Self-Esteem Online Guide

Feel­ing Good: The Bush Sup­port Ser­vices Online Guide to Self-Esteem

The fab­ric of who you are at any giv­en moment is reflect­ed in how good or how bad you feel about your­self, whether you have high or low self-esteem. 

This view of your­self will impact on absolute­ly every aspect of your life from fam­i­ly, work, rela­tion­ships, how you spend your spare time, even your phys­i­cal health. 

So the ide­al is to feel good about your­self and to have high self-esteem. Peo­ple with high self-esteem are con­fi­dent and secure indi­vid­u­als who accept that they are not per­fect. They have an air of respect for them­selves and oth­ers. They are the glass half-full peo­ple, rather than the glass half-empty. 

The good news is that self-esteem is a move­able feast. There are many fac­tors, such as upbring­ing and life expe­ri­ences, that help deter­mine our lev­el of self-esteem. The infor­ma­tion we get about our­selves from oth­er peo­ple is also very impor­tant. But self-esteem is not some­thing that is fixed. It can change from day to day and it is also some­thing that we can decide to change. 

One way of under­stand­ing self-esteem is to think about it as being all in the mind”. Tak­ing con­trol of your self-esteem is about becom­ing aware of what fac­tors that are mak­ing you feel neg­a­tive about your­self and doing some­thing about it. 

This course was devel­oped by CRANAplus Bush Sup­port Ser­vices because it is clear that the iso­la­tion fac­tor can some­times impact on how remote area health work­ers feel about them­selves. Callers to the Bush Sup­port Ser­vices line have told us that iso­la­tion can mean that the feed­back they get about their work is some­times absent or not bal­anced. In addi­tion, for so many remote area health work­ers, their sense of self is intrin­si­cal­ly linked to work and when what’s on your mind work­wise is neg­a­tive, it can have a dev­as­tat­ing impact on your over­all sense of self worth. So this course is designed to give you some prac­ti­cal strate­gies to help you estab­lish and main­tain a pos­i­tive sense of who you are, even out bush! 

Course Struc­ture

The course is divid­ed into mod­ules. Each mod­ule has a num­ber of tasks and a jour­nal exer­cise. It is rec­om­mend­ed that you print each mod­ule off and cre­ate a spe­cial jour­nal just for work­ing on the sug­gest­ed tasks. Think about doing one mod­ule a week. The course is just for you. You will not be required to sub­mit anything. 

Mod­ules

Mod­ule One — Under­stand­ing Self-esteem

Research has shown some inter­est­ing facts about indi­vid­u­als with high self-esteem. It seems that these indi­vid­u­als tend to have pos­i­tive rela­tion­ships, are more inclined to take risks, tend to be able to pur­sue their goals and dreams and have good deci­sion-mak­ing strate­gies. What this tells us is that our lev­el of self-esteem (what is in and on our mind) affects our atti­tudes and beliefs about our­selves and oth­ers, and also influ­ences the way we act. 

When things go wrong: that is one of the key areas when how we feel about our­selves real­ly shows itself. Peo­ple with poor self-esteem are more like­ly to say real­ly neg­a­tive things to them­selves such as I am hope­less” or I always make mis­takes”. Those with more pos­i­tive self regard are more like­ly to say I did my best” or I will learn from this mistake”. 

Task 1

Task 2

Home­work

Mod­ule Two — Ways of improv­ing Your self-esteem

At times, it is easy to see high and low self-esteem in oth­er peo­ple. In our work­place, our co-work­ers with good self-esteem will be the per­son who notices when we do some­thing right; their crit­i­cisms will be con­struc­tive; they are flex­i­ble when oth­ers make a mis­take; they are inter­est­ed and encour­ag­ing and stand up for them­selves when they need to. The per­fect remote area health work­er! On the oth­er hand, the co-work­er with poor self-esteem is always on the look­out for oth­ers mak­ing a mis­take; they tend to be cyn­i­cal and neg­a­tive; they do not give praise when it’s due and have a ten­den­cy to bully. 

By observ­ing peo­ple around us, we can think about where oth­ers are in terms of self-esteem. Self-esteem is con­ta­gious! And the peo­ple described above influ­ence oth­ers around them in pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive ways. So the very first way of improv­ing your own self-esteem is to become aware of the influ­ence of oth­ers and make a deci­sion only to be influ­enced by pos­i­tive peo­ple. Remem­ber not every­thing is about you: if some­one treats you bad­ly it is not say­ing any­thing about you, but about them. Don’t take it on. 

What makes up our real­i­ty (and there­fore how we feel about our­selves) at any giv­en moment is reflect­ed in what we are think­ing, feel­ing and/​or doing. All these aspects of our psy­che inter­act with each. Change one and you will (even­tu­al­ly) change the others. 

Task 1

Chat­ter (Thoughts)

Our thoughts, atti­tudes and beliefs — in oth­er words the chat­ter” or run­ning com­men­tary in our heads about what is going on around us — become truth” if we don’t chal­lenge them. For exam­ple, if the chat­ter says to you I’m so hope­less” every time you for­get to put your timesheet in, you will even­tu­al­ly start believ­ing that you are hope­less and, of course, your self-esteem will be compromised. 

A sim­ple yet effec­tive strat­e­gy to deal with the chat­ter that may be affect­ing your self-esteem comes from the mind­ful­ness lit­er­a­ture. Don’t fight the thought. Don’t say to your­self I’m hope­less for think­ing that I’m hope­less”!! Let the thought float in, acknowl­edge it and let it float out again. The trick is to stand back and observe the thought. Then replace the thought with some­thing more pos­i­tive, like Every­one makes mis­takes” or “ I did all these oth­er things correctly”. 

Task 2

Feel­ings

In the pre­vi­ous sec­tion we looked at thoughts, atti­tudes and beliefs and how they can affect our lev­el of self-esteem. The chat­ter” works the same way with feel­ings. At any moment of the day you could be expe­ri­enc­ing a dif­fer­ent feel­ing or emo­tion. The way you are feel­ing depends on a whole lot of things: past his­to­ry, cur­rent life cir­cum­stances and impor­tant­ly what you are telling your­self about these things. Feel­ings have a past, a present and a future the same way thoughts do. 

Task 3

Actions

It is impor­tant to remem­ber here the cir­cu­lar pat­tern that exists between our thoughts, feel­ings and emo­tions and remem­ber that each affects the oth­er. What we do at any giv­en time will also impact on our self-esteem. The doing of self-esteem is impor­tant and often is the eas­i­est place to start when you are try­ing to change some aspect of your life. 

Below is a list of things that a per­son with good self-esteem might do: 

  • Be grate­ful for good things by express­ing thanks
  • Do some­thing good for someone
  • Donate to char­i­ty or giv­ing time to a com­mu­ni­ty cause
  • Accept crit­i­cism well by not becom­ing defensive
  • Stand up for themself
  • Take a risk

It is pos­si­ble to do all these things while you are work­ing on your self-esteem. How you behave will affect the way peo­ple respond to you and this will impact on how you feel about yourself. 

Task 4

Home­work

Mod­ule Three: Think­ing more pos­i­tive­ly about yourself!

In the pre­vi­ous mod­ules we looked at what self-esteem is and what sort of things might be stand­ing in your way of hav­ing a pos­i­tive view of your­self. Hope­ful­ly by com­plet­ing the tasks in these mod­ules your aware­ness of the sorts of pat­terns that may have con­tributed to feel­ing not so good about your­self has increased. The key is to look for pat­terns” or habits that have become entrenched. The impor­tant thing here is that by doing this course you have start­ed to break the cycle! 

So once the cycle has start­ed to be bro­ken you need to allow your­self to imag­ine the way you want to feel about your­self. Remem­ber your mind is the key. The only thing that you can con­trol is the way you are think­ing about things. Stay­ing present, not fight­ing the neg­a­tive but focussing on the present and the pos­i­tive can become your new cycle of think­ing. There are a num­ber of ways that you can get into train­ing” for a new pos­i­tive view of yourself: 

  • Cre­ate and use some pos­i­tive mantras. These need to reflect what you want such as, I like myself” or I am a good per­son”. Use these mantras inten­tion­al­ly and many times a day.
  • Treat your­self. If you tru­ly believe you are a worth­while per­son you will do nice things for your­self. You will have that hair­cut or mas­sage, do your nails, have an extra long shower.
  • Eat well and exercise.
  • Be grate­ful for what you have. Every­day list the things that you have to be grate­ful for every morn­ing as soon as you wake up and then again at night before you go to sleep.

Task 1

Home­work

Mod­ule Four: Keep­ing It Going

With any change, prac­tice makes per­fect and this is true of feel­ing good about your­self as well! Chal­leng­ing your­self about your thoughts, atti­tudes and beliefs is a dai­ly task and that’s why writ­ing a jour­nal is so important. 

Anoth­er way of con­tin­u­ing to feel good about your­self is to prac­tice good com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills. Being a clear and fair com­mu­ni­ca­tor allows you to be val­i­dat­ed and for you to val­i­date oth­er peo­ple. It’s all about under­stand­ing oth­ers and being under­stood. There are some clues about how to com­mu­ni­cate with oth­er peo­ple that we have, in a round about way, looked at in this course. Good eye con­tact is so impor­tant. Lis­ten­ing well and allow­ing the oth­er per­son to fin­ish what they are say­ing is also impor­tant. Show inter­est in oth­er peo­ple and smile. Remem­ber: some­times it is impor­tant not to say what’s on your mind, but to be aware of what your true thoughts and feel­ings are. 

Stay con­nect­ed with hap­py and life-giv­ing peo­ple. Spend­ing too much time with peo­ple who don’t val­ue them­selves can have a neg­a­tive impact on how we feel about our­selves. So stay away, as much as pos­si­ble, from tox­ic peo­ple. Remem­ber poor self-esteem is infectious! 

Anoth­er way of stay­ing pos­i­tive is to make sure that you have some­thing to look for­ward to. Plan a goal, such as a hol­i­day, and work out the steps you need to take to achieve that goal. 

Task 1

Home­work

Where to get more information

It is impor­tant that you make a deci­sion to seek more help if you feel you need it. There are a num­ber of options that you might like to consider: 

  • The Cranaplus Bush Sup­port Ser­vices’ psy­chol­o­gists are always hap­py to talk to you, 24 hours per day sev­en days per week. You can also speak to the same psy­chol­o­gist on request if you are keen to work through a self-esteem pack­age with some support.
  • Refer­ral to a psy­chol­o­gist either through a gov­ern­ment organ­i­sa­tion such as Com­mu­ni­ty Health, through a GP or pri­vate­ly (check out Yel­low Pages). Psy­chol­o­gists are now nation­al­ly reg­is­tered so make sure that the one you con­tact is reg­is­tered. They can pro­vide sup­port of many kinds includ­ing coun­selling and therapy.