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Build Self Esteem

Five Simple Ways to Build Self Esteem Today


Updated July 02, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

People with borderline personality disorder (BPD) often struggle with low self esteem. But there are ways that you can build self esteem by engaging in a few simple tasks. The key is to engage in these self esteem builders repeatedly -- try to do one each day. It does take time to build self esteem, but if you work hard over several months, you will probably notice an improvement in the way you feel about yourself.

1. Practice Positive Self-Talk

Have you ever noticed the things that you say to yourself when something goes wrong? For example, maybe you forget to pay a bill on time and tell yourself, "Oh, I'm such an idiot!"

We all engage in some negative self-talk some of the time, so it's important to acknowledge that it's a completely normal thing to do (and you probably can't even control it most of the time). But it is possible to practice adding some positive self-talk if you notice yourself doing a lot of negative self-talking. So when you notice that you're calling yourself "an idiot," try saying to yourself, "Oops, I messed up. Oh well, nobody's perfect!" Even if you don't believe this more balanced thought, practicing this skill over and over again can help.

2. Have a Mastery Experience

A mastery experience is any experience that makes you feel that you have mastered a task. Mastery experiences do not have to be huge (they can be as small as organizing a drawer in your home), but to build self esteem you have to have them regularly. To have mastery experiences, you have to seek them out, so every day find one thing that you can do and do well. When you finish the task, don't forget to give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done!

3. Contribute Something

Contributing -- giving back in some way -- is one of the best ways to build self esteem. When you give to others, you reinforce the fact that you have something to offer the world. Contributing can also help give you a perspective on suffering that you might not have had before. Try volunteering at a local shelter, or visiting a nursing care facility (check their policy on visitors first).

4. Call in Social Support

Having a social support network to lean on in times of stress is critical to maintaining self esteem when things go wrong. You may think that you don't have a social support network, but you'd be surprised how quickly you can build one if you seek one out (try attending a church worship, a 12-step meeting of any kind, taking a cooking course, or walking at the local dog park). Being around others can lift our self esteem because it helps us realize that we are worthy of caring.

5. Go To Therapy

If you want to really ramp up your self esteem, try attending therapy sessions. While anyone can practice self esteem boosters on their own, therapy can speed the process -- it helps to have an objective person cheering you on and giving you advice along the way. There are a number of therapy approaches for BPD to choose from.

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