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  • Writer's pictureDavid Khalili

The Three Columns to Self-Esteem (Part 2)

Updated: Apr 3

If one takes part in activities that one likes and is good at, then one will feel good about themself.

In the introductory piece to this series, we discussed three things that can be helpful in building a lasting, healthy self-esteem. “Three Columns” make up this concept that focus on one’s self and what one can control as opposed to outside factors (e.g. paychecks, titles, relationships) that are too inconsistent and unreliable. To review, the first column requires the recognition and implementation of healthy boundaries. The third column espouses the theory that one must actively participate in actions related to reaching their goals, which could be personal or professional. Today, we’ll discuss the second column: engaging in healthy activities that one likes and is good at doing.

The main concept of this second column is not as complex as boundaries, and is a bit more light-hearted than working towards goals one wants to achieve. Engaging in healthy activities that one likes and is good at doing is dictated by an individual. The hypothesis as to why this column helps build and maintain healthy self-esteem is straightforward — if one takes part in activities that one likes and is good at, then one will feel good about themself.

Examples are aplenty. We all know someone who loves to cook, or a “foodie” that loves to try cuisines from the copious varieties and tastes from around the world. There are people who love to read, and others who like playing video games. As noted in the previous post, as long as one is doing an activity they like, there is really no wrong activity to choose. The fact that this asks one to do things they like and are also good at, is important. Engaging in activities that one is good at will help build and maintain confidence while instilling a sense of mastery of the skill it involves or the knowledge gained.

Personally, there are a variety of things I like and am good at (I think I’m good at them anyway) that I try to incorporate into my weekly routine. I’m a basketball nut. If it’s sitting and watching my favorite team play or playing on a court with others pre-pandemic, the game is something I love for its complexity and its camaraderie. I like to watch comedy stand up specials, classics or newly released, because I love to laugh. I like spending time with my family and friends, perhaps a little more liberally before the year 2020 but coming back slowly and safely now. I like to swim in our community pool for exercise, melt away in the adjourning jacuzzi, and sometimes I like to just take a walk with no premeditated plan on where exactly my destination is. The activities may be productive and healthy while they may also serve the purpose of relaxation and recharging of one’s internal physical, mental, and emotional batteries.

Of course there are limits when engaging in these activities, the expectation cannot be that we have the time to do them all day or even every day. Usually these types of activities are reserved during free time because of other responsibilities that take priority, like work or family obligations. While there is an understanding that one won't be able to engage in activities they like and are good at doing all the time, it is up to an individual to plan and partake in them. This is where the “work” lies for most people. In a vacuum, it is easy for one to want to incorporate these activities into a routine. In real life, it is hard to change a routine that has many working parts. Being flexible enough to add even one activity, once per week is no small feat and is an appropriate, achievable, attainable goal to start.

Even if small amounts of time at its initiation instead of what’s really desired — spending 30 minutes to walk on the beach as opposed to spending the day. These are active, tangible activities that one must plan for and execute.

If you feel like it’s hard to identify things you like or are good at, discuss that with your therapist. Therapy can be a guide to discovering what you might not know about yourself and a conduit to endeavor in them. The next part in this series will review the third column, actively participating in actions related to reaching goals.


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