Self-Esteem | Matthew McKay

Summary of: Self-Esteem: A proven program of cognitive techniques for assessing, improving and maintaining your self-esteem
By: Matthew McKay


Embark on a journey toward self-discovery and personal growth with Matthew McKay’s book, ‘Self-Esteem: A proven program of cognitive techniques for assessing, improving and maintaining your self-esteem’. In this comprehensive guide, McKay presents insights into the roots of self-esteem, the perils of low self-esteem, and the destructive voice of our inner critic. The book shares effective cognitive techniques that will help you accurately assess your strengths and weaknesses, combat self-defeating thoughts, and nurture healthy self-esteem. A must-read for those seeking to overcome obstacles in their lives, build resilience against life’s challenges, and develop a strong sense of self-worth that leads to overall well-being.

Building Self-Esteem for Psychological Survival

Life can be tough, but building your self-esteem can help you prevail against any challenge. Without it, you risk judging yourself too harshly, fearing others, shying away from risk, and limiting yourself. When you’re certain that you’ll fail, this attracts defeat, maladaptive behavior, and self-destructive habits to alleviate inner pain. You need a healthy sense of self-worth to give yourself a chance to win. Rejecting yourself will only lead to loss and further defeat. This is life’s most elementary rule.

The Power of Self-Esteem

The first few years of our lives determine our self-esteem more than our present circumstances. Self-esteem is a product of our thoughts, not just our upbringing. Your self-esteem can be high even if you’re poor or otherwise disadvantaged if you have positive self-talk and thoughts. Negative self-talk is a reflection of low self-esteem, while positive affirmations boost self-esteem. Our thoughts shape how we interpret life and determine the strength of our self-esteem. Control your thoughts, and you’ll control your feelings and your self-esteem.

Mastering Your Inner Critic

The voice of your pathological critic, as psychologist Eugene Sagan describes it, exists in everyone’s mind. For those with poor self-esteem, this inner voice becomes a vicious detractor, constantly undermining everything they think, feel, and do. The clever pathological critic couches its attacks in logical and reasonable tones, even when they are absurd. It uses images from early life and a technique called “chaining” to summon one horrific memory after another inside your head. This subtle and dangerous force is a liar, and its messages seem unassailable and true, making it difficult to resist. Rejecting parts of yourself can damage psychological structures vital to survival. Mastering your inner critic entails confronting the critic’s lies, objectively considering your achievements instead of measuring achievements against unattainable standards, and appreciating the journey of self-improvement and growth. By rejecting the critic’s self-defeating messages, building and maintaining self-esteem becomes possible, leading to confidence in oneself.

The Toxic Inner Critic

Your inner critic originates from childhood experiences of punishment and disapproval. It uses these moments to attack you throughout your life, becoming stronger with each negative experience. Despite being toxic, it lessens anxiety and pain by creating a foreordained outcome. The critic deals in negative reinforcement that is addictive and colors your thinking processes. Moreover, it variably reinforces itself by setting unachievable standards that you sometimes meet, keeping you locked in a cycle of self-doubt and negativity. It is more poisonous to your psychological health than most traumas or losses.

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