Everything We’ve Been Taught About Building Self-Esteem is Wrong, Argues Psychologist Joe Burgo in His New Book

how to get more self-esteem

For decades, self-esteem experts have told us that boosting self-esteem depends upon affirmations, radical self-acceptance, and cognitive strategies to alter negative beliefs we hold about ourselves. This approach turns building self-esteem into a solitary activity and makes it all about the self.

In his (“Shame”, St. Martin’s Press), clinical psychologist and media commentator Dr. Joseph Burgo debunks this view and argues that building self-esteem actually takes place within our most intimate relationships. Backed by studies of infant brain development and the latest neuroscience, Joe shows that throughout life, building self-esteem depends upon the same three conditions:

(1) setting and reaching goals, even small ones, leading to
(2) pride in achievement, which will consolidate true self-esteem when we
(3) share our joy in achievement with the people who matter most to us 

In short, authentic self-esteem thrives within an interpersonal context.

Joe also shows that all forms of shame aren’t toxic, and that shame and self-esteem are not true opposites, as most people believe. Shame sometimes has a lesson to teach us – about who we are and the person we expect ourselves to be.

Building authentic self-esteem depends in part on being able to listen to and learn from shame when it tells us we’ve violated our own values, disappointed realistic expectations we hold for ourselves, or diminished ourselves in the eyes of people we love and respect.

Joe is also the author of “The Narcissist You Know” (Touchstone 2015) and the voice behind the Psychology Today blog “Shame.” His articles and commentary have appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, USAToday, and many other national publications. He has been a guest on dozens of radio programs, including NPR, and also appeared on local and national television.

The book Shame by Dr. Joseph Burgo.

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