How to Improve Your Self Esteem

03/27/2015 10:20 am ET | Updated May 27, 2015
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Without realizing it we've been trying to improve the relationship we have with ourselves all of our lives, just not effectively. Most of us wish we could have higher self esteem.

The good news is that we don't have to go from having low self esteem to having high self esteem; we only need to improve our self esteem a certain margin to make a critical difference in our life and accomplishments.

The relationship we have with our self is the most important in our life. It is the template upon which all other relationships are built, a source of well-being, and the driving force in our choices and behaviors -- the foundation of our psychological functioning. How we feel about ourselves impacts the way we negotiate our daily life and affects the quality of love and connection in our life. Small wonder we want to increase our self esteem quotient.

Our "sense of self" is as unique to us as our fingerprints. It represents an accumulation of beliefs -- conscious and unconscious -- about how we perceive our relative worthiness, lovability, and personal power. Based on trial and error, we unwittingly and automatically estimate our rank in the pecking order and how attachment-worthy we think we are. How high do we rate in our ability to attract others of high rank?

When we perceive deficits in our rank or abilities, we infect our sense of self with self-disappointment, self-doubt, self-frustration, even self-loathing For instance, if we compare ourselves to others who seem more confident than we, we can become angry at ourselves for this perceived lacking. Self anger causes us to reject -- abandon -- ourselves. Self abandonment is an insidious process that shrouds the innermost self in layers of shame and blame.

By resolving the anger we harbor toward ourselves and reversing self abandonment, we are able to raise our self esteem quotient. This doesn't happen by osmosis or just by willing it to be so. There is an exercise called Separation Therapy that helps us accomplish this task, even if improving our self esteem has been eluding us all our lives.

The Abandonment Connection: We all have some self-abandonment lurking within our emotional recesses. Abandonment is a universal, primal fear -- a fear of being left, of not being 'enough.' Some of us, based on our earlier experiences and dispositions, are more prone to abandonment anxiety than others.

Abandonment fear, working beneath the surface, can trigger self defeating behaviors, i.e. it can inhibit us from taking risks, handicap us with emotional hypersensitivity, or bog us down with performance anxiety. When this fear gets the best of us, we doubt our worthiness all the more. We become inpatient and angry at our most vulnerable feelings for making us feel weak. But being angry at our feelings means we are blaming the innermost part of ourselves -- the core. This, we inculcate self-abnegation which erodes our self esteem.

Feelings are involuntary. Rejecting them means rejecting ourselves- our inner child self. This misplaced blame is the basis for self-hatred, the corrosive element that has been damaging our relationship with ourselves all along. A vicious cycle!

No matter how deep-rooted or long-standing our issues, Separation Therapy can improve the way we feel about ourselves, resolve self abandonment, and boost our life forward.

Until now, the main tool for building self-esteem was to give ourselves positive affirmations. You may have tried it. Why wasn't it effective? Because when you stood before your mirror and said things like, "I love you just the way you are," you made your self the object of your 'fix-it' energy which unwittingly triggered some anxiety, causing self anger to enter the floodgates. This contaminated your sense of self with subliminal negative advertising messages, subverting your endeavor to love yourself unconditionally.

"I've been telling myself I love myself every day, but I must be doing it wrong, or maybe I'm a hopeless case, because I still don't notice a change."

Your outside ear hears, "I love you just the way you are," but your inside ear incorporates this as: "I love you even though you're a basket case and ruin everything with your damned anxiety!" Or "I would love you if you had more confidence!"

The exercise I am proposing does not rely on reciting affirmations, but provides a practical, hands-on tool for administering love and acceptance directly to our inner self by separating the inner child from the outer child - feelings from behaviors. It works incrementally like physical therapy for the brain, to nurture our inner self and target self-sabotaging patterns. It works through a series of action steps that help us take positive strides and accept ourselves and all of our feelings unconditionally, especially our most vulnerable ones. Moving forward step by step we systematically replace self anger with healing doses of self love.

There are lots of materials on hand to show us how and support our progress.