What is a self-esteem file? The first thing that I would grab–okay, after the kids–if our house were to catch on fire: a simple manila folder containing letters I commissioned from folks on why they like me, hang out with me, even admire me. Because I’m not one of those people who can simply look into the mirror every morning and say, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and Gosh darn it, people like me!”
The year my self-confidence plummeted like a submarine to below seawater, my therapist told me to go home and list 10 of my strengths as a starting point to acquire some self-esteem.
I was unable to do that.
I wrote “thick fingernails” and “a well-proportioned nose” and then I ran out of things to say. So she instructed me to ask four of my closest friends to list 10 strengths of mine.
My friend Mike said I was a loyal friend, that I had a big heart and I wore it on my sleeve. Beatriz said she admired my strength to stay sober our years at college when the entire campus was drunk. Michelle said I could still make her laugh even when I wanted to take my own life.
I put those letters in a folder and labeled it “my self-esteem file,” which grows every time a reader tells me that my blog has helped her make it through her day or that my singing video gave her a much-needed laugh.
My critics say this is a stupid technique to acquire shallow self-esteem. But you have to start somewhere on the ladder to self-confidence and self-acceptance. And the appraisals inside my noggin are pretty pitiful. So the letters give me courage to put myself out there one more day and see what I get back.