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“Ask yourself; if there was no praise and no blame, who would you be then?” – from Resident Alien by Quentin Crisp

Confidence & self-esteem begins when we are young. It is not constructed by receiving massive amounts of praise by parents and teachers. Instead it is built upon the truth of trusting their own experience.

Here’s an example of an opportunity for building self-esteem: a child experiences divorce as painful and a well intentioned parent asks, “Won’t it be fun to have two homes to live in?” This choice would be a missed opportunity. A better choice would be to risk finding out and respecting what the child feels instead of attempting to decide for them, or trying to steer them into a “better” direction.

Confidence & self esteem are positive when a child’s experience matches what is happening and is supported as truthful, there is greater self-esteem, greater trust in one’s self. Confidence is really about appreciating what’s authentic.

It’s hard to feel your own worth & confidence only in your own head. You must risk stepping towards others. Your image is not you. Inner support can be found by accepting everything good & bad, that is what really defines you. Free yourself from obsessiveness that interferes & distorts self esteem.

Find the courage to listen to your own inner voice, stop people pleasing & you will have more confidence.

An important part of growing up is to move from support in the environment to a greater capacity of self-support & confidence. Many women feel their lives aren’t worth living without a man to define them. Learning to enjoy life and defining yourself is truely a more attractive option. Read Flying Solo: Single Women in Midlife by Carol Anderson

Developing more self esteem & confidence means being able to integrate your dark side. Accepting everyone has a dark side is reality. Confidence is taking ownership of your pile of bad and be determined it will be smaller every decade because that’s the best any of us can do.

We’re never going to erase the bad because it’s part of being human. In 1995 fourteen wolves were restored to Yellowstone National Park because they are an integral part of the animal community. We are all both ying & yang. Both sides are interconnected because our strengths also represent our weak points. You can’t have one without the other

Solitude offers us quiet nourishment & confidence. When we are alone, we can tip the balance inward and listen to the possibilities whispering within. Remember that beginnings are always the hardest part of any new endeavor and expect them to be messy.

Confidence is dealing with the awkwardness & taking action to move forward.

Everyone struggles with the duality of:

Superiority Inferiority.

Ask yourself how you go about overdoing the inferiority. What comfort does it offer you? How can you restore balance to this within yourself?

Confidence means knowing that you are both good and bad inside. Learn your strengths. Know how your strengths are also your weaknesses. Self-esteem is grappling with the whole truth of who you are.

An App to Improve Self-esteem.

Jane McGonigal is a game designer who developed an app called Superbetter that is to improve physical, mental, social & emotional resilience. Watch the TED talk she is pretty convincing.

Movies About Confidence & Self Esteem

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Winter’s Bone (2010)
A high school girl has to trust & believe in herself under terrible circumstances in the Ozark Mountains. This was the first big break for Jennifer Lawrence (Hunger Games).

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Precious (2009)
About a Teen who is raped by her father & abused by her mother. She learns to believe in herself.

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In Her Shoes (2005)
Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette & Shirley Maclaine play 3 women who grow and transform their lives.

Books About Confidence & Self Esteem

Ten Days to Self-Esteem by David Burns

The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem: The Definitive Work on Self-Esteem by the Leading Pioneer in the Field by Nathaniel Branden


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“I have been a depressed person most of my life. I was always in the throes of self-hatred.” – Eve Ensler

Self-hatred is a trait all too often encountered in humans. Self-hatred is very sad because it is an erosion of the soul. If someone becomes an expert in self-hatred, they will become very creative at finding ways to torture themselves to such a degree that the punishment becomes an avenue of comfort.

The seeds of self-hatred are sown in the experience of shame, humiliation and an excessive sensitivity to guilt. The secret rituals of throwing up, chewing nails to bleeding nubs, depriving oneself of food, drinking alone and silently, of never being good enough are all part of self-hatred.

Go to Post Where artist Frank Warren has collected post cards of anonymous secrets. Art & healing become one in these postcards of dark secrets that are powerful in their meanings. You are NOT alone in your struggles.

Erasing the doubts of self-hatred becomes an impossible task because the goal would be perfection, to never be “bad.” The truth is that we all must learn to bear both the good and the bad of who we are. The only realistic goal to be achieved is to make the pile of bad smaller as we age. Erasing the bad is just never going to happen; that is really an essential truth of being human.

The key to defeating self-hatred is to understand self-destruction is not the answer. Self destructiveness is a way of creating emotional distance from the exaggerated sense of inner bad. Learn to make the good and bad of ourselves and others more bearable because that is what’s authentic.

Here’s an example: At first I was surprised to be fond of Former First Lady Barbara Bush because she was unapologetic about being overweight and she wore $40 pearls. Then I read an interview where she described herself as not having any regrets. It’s just not authentic to pretend you can live 50-80 years on the planet and not have regrets.

Erasing regrets is erasing the opportunity to learn and improve. Accept that learning and improving are part of our life’s work and face the truth of who you are. Do not either erase regrets or drown in self-hatred—the secret to life is to know the truth and live with both our regrets and weaknesses.

It was a client who made the drawing above. She gave permission to use the creature that lurks inside of her.

The truth is through therapy and her own resources of healing she has integrated this creature inside to live happily ever after (so far).

Movie About Self Hatred

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See how pathetic self-loathing is when someone is stuck and paralyzed by it.

Book for Self Hatred

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Healing Your Emotional Self: A Powerful Program to Help You Raise Your Self-Esteem, Quiet Your Inner Critic, and Overcome Your Shame by Beverly Engel

Projection, a Defense Mechanism

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“Unhealthy projections are the falsification of the self by appearing to be less than one is.” – Fritz Perls, In and Out of the Garbage Pail

“He marveled again at the effect of projection: how hostile Henry had seemed to him when Patrick was hostile toward everyone; how considerate he seemed now that Patrick had no argument with him. What would it be like to stop projecting? Was it possible at all? At Last by Edward St Aubyn

When we lack confidence & self esteem we tend to project more onto other people. Projection means seeing things in other people as true for them & not recognizing it is really more accurate truth about yourself. Just as in the quote above, Patrick Melrose realizes he has projected his own hostility all over Henry.

Stop and consider that trust and mistrust both, are almost always projection. There is usually not enough information to know if someone deserves trust except over time. Projection fills in the space of our fears we want to know and answer instead of risking the uncertainty of finding out.

Make a real effort to own your projections and you will learn a lot more about yourself.

The more you are able to age well, you will project less. Projection is when you see something in somebody else (good or bad) that you are unwilling to recognize in yourself. Think of two people who really annoy you. What bugs you about them? Then ask yourself if it could also be true of yourself. Then think of someone you really admire and ask yourself the same question.

I had lunch with Marrie Creelman, a woman still vibrant in her 70’s whom I worked with at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland. I naively asked her, “Do you really believe love is only projections?” She laughed and said yes. She was right.

Projections fall apart over time, which is why so many marriages take a dive in years 6-10. We have the cultural reminder of this called the seven year itch. Real love is the hard work of learning how to be together more authentically after the projections crumble.