2 October 2002

Self-Esteem and Confidence

Équipe -Pose ta question!-

Sometimes it might feel like there is something pulling you back from being successful and happy in life. You might say this has got to do with your level of confidence or self esteem. This article is written to make you think about your choices. It discusses the things you might be doing to let misery take over your life and keep self esteem out. Mostly it looks at how you can get to know self esteem, invite it into your life and then work together with it to achieve great things for you! What do you want to feel, it’s up to you!


Misery can be a powerful force in our life. Just for fun, here are 10 quick steps to invite the black cloud of misery into your life! This step-by-step guide is a 100% effective and is guaranteed to make you feel really, really, really bad about yourself!

  1. Compare yourself to everyone and everything around you. Pick out things they have that you don’t. Think how “lucky” they are and how “unlucky” you are.
  2. Put yourself down at any opportunity possible. Avoid saying or believing you are an OK person at any time.
  3. Never ever take a compliment. Tell people that “it was nothing” or that you are not what they are saying you are. Don’t thank anyone, always pretend you didn’t hear.
  4. Tell yourself over and over again things like “I am horrible” “I am stupid” “I am ugly” “I am disgusting” or “I am useless”. Do this at least 25 times a day.
  5. Hang around people and involve yourself in things where you are put down or disrespected. This helps make the things in step 4, sink in even more!
  6. Make a long list of all of your past failures, embarrassments, negative qualities, wrongdoings and stuff-ups. Pin it on your fridge, in your bedroom, behind the toilet door, in the front of your diary. Read it over and over and over again.
  7. Stick to yourself. Don’t let anyone near you and never let people really know you. Avoid giving compliments, doing things for others or contributing to anything.
  8. Stay clear of anything that you enjoy or love doing. Find alternatives to hobbies, career moves or activities that you find stimulating.
  9. Try and live up to everybody’s expectations. Make all your decisions based on what you think other people might approve of.
  10. Don’t try anything new or take action in your life. Sit back and keep waiting for something to “just happen” to change things for you. Don’t ever challenge yourself or move away from the comfort of misery.

Sometimes, without even really knowing it, we can actively choose to be miserable! In reality, it is more likely that you would like to invite feelings of self-esteem into your life. Read on to find out how to build up your self-esteem and get on with living your life to the fullest!


Self-esteem is about how you see yourself as a person. It is how valuable and worthwhile you think you are as a person and how good you feel about that. It’s not about boasting or trying to prove how good you are to other people. It is about believing in yourself and what you think you can do.

Read on to find out about how high self esteem (the helper) or low self esteem (the black cloud) can affect your life.


High self-esteem can help us feel good about ourselves and the world around us. You might recognise the way things happen in this cycle.

  1. You believe that you are an OK person – consciously or unconsciously.
  2. You feel relaxed inside and respect your own value. Eg. “I am capable” “I am fun”.
  3. You have positive beliefs about yourself and what you can reach. Eg. “I deserve to be happy and respected by myself and others”.
  4. You feel confident and the future looks promising.
  5. You have a sense of trust in the things in your life.
  6. You believe the world can and is able to meet your needs and desires.
  7. You feel more energetic about things. Your mind becomes livelier and fills with brilliant ideas! You begin to take action on these ideas.
  8. You feel proud, satisfied and happy as you achieve the things you set out to do.
  9. You know you have the personal power to make things happen in your life.
  10. You think of creative ways to get around things that get in your way to success.
  11. You feel alive and energetic as you take action.
  12. You see and appreciate your successes.
  13. You accept esteem and good feelings about yourself and prepare for this cycle to happen again and again.

This cycle is just a guide to see what can happen with our “self talk” (the chatter inside of our heads – we all have it!) and the actions we take when we embrace our self-esteem and our feelings of self-worth.

You can invite high self-esteem into your life. High self-esteem can bring other things along with it.

  • Feelings of calm and relaxation.
  • A desire to look after yourself.
  • A positive attitude and a sense of being full of life!
  • Being open and communicative (see Assertiveness).
  • Independence and self-responsibility.
  • A will to be social and get along with others.
  • Continuous personal growth.

High self-esteem can be a great helper in your life. It can also make others feel safe, at ease, valued and stimulated when they are around you.


  1. You experience a negative belief that you are not OK as a person.
  2. You feel tense empty and stressed inside. You see yourself as having little value. Eg. “I am useless” “I am stupid” “I always fail”.
  3. You have negative beliefs about yourself and what you can do. Eg. “I will never be able to…” “I can’t do…” “That will never work”.
  4. You lose confidence and the future looks like nothing will change.
  5. You have little trust in the things in your life and it continues to shrink.
  6. You believe the world can’t and won’t meet your personal needs and desires.
  7. You stop bothering to try to achieve things.
  8. You notice you are less happy and successful than other people.
  9. You see other people as more capable or powerful than you are. You let them do things for you or take advantage of you.
  10. You silently get annoyed, resentful or disappointed with those people.
  11. You see yourself as nasty or “ungrateful” for having those thoughts about others.
  12. You tell yourself off. You punish yourself for being so horrible.
  13. When you see yourself, you see only the results of being abused by others or yourself.
  14. You develop a stronger belief that you are not an OK person.
  15. You push away self-esteem and prepare for this cycle to happen again and again.


Some things you have experienced might have brought low self-esteem into your life!

  • Being constantly put-down or humiliated – this can happen at home, at work, at school, anywhere…
  • Having to take the blame for things that are not your fault.
  • Not having your emotional, social or physical needs met.
  • Being abused in some way. Eg. child abuse or relationship violence
  • An experience of another kind of violence. Eg rape, harassment or discrimination.
  • Having a “label” stuck to you by other people. Eg. schizophrenic or disabled.
  • Getting inconsistent messages about what is expected of you – one minute they are fine the next minute they are at your throat for what appears to you as “no reason at all”. This can be a big one for people who grow up with parents who have a problem with alcohol. You never know what they expect of you!
  • Strong messages from the media or the community about what you are “expected” to be like. Living in a culture that defines an unrealistic view of what is “perfect” and invites us to continue to strive to be “perfect”. Then feeling like you don’t “fit in”. Eg. body image, sexual identity or unemployment.

Note: We have articles about many of these examples as separate topics on this site.

These are just some examples of things that can have a lowering affect on our self-esteem. These are not your fault. They might be things that someone else has done to you or a way systems in your culture are set up. You can’t change other people. What you can do, is look after you. You can nurture and look after yourself. You also have control over the way you think, feel or behave in your life.


There are many ways you can invite self-esteem into your life. Below are some tips for you to think about. You might use them all or choose ones you think are best for you.

  • Be nice to yourself! Stop giving yourself a hard time and start appreciating you as a unique individual. If you compare yourself to others you will always find things missing in yourself and your life!
  • Use the cycles in “the helper” and “the black cloud” to understand your self-esteem cycle. When do you notice you are giving yourself a hard time? What happens when you give yourself a hard time? Keep aware of the feeling of low self-esteem. Don’t let it beat you by creeping back into your life!
  • Think of times you have tried something new and succeeded. What did you do? What steps did you take? How were you able to succeed? How did it affect the relationships you have (friends, family, partner, workmates etc)? How did you feel about yourself? What did you learn about yourself? How might you invite what you learnt about yourself to be a big part of your life and your future?
  • Dream. Think about how you would like things to be in your life. Set yourself goals. Identify one thing at a time and start there. Beware you don’t “bite off more than you can chew” as sometimes we set ourself up to fail by taking on too much.
  • Practice and try new skills. This could be anything from assertiveness to learning how to play chess. Challenge yourself. Test things out and learn what works for you and what doesn’t. Celebrate your successes.
  • Make a list of your past successes. These don’t have to be as big as “when I became Prime Minister” or “when I got gold at the Olympics”. Success can be “small victories” to “huge accomplishments”. Ringing and making an appointment you have been putting off for months, receiving an award or doing well in a job interview are all examples of successes in life. Read your list over and over again!
  • Think about your qualities that have helped you in your life. Make a list and think about how you might use these qualities in the future.
  • Get involved in life. Join a sporting team or join in other things in your community. Allow yourself to “give”. Help someone do something. Tell someone they look nice or did a good job of something. Make a note of your contribution and the way it makes you feel about yourself.
  • Do things that you love doing and you know you are good at. If you can’t think of anything, look around for new ones to learn. There are free things you can get involved in or many interests you can do that are cheap and easy.
  • Take action. Don’t let the black cloud of “low self esteem” rule your life. Take control of you. When you take action, make changes and have successes, you will no doubt start to feel a lot better about yourself. As one young woman recently discovered:
    “I have realised that I am the boss of my life. I am not going to let other people who treat me badly or my past take it over. I want to be happy and I want to do heaps of things with my life.” Anna
  • Accept compliments when people give them to you. Reply with a “thank you”. Doing this, gets easier the more you practice.
  • Give yourself the right to make a mistake or to not be “perfect” – whatever “perfect” is! Mistakes are a great opportunity to learn about you. Don’t waste the chance.
  • Be true to yourself. You will never be able to make everyone happy or meet everyone’s expectations about how you “should” be. Trust, look out for and protect yourself. Learn about what makes you happy.

Note: This topic gives some practical suggestions and information about social health. It is important to see your doctor or health professional for information specific to a health concern you may have about yourself.

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Child Youth Health 1998-2002.