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News & Article Archives > Grab Bag Articles > Steps to Building Self-Esteem

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Steps to Building Self-Esteem
Posted by on 01 December, 2005

Part One: 1 of 10 separate steps to building self-esteem in , Believe in Yourself – You’re Awesome. They are concrete, tangible and effective actions you can take to raise your level of self-esteem. Over the next few months, we will share these steps with you in Heart and Mind Matters.

Step One: Focus on Your Strengths

I bet you heard phrases like “don’t be a braggart!” or “don’t blow your own horn!” when you were growing up. These types of statements issued by ‘adults who know better’ created a subconscious message in your mind that it’s a bad idea to focus on how great you are. Consequently, you were taught to play down or ignore your strengths and admirable qualities.

In their effort to keep you from becoming ‘conceited’, these well-meaning adults actually undermined your self-esteem. Esteem is defined as “to regard with respect; to prize, to appreciate/ to recognize the quality, significance, or magnitude of, to admire greatly/ to value”.

It’s a challenge to value or respect something or someone when you can’t see it’s worth. Self-esteem is “one’s good opinion of one’s dignity or worth”. How do you have a good opinion of your worth when you refuse to look at all the strengths and qualities that you hold? How do you recognize the significance or magnitude of who you are when you downplay all the talents, skills and characteristics that make you the wonderful person that you are?

When you admire others, you see their talents, skills, characteristics and capabilities, and you respect them for what you see. A simple way to learn to respect and admire yourself is to make a list of your talents, skills, characteristics...

Do it right now. Grab a sheet of paper and starting listing all your qualities, regardless of whether you see them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Start your list with I am: and start writing the words that apply to you (even the slightest bit!), like: honest, a good friend, impatient, loving, caring, a procrastinator, compassionate, a great cook, intelligent, determined, intuitive, reliable, trustworthy… You get the idea. Make this list as long as you can.

Now, take a long hard look at that list and start circling the qualities that you see as your strengths. Which qualities do you hold strongly? Which characteristics do you shine with? Now make a new list of all the circled items on your first list.

These are the qualities you want to focus on. Make time to review the list daily and endeavor to add one quality each day. Take a few moments at the end of every day to give yourself credit for the strengths that you displayed that day. Consciously think about how you displayed that honesty or caring or trustworthiness… or whatever the quality was that you displayed. Honour yourself with this acknowledgement.

Focusing on your strengths is a simple (not necessarily easy - at least at first!) way to build your self-esteem.

About Tina Thrussel & Best U Can B Inc.

Tina Thrussell is the president and co-founder of Best U Can B Inc. As the key facilitator for the company, Tina loves to experience the magic that occurs amongst a group of people brought together for an event under her guidance. The theme of this article is an underlying principle in her programs, as well as the basis of her self-published book, Believe in Yourself - You Are Awesome (Journaling with Intention). This book provides a guided process for making choices (or planting seeds) that will positively affect your attitude and your life. For more information about this book or Tina’s seminars, retreats and workshops, visit or email her at

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Anger and choices of response-ability
Posted by on 05 November, 2004

Anger can teach us discernment. How to make healthy choices for ourselves. We are responsible for our feelings of anger. It is ours to own and to use.

So, what are the choices of how I will respond when my anger is once again awakened? If I am in charge of my body and my mind, then how can I learn how to choose a different outcome when I find myself feeling that angry feeling over and over?

Anger and choices of response-ability
By Ingrid Cryns

Anger can teach us discernment. How to make healthy choices for ourselves. We are responsible for our feelings of anger. It is ours to own and to use.

So, what are the choices of how I will respond when my anger is once again awakened? If I am in charge of my body and my mind, then how can I learn how to choose a different outcome when I find myself feeling that angry feeling over and over? Although my will is not in control of my emotions, I can learn different belief systems that help my will to re-organize my response - ability. The problem is that it actually is quite hard work to look inside yourself and accept the process of change needed to transform your own internal pathwork and unconscious bodily responses. We all want everyone else to change, rather than ourselves!

When I feel hate or anger, I can feel my heart harden and constrict. It’s awful. I don’t like it when I’m angry because it feels so uncomfortable inside. I usually want to get rid of my anger as fast as possible - but sometimes I just cannot be in control of that. When I feel love, my heart opens, expands. It can actually feel warm sometimes, especially when I think of how much I love my children. When I feel hurt, my heart feels like it a knife goes through it, like a line of pain, and I can collapse from it. Emotions are very difficult to ‘will’. It is their very nature to simply come and go as they please. That in itself can be very frustrating at times.

When I am in this place of anger, I have learned now to simply identify it; “I am angry right now.” This labeling seems to help me start a process of opening up my heart by separating myself as a witness and not get totally lost in the consuming, constricting feeling of it. I have discovered that by learning how to own it and just ‘be with it’ can begin to transform and shift it.

It is also helpful to pray or wish that your anger will be able to resolve itself one day. This places your heart, body and mind in a place of openness to allow new possibilities to enter into your life that you never would have imagined.

The basic steps of approaching conflict with another are;

One Take some space, calm down and clarify exactly why you are angry. Ask yourself questions of what could be underneath this feeling. Focus on feeling your heart and what you need to do to keep it open and soft. What might you need to feel safe, with your own or another’s anger.

Two Talk directly to the person involved. Learn how to speak in a way that is non-blaming stating your own thoughts, feelings and desires. Stay with yourself. Stay out of guessing or telling the other what is going on with them. Own your feelings when speaking starting with phrases such as “I feel……..”, or “My experience is……..” rather than “you make me feel……..” or “ you must be feeling…”

Three Try to establish a ground of positive intention. State what positive thing you both are trying to achieve. Try to find a place of creative compromise.

And please remember it takes two parties to want to find a solution. If one of the parties is unable to communicate or compromise than you need to understand and accept the “no”. Sometimes people do not get this and continue trying to get something from someone who is unable to or doesn’t want to respond. Again this creates another one of those ‘staying stuck forever’ situations. The solution is to know when to move on, or simply find a way to live with and respect and accept that what you might want is not available from this person.

There are a number of different methods of learning how to communicate better. One that I like in particular is Marshall Rosenberg’s work. He is an author and pioneer of a wonderful new method of learning how to communicate differently called Nonviolent Communication ( As Rosenberg states, “Nonviolent Communicationsm (NVC) is a process that strengthens our ability to inspire compassion from others and respond compassionately to others and ourselves. NVC guides us to reframe how we express ourselves and how we hear others by focusing our consciousness on what we are observing, feeling, needing, and requesting. It is a language of empathy and honesty, and is sometimes described as ‘the language of the heart’.”

I have also studied many methods of how to release and manage the anger in my body. One should also be aware that a continuous need to catharticly release anger can also become like an addiction much the same as using food, a drug or an alcoholic drink. It provides a temporary calm after the release that allows you to feel better, more relaxed. The eventual idea is to find out how to get at the core of what keeps triggering it. However, the rule of thumb is that it is better to find a safe and appropriate way to express anger rather than holding it in.

There are various techniques from more benign to full body expression/release;

1) Write down everything that you can think of that you are angry about in the form of ‘automatic writing’ (no grammar or sentence structure to worry about). Don’t hold back anything - and don’t send it on to who it’s about (if it is about a person). It is meant to allow yourself to get the anger out of your system.
2) Draw or paint your expression with words. Just feel and create something.
3) Call a friend and ask them to listen to something that you just need to rant about. It’s not about resolving the situation, just let your self express with freedom.
4) Book an appointment with a therapist to express your anger and learn how to find out what feeling may be underneath it.
5) Stand with your legs one foot width apart underneath your shoulders, feet parallel, knees bent and shout loudly something about what you are angry about. Use your arms in a flinging motion as if the energy is coming off your back and out through your arms and hands (that is actually what it does).
6) Stand in front of a bed with your legs one foot width apart underneath your shoulders, feet parallel, knees bent. Hold a tennis racket with both hands and swing it down onto the bed with a loud wack. Mare sure that you keep your knees bent and that you swing from over your head. (And be careful that you check the upper swing won’t hit anything on the ceiling). It sometimes helps to yell, grunt, scream, say “no”, or “get off/out”, etc. with the hitting. It is very satisfying to hit something. You can also do this in the woods somewhere and just wack a stick at something.
7) Lie down on a bed and kick your legs as if you are having a tantrum. Then add your arms. Then add your head moving from side to side as if saying “no”. Then add words like with the above tennis racket suggestions. Your body should eventually be able to come into a rhythmic harmony with all the parts together. It is not easy to do this and usually starts off quite disjointed, with one leg or opposite arm completely off rhythm with the other parts. That’s just fine, the point is that you are doing something to open up the flow of energy in the body. Doing kicking with the legs only also works very well as a release.

Anger is a feeling from which we have much to learn about. It has a place in our bodies that tells us that something is not right. It can make some of us feel uncomfortable. It can also make us feel powerful. We have choices with learning how to recognize it when it is in our bodies. We also have choices with learning how we want to live with it and how to respond from it. Anger is a message telling us something that we might not know about, or keep on forgetting about. It is up to us to learn how to listen to it in a constructive and helpful manner for ourselves.

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