2 Secret Self-Esteem Tools for Tackling Your Self-Hate (Part 1)

I’m re-reading a remarkable, practical self-help book, Self-Esteem, which is in its third edition and subtitled, A proven program of cognitive techniques for assessing, improving & maintaining your self-esteem. Between them, the authors, Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning have written many, many other self-help guides as well.  The first time I read Self-Esteem, and then only partially, was a few years ago. So I never got to page 247 or beyond, Chapter 14 “I’m Still Not OK,” nor Chapter 15, “Core Beliefs.”

And, wow.  This is a remarkable book…and truly a book for us.

Here’s what I found in the first paragraph of Ch. 14, page 247:

Sheila, a 29-year-old waitress, had been fighting hard to control her critic.  But she remained convinced that her low self-esteem had far more to do with a basic feeling of worthlessness than with her criticizing inner voice.  She put it this way to her therapist:  “It’s a feeling that I’m bad, screwed up.  Just a gut feeling.  Like I’m unworthy…like I don’t deserve anything.  The critic comes from the feeling.  When I attack myself I’m just putting words to a feeling that’s already there.  Even if I strangled the critic, wiped him out, I’m sure this self-hate would still be there, sticking to me…”

That’s when I was totally and completely enthusiastic and a believer in this book.  Until that chapter, I was like, “Right, these self-esteem building tools are great, really great.  And these tools are absolutely worth putting into practice, no question about that.”  But I had this lingering doubt…that the tools would only glance my surface.  But the riches, for people like us at least, are in these those two final chapters. Those chapters help with the extra-hard-to-reach-places inside us.


Buyer beware:  this anchoring technique I’m about to describe comes in a Chapter 14, which is filled with rich, rich information and tools that support the function and success of anchoring and self-esteem.  It’s not going to be completely successful in a vacuum. But, clearly I believe it’s useful unto itself and that’s why I’m sharing it here.

How to Do It – 5 Steps (about 10-15 minutes)

1.  Sit quietly with your eyes closed

2. Take a couple deep breaths and let your surroundings go

3.  Call forward a time in your life when you felt like YOU, when you felt great, safe, creative, alive, clear and unencumbered by anything oppressive.  From the book: “Notice everything about that time:  the sights, the sounds, the tastes and smells and feelings. See how you looked, how others looked. Hear the confidence in your voice, her the praise from others. Let yourself feel the confidence and self-acceptance.”

Keep your eyes closed.

4.  Now firmly touch your Left wrist with the fingers of your Right hand, keeping your Self vision clear, and seal it in.  What you’re doing is “programming” the positive feelings into your wrist.

5.  The authors recommend repeating the above 4 more times, so that you have “programmed” a total of 5 positive visions of yourself into your body.  I recommend it too.

I did 4 memories/visions in total.  The memories floated right up, very easily loosened.  Just the process of recalling times when I felt unencumbered and my true Self, that process alone, was wonderful and helpful.  To have all of that sealed-in for later recall is even better.  I found that most of my memories involved physical activity – skating, walking and swimming.  All in the out-of-doors and all solo activities.  I learned how important that is for my true happiness.

Touch your wrist at some point later today, after you do the 5 steps, and you’ll feel the magic working.  (I’d love to hear how this works for all of you – feel free to comment!)


When you need it, you can touch your wrist and your body will serve up positive feelings that you “programmed” into it to help you feel confident when you need it.  (This  technique, “anchoring,” comes from Neuro-Linguistic Programming. “…an anchor to be any stimulus that consistently evokes the same response.”)

Be kind to yourself.

PS:  Here’s the book ($12) – Self-Esteem: A Proven Program of Cognitive Techniques for Assessing, Improving, and Maintaining Your Self-Esteem





  1. julie says:

    Hi, I just found this blog – it’s such a fantastic resource for adult children – many, many thanks for it. The above exercise sounds wonderful and I’d love to try it. But what if I can’t remember a single time when I felt myself completely? Or, what if the only positive moments come from situations where I received validation or praise from the outside? I’ll keep raking my memory for the happy moments, though. It sounds like a fantastic way to pick myself up. Thank you so much for posting it.

    • Amy Eden says:

      I’m glad you found my blog! Thanks for the comment! Can you remember a time when you felt yourself completely even if only for a few moment…(sometimes it’s in nature that this happens for us)…even if what preceded and followed that tiny moment were troubling moments? If so, seize on that moment, no matter how small. Consider it a seed to invest in, to water and feed.
      What’s not OK about validation from others? What’s wrong with positive moments that were fed by the approval of others? Feeling lifted up and more like yourself as a result of praise from the outside is not “bad.” Even if where you want to get to in your self-development is a place where you’re eventually fed from your own internal praise, outside praise can be a helpful way to learn how powerful praise is. (There are people who give praise freely, selflessly, and feel good doing so – this is a good thing.) You might be holding yourself to an expectation of feeling good only from your own internal source… I don’t know if I could go it totally alone; I’ve learned about what I have to give, and what builds my self-esteem, by hearing the praise of others — by feeling that “click” of resonance, that I believe what they’re saying to be true.
      Where it gets tricky is “needing” the praise of others over time to stay “up.” But that can be worried about after we learn how to give ourselves ample inner love, inner acceptance, and be a home to yourself. Until then, try not to judge the good feelings you derive from validation from others. My parents didn’t give me validation (God, if only they had!!) so I hungrily drink it up where I can get it.
      Hope that answers your thought…?

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