. Schiraldi. social relations. New York: Houghton Mifflin. M. J.Peacock. 2004. Pollner. G. S. T.. Primary prevention for mental health: Results of an exploratory cognitivebehavioral college course. and wellbeing. C. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression: A New Approach to Preventing Relapse.

and rejected: The lives of aggressive children. L. Bad. sad. New York: Penguin. USDA. 2005. N. ed.mypyramid. B.. Warner. Doob. Zhang. J. www . Canadian Journal of Criminology 42(2):123–33. 2000. The Portable Walt Whitman. Prediction of Chinese life satisfaction: Contribution of collective self-esteem. and A. 2004. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005.. M. 2005.gov. International Journal of Psychology 40(3):189–200. References 1 .Sprott.

.

the Mind/Body Health Review. and the International Stress and Tension Control Society Newsletter. Hope and Help for Depression. where he received the Outstanding Teaching Award in the College of Health and Human Performance.Biographical Sketch Glenn R. and the University of Maryland. and Facts to Relax By. His books on stress-related topics include The Self-Esteem Workbook. The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook.D. he helped to design and implement a series of prototype courses in stress management for the Department of the Army—including hostility/anger management and communication skills. World War II Survivors: Lessons in Resilience. including the Washington Post. Serving . While serving at the Pentagon. He conducts resilience training for the prevention of post-traumatic stress disorder for the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. Conquer Anxiety.. and Nervous Fatigue. Glenn’s writing excellence has been recognized by various scholarly and popular sources. Ph. Worry. The Anger Management Sourcebook. the American Journal of Health Promotion. has served on the stress management faculties at the Pentagon. Schiraldi. He is the author of various articles and books on human mental and physical health. the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation.

1 10 Simple Solutions to Self-Esteem .at the University of Maryland since 1980. and on the ABC News Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder working group. He is a graduate of the U. and holds graduate degrees from BYU (summa cum laude) and the University of Maryland.S. which have taught skills to a wide range of adults to prevent stress-related mental and physical illness. and he presently serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Emergency Mental Health. he has pioneered a number of mind-body courses. He also served on the board of directors of the Depression and Related Affective Disorders Association. Military Academy at West Point. founded as a Johns Hopkins University Department of Psychiatry cooperative.

THIRD EDITION $15.newharbinger.95 • Item Code: 1985 THE SELF-ESTEEM COMPANION $14.com (V.95 • Item Code: 2523 SELF-ESTEEM.95 • Item Code: 4127 available from n e w h a r b i n g e r p u b l i c a t i o n s and fine booksellers everywhere To order. AMEX • prices subject to change without notice) .95 • Item Code: 4119 HOW TO STOP BACKING DOWN & START TALKING BACK $13.95 • Item Code: 4178 WOMEN WHO WORRY TOO MUCH $13. call toll free 1-800-748-6273 or visit our online bookstore at www. MC.more real tools for real change from newharbingerpublications THE SELF-ESTEEM WORKBOOK $18.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful