how to build self esteem

A Powerful Way to Build Self Esteem

You probably know the famous quote by Descartes, “I think therefore I am.” He didn’t say it last week or a decade ago. He said it over 300 years ago. And for the most part we believe it. But is it true? Are you what you think or are you much more than that?

Your mind doesn’t want you to think so. But the moment you stop believing the little voice in your head, you’re bound to make a radical discovery .

Your mind can be a little immature. It can be an attention hog, vying for you to notice it, when you could be growing or learning and generally living your life. It can rob you of inspiring memories. It can taint your greatest achievement with doubts and insecurities.

Am I serious? Actually I’m kind of goofy, but in the 30 years of working with the mind, yes, this is what I’ve found.

You’re probably way more capable, good looking, and sociable then you think you are. Whatever you’ve accomplished in your life, you’ve done it with your mind constantly whispering in your ear and questioning and analyzing every decision you make.

What would you think of Dale Earnhardt Jr. if he lost a race because someone left a crying baby in a baby seat in the back of his race car? It would be pretty tough to expect him to stay focused on the race.

Your mind consistently provides that level of distraction and grief….all the time. It tells you that you need to lose weight, or develop some other positive habit. Then it tells you that it’s going to be really difficult and no fun. (Is it trying to inspire you or what?). Next it tells you to make a plan and maybe do a little research on the subject.

Your mind begins to tell you that you can do it. And maybe you feel hopeful for a bit. But then when you run into the tiniest obstacle, it tells you that you don’t really want it and that you should quit. (I know, everyone else’s’ minds do it, but not yours, right?)

Face it, your mind can be nutty. It’s easily distracted. It can be overly critical. It knows all the things you’d rather not hear, and it’s happy to tell you them when you’re already down.

With a mind that weird, should you really trust it completely?

If a Presidential nominee acted that whacky and confused, would you vote them into Office?

You don’t have to put your mind in charge of your life. The mind acts as if it’s in charge of everything. In reality it isn’t in charge of anything.

I personally think Descartes was wrong… you don’t exist because you think. That makes the mind in charge of the universe. In reality, you have a mind because you exist. You think because you are!

Try saying this out loud. You can just say it in your head or whisper it, but if you think you’re not supposed to say it out loud, you’re probably listening to your mind and maybe something as risky as speaking out loud is too wild for you.


Try saying “I am therefore I think.”


Thinking is just one of the many things that you do in a day. You don’t exist because you think. Your existence is the sum of all the things you do. You have gotten to the point that while you are doing things, showering, driving or whistling Dixie, you are also thinking. Just because you think nearly all the time doesn’t mean that thinking causes your existence. That’s just crazy talk….. from your mind.

I am therefore I shower. I am therefore I make love. I am therefore I breathe and feel and walk and talk and smile and laugh and talk to myself in my head.

When you start with “I am therefore I think,” you start with a strong sense of self. You have a foundation for self-esteem deeper than judgements or negative beliefs.

“I am” is a very, very powerful thing to say. Try it.

“I am” – That’s it. “I am” doesn’t have to be followed by any other words. It is a perfect sentence with a subject and a verb. When you have said, “I am” you have said it all.


Self Esteem Exercise: Saying “I am”

Throughout your day, practice saying, “I am.”


When Randy came to his first workshop, he hardly spoke. He sat attentive but tense. He was uncomfortably thin and actually just plain uncomfortable. I suggested he practice saying “I am.” He did and that day a shift overcame him.

I watched as he began opening up to several people in the the workshop. He was painfully shy but slowly began to make friends with people on the breaks. After more practice with the “I am” exercise, it became obvious what his problem was.

He had a self-image problem. He had virtually no self-image at all.

When I say that he had no self-image, what I really mean is that he didn’t have any images or pictures, of himself. He couldn’t see himself in his own pictures. He couldn’t visualize himself at all!

When we began to explore the anatomy of the mind, he perked up. He began making pictures of himself in his head and a whole new world opened for him. I wish we had a before and after photo of Randy.

You wouldn’t look twice at the before photo. It was the picture of a guy you wouldn’t notice if he sat next to you in class or worked in the next cubical or sat across from you reading the morning newspaper.

The after pictures revealed that he had become interesting and interested. His eyes were alive. His face wasn’t pale anymore. He freely interacted with everyone in the workshop and even spoke in front of the group revealing to us that he was both smart and entertaining.

To this day he remembers the “I am” exercise as the beginning of the “New Randy.” He likes the new Randy and so do all of his new friends. Even his girlfriend, who didn’t know the old Randy. She reaps the benefits that began with those two simple words.

What I love most about this exercise is how easy it is to do and how powerful the results will be. Practice it today. I guarantee powerful results. Then come back here and leave a comment to let me know how it’s going.


Jerry is a non-guru who will twist your idea of reality on its head and leave you laughing. His mischievous smile will tell you right away he has found the lighter side of spirituality. Improve your life with spiritual tools and mindsets- visit Lightening Up and Letting Go, his blog on modern spirituality.

28 Responses to A Powerful Way to Build Self Esteem

  1. Dan Garner says:

    I love taking it one step further. Once one has developed a strong sense of self , it is nice to say “it is”. Not to negate the self, but to feel a part of the whole of what life has to offer.

    Dan @ ZenPresence

  2. Jerry Stocking says:

     I get it Dan. And certainly “it is”. At the same time I like to consider capital “S” Self, which, with enough love, includes anything and everything at the speed of perception or light as who you really are.
    Thanks for your comment Dan. Enjoy the journey.

  3. JoCaseyB says:

    Great post. I think it’s really super duper powerful to use “I Am” statements-and it’s interesting to notice which statements follow “I Am” in our everyday conversations. For example, Do you find yourself saying, “I am an idiot/bad speller/terrible dancer/procrastinator” etc-these can be really powerful statements about our identity that we may not realise we’re making. Consciously changing these has power-simply using “I Am” without the critical statement allows us to be free & have choices in what we want to be

  4. Ravi_mlb says:

    Wow.The more i say the more i realize i have been lacking self helps to realize whether u have ur self esteem intact.i am i am.yes i am

  5. Tomas Gnocchi says:

    Man this is amazing I just started reading this blog aloud and when I started to “die” I said I AM. Thank you for the help.

  6. Dan Erickson says:

    Of course “I am” is one of the names of the Christian God, too.  So by saying “I am” we could be either claiming we are God, claiming we are one with God, or speaking to God.

  7. Jorge Blanco says:

    Wonderful exercise. At first, you start out feeling funny and weird for saying “I am.” But later, the more you say it, you actually affirm yourself and it feels more real, I guess. Thank you for this! It’s actually a really great exercise to start your day. :)

  8. Mark Bowness says:

    This is a great, simple article that contains real truth. I have under-gone my biggest life change by stopping the voice of self-doubt in my head, putting a pause on the limiting beliefs and deciding to make the realisation that I have more worth, more power, greater potential and more confidence than the nagging voice inside my head tells me that I have. Great truths in this post – thank you so much for sharing Jerry.

  9. Afka says:

    “I personally think Descartes was wrong… you don’t exist because you think. That makes the mind in charge of the universe. In reality, you have a mind because you exist. You think because you are!”

    That’s not what “I think therefore I am” means… Descartes began his argument by doubting everything, including whether or not he even existed. Then he realised that the very fact he was doubting meant that SOMEONE had to be doing the doubting, and that was “I”. Each of us can prove that “I” exist by doubting whether we exist and realising that there must be an “I” in the first place to do the doubting. Therefore, because there is thinking (doubting) going on, I must exist. 

  10. Afka says:

    I want to add that the exercise is great by the way! Sorry to offer what might seem to be negative feedback straightaway. 

  11. Maria2008 says:

    Thank you for your post, how do you quieten the inner doubting voice inside your head?

  12. What a wonderful comment JoCaseyB, Love it. I call those “I am” statements declarations, whether they have the words “I am” in them or just imply them. Declarations are our opportunity to create ourselves, our little, wonderful, sometimes scary bridge from this moment to the next.
    Did a linguistic workshop years ago and over night we were to explore all our “I am “statements. Not only those we make about ourselves but those that others make or have made about us. Like “He isn’t performing up to his potential”, spoken by my third grade teacher.
    Once we had pages of these written out we were invited to undeclare any of them we wished too. Turns out that undeclaring is a very powerful way to unwind all sorts of past stuff and declaring is a cool way to create ourselves in the next moment.
    Thanks so much for your comments. Feel free to call up Wayne at 706.754.7540. He will send you a free, no strings attached, copy of my book Laughing with God, you might find a few giggles in there and you would help us reduce our inventory of books. Just tell him you responded to this blog and I offered you a free copy.

  13.  Careful. Self esteem is often a conversation in your head while self image in a visual representation in your head. Discovering which is which will enhance your ability to raise both.

  14.  Very cool use of my blog Tomas. Its certainly worth starting to die over and over and over and over again. Because after you die you come back to life again. Resisting dying is resisting life. Die often. As Gangaji would say “What are you waiting for, die.”

  15.  I like to consider Dan that if I am speaking I am speaking to God. This doesn’t necessarily keep me quiet but it does mean that somebody with complete perspective is always listening.
    I like writing to God too. No particular reason that everything shouldn’t be directed Godward.

  16.  You are welcome Jorge. Glad you enjoyed it. It is likely that the more you practice it the more morning glory you will have.

  17.  You are very welcome Mark. And I would like to make a rather large suggestion to you.
    Open up to and listen to the conversation in your head. All it wants is to be heard, whether it is positive or negative. Stopping it often just pushed it out of attention, and when it is out of attention it often creates all sorts of problems without your noticing.
    I find embracing everything that my mind says equally nullifies its attempts to influence all aspects of my life. I find that having a preference for some of my thoughts over others drives me a bit batty and results in suffering.
    Our minds are very tricky and sneaky and our job, at least in my opinion, is to fall in love with our minds.

  18.  I appreciate your feedback Afka, and your post is welcome. I have fallen behind in determining what is “positive” and what is “negative.” Which makes it much easier to just consider all attention to be a great treat.
    Seems to me that Descartes, as a philosopher, really needed his mind to be important and did what he could to arrive at conclusions about just utterly important it is. In my work my body, and everything else in the world is just as important as my mind. Not more, and not less. If I try and make my mind more important I get mentally carried away forgetting that mind must answer to “what is.” If I try and demean or speak badly of my mind then I begin to act like I have an allergic reaction to my mind making it overly important anyway.
    The most fun is when I treat my mind a bit like the immature, childlike, even spoiled, kid it is. I love it but certainly wouldn’t want it to run my life.

  19. Dan Erickson says:

    I like your way of viewing things, Jerry.  This is a fresh perspective for this site as posts often feel more psychological than God- based.  An intentional  God-inclusive life can bring us much peace and balance.  Thanks for your reply.

  20. Donna Farrer says:

    I love your comment, not to mention the post itself You are absoltely right. “I Am” can be empowering or life shattering at any given moment. It is so fantastic that I read this today as I am reading a book by Lisa Selow at the moment called A Rebel Chick Mystic’s Guide. She writes about this in the book, that you are already perfect, and that all you need to do is be you and to make a difference! It has been really motivational, is where I cam across it if anyone wanted to check it out! I am so glad I cam across this post and these comments today!

  21. MarkBowness says:

    The power of ‘I am’ is a deep spiritual principle of life change. Moses met God at the burning bush and when Moses questions the role and function of God, God responds, ‘I AM that I AM’. When we affirm ourselves in the positive ‘I AM confidence’, ‘I AM beautiful’, ‘I AM worthy of wealth’ we connect with the I AM-ness of God in us and align ourselves to the everything that creation designed for us before we were born.

    I love the power of I AM and this is a great post! 

  22. Pingback: How to build your self esteem

  23.  Thank You for your comments mark. And I urge a little caution. When you start attaching things to I am: like beautiful or rich you demean yourself by identifying with much less than all that you are.
    I use I am as an existential utterance not as a way to start collecting traits: especially since the “I am” that interests my am already includes everything.
    Again, thanks for the post. If you haven’t you might want to read my book “Laughing with God” sometime. Call Wayne if you want and he will send you a free copy. 706.754.7540.

  24. Great read!! Try saying “I am therefore I think.” That one line is so empowering!! 

  25. Pingback: Cultivate Confidence» Blog Archive » A Powerful Way to Build Self Esteem » Cultivate Confidence

  26. Patent Lawyer says:

    Excellent post, I’ll make sure to adopt these ideas and report back my results!

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