First came the self-esteem movement. Then came the backlash to the self-esteem movement. It’s pretty clear that repeating “I’m the greatest” or winning a trophy along with every other participant isn’t a good way to build self-esteem. At the same time, it’s a rare person who isn’t sometimes – or often – plagued with painful self-doubt.When you’re feeling lousy about yourself, what can you do to feel better?
Here’s the secret.
To build your self-respect…do something worthy of your respect. To like yourself better…do something that makes you likable. Here are some suggestions:
1. Do a good deed. This is as selfish as it is selfless; you’ll benefit as much as the person you’re helping. When I’m feeling low, thinking about the time I helped some friends get a book contract makes me feel much better than recalling every compliment I’ve ever received. In the same vein…
2. Make small gestures of good citizenship. Bring your old magazines to the gym so other people can read them. Help someone with a stroller. My current favorite: picking up trash that other people have left on the subway.