Leah Koenig, MA, LMHC
Parent Coach ~ Family Therapist

Bellevue Family Counseling, LLC
1601 116th Ave NE, Ste. 102
Bellevue, WA  98004

Self Esteem is how we value our own self.

Self Esteem

What is Self Esteem and how do I build it up?

by Leah Koenig MA, LMHCA
PCI Certified Parent Coach
® & Family Therapist


Do you notice the negative thoughts and work to change them?

Are you good at acknowledging your own strengths?

Do you let doubts about your own self-worth interfere with your dreams?

How we lose self esteem

Self-esteem is simply how we value ourselves; it is how we perceive our value to the world and others.  When we no longer give ourselves enough love and acceptance, when we do not value our own self, we begin to look outwardly to others to get it.

Looking outside for validation is partly natural because as humans in relationships we want to be accepted, appreciated, important, close, understood and have people reflect the good things about us.  When we are little and do not get these needs met from our parents, we wonder why?  Eventually it occurs to us that something is wrong with us.  That way it makes sense and we have some control to change it, at least we believe that at the time. This same dynamic plays out when we are in adult relationships fighting for love and security

When someone actually gives us a morsel of approval life is wonderful.  The grey clouds recede and we feel the sunshine of acceptance.  However, sometimes in this process we give away the power to value our own self and can become addicted to getting this need met from others.

Now imagine what happens when our pre-selected approval person is critical or dismissive.  This becomes emotionally painful and taps into our own fearful belief that perhaps we are not loveable, not good enough or not competent.   Worse, if no one is around at all to validate us and offer that acceptance, we experience emptiness and perhaps depression.

The problem with only or mostly cultivating self-worth from others is important to understand.  Since we cannot ever control the thoughts and impressions of other people, we become anxious about managing people and situations to get that approval or at least escape disapproval.  As we seek this acceptance from others, we sacrifice or even forget what we ourselves desire. 


We forget how to be ourselves and . . .


We lose our resilience; the strength and flexibility to take charge of our lives and grow from our mistakes without the fear of rejection.

We don’t know how to ask for our needs be met.   You might say, “I don’t even know what I need, but it doesn’t matter because I certainly won’t risk asking.  It probably will not be met and I do not want that disappointment.”

We hesitate to put up good healthy boundaries to care for our self.  This is like an early life lesson.  Don’t give your stuff away and expect others to care for it in the same way.  No one else is going to take care of your self-esteem as preciously as you.

Are you capable of cultivating new self-esteem?

Think about how you have the ability to offer pure forgiveness, positive love and compassionate support to your children, friends, and the stranger at the grocery store who dropped their bags or the pet that just shredded your couch.  Can you do that?  I’ll bet you can.  Now here is the simple yet hard part:  imagine giving yourself the same kind of unconditional love.  Accept yourself for who you are right now. All the greatness and all that dark stuff too.

Repeat after me now and any time you feel low:  “In this moment, I am exactly as good as I need to be.”  What would it be like to fully accept this as truth?

Creating Freedom; one thought at a time

Thoughts are a powerful component of self-esteem. You see, beliefs create your thoughts, thoughts create and control your feelings, feelings create actions, and your actions result in a certain outcome.  Beliefs, thoughts, feelings, actions all give you the results you get in life.

How We Pump up Your Self-Esteem

Step 1:   Find the limiting thoughts you think that drive your emotions, actions and results. In other words, what thoughts contribute to patterns of behavior that are not meeting your needs?  Find those destructive thoughts and toss them out; they do not serve you.  We all have some favorites that are re-played over and over in our mind. Can you identify your own negative mantra?

Step 2: Learn a new way to think.  This is the hard part.  Fear will be sitting on your shoulder screaming at you desperately.  Fear will tell you that you are not good enough, that you are not capable, that you are not deserving. Those are lies.  Do not build your life on lies.  Replace the lies with positive statements of capability and belief in yourself.  Putting good strong duct tape on fear’s mouth is a big part of the work I do with clients so we can work together to flush out the lies and live truth and happiness.

Step 3: Find freedom from the negative thoughts work to stay in positive place.  Yes, it is possible for you!  This freedom just speaks differently than fear, so it is easy to miss.  When you find it, you will start to make decisions based on loving yourself, not from fear. You will be able to take action not based on fear’s incessant voice, but rather on new positive thoughts.  Together we can create new patterns of behavior that turn you into your own fierce supporter of You. 

You are who you have to live with the whole of your life. Isn’t it time to start creating an awesome partnership with you?  It’s time to take your power back.  It’s time to grab your self -esteem and bring it back home.