Self-esteem: how to build self-confidence

Self-esteem - Strategic psychotherapy

 "If you don't believe in yourself, who will believe it?"
(Kobe Bryant)


A young shrimp thought: "Why does everyone in my family walk backwards? I want to learn to walk forward and my tail will fall off if I can't ”. He began to practice secretly and in the first days the feat cost him a lot of effort: he hit all over, bruised his armor, crushed his legs ... When he was quite sure of himself, he introduced himself to his family and made a magnificent jog forward. . “My son - her mother burst into tears -“ did she give you the brain from time to time? Come back to yourself, walk as your father and mother taught you ”.

His father watched him sternly for a while, then said: "That's enough. If you want to do your own thing, the stream is big, go away and never go back ”. The good shrimp loved his family, but he wanted to pursue his dream. His passage immediately aroused the hilarity of the pond, but no one could dissuade him. «… Will it go far? Will he make a fortune? Will it straighten all the crooked things in this world? We do not know, because he is still marching with the courage and determination of the first day. We can only wish him, with all our heart: - Have a nice trip!  (Gianni Rodari).

What we can say with certainty about our young shrimp is that he believed in himself and had confidence in his abilities and potential, therefore he had good self-esteem.

Nowadays, we hear a lot about this concept to such an extent that the expression has become part of popular language. In fact, from a summary bibliographic search it emerges that there are more than 7000 articles and more than 600 books dealing with this topic.

The word estimate means "giving value to something or someone", so to be as realistic as possible towards yourself it is necessary to become aware of our strengths and limitations: underestimating or overestimating oneself are both expressions of low self-esteem that can lead us to develop various types of psychological discomfort.

The first psychologist who described this concept was William James in 1890, defining it as the relationship between the perceived Self ("Who I think I am") and the ideal Self ("Who I would like to be"): the greater the discrepancy, the higher it is dissatisfaction. This is why the cohesion between one's successes and one's aspirations is fundamental.

We can identify two major scientific currents: the one focused on one's own being led by Virginia Satir and the one oriented on one's appearance developed by Nathaniel Branden, based on skills and doing. Jean Monbourquette highlights the need to integrate these two aspects, arguing that "Self-esteem for oneself and self-esteem for one's skills are both necessary. It is important to find the right balance between the two and to harmonize them correctly".

 How to get worse in nine moves

"Self-esteem is not inherited, but built"(Giorgio Nardone), and instead of asking ourselves how to best develop it, inspired by the ancient Chinese stratagem" If you want to straighten something you must first learn to twist it more ", let's try to ask ourselves what are the ways to make it worse, in order to improve it. By asking ourselves this question, we have identified nine dysfunctional modes, not in themselves, but in their repeated and generalized application.

  • avoidance. Feeling fear in front of certain situations can be natural and in some cases the primal instinct is to avoid, but if it produces relief at the moment, in the long run my perception of danger increases and consequently my inability to deal with them. Quoting Fernando Pessoa "I wear the wounds of all the battles I have avoided" and the wounds of the battles I have avoided never heal.
  • Help request. It is reassuring because if we receive it it means that the person who "helps us" cares about us, but unwittingly is also communicating another message: "I help you because you are not capable by yourself" and this will begin to work like a worm, weakening us.
  • To insist. If one thing works, it works quickly, consequently “If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten” (Anthony Robbins).
  • Renounce. I can lose and not get what I want right away, but it is essential to find other ways to achieve my goal; otherwise, I cultivate my inability and as Li Pin maintains "We are defeated, only when we surrender".
  • Self-fulfilling prophecy. Our actions influence the opinions that others have of us, determining their behaviors which, in turn, reinforce and confirm our beliefs and our actions. So: do I think and behave like a "loser"? Others will believe it too and act accordingly.
  • Complain. Very often, talking about one's difficulties initially produces relief, but in the long run it amplifies and complicates the extent of the discomfort.
  • Indulge others. In an attempt to gain greater confidence, it is sometimes easy to give in to the temptation to always and in any case say “yes” to people's requests, in the illusion that our self-esteem can arise from their consent.
  • To neglect. Contrary to what common sense leads us to think, the dress makes the monk and "there is no second chance to make a good first impression" (Oscar Wilde).
  • Postpone. It makes us cultivate the illusion of being able to do, but it's actually a great way to weaken our resolve, as lingering makes us lose the ability to decide.


We know that there are no pre-packaged recipes to help a person believe in themselves more, but if we wanted to give two "tips" to build their self-esteem, we will say:

  • Plan to struggle
  • Accept your frailties
  • Set yourself realistic goals
  • Deal with situations
  • Always prepare / study / improve yourself
  • Allow yourself to fail
  • Take care of yourself
  • Do one nice thing a day
  • Learn to say "no"

Let's start training, knowing full well that yes "learn by doing”And you can always become the best version of yourself… GOOD JOB!

Dr. Romina Cacioli (Official Psychotherapist of the Strategic Therapy Center)

Dr. Laura Santini (Official Psychotherapist of the Strategic Therapy Center)


  • Branden, N. (2006). The six pillars of self-esteem. Milan: Publisher Tea.
  • Duclos, G. (2007). Self-esteem. Passport for life. Cuneo: San Paolo Editore.
  • Jang, J. (2015). Stronger than no. Milan: Vallardi Editore.
  • Monbourquette, J. (2002). From self-esteem to self-esteem. Florence: Pauline Editions.
  • Nardone, G. (2014). Fear of decisions. Milan: Adriano Salani.
  • Nardone, G. (2013). Psychotrap. Milan: Adriano Salani.
  • Nardone, G. (2009). Pocket strategic problem solving. Milan: Adriano Salani.
  • Nardone, G. (1998). Psychosolutions. Milan: Bur
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