In Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated, David Burns shares some insights about self-esteem:
- A depressed self-image can be characterized by the four D’s: You feel
Defeated, Defective, Deserted, and Deprived.
- Almost all negative emotional reactions inflict their damage only as a
result of low self-esteem.
- A poor self-image is the magnifying glass that can transform a trivial
mistake or an imperfection into an overwhelming symbol of personal defeat.
- The more depressed and miserable you feel, the more twisted your
- Conversely, in the absence of mental distortion, you cannot experience
You cannot earn worth through what you do. Self-worth based
on accomplishments is not the genuine thing.
- You can’t base a sense of self-worth on your looks, talent, fame or
Re-evaluate a Negative Self-Image
“One of the cardinal features of cognitive therapy is that it stubbornly refuses to buy into your sense of worthlessness. In my practice, I lead my patients through a systematic re-evaluation of their negative self-image. I raise the same question over and over again: “Are you really right when you insist that somewhere inside you are essentially a loser?”
The first step is to take a close look at what you say about yourself when you insist you are no good. The evidence you present in defense of your worthlessness will usually, if not always, make no sense.”
See 10 Distorted Thinking Patterns to see if any of the distorted thinking patterns are impacting your self-image. Some examples are all-or-nothing thinking, overgeneralization, and labeling.
Turn Off That Inner Critic
“Just as your feelings do not determine your worth, neither do your thoughts or behaviors. Some may be positive, creative, and enhancing; the great majority are neutral. Others may be irrational, self-defeating, and maladaptive. These can be modified if you are willing to exert the effort, but they certainly do not and cannot mean that you are no good. There is no such thing in this universe as a worthless human being.
“Then how can I develop a sense of self-esteem?” you may ask. The answer is – you don’t have to! You don’t have to do anything especially worthy to create or deserve self-esteem; all you have to do is turn off that critical, haranguing, inner voice. Why? Because that inner critical voice is wrong!”
See How To: Use the Triple Column Technique for an effective way to turn your inner critic from a critic to a coach.
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