The Self Esteem Check-Up


Is your self-esteem healthy?   This self-esteem check up is quick and easy.  Look at the following five statements.   See how you are managing your self-esteem.  Read about a few small changes  you can mae that can give your self-esteem a healthy boost. If you already have a healthy self-esteem,  find out what you are doing right and celebrate your success!

“Generally, I feel I have to be successful in all things”.

“People around me are often critical or negative of what I do or how I think”. 

“I often tackle projects that I know are impossible to complete the way I want”.

“When think of the past, I focus more often on my failures than my own success, or on my negative rather than my positive qualities”.

“I make little effort to improve how I talk to myself”. or “People tell me I am hard on myself”.

 Results:  If you can relate to  any of them as being true for you at times,  then read on and see what it might mean for your self-esteem, and what you can do about it.

    • “Generally, I feel I have to be successful in all things”.

What does it mean?

If you find that no matter what you do, you wont settle for anything but the best.  (That is you want to be the quickest, strongest, and most productive.  You want to be seen as someone who people can count on to take on responsibility and you earn the admiration of others.)  Then, you may have taken on some self-destructive beliefs that make it difficult to achieve your goals.  These unrealistic high standards may contribute to a negative self-image as you almost always will fall short of perfection.

What can you do?

Replace these self-destructive beliefs with  more realistic beliefs.  You may know you want to be the best, and you know that you probably  can’t be the successful in all things. Generalizations such as best, everything, all, never always can be vague and unreachable.  Defining exactly what successful is  for you (ie:  complete my schooling in two years) can do a lot keep your self-esteem in check.   In a general sense you could replace your belief about being successful all the time with statements such as:

“I succeed in many things, but I don’t have to succeed in everything”

“It would be nice to be loved by everyone but it isn’t necessarily going to happen”.


    • “People around me are often critical or negative of what I do or how I think”.

What does it mean?

If you find your self feeling criticized or thought of negatively by the people around you, you may be exposing your self-esteem to poison.   Criticism can take the form of blaming, or judging and negativity tends to be evident in people who can tell you what they don’t want.  People  who struggle with negativity will have difficulty knowing and expressing what it is they do want.  If you are around these people often enough you may find yourself feeling as if  nothing you do is right.  Your self-esteem takes the blow.

What can you do?

Encouraging people boost self-esteem.  Try to limit the time you have contact with people who are negative or critical, and increase contact with the encouraging people in you life.  As you begin to notice that people around you default to negativity, you may be tempted to point it out, or fix them.  Recognize the trap (fixing people is an impossible task, and pointing out shortcomings would be criticism).  Instead, notice those people around you who are encouraging.  While you are at it,  it helps to become an encouraging person yourself.  Start by thinking about what it is want or like and focus on the positive qualities you see in others.  For example, rather than complaining, ” I don’t like noise”, or “She is sure critical” change the statement into a positive statement,  “I like it better when it is quiet, I am going somewhere where I can think”. or “I am going to remember to be encouraging.”

perfectionism, self-esteem, therapy, corona,

    • “I often tackle projects that I know are impossible to complete the way I want”.

What does it mean?

If you find yourself in the midst of a project that is beyond your ability you may find yourself feeling inadequate, destroying your self-esteem.  You may even find yourself trying to complete papers or assignments that are within your ability, however your desire to excel beyond what is needed trips you up.  You may find yourself changing the format over and over, or re-wording what you write. (disclosure: I recognize this one! ).   You may find yourself spending way more time and energy on projects than necessary.  You may find you are your worst critic. Any of these things have the potential to tax your self-esteem.

What to do?

You might find it helpful to take on smaller projects that you know you can successfully complete.  Take time before starting a project to decide how you will know it is complete.  Decide ahead of time if you need to break it down to smaller pieces,  and what resources and skills you have to complete the task.  Count each segment of you task as a success.   Celebrate your successes and remember the feeling of  accomplishment.  Each acknowledgement of success builds upon others and this can boost your self-esteem.

celebrate success

    • When think of the past, I focus more often on my failures than my own success, or on my negative rather than my positive qualities.

What does it mean?

Your self esteem may be suffering when you are focusing on your failures more than your successes.   What you focus on tends to seem bigger than it is.  So focusing on the negatives and times you messed up can take up space in your self-esteem where nurturing and noticing progress could reside.

What to do:

When you think of past failures remember them in context.  What was happening, how might you do things different now.  Think about times that were similar and how you were successful.   Notice your progress, what you learned and again recall the feelings of accomplishment.


    • “I make little effort to improve how I talk to myself” or “People tell me I am hard on myself”

What does it mean? 

Self talk can be affirming or negative.  Are you aware of your self talk, do you look in the mirror and criticize your appearance, do you call yourself clumsy?  Can you take a compliment?  It is not uncommon to be hard on ourselves, thinking that by doing so you will be motivated to improve.  More often though,  self nagging focuses on the negative and can set you up for failure.  This is a poor recipe for  a healthy self-esteem.  Additionally,  your self talk may be spilling over to those around you.  You might find yourself being irritable and notice people backing away from you.

What to do.

Change your self talk by using positive statements such as “I can; I will; and I am”  for example I can learn to forgive, I will get better, I am a kind person” can be more healing words than “I am unforgiving, I’ll never get this, and why would anyone like me”  While you may be unhappy with yourself in any given moment, kind words of affirmation and good future prospects can help boost self-esteem.   If you catch yourself thinking critical thoughts, or second guessing yourself, try saying the thoughts out loud in a silly cartoon voice (privately would be best).    Would you repeat those words to a friend?  Recognize how silly your thoughts sound out loud and laugh them off.  Replace the thought with an affirming and positive statement.


self talk, therapy corona, ramona taylor

Check in:

Take a moment to consider your response to this article.  Ask yourself:

Can I see ways that I already take care of my self-esteem?

What one or two things can I do for the rest of the day to nurture my healthy self-esteem, so that I can count it success?

Reference: Devito, J (2009) The Interpersonal Communication Book. New York: Pearson.

Post by Ramona Taylor 2014

If you would like more information, or a free phone consultation please fill out the form below. Or visit the National Association for Self Esteem.


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Ramona Taylor, M.A. LMFT a Clinical Fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (LMFT97652)


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