"I am a very special, unique, and valuable person. I deserve to feel good about myself."
These are messages that you learned when you were young. You learned from many different sources including other children, your teachers, family members, caregivers, even from the media, and from prejudice and stigma in our society. Once you have learned them, you may have repeated these negative messages over and over to yourself, especially when you were not feeling well or when you were having a hard time. You may have come to believe them. You may have even worsened the problem by making up some negative messages or thoughts of your own. These negative thoughts or messages make you feel bad about yourself and lower your self-esteem.
Some examples of common negative messages that people repeat over and over to themselves includeYIs this message really true?
�� Would a person say this to another person? If not, why am I saying it to myself?
�� What do I get out of thinking this thought? If it makes me feel badly about myself, whynot stop thinking it?
You could also ask someone else���someone who likes you and who you trust���if you should believe this thought about yourself. Often, just looking at a thought or situation in a new light helps.
The next step in this process is to develop positive statements you can say to yourself to replace these negative thoughts whenever you notice yourself thinking themYou can work on changing your negative thoughts to positive ones by ��� Changing the negative thoughts you have about yourself to positive ones takes time and persistence. If you use the following techniques consistently for four to six weeks, you will notice that you don't think these negative thoughts about yourself as much. If they recur at some other time, you can repeat these activities. Don't give up. You deserve to think good thoughts about yourself.
Have friends, acquaintances, family members, etc., write an appreciative statement about you on it. When you read it, don't deny it OR don't argue with what has been written, just accept it! Read this paper over and over. Keep it in a place where you will see it often.
Get a calendar with large blank spaces for each day. Schedule into each day some small thing you would enjoy doing, such as "go into a flower shop and smell the flowers," "call my sister," "draw a sketch of my cat," "buy a new CD," "tell my daughter I love her," "bake brownies," "lie in the sun for 20 minutes," "wear my favorite scent," etc. Now make a commitment to check your "enjoy life" calendar every day and do whatever you have scheduled for yourself.
Get together for 10 minutes with a person you like and trust. Set a timer for five minutes or note the time on a watch or clock. One of you begins by complimenting the other person���saying everything positive about the other person���for the first five minutes. Then the other person does the same thing to that person for the next five minutes. Notice how you feel about yourself before and after this exercise. Repeat it often.
This booklet is just the beginning of the journey. As you work on building your self-esteem you will notice that you feel better more and more often, that you are enjoying your life more than you did before, and that you are doing more of the things you have always wanted to do.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Center for Mental Health Services
Web site: www.samhsa.gov
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
(formerly the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association)
730 N. Franklin Street, Suite 501
Chicago, IL 60610-3526
Web site: www.dbsalliance.org
Resources listed in this document do not constitute an endorsement by CMHS/SAMHSA/HHS,
nor are these resources exhaustive. Nothing is implied by an organization not being referenced.
The opinions expressed in this document reflect the personal opinions of the author and are not intended to represent the views, positions, or policies of CMHS, SAMHSA, DHHS, or other agencies or offices of the Federal Government.
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