Saturday, January 30, 2010

Self Esteem Activities

Self Esteem Activities

As an outpatient psychologist, people frequently ask me, "What activities
can I do to improve my self esteem? My answer is, "Anything."
The reason is that it is not the activity that changes self esteem.
It is the feeling you carry about yourself while being active that
generates good or bad experiences with self.

This seems a little counter to the usual thinking. Most people think
they should surround themselves with "up" people or pleasant activities
and presto! Like magic, self esteem changes for the better. Well,
there is some benefit to such, but it doesn't last because self esteem
comes from a much deeper place, and activities and their effects usually
don't reach down that far. So, while there is a positive effect, it
doesn't last. In truth, you could have a positive self esteem in a
prison camp or a lousy self esteem at Disneyland.

Why is that so? Self esteem is the product of lots of messages that
have been growing inside your head for a very long time. During the
course of your lifetime there will be more of these existing in your
mind than you can count. By my conservative estimation, by the time
you are only eighteen, five million such messages about you have
registered in your awareness, conscious or not. Imaging how many
messages there will be bouncing around inside your skull when you're eighty!

Messages arrive all the time, in all activities from everyone you encounter.
They come in with a look, smile, frown or during a conversation when
you are close or not, agree or not with the subject, etc. Bigger
messages arrive when you get that final exam back and there is a big
letter grade at the top. This could be good, or...

The effect of all these messages is that they coalesc into something much
larger, an "epiphenomenon" as I call it. It's the average of all the
individual messages that make it up. This epiphenomenon is your self image
and self esteem is part of it, probably the bigger part if you're just
considering psychology.

If you want to change your self esteem, you have to change the individual
parts that make it up. That means the impressions that went into your
head in the first place have to be modified. Since this is fairly deep,
you can imagine that trying to change this by engaging in more superficial
activities is going to fail.

Instead, you have to think and feel differently about the individual messages,
which has nothing to do with outside activities, or it can have everything
to do with outside activities. Huh? What I'm saying is that it is your
inside process of associating to the messages in your head that determines
whether you have a good or bad self esteem. That goes on inside your head
and can be projected outwards onto some activities or not.

Changing self esteem is about changing the associations you have to the
current messges in your head. Trying to do this by just doing fun things
or "ego sponsoring" activities helps, but doesn't hit the mark. To change
self esteem, specific associations have to be broken and re-associated in a
very, very different way, utilizing not just experiences that come from
outside activities. The real secret is to work with your feelings.

I explain all of this in depth in my ebook, titled, "The Four Powers of
Self Esteem."

Dr. Griggs

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