a step-by-step guide

By Adam Khan

1. it's impossible to like yourself much when youíre doing something you think is wrong

It doesnít matter how much rationalization you do, or how thickly you try to cover it with justification, if you think itís wrong or bad, and you keep doing it, you cannot like yourself. So the way to like yourself more is to clean up your integrity.

You may not like to hear that, and I donít blame you. It sounds like a horrible burden. But itís not. It lightens your load and makes it more fun to be alive. Here are three steps to a self you like and respect. Make a list of what youíre doing that you think is wrong and stop doing those things. You might keep backsliding for awhile, but if you keep at it, youíll make it.

2. make a list of things you should be doing + arenít

Never mind what others think you should or shouldnít do or what youíve been told is right or wrong. Just pay attention to what you feel is right or wrong. And make sure you write it out. This, by itself, will give you some relief, because we are never as bad as we think we are. When you write it out, youíll see that. The list will be finite. Work on one thing at a time. Then cross it off your list.

3. make amends for anything youíve done in the past that you feel guilty about

Some situations only need an apology, or just an admission that you did it. Other situations will require you to take some action to make up for the damage you did. Before you get started on this, you should know that itís never as bad as you think it will be. Itís easier to make amends than it first may seem. Be creative. Make it fun. You may come up with a wild idea, but if it seems right to you, try it.

Forgive yourself for all the ďbadĒ things youíve done. This should be fairly easy since youíve already taken responsibility for your past and present action.

4. you need to forgive yourself

To forgive yourself simply means to give up resentment against yourself, or give up the desire to punish yourself. Since you have taken and are taking responsibility for your actions, to continue to punish yourself or resent yourself is just silly. You are human. Humans make mistakes. Youíve recognized that and corrected your mistakes. Thatís something to feel good about. So forgive yourself. A decision is all thatís required.

Simply decide to stop resenting yourself and give up any intentions of punishing yourself take these four steps to a self you really like. Youíll gain strength and confidence and the peace that comes from knowing you do whatís right. Fortify your integrity.

What the world needs now is integrity, sweet integrity.

where to tap

Ever hear the story of the giant ship engine that failed? The shipís owners tried one expert after another, but none of them could figure out how to fix the engine. Then they brought in an old man who had been fixing ships since he was a youngster. He carried a large bag of tools with him, and when he arrived, he immediately went to work. He inspected the engine very carefully, top to bottom.

Two of the shipís owners were there, watching this man, hoping he would know what to do. After looking things over, the old man reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something. Instantly, the engine lurched into life. He carefully put his hammer away. The engine was fixed! A week later, the owners received a bill from the old man for ten thousand dollars.

ďWhat?!Ē the owners exclaimed. ďHe hardly did anything!Ē

So they wrote the old man a note saying, ďPlease send us an itemized bill.Ē

The man sent a bill that read:

Tapping with a hammer ........................ $2.00

Knowing where to tap ............................ $9998.00

Effort is important, but knowing where to make an effort in your life makes all the difference.

And hereís something Iíve learned from experience and study: If you want to improve your life overall, the best place to tap is exercise. I injured a tendon not too long ago and didnít exercise for about a month. Iíve started again, and Iíve become a born-again exerciser!

Iíd forgotten how good it is for my sense of well-being. I have more energy, a better attitude, a gentler disposition. Itís easier to be the kind of person I want to be. Our bodies need daily exercise, and when we donít exercise, it makes us feel bad. I think itís our natural state to be energetic and feeling good. But the lack of exercise prevents that. A consensus is building among doctors, psychologists and those trying to help others become saner, happier and healthier:

Exercise is the place to start. If you were in a position to give advice, and someone unhappy or unhealthy came to you for guidance but you were allowed to give only one word of advice, the best thing you could recommend is: Exercise! Exercise regularly.

Following 32,000 people for eight years, [Steven Blair] found that those whose only risk [factor] was inactivity were more likely to die prematurely than those who had high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a smoking habit but who got some exercise each day.

- Katherine Griffin

All ten studies confirmed that exercise significantly reduces mild to moderate depression. And the three studies that compared exercise to psychotherapy found that exercise was at least as effective.

your inner guide to self-esteem

Self-esteem has been a hot topic for years. And for a good reason: Low self-esteem is a source of trouble - bad marriages, social isolation, violence, lack of success, depression, conflict in the workplace, etc.

Low self-esteem causes problems.

The obvious solution is to try to improve people's self-esteem by pointing out their good traits. Psychologists told us we could give our children high self-esteem by complimenting and praising them often. And they said you could protect yourself by making an effort to think well of yourself - say good things to yourself, repeat affirmations, acknowledge your good traits, etc.

Recent research at Wake Forest University might be turning that popular philosophy completely upside down. The funny thing is, when all the smoke has cleared, what we have left bears a remarkable resemblance to simple common sense.

According to the research, self-esteem appears to be an internal guide to how well we're doing socially, somewhat like our internal guide to the temperature. When you feel hot, you take off some clothing or open a window. When you feel cold, you bundle up. Although you might be able to repeat to yourself over and over "I feel warm, I feel warm," there are better things to do with your time. Might as well just put on a sweater and get on with it.

It's useful to have an internal guide - a feeling - that lets you know what's happening in the world around you, and gives you some motivation to do something about it. Apparently, that's exactly what self-esteem is. The feeling of low self-esteem is apparently nothing more than an indication you aren't getting enough positive feedback from other people. You may not be getting rejected or criticized, but to really feel good about ourselves, we need something more than that.

We need acknowledgment, compliments, appreciation.

We need people to notice us and like us. This is where it gets tricky. As a parent, you might want to improve your child's self-esteem by giving him lots of compliments. But watch out. If you exaggerate your acknowledgments or if you sometimes make a big deal out of a small thing or resort to puffery, you may be setting your child's internal gauge "off the beam." You've set his social-status meter too high, and it no longer measures the situation accurately. Your child then grows up and goes out into the world and has difficulty dealing with people.

Some new research at Northeastern University showed that people who think well of themselves regardless of how others feel about them tend to be perceived by others as condescending and hostile. Given this new information, a different approach to creating self-esteem seems in order:

Giving honest and accurate feedback to our children, our spouses, and our employees. It's relatively easy to compliment and praise people. It makes them feel good, and it makes us feel good to make them feel good. It's more difficult to find something you genuinely appreciate and to say it without the slightest bit of puffery, but it just might do more good.

We can also help people do better. Of course! If someone is getting along well with her peers and she's succeeding at something - trumpet, hobby, schoolwork, job, athletics - it will improve her self-esteem. So find a way to help her accomplish something.

When people do well, they tend to feel better about themselves:

- When you want to build your own self-esteem, it appears your best bet is to change your behavior;
- Do your tasks well and treat people well and you'll feel good about yourself; - Don't worry so much about how you think about yourself;
- Change what you do to make yourself more appreciated by the people around you; - Increase your value to other people and to the company you work for;
- Watch the reactions of other people;
- Pay attention to the reality outside your skin;
- Do more of what works; and
- Do less of what doesn't get the response you want.

Your self-esteem, your internal "sociometer" will rise as an accurate reflection of your true abilities and where you stand with the people in your life.

To improve the self-esteem of others:

Give unexaggerated feedback and help them gain ability.

To improve your own self-esteem:

Change what you do to make yourself more appreciated by the people around you.

© 1999 Healthyplace Inc

Buy Adam Khan's Self-Help Stuff That Works!


how to love yourself

By Louise L. Hay

1. STOP ALL CRITICISMS Criticism never changes a thing. Refuse to criticize yourself. Accept yourself exactly as you are. Everybody changes. When you criticize yourself, your changes are negative. When you approve of yourself, your changes are positives.

2. DON'T SCARE YOURSELF Stop terrorizing yourself with your thoughts. It's a dreadful way to live. Find a mental image that gives you pleasure (mine is yellow roses), and immediately switch your scary thoughts to a pleasure thought.

3. BE GENTLE AND KIND AND PATIENT Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself . Be patient with yourself as yourself as you learn the new ways of thinking. Treat yourself as you would someone you really loved.

4. BE KIND TO YOUR MIND Self hatred is only hating your own thoughts. Don't hate yourself for having the thoughts. Gently change your thoughts.

5. PRAISE YOURSELF Criticism breaks down the inner spirit. Praise builds it up. Praise yourself as much as you can. Tell yourself how well you are doing with every little thing.

6. SUPPORT YOURSELF Find ways to support yourself. Reach out to friends and allow them to help you. It is being strong to ask for help when you need it.

7. BE LOVING TO YOUR NEGATIVES Acknowledge that you created them to fulfill a need. Now you are finding new positive ways to fulfill those needs. So lovingly release the old negative patterns.

8. TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY Learn about nutrition. What kind of fuel does your body need to have optimum energy and vitality? Learn about exercise. What kind of exercise can you enjoy? Cherish and revere the temple you live in.

9. MIRROR WORK Look into your eyes often. Express this growing sense of love you have for yourself. Forgive yourself looking into the mirror. Talk to your parents looking into the mirror. Forgive them too. At least once a day say: "I love you - I really love you!"

10. DO IT NOW Don't wait until you get well, or lose the weight, or get the new job, or the new relationship. Begin now - do the best you can.

Copyright 2002 Louise Hay

Learn more about the wonderful Louise Hay


how to love yourself

By Alison Blackman Dunham

It might seem impractical, or selfish, to focus on yourself, but self-help is essential to your well-being! If you don't take the time to love yourself, who will? The following suggestions look easy, but there's more than what meets the eye. They'll take a moment to learn and a lifetime to master!


You deserve love, but most of all, from yourself! Stop feeling selfish or guilty if you take care of yourself, first. You're your own first responsibility! Give yourself the true gift of life: make a commitment to listen to your body, heart and spirit and vow never to ignore them again! Don't make any excuses why you can't do it ... START NOW!


An abused body will eventually let you down. Learn what your body needs to work at it's best and do your best to respect those needs. Exercise regularly. Join a gym, or ask a friend to exercise with you, or treat yourself to a few sessions with a professional trainer to get on the right track.


You are always a work in progress, so indulge in lifetime learning. Learn a new skill, read books, stay up on current events. Never let anyone make you feel silly or inadequate! Speak out about what bothers. Write letters. Become an activist. You can't change yourself, or the world, if you stay silent. Learn how to say "NO" so you don't overwhelm yourself with promises you can't keep - it doesn't make you a bad person!


Physical contact with others is important. Ask for hugs from your loved ones and give plenty back! A reassuring pat on the back, or hand, especially to the elderly, infirm, or very young, can boost spirits. Touch gives both the giver and receiver a sense of calm, security, and comfort.


It's easy to get stressed out when you're overwhelmed. If you've got too much on your plate, identify the sources of your greatest anxiety and work on those, first. If you're struggling to bring in a big project on time, don't agree to take on non-essential projects, (For example, buy the bake sale cookies or delegate the baking to someone else when you've got a major presentation for your company at the same time).


What you say has an awesome power over how you feel, how you act, and ultimately over your success and happiness. Never put yourself down, even in your thoughts. Replace negative words with powerful, positive ones. Tell yourself that you are wonderful, wise, and worthy.


Say: "I LOVE YOU" to yourself at least once a day, while looking in a mirror. If you say it, you will believe it!


Give praise to yourself and also to others. Giving makes you strong and powerful. Criticism breaks down the inner spirit, but praise builds it up. Speak positively and praise others often about how well the little things are going, even if the big things still need work. Positive change will follow. Enjoy the feeling of giving and getting compliments. Don't feel bashful, just smile and say "thank you" without making excuses!


It's terribly stressful to pretend that everything is fine, especially if it's not. Life doesn't always come with easy answers and NO ONE IS PERFECT! If things go wrong or you've made a mistake, forgive yourself. Allow yourself time to learn, grown, develop new ways of thinking, living, and behaving.


Being strong means knowing when you need help, and reaching out to others for it. Learn to ask for it (they can't read your mind). Giving support to others in need will make you feel confident and loving. Volunteer for a worthy cause, or just reach out to those around you with your attention and affection. Spend more time with your family and friends. Have a party for dear friends. Send a letter to someone you've missed.


It's easy to terrorize yourself with frightening, negative thoughts...but that's a horrible way to live! You deserve peace of mind. To get it, start by finding a mental image that gives you pleasure (for example, lounging on a tropical beach, walking in the peaceful woods, etc.) and when you feel upset or afraid, focus your mind on that "happy image." The fear will subside.


Life's little pleasures lift your spirits and boost your well-being. Pamper yourself with a hot bath, one perfect rose, candles on the table, a few extra minutes to relax before you greet the day, and go to bed at night ... the list is endless! Indulge in the truly luxe by saving up, then "giving in" once in a while to something you really want.


Helping others makes you feel even better about yourself. Volunteer for a worthy cause, even if you can only spare a few hours a week or month. Visit shut-ins or serve a holiday meal at a shelter or soup kitchen. You'll be with other loving, caring people keeping busy so you won't have time to think negative thoughts. More importantly, the gratitude you'll receive from those less fortunate than you will life your spirits will make your life seem much better than you thought! You will be admired and appreciated, and you will definitely feel loved!


Look for inspiration to make your life more successful, easier, and more fun. Network with accomplished people you admire. Read about their good deeds, write them letters (you may get a letter in return!) and join groups where you will meet like-minded others. Get inspired by the world around you. Don't forget spiritual inspiration.


Start with yourself. Harsh criticism never changes a thing, either. No one is perfect. Realize that you're moving forward and finding new, positive ways to handle old, negative patterns. Accept what you've done in the past and accept yourself as you are now...a good person with the ability to change whatever isn't working well in your life. Allow the same courtesy to others.


You can't predict the future, but as long as you are breathing and thinking, you have a new opportunity, every single waking moment, to make things better for yourself, for others, for the world. Never give up on your dreams, and never wish to be someone else, or something you're not. Start loving yourself more by appreciating the good things you already are, and be thankful that you're YOU. Others will be thankful, too!


Write to the Advice Sisters for advice


Learn more about Alice Miller
Feeling suicidal?
Illness: a new perspective
The biochemistry of hope
Find your own North Star


Free online book - Love 101: To Love Oneself is the Beginning of a Lifelong Romance
Find your happiness message board - NOW!
Energy healing
Listen to laughter
Inspiring stories
Ask about happiness-related issues
The Happiness Project
Alice Miller's message boards on emotional suffering - NOW!
Alice Miller's official website
Message boards for those who want to improve their ability to communicate - NOW!
Depression and anxiety message boards - NOW!
Chat to people who have relationship problems - NOW!
For those who feel suicidal and want a non-religious reply within 24 hours - NOW!
Happy reading
Self-esteem resources
Immediate relief from bad feelings
Receive confidence-building daily stories - highly recommended!
Free guided audio online relaxation exercises