Can you really change your self esteem?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-09-2010
Can you really change your self esteem?
Thu, 11-29-2012 - 1:15pm

All the time I see articles to improve self esteem but I want to hear from someone who has actually improved their self esteem and hear how they did it. Is there anyone here who has done it?

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-01-2012
Thu, 11-29-2012 - 1:59pm

Yeah, I think you can... in fact, I know it can be done. But it always helps to have a good support system and the ability to remove yourself from toxic enviroments. 

At 12, my daughter had really low self-esteem; she had started a new school. She started exhibiting an unusual shyness there, especially when compared to her personality at her previous school. At first, I attributed it the newness of the school and people; she'd had a really close group of friends in her first school and they'd all spent the first 7 years together. But then I started noticing other things, especially how quick she was to take offense at any little comment at home. After talking with her and one of her old friends that had made the move to the new school, too, I finally realized she was dealing with coming into a new group by making herself the butt of jokes. Not just a time or two, but in everything. Her grades begin to fall and she became extremely belligerant at home. 

Long story short, I finally that she was no longer the same person she'd been and after an extremely intense blowup, I realized I had to do something... the school was no help and it was a completly toxic enviroment for her at that stage in her life. Any positive steps forward to how she felt about herself were shot down once she went to school; she had fallen into such a habit of "humorously " putting herself down, she was starting to believe herself. I made a decision to do something I'd never thought I'd do... I pulled her out of school and started homeschooling her. My thinking was that she could learn anywhere, but her self-esteem ... well, once that's lost, it's extremely difficult to rebuild. 

That became part of our curriculum, too; we talked for hours about how she saw herself, what her dreams and goals were and how and what she could do to reach them. We worked on understanding the difference between constructive criticism as opposed to destructive criticism, how to value your own strengths and abilities and allowing yourself to feel good about accomplishments. Her confidence and self-worth begin to return, her grades improved and you could just see she liked herself more each day.

Today, 12 years later, she's probably the most self confident young person I know. Not long ago, after being promoted to supervisor at her job, she told me that she really believed she would never have made it that far if she hadn't been able to rebuild her self-esteem.