You’ve decided to improve your life. Where do you start? Do you begin with a new relationship, with a new career, or move to a new city? The answer is no, none of these, for there is one constant: you. The same you will be there, wherever you choose to go, whoever you’re with, whatever you choose to do. That’s why the place to start improving your life is at the beginning, with your own self-esteem.

When you feel good about yourself, you have good self-esteem. You realize that anything outside yourself is exactly that—outside your self. You know that your self is fine. It’s the outside that needs fixing. When you recognize your own worth and know that you have value, nothing anyone can say or do will have any effect on your self-esteem. Your feelings can always be hurt. Your self-esteem can be hurt only if how you see yourself is determined by someone other than yourself. You know the truth of your worth, and if someone else’s opinion of you tries to diminish you in any way, it doesn’t matter.

We can be our own worst enemies. We can go from feeling good to feeling bad because of our own thoughts—those little voices in our heads that are ready at a second’s notice to criticize us. The moment we perceive that something we have done is not up to some standard we have set for ourselves, we immediately put ourselves down.

Sound self-esteem is maintained by not listening to that little voice, by remembering that no matter how badly you think you did, you did the absolute best that you could have done at that time. Low self-esteem is caused by criticizing or condemning yourself for not living up to your own standards. We have a tendency to set our standards high, often too high to succeed. Then when we fail to meet our own expectations, we criticize ourselves for failing. There is never any reason for putting yourself down or for any loss of self-esteem. Change how you perceive life, and your life will change accordingly.

Most of us find it easier to overlook the mistakes of others, yet continue to be hard on ourselves. As if there wasn’t enough in the present to attend to, we often insist on dredging up the past to torment ourselves. When you cannot change the outcome of conditions that you wish were otherwise, all you can change is your attitude toward it. With sound self-esteem you no longer find it necessary to place value judgments. You would no sooner judge another than you would judge yourself.

If you pick up a fork to eat dinner and then discover you’re having soup, you don’t insist on eating with a fork. No one would. You would change your utensil for a spoon. Yet often we stick with a poor decision we’ve made, even though we know there is a better choice available. Change is how we make progress. To resist change is to miss opportunities. What’s the most prevalent fear that keeps us from making a change? Fear of failure. Fear of mistakes. Yet to not even try is failure already, and mistakes are only lessons.

The most important thing is to be aware of and awake to what is going on in your life. Once you are aware that some choice you have made is not working for you or has had a negative impact on your life, you gain the option of changing it. If you choose to continue doing it, at least you are aware of what you are doing, and you can take responsibility for your actions and whatever continuing reality they create. Or, once aware of what reality you have created, you can opt to change it for a better, positive reality, one that makes you happy. But you can do nothing without being aware of what is going on and how it affects you.

Whether it is a physical fender bender or an emotional heartbreak, the situation exists for us to get the lesson. Once we extricate the lesson from the turmoil, the experience is free to leave us. As long as we choose to judge it by hating, resenting, or ignoring it, it will remain. When it becomes neutral, being neither good nor bad, the emotion binding it to us is loosened, and it is free to go. In any difficult situation, ask yourself what the experience is trying to teach you. Underlying it is a fear. Discover what that fear is, reason out why it is in your life, and it will lose its power and cease to exist.
You create more of whatever you give your attention to. What you focus on, you will experience. Focusing on negatives will generate more negative situations. The more you focus on the positive things, the more you will create positive situations in your life. You always have that choice to change your thinking and to change the conditions of your life. Every moment, with every choice, you create your life every day. There are no wrong choices. You can be just as happy as you make up your mind to be.

Recipe for Success: Start with high self-esteem. Mix in equal measures of respect and responsibility. Respect yourself and others, their rights, privacy, and property. Take responsibility for your actions and words, spoken or not. Add logic and imagination to realize your full potential: logic to decide what you want to do and imagination for the most original ideas. Reason it out. Make sure it makes sense. With logic and imagination, success is yours.

Compared to the universe, we are an infinitesimal part, yet we are of significance because each of us is unique. No one else is exactly the same as you. Therefore no one else can have the same impact on the world as you. Every action has meaning and purpose and results in a reaction. The point is to learn and grow from our experiences, both pleasant and not so pleasant. Love yourself for you have value, and treat others with the same respect. The joy of living is reflected in high self-esteem. The more secure our self-esteem, the better we can treat ourselves and others. Improving your self-esteem will improve your life and our world.

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit

Author's Bio: 

Lois Marie Gacher has been an intuitive self-improvement counselor for over 13 years and in customer service for over 20 years. As a professional writer, she is author of a workbook for improving self-esteem, Rise and Shine. Her company, High Esteem Seminars, LLC, uses this workbook in their self-improvement workshops, “Realize Your Potential” and “Inner Personal Actualization,” as well as in their customer service training seminars. High Esteem Seminars feels self-esteem is so vital for success that they base their Customer Service Representative training in self-esteem. They are the only company to offer this dynamic combination. Visit