Building Self-Esteem, Moment by Moment

I enjoy going to what I refer to as “the jungle gym for grown-ups.” It reminds me of recess time. I think adults need that kind of physical recreation too. Last night I was working on my clean (its a weight lifting move) and making good progress. Some of the ladies I work out with noticed. Several were appropriately congratulatory about my personal record. I said to them, “I feel good about that.”

As a therapist, those are the moments I help clients identify. It’s about finding times where you feel both physically and emotionally good about something you have done. Many people want to work on self-esteem and confidence. I think the key is to take note of these moments and to be able to direct your mind back to them again and again.

Next time I’m at “recess” and I’m going to attempt to lift something, I can think about my recent success. That gives me an example of my capability. If I think of that, it gives me encouragement to try to push myself again. If I try, I’m more likely to succeed. That gives me yet another example of a positive outcome. I’m building a repertoire of mental examples of success.

Most people have the tendency to do the opposite. They tend to review the mental examples of every incident of perceived failure. Running through these examples gives us more “practice” with actions we would rather not repeat. Instead, we need to be aware and direct our thinking toward our examples of preferred actions. This takes awareness of our thoughts and intentional redirection, but it’s very doable. When we do this, we have incredible potential.

Laurel Parnell, a leading expert in EMDR, has an excellent book that helps to instruct people on how to “tap in” to our own inner resources. If you are interested in seeing how you can build upon and tune into your own positive memories and experiences, I would highly recommend her book, Tapping In.

I suggest starting to notice moments where you can say, “I feel good about that.” Maybe you can even tell someone or write it down. Even better, begin to review moments you have already experienced. The more you think about positive moments, the more accessible they become.


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