Do you build self-esteem from:

It is good to feel proud of having accomplished things. We accomplish so many things throughout our lives: from little things like tying our shoelaces, to bigger things like earning a university degree. We need to feel free to proudly recognise all of our achievements. This is an important step toward realising that we have an effect on the world and that we can choose what sort of effect.

We are all capable of taking various challenges in our lives and then step by step succeeding in sorting the challenges out. This is like deciding to bake a recipe, then step by step following the instructions until you have cookies. If upon occasion you seem to fail in a challenge, it is okay to ask for help, it is okay to pick yourself up and try again, it is even okay sometimes to just move on to something else: eventually the one failure will not seem so important.

Would you make little cookies with me?

Achievements can also be a comparative form of self esteem. Sadly, some people believe, "I am only worthwhile if I achieve"; rather than just, "I am worthwhile." We each have many ways in which we are worthwhile. Simply beginning with believing we are worthwhile helps us to start seeing some of the specifics, and to build on those to become an even more self-satisfied person. One of my favourite ways of being worthwhile: I am worthwhile because I am loving and I am loved. That is quite an achievement!

The care you put into your work can be a wonderful place where you can find self- satisfaction. You can then be proud of yourself for not only finishing a project, but for all the details you paid attention to in order to make the project extra special.

Care is different from perfectionism. Perfectionism makes it difficult to feel good about your work and your self, since you may never be satisfied with the details of your work. The skill is learning to know when it is time to finish a work, happily understanding that it is good enough, and that you can try new, different, and better things with your next project (something to look forward to). This is a form of self acceptance.

Helping other people is also a wonderful place to find self-satisfaction. Please remember that it requires a certain amount of self esteem to begin with.

Sometimes people want to rescue others, because they want to be rescued, but do not recognise that they need to rescue themselves first. The feeling can be: "I am not worthy of helping, others need it more." We are in a better position to help others when we are happy, healthy, and secure: the place where we can draw others up to the same desirable position and include them.

Help! I'll save you.

Sometimes people become sad when they help, because they feel it is entirely up to them to fix things, rather than recognising that we are all responsible for fixing our own lives. Sometimes people become sad because they focus so much on what needs fixing, that they do not see what is already fixed and working. We all need to be able to see the whole picture, then focus on the positive: what already is positive about a situation and what we can do to make the situation even better.

However, when we already are doing pretty well with our self esteem, helping others can lead us to recognise places within ourselves that could use more care. In this way we are helping ourselves while we are helping others.