Posted in Self Help

Identifying Qualities, Virtues and Failings in Self-Esteem Repair

So, tearing myself away once more from the danger of this website becoming a dating blog for a frustrated 30-something male, I head back to summarising my discoveries from the self-help book Overcoming Low Self-Esteem.

One of the most difficult sections for me to write about was to list my qualities. I spent most of my life rarely being given praise; I came second in the maths test? Great! come top next time. I rarely received congratulations and I set about proving to myself that I was not as useless as I believed I was. Of course, this meant that I pushed myself through mental and physical limits to achieve those goals and if I failed, I felt I was letting everyone down.

When I started to receive praise later in life, I was so used to not getting any that praise would always be shrugged off (I have covered this before) and consequently, bottom line feelings were reinforced: I am not good enough. So as you can understand, forcing me to confront my virtues, my qualities and identifying the failings I do not possess was the most emotionally exhausting part of this journey.

Luckily though I have a good memory and so I can think back to most of the praise I have received in recent years. Here is the list that I came up with:

What I believe my positive qualities to be:
Willing to learn new things
Good sense of humour
Willing to try most things once
Strong sense of right and wrong
Ability to explain things without patronising
Good listener

Others tell me I am:
Chilled out (on the outside perhaps) – closest male friend
Approachable – colleagues and clients
Helpful – colleagues and clients
Knowledgeable – My supervisor
Considerate – ex wife
smart guy, ambitious, level headed, funny and sweet – Miss X

Qualities in others I share:
Caring – Ex-Wife
Sense of humour – Miss X
Determination – father
Loyalty – mother

Bad things I’m not:

Furthermore it went on to ask the reader to list their talents, achievements for which they ought to be proud or unusual skills. Finally, the section asked for a list of reasons for holding the negative self-perceptions, the challenges in life.

Challenges in life:
Lack of support from parents
Father always putting me down
(Perhaps) mild depression from a young age – never diagnosed. Always told “pull yourself together” when I felt low
Lack of academic success at school
Always felt the odd one out – quiet and thoughtful unlike family and peers
Girls were an ‘alien species’ until into my 20s
Few friends to turn to
Wife cheating made me feel inadequate – she blamed me

It took me a while but I got there. Most people, even those who have a healthy level of self-doubt should have no problem listing their virtues and qualities; I struggled yet when I finally completed this list, it was the most critical and intense challenge to my negative self-perceptions so far. I no longer had a leg to stand on – I was not worthless. I was not useless. I was not stupid. I was not a failure. And this is where most of my problems began to turn around; it was an epiphany if you like.

There was still one issue that it would not help with; I would even say that my attempts to challenge the negative self-perception about my dateability dragged up some of the most horrendous memories of my younger years. It wasn’t so much a tough nut to crack, as an impossible one. The situation with Miss X made it worse… but that is a story for another post as it is something I am still working on.



I go by the name of Frank Speaking. My blog "In the Mind of Men" (former name Chin Up, Chest High) started out as a chronicle of my mental health recovery. Now it is a forum where I discuss issues related to male mental health.

8 thoughts on “Identifying Qualities, Virtues and Failings in Self-Esteem Repair

  1. You’d be surprised how many people can’t make a list of positive qualities of themselves. So the fact that you got to 10 is awesome! I had a professor that had a class exercise similar to this. I couldn’t list ten positive things about myself; I legitimately needed help from my professor.

    Kudos on getting all of this down on paper (so to speak).

    I’m proud of you ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Most people, when pushed, should have no problem with coming up with at least two or three. Those of us who suffer/have suffered from chronically low self-esteem simply cannot see that we have any qualities whatsoever even when we are having them waved in our face by those who care about us.

      It was actually quite emotionally exhausting but it did the trick in my case and it took me a whole day of thinking to come up with those ten.

      Thanks for your support ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. If you can get and keep your confidence level up you will be UNSTOPPABLE, and much, much happier, which is always attractive.
    Also, no one knows what they’re doing when it comes to dating in your teens, they are just acting like they do!

    1. You’re right on both counts! Here’s to hoping this positive outlook and new drive is here to stay

  3. I would like to hear more about Miss X!!Spill the beans! My dad often told me I wouldn’t be able to do things, but it just made me more determined to succeed. Not good for your confidence though.

    1. I got all of that from my father, projecting his failings onto me and given me hang ups about it

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