Self Esteem Challenge

A survivor of child abuse knows that their self esteem bucket had holes punched all over it…Some of their buckets were run over by a semi-truck and trailer.  Some abuse survivors can still hear the ‘beep, beep, beep’ of that truck backing up.  Words like what Pavelka mentions for his toolbox seem like a foreign language.

Fill Up Your Self Esteem Tank

It is your responsibility to keep your self esteem tank full. Recognize this and do something everyday to top it up: laugh, take exercise, sing, go see someone who motivates you, read a great book.

A large portion of my counseling time was spent learning what self esteem meant and how to recognize it if it bit me on the butt.  My counselor kindly explained that I had none except when it came to fixing computers.  He helped me recognize that I felt good about one aspect of my life.  He then encouraged that feeling to other parts of my life.

Here is a fairly decent definition of self-esteem:  accurate self-knowledge and respect for who you are. (

Self acceptance is at the center of self- esteem.  Learning to love myself was a massive challenge.  I didn’t like myself so the thought of thinking myself as good at anything was a major struggle.  He started with my acceptance that I am good at fixing computers.  He then expanded it to I am a kind person.  I pick up worms off the sidewalk after it rains.  It was a silly example but it got me to think differently about myself. One of the first steps to healing was and continues to be self acceptance.  I then can build self-esteem.  There are literally hundreds of books, articles and web pages on this one subject.  Many of them contradict each other.  I am not surprised.  People respond to different ways of approaching this issue.  What builds one persons self esteem doesn’t do much for someone else. I also learned that self-esteem is an inside job.  I cannot go to the store, counseling, or doctor office and ask for 10 ounces of self-esteem.  I kept seeking praise from outside myself, it put a temporary bandage on a gushing wound.  I learned as a child, “Love your neighbor, as thyself.”  I need to care for myself as much as I care for other people.  My counselor challenged me with the thought that I cannot love others more than I love myself.  It was an unsettling thought.  I love my husband and my children.  I didn’t want to feel about them the way I felt about myself.  It pushed me hard to wake up to how I feel about and treat myself.  My counselor started with the 5/50 project.  Do kind things for other people every day that take no more than 5 minutes and cost less than 50 cents.  Self knowledge and recognizing I do kind things was the beginning.  Warm fuzzy box started before counseling.  The idea came from SHE  Side-track Home Executive, a book I read on how to get organized in my home. The authors presented the idea of a warm fuzzy box to remind myself that good things happen, that I do good things.  Another book that my daughter gave me was “How Full is your Bucket?”   I worked on this problem for years.  For me, it took counseling to tear out my corrupt foundation that I was taught as a child: I was bad, I made my mother mad, I made her angry because I woke her up, I couldn’t keep my mother happy, I was a bad girl so must be punished….all these lies had to be ripped out and I needed new programing at the core of myself.  This took radical change of thinking about myself.  I am a work in progress.  Every day I need, that is the correct word NEED, to do things that build my positive self image.  I need to enhance my self esteem by whatever methods work for me.  I need to love myself as much as I love others.  Some of the changes that I made….give myself credit when I do something good. Change how I talk to and about myself.  Accept compliments.  Allow myself to feel happy for no particular reason.  Do something I enjoy.  I am changing.  I am still a work in progress but the first step to long term change is accepting where I am so I can make plans for where I am going to go.

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