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Ask HN: Courses/resources to improve my self-esteem and believe in myself more?
198 points by tinktank on Jan 19, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 131 comments
I've been well aware I suffer from low self-esteem for many years and have worked with a therapist to try and address this but it's obvious I've got as far as I can go with my current therapist. Before I just change therapists I'm looking for empirical evidence from HN readers that might have gone a different route that has yielded tangible (if personal) results. Does anyone have anything to recommend?

Yes, I wish I could PM you.

I spent lots of time in front of therapists as well. What I got for it was an education in how I got to be who I am today. My recommendation is to save your money, watch School of Life videos (https://www.theschooloflife.com/) and you can figure out why you are you. The short answer is; your upbringing, because it's very hard to change that internal original programming.

The goal of therapy is 'know yourself'. So when you do eventually do 'know yourself' therapy is not going to be much help; you have achieved the goal of therapy.

(Side note: If you have had recent or unresolved trauma then 'yourself' has changed, go back to therapy to locate the new you.)

Although I do not like the term AT ALL, it sounds like you know who you are; you are a person with 'low self esteem'. I too, had "Low self esteem" as the therapists put it. What they didn't say is "Ok here's what you do with that".

Here is what I heard: "Go volunteer. Give back. Help others.".

Bullshit. That is misguided advice. You end up acting charitable and feeling used.

Or I hear "Go out, meet people."

Also, bad advice. I'm struggling and you are asking me to put social interactions on top of that too? No.

A Zen Buddhist monk once told me something that I think is applicable to you. "You can not directly control your emotions, they are too powerful, all you can control is your behavior. Control your behavior long enough your emotions will change."

That goes directly inline with the advice I'm about to give you, which is simply this:

Be competent.

Focus your energy on directing your behavior on being absolutely competent in one single area of your life and get mastery over it; absolute competence.

Once you feel like you have changed and have gained sufficient competency, move to the next thing. Build yourself up brick by brick by your actions and behavior.

It is much, much harder than just sitting talking to a therapist, but an order of magnitude more effective.

Can you please elaborate more on being competent, and how ti is related to controlling your behaviour? Do you mean, say, to fully focus on mastering professional skills?

Not necessarily just professional skills, but all skills.

I am saying that confidence comes from being able to navigate the world with skills you have learned and not from dwelling on your history (alone or with a therapist) long after you already understand it.

Your emotions are too powerful to control and you can't change the past. Literally the only thing you can control is your behavior. What you personally, actually physically do.

If you take that control and focus it on being competent; you will gain confidence. You will trust yourself.

Meditation and therapy are good for introspection and knowing yourself. I have had a ton of breakthroughs of self understanding with both of those. But it's the times that I took action that made an actual tangible difference in my life.

I am a competent singer (for instance). That did not come easy. I spent hundreds of hours at karaoke sitting there my heart pounding waiting to get called up in front of people I didn't know. I have been boo'd. I have been on a stage when someone yelled YOU SUCK when my new girlfriend was there.

I kept going back and now, at the beginning of the night when everyone is far too sober to sing, I sing 4-5 songs. I have absolute confidence that if there is a microphone somewhere I will walk up to it and sing. Without music or prompting. I love music and that was my driver, but it was the focus of my behavior that lead me to being competent at singing. When I was single I'd ask attractive women to go up and sing with me. It bonds you to sing with someone, it feels great. I am not a great singer, but I'm more than good enough for karaoke, which is all I care about.

Replace singing with communication, coding, negotiating, driving, cooking, debating, talking to women, bidding on jobs, leading developers, writing, etc.

I have done this successfully with two things in my life: dating and interviewing. There's some overlap, but I sucked at both. The only way I realized I would ever get better in any reasonable amount of time was to do it over and over and over again.

I will say, it is emotionally very difficult and painful, but leads to the most rapid results.

Two major things happened to me from massive amounts of repetition: 1) I lost my fear and could be my authentic self (which is maybe what confidence is) 2) I really started to understand what 'good' and 'bad' were within the context of whatever I was trying to improve.

I would add, if you decide to do something like this, make sure to take care of yourself. Facing your fears like this, especially if you're doing it aggressively, is stressful. Make sure to exercise or do something else that allows you to blow off emotional steam.

That's awesome. Your comments are spot on.

1. The very definition of confidence is exposing your true self to the world and being OK with how it is received. 2. Knowing what good/bad are. Yes, that helped you become confident. You began to have better 'taste' and you had the confidence to know AND admit which side of it you fell on.

> lost my fear and could be my authentic self (which is maybe what confidence is)

can you share more about this? material you have read and steps you have taken that helped you with your dating life and more specifically with being more confidence.

The major step was deciding to do a ton of dating in a shorter period of time. I would go on 3-4 dates a week. It's exhausting to do this, so I could only manage this pace for a month or two before taking a few weeks off and trying again.

What I found is that the repetition allows you to reframe the situation. I started to no longer 'get my hopes up' or really anticipate the date, so that I wouldn't have an agenda coming into it. Instead it was much more casual: just get to know them and see if there's a good vibe or connection.

I want to point out that this is different than trying to sleep with a bunch of women. I was really going for connection, and if you go on a lot of dates you start being able to tell pretty quickly if there's a connection.

I really do think there's something to essentially 'brute forcing' your way to getting better at something. Make it so your primary goal is learning and getting better, and, remarkably, you will.

If you focus on being FUN to be around, dating won't be a problem. Are you fun? Or do you talk about serious things all the time and put that weight on everyone?

Figure out how to make people laugh, which starts with enjoying laughing yourself. Get very good at pointing out that things are funny and having a good laugh. Laugh at yourself.

That will go a long way in dating.

Personally I don’t think it has to be professional, but it should probably be a skill of substance (e.g. not mastery of video gaming). Fitness, a martial art, carpentry, a musical instrument, or a trade (plumbing, etc) all come to mind. And specifically, master of just 1 element of one of those, at a time.

Agreed and those are all great pursuits. I would also say don't forget things like listening, communication and recognizing your own feelings, as skills as well.

To put what OP wrote in tl;dr format: Get good, like REALLY good, at one specific thing. You don’t have to reach levels of a pro, but if I ask you “what are you good at” you wouldn’t even have to think before you told me.

This mastery will give you confidence.

Edit: it also helps to have a hobby. Pro tip: media consumption is not a hobby. It’s just passive entertainment.

Right. Get good at something and remember when some one tries to size you up. Even if you are in a position to not respond just remembering how good you are changes your body posture and expressions. The down side is sometimes if makes you feel a bit of a dick to think like this but its okay.

Bodybuilding. Seriously. Go to the gym and lift heavy. Lift daily. Spend 1.30-2 hours daily lifting weights. Start with a trainer if you have never done any competitive sports before. Fix your diet and eat a lot of protein.

I promise you that you will not recognize yourself in 6 months to a year. Both physically and psychologically.

IMHO a lot of issues we face in our times are because of the lack of exercise.

Totally agree with this. Getting a trainer is key if you are new - they take all the brain work out of it for you: so you just have to show up. They will also ensure your form is good, so you don’t get injured 2 months in (which happens when people lurch off the couch and into a 5x/week CrossFit regimen). If that’s cost prohibitive, read Starting Strength or check out 5x5 (five by five) for workout programming.

Regarding self-esteem: in addition to improving your physical appearance and general feeling of well-being, exercise also teaches you intimately how to use your will to push through problems/adversity, which builds self-confidence immensely.

Building yourself is also more rewarding than building any work project: nobody can take from you what you build for yourself, and you get out of it directly what you put in. How often can you say that about work?

I did this 3 years ago and it will improve almost every single aspect of your life. Confidence, focus, energy, and general daily attitude/mood. Few things to note. Technique is extremely important. Don't just lift heavy, get a trainer or join a group class and learn the correct technique first. Then lift heavy, easiest way to start is to do the Strong 5x5, get to know it well, then slowly experiments with other programs.

3x a week will work wonders.

I even turned around a bout of depression starting with one really great 2 hour martial arts class per week.

Part of turning things around is being willing to start small and increase life changes in manageable increments, keep progressing.

Don't want to post a shallow comment, but this 100%.

My life turned around just after 6 months of working out regularly. It's easy to improve self esteem when others see you in a much better light, and working out will make that happen. From physical transformation (no matter how small) to small dopamine highs you will get after putting in work.

In 2009, I had been depressed for 3 years after I arrived in the United States. I made no friends in that time, and I gained about 70 lbs. High school was rough, then the year before my senior year, I started lifting. I didn't do competition, but I started working out regularly to improve my physic. I can say that just being able to see daily progress and feel in control of something made a difference. I read some self help books, but lifting definitely gave me a boost in my esteem and made me feel that I could make changes in my life and that I wasn't powerless.

I agree with this, but do it for yourself, not (for the opinion of) others. It's easy to make this a superficial exercise (doing it to pose and look good etc), but it can become a longer-lasting and healthier habit if you focus on the wonderful impact it will have on your well-being. The superficial fringe benefits are nice by-products.

When I switched my mindset from the superficial to something more meaningful, regular exercise started making more sense to me, I was more comfortable with my motivations, and I found I stuck to it for longer.

All the best :)

As a powerlifter who has dealt with depression many times in the past, I totally agree. The beauty of lifting is that it gives you a set of goals with very clear success metrics that are readily attainable. There are also well proven programs for success into the intermediate level that don't require much tuning regardless of discipline (bodybuilding, powerlifting, weight lifting, strongman, etc). No matter what happens in your professional or personal life, the iron will always be there for you :)


This right here. I'm not a bodybuilder but I do get my weekly cardio in. Makes you feel powerful in a way nothing else does. If you don't exercise regularly I'd focus on this first.

Another +1 on this. This seriously fixes a lot, not everything, but a lot. Been doing it for almost 10 years now, and when you fall off track or get in future ruts. It's such a great tool to get back on track. Getting a great workout in always seems to right the ship and set you up for course corrections. Oh also give Brazilian jiu jitsu a try.

Can not upvote this enough. It does get easier, but you have to do it every day, that's the hard part, but it does get easier

The initial days will be the toughest, it's only after a couple of weeks that you will be waiting everyday for your gym time.

This is going to sound like circular reasoning, but bear with me:

In order to raise self esteem, one must do esteemable things.

Volunteer, be kind, let people in in traffic, work out, do these things consciously. You have to spend energy every day. Choose to spend it in positive ways.

Note: the results are not instantaneous. Nor are they overpowering. It's subtle, and you often only notice after things have been better for a while. Sometimes, others in your life notice for you.

Try to stick with it for 90 days. Worst case scenario, you made the world a little bit better for three months. Hard to lose.

I agree with everything you said. I would also add jiu-jitsu. Few things in life can both take someone with too much ego and put it in check, and take someone with a lack of self-esteem/confidence and give it to them. It's hard to overstate the life lessons learned through training.

I came to this thread to post about BJJ, found that someone already did!

Jiu-jitsu's actually not even my preferred martial art; however, for someone looking to improve themselves I think its about the best there is for a couple of reasons:

- Since it's grappling, you can spar from pretty much day one with minimal chance of injury (compare this with something like boxing where sparring means getting punched in the face). In addition to the martial advantages, sparring is a great way to build confidence.

- Jiu-jitsu is very learnable. Virtually everyone who trains it seriously for a few years becomes a formidable fighter.

- You tend to meet people from many different backgrounds and walks of life. Also, I've found BJJ practitioners to be very welcoming.

- Since competition tends to be an important part of BJJ, there is sort of a built in assumption that everyone is there to help each other become a badass. Even if competition doesn't really interest you, I think that sort of environment translates to people helping you become a more confident person.

- There is a lot to learn and people are always innovating.

- Since many other martial arts do not practice ground fighting, if you eventually decide that some other style of martial art is the one that's right for you, having trained BJJ will always be an asset.

Note: I mention becoming a good fighter or a "badass" because those terms are easy to understand. I don't mean to suggest that you should become some sort of macho, aggressive jerk. From what I've observed, even if someone starts training the martial arts because "they have something to prove" as they get more experienced it stops being about proving how tough they are.

Thanks for expanding :)

The badass part is interesting. Knowing that someone who knows more BJJ than you will beat you, regardless of size and strength I think balances people out. Also, aggressive jerks either self select out or get the aggressive jerk beat out of them while learning. I haven't met an aggressive jerk yet whose ego survives getting choked out by a 120# woman.

You learn to relax, under threat of death, in bjj also

+1, BJJ kills the ego quickly and forces you to harness your kneejerk self. Started out getting out-classed by everyone, from middle aged heavyweight blue belts to a 14 year old prodigy for months but I learned so much that I’m glad. I find that it triggers the fight-or-flight instinct for me because tapping is like simulated death. I wouldn’t say that confidence is guaranteed, but the cycle of learning in BJJ is so rewarding that it’s hard not to come out with a positive outlook.

Totally agree with this. Boxing is also another one that can really boost your self esteem. Just make sure you get in with a good crowd of people, have a good professional coach. 1-on-1 sessions id also recommend. You can do this regardless of age.

I've tried BJJ, weights and now am on year 2 of 1 on 1 boxing lessons with a former pro UFC fighter and boxing seems to me (unexperienced opinion) as by far the slowest, least effective of the three. And by a fairly meaningful margin. But maybe I'm just bad.

Its really hard to retrain bad impressions of how to punch, stand, step, and weave. BJJ does not come with so much prior baggage to upack, but it does have a more technical sequence of moves to learn.

I volunteered in the past and it only made things worse. It felt like I'm solving the problems of other people but there is no one who is willing to help me solve my issues.

Yeah, but wouldn't you end up as the stereotypical "mr. Nice Guy"?

Also, you have to be a little more specific. For example writing open source software could be considered "volunteer work", but is probably not what you meant.

The stereotypical "nice guy" is a term for someone who thinks they're a nice guy, but then turns into an asshole when they don't get what they want. Not related.

Or even more specifically: it’s a person who has an ulterior motive for being nice instead of being altruistic for its own sake.

Yes you would. Exactly why when you do not feel good about yourself, dragging yourself into helping others is just going to make you feel awkward, fake and used. Someone who is not feeling good about who they are should probably focus their energy inward for a while.

I've always been happiest when I have regular volunteer work that I'm doing. I've volunteered in homeless shelters, as a crisis counselor, and doing wildlife rehab. The work is never glamorous, but gets me out of my head and using my hands again. On the best days, I can see that what I'm doing has a real, tangible impact on another living being, and that gives me really great joy. On the worst days, I'm still "in it" with a community of people who are dedicated to the same cause.

I've never felt awkward, fake, or used. I've only felt like it's given me community, purpose, and meaning in my life. Your mileage may vary, but volunteering has gotten me through some pretty dark times in my life.

Changing your perspective can be important here, and optimism can be useful to nurture and uphold. Martin Seligman is a renowned psychologist researching such topics, and his book Learned Optimism [1] is illuminating. My father introduced me to this book at point in my life where I was questioning my own abilities and my own future. It helped me breakdown negative thought patterns.

I've also recently learned that Coursera has a Foundations of Positive Psychology Specialization [2] put on by UPenn (where Seligman is a professor) -- it includes a course on Positive Psychology taught by Selgiman.

[1.] Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life - https://www.amazon.com/Learned-Optimism-Change-Your-Mind/dp/...

[2.] Coursera Specialization: https://www.coursera.org/specializations/positivepsychology#...

While Martin Seligman didn't make it on my list in my comment. I read him as well and IMO he's completely legit as a psychologist (way more legit than I am, and I even published a paper on the neuroscience/psychology of gamer frustration and engagement). He has studied the concept of learned helplessness (a fascinating concept) and optimism itself.

Simply following his advice will make anyone's life more awesome.

I would love to read that paper of yours if you have it handy!

Email me, this account is pseudo-anonymous.

As a child of the 90's, I recall the self-esteem movement. All kids get a ribbon. All kids participate. Tell all kids how good they are. I think the movement missed the boat. The key word is "self" -- it doesn't come from others (though others might help you see it). Kids knew they sucked at a sport; the ribbon didn't really do much.

To gain self esteem, you must accomplish things. The good news? You get to pick the things. The hard part might be seeing what you've accomplished.

Lift weights and track progress. It is great to see the first time you lift 100, 200, and/or 300 pounds. Grow a garden. Raise a plant. Train a dog. Build a website. Create something tangible. Create something intangible. Finish a book. Have a fun conversation with someone. Help someone. Volunteer. There are so many ways to impact your life or the lives of those around you. Take time to notice the positive impact your actions have on yourself and others. And know that you don't have to be perfect.

Related - respect isn't given. It's earned.

Hi! Tell us a bit more about yourself, I bet there's loads of stuff that you already _should_ feel great about but might be struggling to see. Given that you were brave enough to post this under your real username I took the liberty of browsing some of your comments and I don't know if this helps at all, but you've got lots of things to be proud of. You're smart and well educated, you're paid well in an interesting sounding job. You also have by far the most interesting side hustle of anyone I've come across on here. On top of that you have a nice way of interacting with people, you're generous with praise, inquisitive, even handed and empathic. Kudos!

But, given all that and where you find yourself emotionally, I wonder if you've perhaps made a bunch of choices you're not happy with, and now you're a bit burnt out. Might I ask, what options do you have in your life right now? How locked in do you feel to your current path?

Insecurity comes from you comparing yourself to others, which, in reality, is silly once you've experienced/seen enough. Not to say it's easy to get past, but there are ways to sort of clear that up. I mainly use sorts of meditation and read quite a bit on religion, philosophy, and psychology.

I suffered from major depression most of my life until last summer when, after trying to work out what was going on in my head, was able to essentially remove what I thought I was going to live with the rest of my life. So it's possible.

My advice to you, and anyone dealing with mental/emotional health issues, is to analyze yourself. Ask yourself questions about yourself and the environment around you. Follow your own intuition and curiosity, if you really want to get better you will find your own way to do it; you just have to put in the effort to do and look.

You can get better, but only you can do it for yourself.

As someone who is also suffering from low self-esteem issues for long time please see a therapist (not CBT therapy, I'd argue a lot of self-therapy books philosophically are some variations of CBT techniques).

My self-esteem issues are the products of childhood abuse and trauma. I was in denial about my trauma, but therapy helped me accept the reality and work on treating the root cause, not the the symptomps. Your self-esteem issues might not root from abuse. But it's a good idea to get help from a professional. Otherwise you might be just treating the symptomps, not the disease itself.

The problem with "professionals" is that they are not incentivized to help you fix root causes either.

> The problem with "professionals" is that they are not incentivized to help you fix root causes either.

That's a big accusation against a community of people without any corroborating evidence. Do you have anything to support your claim?

Where is the accusation?


I’m currently reading Feeling Good (https://www.amazon.com/dp/0380810336). It was recommended by someone here on HN. I’m half way through and I’d dare to say it’s already changing my life for the better.

I've read this and it changed my life. And I've bought a few copies for people, and on one occasion had (what was at the time an acquaintance.....heck lets not be opaque it was the bar back at my favorite bar) hug me and cry saying the book helped him not be suicidal. That it changed his life and brought him back from the brink while struggling with a crippling physical disability that was emerging in his early 20s.

I've read a LOT of these books. And there's a few in CBT that are helpful (including this one). There's DBT. There's practical self esteem work (confidence is repeated domain specific success). There's some philosophical work that helps. Lifting heavy weights helps. A blood test from privatemdlabs where you can see everything inside you (if you can afford it) helps. Nutrition helps. Sleep helps. Etc.

But feeling good, which has to be 20 to 30 years old, by far is the most effective thing I've ever seen.

Pro tip: type up the excersizes (or google them) and try journaling them into an evernote. The progress is 10x faster. 2 months of feeling good probably did as much as a few years of weekly CBT counseling.

Strongly recommend.

I read Intimate Connections from David Burns (author of Feeling Good) and while it was after my low self-esteem period, I thought to myself "if only I had this book, it'd have taken 2 years less."

The coolest thing about CBT is that it doesn’t require a university degree to administer: just one cheap paperback and a couple days of reading.

I'm currently in week 4 of the most popular course in Yale [0], but was made available online on Coursera[1].

I think for the most part I've learnt I've learnt that much of what we think about happiness is consistently shown not to work. And that many of our expectations of what we think will make us happy, simply won't. If we want genuine happiness, it takes an honest self-assessment of what we're doing, what's stopping us from being happy and what would be the best way to map the parts of our life we can control to actually make us happy.

Anyway, the course seems well respected and highly recommended [2]. But I hope you're doing ok, and whatever you choose to do next, you find what you're looking for. Best of luck.

[0] https://www.inc.com/betsy-mikel/yale-let-anyone-take-its-mos...

[1] https://www.coursera.org/learn/the-science-of-well-being

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19903628

I wish I had the time to watch this. What are the biggest ideas that you've learned?

There is some good advice in the thread. I will add one point, apply yourself more. Without engaging in a task and completing it, you won't feel confident about it. You need engagement regularly to stimulate your worth. You might also need others to acknowledge it which can be hard. I know I personally stopped believing any praise or acknowledgement I was given irl. I didn't compare myself to others per se but I was extremely stuck on the idea that every attempt of mine should produce better results than the previous. People didn't notice my critical flaws then how can they be good at praise.

As for any specific thing you could try, find something that is interesting to you. Find a small internet community about it and engage. Learn from them and tell them what you know. Build trust, then try to move it to offline meetup or places. Someone you trust and idolize telling you how valuable you are as a person is a great booster.

If you are happy with your current medications, try Vitamin D if you are in a cloudy area or do not get out often.

If you're good on those things, try increasing your exercise level. Walk/run/sprint or lifting. You can do body weight exercise at home if you do not feel comfortable in a gym just yet.

If you are happy with your exercise level, pick up a new hobby, tech or otherwise.

I've become convinced that for anyone experiencing emotional or health problems, making sure you've got nutrition/activity/sleep nailed down should always be the first step.

I won't claim one of these is the magic bullet to help OP, since I don't know the specifics of the case. But if one or more of them aren't what they should be, then it's likely that it should be addressed before anything more extreme/expensive.

Not a physician but have heard from others that Vitamin D supplements are not really helpful and just a routine insurance cash grab. In my experience, bright lighting indoors had more of an effect but YMMV.

Conversely I supplement my PCP with a cash pay MD (in a hospital setting with a background from a reputable school) who believes in "wellness" which he views as the flaw in western medicine. Instead of going from sick to ok, he believes we should go from ok to wellness. And he sells mega Vitamin D doses and maybe I'm a sucker but I buy them.

Since its cash pay and I absolutely love testing/scanning myself randomly (any blood/dexa/cortisol/ekg/heart test I can find and afford) we usually spend 20 minutes twice a year going through the science of whatever I'm testing at the time and (typically) shooting down the necessity of whatever crazy thing I want to try next.

But low impact low benefit things like vitamins and a few no-cost hobby things are super under-rated. For example theres a handful of entries on this chart that are low cost with low behavioral change required medium impact that were unexpected for me: https://blog.23andme.com/health-traits/what-patients-say-wor...

The supplements are pretty cheap in grocery stores. If it doesn't work, you're not out much. You can always change the lighting or try other things if it doesn't work -- the key is to keep trying until something works for you.

It seems to work for me as we can have 5-7 days straight of cloudy skies where I'm at. I spent the first two days without it and the next three with it and there was a difference.

The Rx concentrations are higher and generally cholecalciferol instead of ergocalciferol which is less absorbable and not as long-lasting. It’s fine to try it out. What I’m casting doubt upon is the blood test of Vitamin D levels and whether low levels are even an indicator of a problem. In my case I had very very low blood levels of D and was prescribed supplements and sun exposure. Years later, I found out I actually have a form of sun allergy. As mentioned, YMMV.

I speak from personal experience and this may help or it may not. The one book that boosted my self confidence and changed my life is 12 steps and 12 traditions: https://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Steps-Traditions-Alcoholics/dp...

I read the book and reread it and work the 12 steps into my daily life. The single best thing it did for me is that it made me a more honest person, to others and myself. I no longer try to push myself to make deadlines. When things starts sucking at work, I say it honestly. When I wronged someone, I am quick to apologize. I no longer have the need to fulfill people's expectations and since I have nothing to hide, I look into people's eyes during conversations and I genuinely connect with people better.

I was introduced to this book during AA meetings (which I started going to voluntarily to get the courage to say no to alcohol). The people who go to AA meetings regularly because they choose to, are amazing people. Maybe going there regularly will help you boost your self esteem, as it did mine.

FYI, most people have a hard time with step 2 and 3. If you are like me and don't believe in God, it helps to redefine God. God could be nature, fate, an apple, or whatever makes sense to you that seems like a recurring source of comfort for you. For me, God is the innate goodness in people that makes them want to do right by others.

Good luck.

Thinking of talking to a therapist, I'm curious to hear what others have on this interpretation (which I openly acknowledge as "could be wrong" and I've never seen a therapist aside from once in couples counseling where they asked if I was ever diagnosed with aspergers): you grow the feelings you feed.

What I mean is: when you dwell on things and focus on them in therapy, are you feeding negative emotions or traits and growing them? Could seeing a therapist make it worse?

Have you noticed moments or sequences when you have not had low self-esteem? For those times, what has been different? What sorts of situations increase your self-esteem?

Often when someone says they want more self-esteem, they want to stop feeling bad. You have an ugly idea of who you are and think that replacing it with a not-ugly version would be good. People try to solve the problem by building themselves up, in practical ways in reality or in their minds. Then they chase a bunch of external things in order to keep that esteem up when it seems to work for a while.

If you get into a healthy space, though, you realize you will always feel a little bad/good about circumstances, but your _core_ sense of "feeling good" doesn't need to be connected to that stuff. It's actually not. Mostly, you can shed the major part of depression, anxiety, and worrying about your "self" and whether it is esteemed, just by changing how you breath, how your spine is positioned, and a few other things that can be done pretty quickly. Quickly, but lots of practice makes it a lot better.

I recommend taking the Inner Engineering program at ishafoundation.org. It is basically meditation and "yoga", but there is not really the "exercise" thing that people do in the US. I'm not into New Age things, or trying to have "beliefs", and certainly not interested in following gurus or donating money to anyone. I spent 4 days at their ashram and got a set of skills over a year ago that makes everything in life easier. Nobody ever tried to sell me anything afterward. I know 4 other people closely who have done it, and kept with it for years afterward, and met a few dozen others from the class that I keep up with. I know they have had classes in the Bay Area in the last year too, if India is a bit far away. I walked out of the first day of class there "in the zone" and spent a ton of time there afterward. It's really great.

One thing I would recommend that you set obtainable goals, and do them. There is a tremendous amount of power in the finishing things that you intend to do.

In the past I've started with big projects and struggled with my own confidence because I haven't finished them. Making small goals and accomplishing them really gives me an positive sense of self, and ability.

Do esteemable acts on a regular basis. Start with simple things like holding the door for others or picking up what they drop. Let that evolve into an attitude of service; what can I bring to this situation that is actually helpful? Don’t seek recognition of any kind for such acts, the reward for doing the right thing is doing the right thing.

I think you may find Albert Ellis's work valuable (he founded the Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy process, a cousin of CBT). He discusses self-esteem a lot in his work, particularly around the risks of both low self-esteem and high self-esteem.

You may also find meditation helpful--particularly some kind of light noting practice (perhaps not Mahasi-style noting, but Shinzen Young's Unified Mindfulness/See Hear Feel technique). Deconstructing emotions and thoughts into their constituent parts not only will allow you to see your patterns more clearly, but breaking a complex emotion down also makes it more manageable to deal with.

As with most habits, you'll get most out of what you're willing to do not only during therapy sessions or formal meditation sits, but during every day life.

A related book that I found very helpful is Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. It introduced to me the idea of "self-compassion" which has been much more beneficial to me than self-esteem, and has also discusses meditation as a way to better understand one's self.

For Ellis, see his classic New Guide to Rational Living. It's about observing the things you say to yourself and believe, and changing them to more positive things if necessary. Which is surprisingly simple and easy to do.

An excellent therapist is always a good thing to identify, but excersize can definitely also have a massive impact on self esteem, energy levels, and mood in general.

I found that strength training has radically changed my life, and I've certainly plumbed the depths of profound depression and anxiety in my own life. So far, nothing has come close to helping me as much as strength training. Working out regularly gives me a way to care for myself, and I can walk around knowing that I'm doing work that will have a lasting benefit for all aspects of my life. It's a lot less about looking perfect or weighing some ideal amount and more about caring for myself, and celebrating those small victories in the gym as evidence of personal resilience and growth.

Excersize may not be the magic bullet for your situation, but the same experience of caring for yourself might come from other experiences, like volunteer work, studying a new skill or hobby, etc.

By the way, I've certainly let mediocre therapy go too long. Nothing wrong with exploring other therapists, it's a deeply personal search, and needs also change over time. Trust your instincts on whether you are receiving the right care for you. The worst that can happen is that you try someone else and realize you prefer your former therapist.

You are worth it! Best of luck.

Same, don't know where I'd be without powerlifting/BB.

Can you advise how to gently gain exposure with this world?

Yes. Begin with a novice linear progression program such as Starting Strength or StrongLifts 5x5 (https://stronglifts.com/5x5/#gref even has a nice Android/iOS app which will tell you everything to do).

These programs can be boring in the beginning because you are starting with such light weights, but because you progress linearly (adding weight each workout), the weight adds up quickly and the light weights in the beginning gives you a chance to get comfortable with the movements. Watch videos on YouTube of good techniques for squat, bench and deadlift (this is a neverending pursuit though in my experience - I'm still working on perfecting form 4 years in).

Do the linear progression program as long as you can to get the most out of it...obviously you cannot keep increasing the weights each workout forever, but run it as long as you can. In the beginning, since you are untrained, you will make what they call "noobie gains" and get stronger every single workout. When that stops working, you can run a program that is still linear, but where progression is weekly rather than each workout. Then after that, you'll need to do more research into the proper "periodization" you'll need in order to continue to progress.

A gentle beginning is a great thing to shoot for. I would second the recommendation of a Starting Strength program, or something similar, where you can work a clear, well-established path with coaches who are familiar with the principles of the training methods, can guide your form, etc.

I started off in a 2x/week one-on-one coaching relationship, and after a few weeks (basically once I had some basic understanding of the main powerlifting exercises) I started attending small group classes 3x/week.

Take your time, focus on form, and work with a knowledgeable coach. You might look for gyms that feature classes in powerlifting or olympic weightlifting.

https://www.barbellmedicine.com/ might be a good resource to check out if you don't have coaches in your immediate area, and you want to have expert guidance.

If you are problem solving all day long already and don’t want to add figuring out how to learn a new sport and its pitfalls such as proper technique and programming on your own check out barbell logic online coaching. I have been a very happy client for the past three years (almost).

Exercise is an excellent way to build outer confidence and self-esteem. On the inner level, I would recommend practicing compassion meditation, especially self-compassion. Many of us have a belief that there is something wrong with us, that we are deficient. If you can face this feeling in a gentle and self-compassionate way, you can bring the emotion to the surface and release it. Over time it subsides. This will also lead you to feel compassion for others.

You could start with something like this:


I made this account only to answer you, since I have few insights that might help you.

Following noncoml's advice on bodybuilding, there is a truth in that direction: you need a challenges and victories to get out of your state.

Most enlightening reads on that subject are:

David Goggins - Can't hurt me Jocko Willink - Discipline equals freedom field manual

The center point of your problem lies in a fact that you are measuring your self in comparison to others, while the problem is within you - therefore, you need to challenge yourself in many ways and overcome those challenges in order to set yourself straight.

Warning - this is a journey not a shortcut.

Good. Now go do some burpees

I had always quite good self esteem and confidence (this originates mosty from encouragement and recogonition from parents) but I sometimes suffer through periods where I lose it a little bit and maybe my observations can help you.

You didn't say on what kind issue you have exactly, so I can give you generall advice.

IMO this might help you(if man): * test testosterone level * start lifting (this feels like cheeting when it comes to confidence) * care about yourself * take pride of your work, values, decisions, commitment * get more social * say no, don't conform to others expectations, have FU money

Have you considered meditating on a daily basis? There’s also mindfulness Cognitive Behavorial Therapy, which sounds intriguing. In general, anecdote of 1, but I find that frequent, consistent meditation can have a very positive effect. Mindfulness meditation can be a good starting point, but recently I’ve found a lot of value in “emptiness” and compassion focused meditation. The book, “A Profound Mind”, by the Dalai Lama was really good (for me). Eastern philosophy has quite a lot to say about “self”, which might be helpful in your case.

A good next step might be interacting with real people to get used to being supported.

Some comments say volunteering. I disagree. Volunteering doesn't force you to interact with people. It might not work for you.

Toastmasters, on the other hand, forces you to speak to others. Toastmasters explicitly trains members to be supportive and forgiving and to approach you to interact. Toastmasters is like a newbie environment that lets you build your confident. I'd recommend you give it a try.

Also, an evening club is generally more relaxing than a day club. So, start with that.

> Toastmasters, on the other hand, forces you to speak to others. Toastmasters explicitly trains members to be supportive and forgiving and to approach you to interact. Toastmasters is like a newbie environment that lets you build your confident.

I agree with this, with just one caveat: many people join Toastmasters with the intention of getting better at public speaking -- and this intention needs to be put in perspective.

How much you truly improve depends very much on the peers you have in your local Toastmasters chapter. The reason for this is because in the Toastmaster's setup, there's very little solid, bespoke instruction on technique (at least at the chapter I attended), and most of the feedback you get are from peers (who are themselves on a journey and have not received any instruction) workshopping your pieces.

Like you say, most Toastmasters communities are often very supportive and encouraging, so if you have latent public speaking skills that just need to be unlocked by means of external validation, Toastmasters will do that for you.

In my case however, I had no baseline skills at all, so I benefited much more from actual instruction and tough love critique (which I got from a place like Second City in Chicago). I was not only taught technique but also fundamental skills on how to structure a story for emotional connection. My confidence grew from my own perception of improved competence rather than from encouragement from others. I personally believe the confidence one gains from competence to be more valuable than mere encouragement, because it obviates the need for one to seek external validation. YMMV.

Great perspectives!

I wanted to make a point more on getting positive feedback in whatever you do in order to build self-esteem.

Toastmasters is great for that. Everything you do will receive positive feedback. Members are trained to always look for things to praise (with suggested improvements, of course).

But great insight on Second City. I might check it out.

Which class as second city did you attend? Do you have ideas about their different programs for adults? Thanks.

Most adult evening classes are open to the general public, and many dedicated aspiring artists actually take the same classes. Even so, the atmosphere is very safe (not at all intimidating, even for non artists like me), and beginners are welcome. It’s non-auditioned so you don’t have to worry about that. There are auditioned programs which are tougher to get into (I believe people like Stephen Colbert and Tina Fey were graduates of these programs) but the general classes are accessible to all.

There are dedicated public speaking classes, but the class I found most useful was “storytelling” (oral). It wasn’t hard per se but it does push one out of one’s comfort zone a little (not in a bad way), and for me, I could actually see the improvements in myself. (Bearing in mind I was starting from a low baseline)

I also had the same issue and hitting the gym helped me a lot. Dont worry about any other variables in the beginning. Just keep showing up. I read a beautiful answer which sheds some light on the same thing. https://qr.ae/TUhWqE Start small and keep building on it. Make compound interest work for you. All the best :)

I do not think placing self-esteem as subordinate to your finite mind, body, and ego is wise. For me, universalizing human experience and studying and concentrating on the Atman has been useful. Keep a positive attitude by remembering we’re all god-in-the-making and this self continues to be projected and manifested and always remember self-surrender.

Checkout this YouTube channel called Social Animal, it’s basically about that through interacting with people, very interesting and unique perspective: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsMcTtQH_YWD-qBgy3vY9JQ

Perhaps related, but I'd be interested in resources that can help me appreciate/love myself more, since I've recently found out that subconscious self-hatred could very well be at the root of a lot of problems I've been dealing with, including anxiety. Many thanks in advance for any pointers.

Everybody suffers from low self-esteem at some or the other point of life. Recognize what skills you think you lack and work on them and eventually you'll pick other skills along the way. To start off with this, you've got to be optimistic even in the worst of situations.

This worked wonders for me!

I started to follow Tibetan Buddhist teaching, where high and low self-esteem are treated in the same way, as a manifestation of pride, which is considered one of the 5 main emotions. Once you go deeper, your low self-esteem is gone. There are very practical methods for that.

There’s a book called 10 days to self esteem by dr David burns. Try that or CBT or his team based therapy model. If you are a developer or coder, work through hacker rank problem sets too. Also expand your social network and see friends and family. Make it a routine.

The book “6 Pillars of Self Esteem” is excellent. It’s research based and actionable.

I've read this a few times. Agree it's good. But....its from 1994 and it really doesnt feel research based. Its also highly counterintuitive in its approach. And at least for me it took a few weeks to work through the first time due to the required work.

His work is a great resource but glancing at this thread theres a few other things that might have higher ROI. At the same time, if you're not substituting with something else, this book is world better than not reading anything.

I should add that I found it during a journey similar to yours, and still use it as a reference.

Life lessons from clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQZmtHjTgPB-NMBr1QmN0...

Edit: Why the downvotes? His lessons surrounding common issues in life that he's seen in therapy sessions are authentic and incredibly helpful.

Hmm... I like Jordan Peterson, but not regarding self-esteem. I simply like the advice of "make something of your life". In my opinion, he's too conservative and Christian to relate to me on how to get more self-esteem.

I also think Jordan Peterson is a tough person to understand. The reason for that is: (1) sometimes he has a science-based psychological discussion (e.g. Big 5) and (2) sometimes he talks about Freud and is a lot more into metaphore/language stuff that isn't science-based and IMO philosophical at best.

Am I the only one that like just didnt fully grasp his system? It came to highly recommended from a few credible friends, and some portions like taking care of yourself or helping yourself like you would help a friend were great, but it's super difficult to a) summarize his "method" / "system" and b) implement it or share it with a friend in a way that's helpful.

IMO, he is tricky to listen to and get right. Therefore, you need to be ruthless about cherry picking the advice that you believe will work for you.

I mostly find him interesting because whenever I agree (a lot) or disagree strongly (also a lot) with him, he is quite articulate about it. He is one of the people that keeps me out of my filter bubble. Second, his fuzzy/Jungian side in psychology is fascinating. In my psych degree we were only scientific, but if you let that go then you can go much deeper! Just because something is subjective doesn’t mean the information should be disregarded right away, you just need to understand the limitations and dangers of subjectivitt. I use that psychological side of him to think more philosophically about humans and to compare it to my own experiences and scientific literature.

My advice for my 20 year old self would be to avoid him other than his clip on DMT, his IQ + personality lectures that have statistical underpinning and “make something of yourself”

In short: if you don’t get him, feel free to ignore him. If you eant to watch Mathieu Ricard his TED Talks. He is a Buddhist monk and used to do research as a postdoc in molecular science.


I ought to be shot?

The person was just pointing out that a lot of people won't accept messages from Jordan Peterson, even if they are arriving via third-party courier.

"Don't Shoot The Messenger", etc.

I suppose that you first need to identify what's causing your self-esteem issues. I've had a problem with always looking at "the big picture," and consequently, seeing how little of a difference I ultimately make.

I'd recommend reading The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russel [1]. Some great excerpts:

> When I was a boy I knew a man bursting with happiness whose business was digging wells. He was of enormous height and of incredible muscles; he could neither read nor write, and when in the year 1885 he got a vote for Parliament, he learnt for the first time that such an institution existed. His happiness did not depend upon intellectual sources; it was not based upon belief in natural law, or the perfectibility of the species, or the public ownership of public utilities, or the ultimate triumph of the Seventh Day Adventists, or any of the other creeds which intellectuals consider necessary to their enjoyment of life. It was based upon physical vigor, a sufficiency of work, and the overcoming of not insuperable obstacles in the shape of rock. The happiness of my gardener is of the same species; he wages a perennial war against rabbits, of which he speaks exactly as Scotland Yard speaks of Bolsheviks. […]

> But, you will say, these simple delights are not open to superior people like ourselves. What joy can we experience in waging war on such puny creatures as rabbits? The argument, to my mind, is a poor one. A rabbit is very much larger than a yellow fever bacillus, and yet a superior person can find happiness in making war upon the latter. Pleasures exactly similar to those of my gardener so far as their emotional content is concerned are open to the most highly educated people. […]

> To all the talented young men who wander about feeling that there is nothing in the world for them to do, I should say: “Give up trying to write, and, instead, try not to write. Go out into the world; become a pirate, a king in Borneo, a laborer in Soviet Russia; give yourself an existence in which the satisfaction of elementary physical needs will occupy almost all your energies.”

Now, you probably don't want to go that far. But the point is: your life doesn't have to be grand or world-changing in order for you to be happy. You probably won't end up in the history books, but there's still a lot of cool things you can do before you die. You probably won't be the next Charlotte Brontë, but maybe you can write one book. You probably won't be the next Florence Nightingale, but maybe you can donate to the Against Malaria Foundation and save a dozen lives.

[1]: https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.222834

I loved this MOOC, which covers a lot of the research on happiness:


This is something i can relate to in a big way. For me, the two things that helped are Bodybuilding and Boxing. While both have been mentioned here already, i honestly can't overstate how good both of them are in building up your self esteem and belief in yourself.

Bodybuilding is amazing because you literally get to watch this visible transformation happening in front of your eyes. You see the weight climb, you feel parts of your body grow and strengthen, you feel better and better each day. It's an amazing thing.

Boxing too works wonders because it really teaches you to rely on yourself and to think on the fly. You learn to think fast, adapt, rely on your training and to always be looking for an opening. It works wonders on your mental state and physical fitness (just be careful which gym's you go to).

TL;DR, do both, or any of the number of awesome choices people have recommended like BJJ, or any other competitive sport. You'll notice the change and thank yourself for it.

Edit: sorry for the long comment, but my username is partially a result (the metta part) for going through a period of having low self-esteem.

Tal-Ben Shahar Positive Psychology [1], it's a Harvard course and self-esteem is one of the lectures. It's old, but the big ideas that changed my life are there.

So based on that course you'll want to learn about meditation. I've got the right book for you from a Google engineer who made sure most of it was evidence-based [2].

Obviously you'll also realize because of the course you want to pickup aerobic exercise.

David Burns is my favorite psychologist (I read Intimate Connections from him, his claim to fame is Feeling Good). He has an answer to your question, which is Ten Days to Self Esteem [3]. Though, when I read the reviews you might just want to get one of his other books. I'm a fan of Intimate Connections, other people are fan of Feeling Good. You'll definitely learn a lot about cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT changed my life.

And what the heck, not sure if this counts towards your question, but it's at least related to it and good for the soul. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl [4]. What's interesting about his book regarding self-esteem is that he basically invents half the field of positive psychology 50 to 60 years before it even exists. Also, it's just mandatory reading for any human being IMO, but that's again IMO.

Then, some personal advice that I've seen to work.

You need to be brutally rational and empirical about self-esteem. I know one programmer friend and I noticed that he wasn't able to do that. What I noticed was the following: HE DIDN'T TEST HIS ASSUMPTIONS! Yes, that warrants a caps because I told this to him every single time and it didn't get through to him. So, do find your assumptions and do some experiments.

Some experiments I have done in the past:

1. People are mean. Experiment: walk up to 10 people and say hi and see what happens. Result: people say hi back, and the pressure of not saying anything sometimes caused a conversation to happen which was fairly pleasant. In other cases it was awkward. In conclusion: people were never mean.

2. Stating to a woman that you want to kiss her doesn't work. Instead you have to make the move. Experiment: when I feel I have a bond with a woman [a] and I want to kiss her, then state it politely and leave it at that, repeat every 2 hours (if you still feel that way and have been fully platonic otherwise). Results: to my surprise, every woman kissed me. Heck, some just kissed me out of curiosity despite feeling no attraction to me. Weirder still, one of those curious kisses was one of the best kisses we both had in our lives. Note: I didn't ask any random woman on the street to kiss me. If the constraints of [a] weren't satisfied, I'd feel too unsafe to kiss her, and in almost all cases wouldn't even want to kiss her.

[a] Minimally 3 hours of intense talking about life, ourselves, our families, hopes, ambitions, the works, preferably 6 hours. This excludes having fun. Without getting a feel about someone and without feeling a strong connection, kissing feels a bit too dangerous for me to do. Since I had low self-esteem I wanted to feel safe.

3. I am not attractive. Experiment: go up to 30 people for which you want to be attractive to and give them a survey. Ask them at least: from a scale of 1 to 10 how attractive you are, and from a scale of 1 to 10 how attractive you could potentially be and what you'd need to change and why it would make you more attractive. While I didn't do this experiment, I have had enough feedback about my attractiveness. Long story short: I think I'm not that good looking (I have a scar on my face since birth). But most people that I want to be attractive to find me actually quite attractive. I've also been called ugly enough times, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I think a strong moderating variable is whether you simply click with the other person in that moment.

What I've learned by experimenting: my assumptions and ideas about social interactions and dynamics are terrible. Sometimes I was right, most of the time I was quite to horribly wrong.

Other advice I want to give:


Self-esteem / confidence is knowing about understanding what you are afraid of and then understanding what success looks like, a successful failure case looks like and a horrifying failure case looks like. When I learned to ski this was crystal clear.

Successful case: I am able to turn, break and go straight.

Successful failure case: I am about to ski of a cliff, but I am capable of falling right now to break. I know that by falling it won't really hurt that much and I won't injure myself.

Horrifying failure case: (I had this one as a kid) you ski towards the ski lift and while at full speed you realize that you're going to slam into the ski lift row and you can't break (and can't realize that falling was a good option). Helloooo hospital, how are you? :D

Pick the topic and map out these 3 cases and try to find ways to make horrifying failure cases into successful failure cases. In the skiing example: if I just fell down before slamming into the ski lift row, I would not have gone to the hospital. Back then I didn't know that falling was relatively painless.


My self-esteem issue had to do with romantic relationships. What I learned was that if I was capable of giving me self love and didn't need a relationship, but see a relationship as the cherry on top, then life is awesome! And it was. One attitude that really helped with that was: treating life as playful and as positively as possible. I got all my relationships where I realized that I'd like one, but I didn't need one and I didn't crave for it. I learned how to kill the craving (thanks meditation).

So yea, hope this helps.

[1] I found a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8qpn6kNfPc&list=PLF6A3AC0B7...

[2] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12921211-search-inside-y...

[3] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19295.Ten_Days_to_Self_E...

[4] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4069.Man_s_Search_for_Me...

If you learn more about Frankl you may not be so impressed! The truth about him is pretty horrifying. See my recent comment and replies here https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21901602

Oh dear, I am definitely interested!


I think we are wired to create social stories about things that happen. Find new ways of being social, feeling connection, getting praise. To overrule your current mindset.

Also, have you checked out EMDR? Best of luck!

Self-esteem can come from empowerment. Becoming good at something is empowering.

So instead of self-help books I would recommend books/videos on a hobby you want to become better at.

My mom recommended this: https://youtu.be/6LEJWeVmOXw Bk Shivani. It helped me.

Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn. There’s an 8 week mindfulness program - free! - that you can do at home and will help with your feelings.

Generally speaking: I really liked “The obstacle is the way”.

But I have a question: is there any particular part of your life you notice especially low self-esteem?

And the accompanying daily reader which is fantastic. But it's a very slow process going through stoicism if you're currently struggling and suffering more acute symptoms in my opinion.

I think, from direct personal experience, you might get the best results from really focusing on making yourself better, and this will to some extent make you feel better.

Develop skills to a new level, really figure out if you live according to an ethical system you believe in, keep seeing how much you can accomplish in the direction of goals YOU find meaningful.

Again from personal experience you could try reading a bunch of Jordan Peterson, and maybe try his self authoring course.

His insight in to these topics has been very helpful to me.

I also have gotten a metric ton of great results from exercise. Either lifting weights and/or a skill based exercise (like martial arts or whatever) in these domains you get the mental health benefits of exercise, and the psychological benefits of measurable increase in capacity over time.

I also have gotten amazing results from meditating, specifically the Waking Up app by Sam Harris, which has helped me see my thoughts a little more dispassionately, so I can start to see how they affect me.

I have gotten good insight from the work of Scott Adams, I think it was “how to fail at almost everything and still win big” which presents his moist robot framing for how to help yourself feel differently.

Also 7 Habits of Highly Effective people by I think Steven Covey.

Also How to Win Friends and Influence People which is an old and amazing book that reframe interpersonal interaction, which influenced my self esteem dramatically.

Feel free to message me directly if you want more tailored opinions to your situation.

Why not go with low self esteem? Not trusting yourself should boost your motivation to be right. Depending on your goals in life, that could be useful.

Have you checked if it's you and not your environment? Maybe you can improve your life by working with and spending time with people who don't put you down?

I also wish I could DM you - get in touch if you would like to chat about it.

Tony Robbins is not science-based. Some resources here are.

I think science-based resources are slightly better on average than things like Tony Robbins. Simply because researchers tend to talk more moderate and less hype, and there's a slightly higher likelihood of what they say is actually true, in my opinion.

That said, one can always see something like Personal Power and take out the inspiring bits and see what works for you.

General advice:

See more different therapists until you find one that works well for you. A good therapist in 2020 should be able to fix you up in a few sessions if they're right for you. Don't be afraid to explore weird things, who cares if it doesn't make sense if it works for you? "soul retrieval", "past life regression", etc...

- - - -

I can't give you specific advice over the Internet, but here's my personal recommendation based on my own experience: Neurolinguistic Programming.

Unfortunately, it's panned as pseudo-scientific, and many of its promoters and practitioners don't do much to help with that. However, from my POV, based on my understanding and experience, it's the only really rigorous psychological science.

For example, they developed early on an algorithm called "Five-minute Phobia Cure" (because it takes about five minutes and it cures phobias.)

I personally was cured of clinical depression in a single session of hypnosis with one of the founders of NLP. He has produced a book for the mass market: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3803577-get-the-life-you...

- - - -

What ever "low self-esteem" is, it has specific physical patterns: feelings in certain parts of your body that correspond to e.g. tensions in muscles and fascia. You can "get at" your "low self-esteem" directly and physically (without interpretation of it's "meaning" or "origin story" or any of that) by various means of e.g. massage, relaxation, Rolfing, Feldenkrais, Reiki, etc...

Remove the physical basis for the subjective feelings and you "cure" your "low self-esteem".

In the limit we have what W. Reich called "orgiastic potency", the natural and healthy ability of the body to let orgasm flow throughout the whole body, unimpeded by tensions and "blockages" ("character armor"). Reich claimed that in a person who has full "orgiastic potency, neurosis is impossible to maintain."

Feldenkrais also points out that, when the soma (body) has become fully integrated (proprioceptive is accurate, all unnecessary tension has been relaxed) enlightenment occurs (he doesn't make a big deal out if it.)

- - - -

(Honestly, I feel like a time-traveler from the future in re: therapy and such. Like McCoy in the save-the-whales Star Trek movie... "Dr. gave me a pill and I grew a new kidney!")

There's a lot of good advice in this thread, some of it may apply to you and some of it may not. One thing to keep in mind though: many accomplished, good-hearted, and wonderful people have low self-esteem. Similarly, many horrible sociopaths have high self-esteem. Self-esteem really says nothing about your value as a human. Not to minimize your pain, but maybe that perspective can help you find a path to feeling better.

Ayahuasca worked for me

There are some good videos on YouTube- charisma on demand, Vanessa van Edwards, school of life, Jordan Peterson

IMO, it can be difficult to overcome this all by yourself. Having someone in your life who is willing to help goes a long way


I literally watched Jordan Peterson say self esteem doesn't exist.

I don't want to rain on the parade of everyone here recommending you to train and lift weights, but I want to give just another piece of anecdata as someone who has very low self-esteem.

It hasn't done it for me. I enjoy the benefits of being stronger and like training and do it regularly now, but it actually hasn't made that much of an impact on my actual self-esteem and how I choose to see things or how I live. Am I just not ripped enough yet or are there still other issues (finances for example) that I need to cover? My post is just to say that physical training isn't a silver bullet, so it's good to take some more time to think deeply about what is causing your low self-esteem. But hey, it's better to have low self-esteem and huge muscles than low self-esteem with no muscles I guess. :)

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