All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


Exercises to Build Self Esteem: #1. Pleasure and Happiness

“Pleasure is the only thing one should live for, nothing ages like happiness.”
~ Oscar Wilde ~

Accentuate the positives

The first exercise toward building better self-esteem is to focus on the positives. Now, I’m not a convert into the positive thinking movement, in fact I find books that proclaim all we need to do is think positively and everything we want will magically appear out of thin air complete crap. I don’t believe someone can ‘pretend away depression’ nor do I believe thinking positively will cure you of cancer or the myriad of other illnesses that people suffer from.

However, thinking positive thoughts about ourselves can bring about an attitude change toward better self-perception.

Once upon a time I was in a counselling session. I had seen this counsellor for several sessions and in each one he noted how stressed and tense I was; how I sat in a defensive position, how I guarded my words, how my entire being was rigid in a state of alert tension. To combat this he began asking me about times in my life when I was at my happiest, I began talking to him about Grace, about pub trivia teams and then about Louise, about camping in the wilderness, about Kathy and Deborah. Within fifteen minutes I’d launched into a monologue that lasted nearly thirty minutes, merrily skipping through my travels in Canada, of hikes with Annie, accidental beaver spotting and a rambling diatribe about how I missed the confidence I’d exuded during that period. After my talking tailed off he pointed out how my demeanour had changed; I was now sitting upright, arms by my side inside of crossed in front of me, there was a spark in my eye and the tension had melted away with each second I’d allowed myself to bathe in these memories.

The simple act of returning to pleasurable times had caused a noticeable physical and mental change within me.

People suffering from low self-esteem often dwell in the unhappiness, the pain and the negative aspects of their life. They do so to ‘prove’ their thinking is real and that they deserve to think so harshly of themselves; rarely, if ever, do they focus on positivity and pleasure.

Thus, today’s activity (from Self-Esteem Experts) is to create a pleasure list; a comprehensive directory of all the people, places, things and activities that bring you pleasure whenever you think about or partake in them.

Once you have completed the list, pin it on your fridge, carry it in your wallet, keep it somewhere close so that whenever you are feeling unhappy, or judging yourself harshly, or experiencing a bad self-esteem moment, you can turn to it and allow yourself the memories of happiness that will see, like in my counselling session, a noticeable change in attitude.

Writing your Pleasure List

1. Take a clean sheet of paper and head somewhere you feel safe and relaxed.

2. Divide the paper into four sections:

– Section 01: People and Pets (who bring me pleasure when I think of them)
– Section 02: Places (that bring me pleasure when I think of them)
– Section 03: Things (that bring me pleasure when I think of them)
– Section 04: Things I like to do (that bring me pleasure)

3. Then write as many examples as you can under each section.
4. Remember to allow yourself to feel happy!

No matter how negatively you think of yourself, no matter how hard you convince yourself you do not deserve happiness – you do! You deserve all the happiness in the world, so always remember to focus on the things you adore, the places you cherish and the people you love. In time, you will see a positive change not only in how you think but how you see your beautiful self.

My Pleasure List

Given my life is an open blog I will now share with you my pleasure list:

B&B Threesome; alas, not that kind of threesome! (February 2000)

There are snakes in that lake! (Canada, 2000)

The green skirt of my dreams (February 2007)

Hostel Takeover; my one and only pub trivia team (March 2006)

(All images painted by renowned impressionist painter Mr. Pho Toscape and © Addy)

Tomorrow…Ways to Build Self-Esteem #2: Talents and Skills