These days, everyone from Oprah to the nightly newscasters are prone to discussions about self-esteem. Everyone seems to know the value of feeling good about one’s own qualities – it can be motivating, curative, and even essential to survival. Low self-esteem can lead to hopelessness, anxiety, and depression.
But there’s more to improving self-esteem than simply identifying a low supply. Consideration and active management of self-esteem often is a key aspect of healing with psychotherapy. In recent years, cognitive-behavioral techniques (CBT) have been shown to help some clients learn to identify how negative thoughts result in negative feelings and the low self-esteem that can perpetuate depression and anxiety. David D. Burns, M.D., is a leader in the CBT field. He advocates maintenance of daily mood logs to help clients recognize patterns of thoughts and feelings. He suggests the following ways to “untwist your thinking” that may help clients take control of their emotions and distinguish between healthy and damaging thoughts:
- Identify the distortions – use a chart to connect a specific distortion to each negative thought,
- The Straightforward Approach – substitute a more positive and realistic thought,
- The Cost-Benefit Analysis – list the advantages and disadvantages of a negative feeling, thought, belief, or behavior,
- Examine the Evidence – instead of assuming that a negative thought is true, examine the actual evidence for it,
- The Survey Method – do a survey to find out if your thoughts and attitudes are realistic,
- The Experimental Method – do an experiment to test the accuracy of your negative thought,
- The Double-Standard Technique – talk to yourself in the same compassionate way you might talk to a dear friend who was upset,
- The Pleasure-Predicting Method – predict how satisfying activities would be, from 0% to 100%, then record how satisfying they turn out to be,
- Be Specific – stick with reality and avoid judgments about reality.
Working together with a counselor, clients can learn to apply these techniques to everyday situations, while maintaining accountability for their goals. Feel free to contact our PC&CC counselors anytime for consultation about self-esteem building and other emotional issues.
– Information found in Ten Days to Self-Esteem by David D. Burns, M.D. and Gabriel S. Dy-Liacco