How to build self-esteem

jillu asks: Dear Shirelle, I want to get more confident about myself, but I can’t keep my concentration on any work I do. I am totally disturbed. I have an inferiority complex, which keeps me from getting confident; so how then can I become normal?

Hi jillu –


I’ll be glad to give you some suggestions on improving concentration, and I’m all about building confidence and helping with feelings of inferiority – but I want to disagree with you about one thing.  You ARE normal!  MOST people feel inferior a lot, and almost ALL people have trouble with concentration.  Of course, there are degrees of these things, and if your anxiety is truly overwhelming you, I very much recommend you find a good psychotherapist to help you with it (they are really good at anxiety, and can probably get you feeling at least somewhat better within a few weeks).


Okay, first, regarding concentration, check out Rated T’s question about it here (just use the search box).

But with self-esteem…  Everybody is worse at some things than most people.  Most people aren’t the very best at anything.  This is absolutely fine, and does not cast any bad light on anyone’s worth.  I will never be as fast as a greyhound, as big as a Great Dane, or as smart as Lassie.  Big deal!  I know I’ve got some worth (at least to you – you didn’t write that annoying collie, did you!  You wrote ME!).  And I especially know that I have worth to my dearest friends.  They don’t want a smarter or stronger or prettier dog – they love ME.

So you’re feeling inferior.  Well, look at the two of us.  I can almost certainly run faster than you.  I’m very sure I can bite harder and bigger than you can!  But you can probably talk.  You can probably grab things with your hand.  You probably can do math.  You can probably sing.  Well I can’t do any of those – so who’s the inferior one here?!

But you don’t need me to put down your sense of inferiority – if you liked and respected it, you would never have written that letter to me.  What you want is to move past it.  And the best technique I’ve ever heard for that is to master something.  Lots of people never master anything, so they don’t really realize how much they can do!  So is there something that you love?  Do you love music, or art, or building things?  Could you take a class, and learn to play the violin, or make beautiful pots, or rebuild a car engine?  Just the act of doing one of those things will make you feel immensely better about yourself.  And doing it to the degree of mastery?  Oh jillu, you won’t believe how good you’ll feel about yourself!  Like the day I caught a squirrel and brought it in and dropped it at Handsome’s feet as he was climbing out of the shower!  I felt so great!  (It was funny, his reaction wasn’t exactly what I expected though – something more like, um, terror!).

The other thing I really recommend is to try to catch yourself when you say things that put yourself down.  When you walk into a room of strangers, do you tell yourself “No one here wants to know me, I’m unwantable?”  Well, that would be a really good thing to talk yourself out of.  How about replacing it with “I don’t know anyone here, but if I’m friendly, probably someone here will like talking with me.”  It’s not huge confidence, but it’s the truth, right?


And after all these suggestions, I have one more thing I want you to do.  And that’s that I want you to get back to me after you try some of this.  Let me know how it’s going.  I would love to help you with this, and I’m sure it would do a lot of this website’s readers good to see how you work with it.


Deal?  Can we shake paws on it?


Great!  Good Luck, and I hope to hear back from you soon!






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