DEAR FRIENDS- The most life-changing growth you will ever experience is learning to love and believe in yourself. Your love for and confidence in yourself is the bedrock of your happiness and your ability to have a transformative impact on the world around you. The greater your self-love and self-validation, the more joy and inner peace you experience and the greater the happiness you radiate to others.
The more deeply you understand it, the more you realize that discovering who you are, validating your own rightness, and loving yourself unconditionally is the central purpose of your life. In other words, YOU are your spiritual path!
To be permanently happy,  you must confront and release your haunting sense of inadequacy -- that feeling that you aren't "good enough". This feeling is called by another name- chronic shame.
If you pay close attention to the stream of mental chatter in your head , you will notice that you are frequently criticizing yourself. This is not because you deserve it! To be free of self-criticism -- and the lie of your "defectiveness" -- you first have to realize that it's there . Once you do,  you can release it and build up an affirming voice and presence inside you. You can heal your blindness to your own beauty, connect to the strength and power of who you are, and awaken the healing force of of self-love .
The following exercise is a powerful way to permanently release your chronic shame/self-doubt and build up empowering self-confidence and unconditional self-love. It appears to be simple, but like zen meditation it cracks the shell of illusion and opens you to the truth. Try committing yourself to doing it every day for a month. At the end of the month, ask yourself whether your self-criticism is fading and your self-acceptance and confidence are growing. If this is happening, keep going -- big changes are coming! .
All spiritual paths -- whether based in meditation, prayer, yoga, or self-love -- require time, repetition and deepening awareness to have a life-transforming effect. I did this exercise every day (often multiple times !) for years. Slowly and surely it led me to major breakthroughs and turning points in my life. Many of my therapy clients and meditation students reported the same thing.

BUILDING SELF-ESTEEM: EXERCISE ONE (To be done at the end of the day)
1. Stand in front of a mirror. Bring to mind the various things you did -- tasks you engaged in, activities you enjoyed, interactions with people, etc.
2. Choose something you enjoyed doing and/or were successful with. During periods where you are in a great deal of pain, acknowledge even the smallest victory (for example: you got out of bed and ate a meal).
3. Look yourself in the eye. As you do, imagine that you are the kind of mother or father who is always encouraging and knows exactly what to say. Or, imagine that you are speaking with the voice of your own soul. The basic concept is that the person in the mirror (the part of you that is suffering) needs love and recognition, and you (the loving core of you) are going to supply it. As unnatural as this may feel at first, I promise you will get the hang of it very quickly!
4. Begin with whatever you feel best about. For example, you went to the gym, or got the kids off to school, or got up the courage to ask that cute guy out.
5. Start by saying something like this to yourself: " I appreciate how you got yourself to go to the gym today . I'm proud of you!"
6. Now go down the list of all the POSITIVE INNER QUALITIES that enabled you to get yourself to your workout. "I really appreciate the determination, and commitment, and the desire to feel better and the passion and love for yourself that enabled you get to the gym and work out. So many great things in you went into getting it done!"
7. Repeat this process for at least two more accomplishments or experiences. For example: "Look at how you got the kids off to school. You patiently negotiated clothing choices with Jenny, you pulled together lunches, you kindly reassured Adam he would do fine on his spelling test. You used focus, flexibility, compassion, and motherly love. These are beautiful parts of you and I really appreciate them!"

The reason why it is best to do this at the end of the day is that the appreciation and self-recognition you are displaying will be "soaked up" and take root in your unconscious mind as you sleep. Slowly but surely this positive and loving attitude toward yourself outshines and heals your feeling of somehow not being "good enough" and the relentless mental chatter of self-criticism.

How and Why This Works: The transformative factors at work in this practice are a. Activating the "inner voice" of self-appreciation b. Building up the ability to recognize and validate the strong and beautiful parts of YOU c. Awakening the feeling of being loved and valued d. Eye contact with yourself while in a loving attitude goes to your heart and enables it to open.
A Note on Resistance: You may notice from time to time that you have become more reluctant to work with yourself in this way . When this happens (and it almost certainly will) it is usually because you need to ventilate and release the pain that is surfacing as a result of love "pushing out" the old sorrow , anger , fear , guilt , shame etc. Sometimes you'll start crying and you won't know why , or you'll get angry for no apparent reason . Don't be afraid and trust your feelings . Give them the expression they need and explore them in your journal , in therapy etc. When energy moves in this way , the true meaning is that your work is having a deep and powerful effect . Your love is growing and you're breaking free.