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Self Esteem & Assertiveness Links       Books


Self-esteem, self-confidence, self-worth, self-acceptance


Self Esteem is about feeling good about yourself, knowing your good points, being satisfied with yourself, forgiving yourself, seeing yourself in positive ways.  It is doing the best for yourself, taking risks, accepting failure and learning from your mistakes.



Self-esteem is vital for our continuing success.  The way you feel about yourself has an effect upon the way you feel about others, and the way they feel about you.  Feeling good can be contagious.  If I'm with someone who's happy and confident - then my mood lifts a little too.


Be patient, kind and understanding with yourself.   Take time to feel pleased when you achieve something good.  Don’t blame yourself out of all proportion if something doesn’t go as you’d  planned.

Set achievable realistic goals and work to accomplish them.  When you achieve your goals, celebrate and get others to celebrate with you. 

Acknowledge your strengths   Write out a list of all the things you know you’re good at, from  dealing with people on the telephone, to making a wicked veggie lasagne.  You’ll be surprised at the lift it can give you.

Do not accept put-downs  Be assertive and let them know that you don’t like negative criticism. 

Accept compliments  Just say, thank you and smile.
Act the person you want to be   Play the new role long enough and you will become that person.
Visualise change  Imagine the person you want to become six months down the road.  Imagination is stronger than the will.

Eat well  If you find yourself getting anxious and irritable after having caffeine-laden drinks and sugary processed snacks, why not try cutting them down, or out altogether?

Stand, walk and sit properly – you will feel more confident.  Going for a brisk 20 minute walk will make you feel instantly fitter. 

Sort out your wardrobe  Give some of your clothes to charity.  If they don’t fit – they might be making you feel guilty.    If you’re unsure of how they look – keep them in a separate place and keep them for wearing around the house at the weekends.

Change your image   It could be a new haircut, new clothes, or different make-up. Feeling good about our personal appearance can give a great boost to our self-confidence.

New interest    Take up a new hobby or interest, join a new society, start a course or evening class.  Perhaps try some part-time or voluntary work.

“Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty”   One of the best ways to feel good about yourself is to do good things for others. 

Positive thinking  Learn to deal with any negative thoughts, counteract it with a positive thought.   If you say, “I’m sick and tired of this,” add, “so I’m going to change this”.   If you’re in a situation where people upset you, say, “No matter what you do or say to me, I am still a worthwhile person”.  Think of yourself as a loveable and capable person.  You came into this world that way, and that potential never changes.   Include more positive statements into your day.  Begin each day with an affirmation.

Reward yourself for your successes and achievements, big and small.

Give thanks to others - things they have done in the past, or recently.  Show your appreciation.

At the end of each day, ask yourself:      What have I tried today that I’ve never tried before?   What have I done today better than before?  Who are the people I have helped today?   Who has helped me today?   What gave me the most pleasure today?


Self Esteem for Children 

 Love unconditionally - Give them a sense of acceptance, belonging, security and support.  

 Acknowledge your child’s talents and skills

Praise, praise and more praise -  be generous but sincere

Celebrate achievements - however small

Display certificates and creations

Listen - to what your child is saying, their feelings, their anxieties, their opinions.   Acknowledge them and make it clear you value what they are saying.  Encourage expression of their thoughts and feelings.

Compromise and negotiate - rather than argue.  Although there are times when no must be no!

Use positive self-talk  - I can do this, I will do that

Make time - have fun together.  Laugh!!

Encourage self-reliance - asking a child to help out at home makes them feel needed and gives them a sense of purpose and achievement

Make goals realistic - don't set them too high, which sets them up for a fall.  Make them achievable in the short-term

Allow mistakes - let them know mistakes are OK.  I remember a junior school teacher used to say "a man who never made mistakes never made anything".

Failing a test is a minor set-back and nothing more.  It's a springboard to better things

Acknowledge talents and skills - encourage them in what they enjoy and/or in what they are good at.   Encourage hobbies and interests.

Socialise - if possible, and this will depend on your child's circumstances, encourage your child to invite schoolmates over

Encourage coping strategies - by whatever means. 

Think positively

Emphasise Dos rather than Don’ts.   Don’t label (“You’re so stupid”) – emphasise the action, the behaviour, and not the child, was wrong.   


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Self-Esteem & Assertiveness Links    Self-Esteem site
Learning to Soar  raising self-esteem of children with ADD
Building Self-Esteem in Children
How to develop self-esteem in our children
Self Esteem Advisory Service
Parenting & Self-Esteem
Parenting links (self-esteem)
8 steps to personal freedom
an Important Key to Well Being
Learn to be Assertive
Assertiveness Training
Total Success
Music Therapy for Personal Growth


Being Happy!
Mind Over Mood  - Self-Help with Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (Clinician's Guide also available)
Manage Your Mind 
Overcoming Low Self-Esteem
Self Esteem for Boys
Self Esteem for Girls
All That She Can Be


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Learning to be assertive will result in an increase in confidence, and you will be able to get other people to treat you the way you want to be treated.


Assertiveness, like self-esteem, can be affected by life events. 

Assertiveness is not being a bully or manipulating people.  Assertiveness is the ability to express yourself and communicate your needs in a straightforward, clear manner without hidden messages or meanings.  Assertiveness is often associated with positive self-esteem and a better self-image.


Assertiveness is an attitude of mind and a way of relating to others.   It is an attitude that says "here I am, a person with unique gifts to give to the world.  Who are you?  What do you bring?”  It is a positive, optimistic attitude, valuing oneself and others, seeking respectful communication with others yet at the same time, able to set boundaries, to protect oneself from attack and hostility.


Being Assertive means:


You can say “Yes” when you mean “Yes”, and “No” when you mean “No”.  You don’t agree to things you don’t like, or give up things you do like, simply in order to please someone else.

You can communicate clearly to others what you are feeling and what you want from them, in a calm way.

You are not afraid to speak for fear of conflict

You feel good about yourself.  You feel entitled to be here, to be who you are, and to express what you feel. 

You can set clear boundaries, and feel entitled to defend them

You enjoy life and have no difficulty in taking pleasure; you can give and receive both compliments and criticisms, learning from both.


There are 3 different behaviour approaches to communicating with others:

Aggressive - Assertive – Passive


Being aggressive is telling others what to do.  Bullying, or manipulation.  Imagine 2 people trying to talk to one another.  One person starts throwing darts at the other person.  What is the automatic response of the person on the receiving end?   To put up a shield (close down communications) and start firing darts back (return aggressive communications with aggressive communications).  Obviously communication breaks down at this point.  Aggression is the desire to invade another person’s space and exercise power over them.  It’s mirror image is being passive, or victim behaviour – a willingness to allow others to control you, or to invade your space.  Assertiveness is entirely different – an assertive person claims their own personal space, sets their own boundaries to it, and is prepared to defend it, but does not seek to invade anybody else’s.  They do not try to control others, nor allow others to control them.



How do we start?

The first part about being assertive is to be a little selfish, but in moderation. 


We all want to be respected, considered, and for people to be polite to us.

Our body language and posture can say a great deal, but sometimes if we are uneasy or bored, people won’t pick up on our body language and we need to say something.  What do we say, and how do we say it?


Assertiveness is about preserving people’s feelings, not hurting them.  Soften the blow.   Consider the other person’s feelings.   Be gentle.  Be tactful.  Try to soften the blow when offering criticism.  “I know you don’t mean anything by it but…”      


If you say to a friend “thank you for that cup of tea, I enjoyed it very much” the chances are you will be offered another.  If you simply grunt, you won’t!

Being assertive is being honest, straightforward and easily understandable.

We have the right to refuse unreasonable requests, to be treated with respect.


Are there any dangers of starting to be assertive?

Will friends and family be able to cope?  Do you feel they might reject you or become angry?  You may be afraid to offend them.  All those reactions are possible.

But being tactful, straightforward and honest usually means people will respond favourably.


Start by saying thank you, showing your appreciation.

Then move on to speaking to family or close friends, or to children. 


Use body language – eye contact and posture.


Criticise the action not the person! 

It may be a lot more subtle than that.  A small gesture, with a smile may be all that is needed to get the message across.


It can also sometimes be assertive to do nothing.  Particularly if the person is a stranger or if it’s not important enough.

Another situation may be where being assertive may generate anger, such as the gun wielding mugger.  If you say, “excuse me put I feel upset when you point that gun at me”, the mugger may be more inclined to pull the trigger!  Just hand over the money!


If you become angry, don’t try to be assertive.  Say nothing, walk away.  When you have calmed down, then you may go back and find the person and tell them how their action made you feel.


You always have 3 choices whatever the situation:

      Put up with it

      Change it

      Walk away


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Self-Help Books for Mental Health

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17 March 2002