Self-esteem can be a confusing term…and I often work with my clients to carefully boil down what it means to them. Self-esteem simply means accepting and appreciating yourself for who you are…faults and all!

Individuals with a healthy self-esteem are able to feel good about themselves for who they are, appreciate their own self-worth, and take pride in their abilities and past accomplishments…they also acknowledge that while they’re not perfect and have their faults, those faults don’t play an overwhelmingly prominent role in their lives or their own self-image (how you see yourself).

1. Take a Self-Esteem Inventory.

You can’t fix what you don’t know. The same is true for your self-esteem. To simply generalize and say, “I am never going to amount to anything. I’m a pathetic person. I can’t do anything right in my life.” is to tell yourself a simple but often convincing lie (a cognitive distortion). But, it’s just not true. We ALL have ups and downs and difficulties from time to time. The solution isn’t to wallow in this perception as the core of your identity, but to acknowledge it and move on.

Create a Self-Esteem Inventory Chart

When working with clients, I often ask them in session to create a simple inventory chart, divided into two columns on a piece of paper. On one side, write down at least five strengths (i.e. good listener, kind to friends/family, funny). On the other side, write down at least five weaknesses (i.e. difficulty communicating needs, always late, difficulty being honest).

Think about what others have said to you over the years. “Thanks for listening to me the other night when I needed a friend!” “You did a great job at work with that project, thanks for stepping in and helping out at the last minute.” “I’ve never seen someone who enjoyed chores as much as you do.” “You seem to have a real knack for telling a joke” Even if you think the Strength is too small to list, list it anyway.

This is your Self-Esteem Inventory. Remember, nobody changes things overnight, so don’t set an unrealistic expectation that you can change anything in just a week’s time.

Try to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others Around You.

Nothing can damage our self-esteem more than making constant comparisons with others. I know it’s tough, but you need to stop comparing yourself to others. The only person you should be competing against is yourself.

Author's Bio: 

I hold a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Mercy College and a Bachelor of Science from Columbia University. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist and the founder of Synergetic Psychotherapy (, a private practice in New York City for individuals, couples and families.

I work from a strength-based approach, emphasizing psychological health and resiliency. With empathy and understanding, I guide my clients through the therapeutic process to find the inner strength to feel confident and prepared to confront life's obstacles.

My therapeutic experience has been with a diverse group of individuals, couples, and groups in both private and community settings.