Behavioural Change For Self Esteem

In this article we examine how Self Driven Behavioural Change can be achieved through Self Discovery, and how this can be used as a therapeutic method based on Self Perception Theory.

In this article we examine the factors at play for driving Behavioural Change, that can lead to improvements in Self Esteem. We identify the areas that are within control of the Self vs those that are not.

Prerequisite Reading

  • Defining Self Esteem
  • Understanding Self Esteem
  • Journaling For Self Esteem

In the past articles we explored the idea of Self Esteem and examined the role of Journaling as one of the anchor habits that could help us bring positive change in our Self Esteem. A key takeaway from those articles is that Self Esteem is not just based on affirmations, it is actually based on Action. Here we try to evaluate how to drive that action, what blocks most people from doing so, and how we can overcome that hurdle.

Behavioural Change

If you suffer from low Self Esteem, there is a very high likelihood that you exhibit certain behaviours that you yourself do not approve of, or you lack certain behaviours that you feel are integral to your values.

As an example, an overweight person may have low self esteem, because they feel inadequate & unattractive because of being overweight. This may trigger emotional responses, that can cause lack the motivation for exercising & controlling diet. Which causes them to stay overweight.

The key to breaking this cycle is Behavioural Change. If you can drive your behaviour towards positive outcomes, towards your values, you will start incrementally improving your Self Esteem.

Improving Self Esteem is an incremental Process. You don’t jump overnight from low to high. It’s a gradual process, that takes accumulation of positive behaviours, and the effectual results over time.

The key challenge is how do you drive positive behaviour in the presence of negative emotions.

Self Perception Theory

The Self Perception theory, proposed by Daryl Bem, states that our attitudes towards an event or stimuli can be changed based on our choice of behaviour as a response to it. This assertion is completely counter intuitive and represents a paradigm shift from behaviourism. But it has important implications in Self Therapy based on choosing positive behaviours, even in response to aversive stimuli.

What this theory essentially establishes is that if you do not have a preconceived emotional disposition towards an outcome, you can choose your behavioural response. And if you choose a positive behavioural response to an unfavourable outcome, you will not have a negative attitude towards that outcome.

Application of Self Perception Theory

The Self Perception theory can be applied in enabling individuals for overcoming or moderating negative emotions resulting in poor self esteem. This could be any event(s) causing repeated emotional impact. Most people resort to self damaging behaviours – since their sense of self is damaged to such events.

Based on Self Perception theory, if we can drive positive behavioural change, we can help individuals overcome emotional adversity and improve their Self Esteem more effectively.

Behavioural Change for Self Esteem

As you can see in the Diagram above, there are certain factors in our control, while others are not.

Our conscious thought process, perspective and analysis of events is in our control. Our emotions are affected by our thought process, our biology & the outcomes of events directly affecting us. We can control our actions in events we participate in, but we are not in control of the outcome of those events.

As you can conclude, the only factor we can affect in this dynamic is to drive our thought processes towards favourable perspectives. This is key to driving behavioural change for improving Self Esteem.


Self Awareness Questions

  • Identify one repeated action / event from your life that regularly leads to negative thoughts.
  • Write down those thoughts. Create a  positive analysis of the action / event.