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Top 10 easy steps to improve your self esteem with NLP

Updated on May 24, 2012

If you ever suffer from low self esteem, either after a particular event; in the company of a particular person; or just generally, this article will help you to help yourself improve that low or negative self-image.

It uses NLP techniques which are easy to use (but do require practice) and are described in full.

Suggested approach: If you are new to NLP, please read through the article first – familiarising yourself with some of the terms (such as representational system and sub-modalities). When you are ready, have a go at the full exercise.

1. Select a negative self-esteem image

This is the most unpleasant step of the whole exercise, but it is extremely important that it’s well established – so that you can test the exercises effectiveness when done.

Close your eyes.

Think of a time when you felt terrible about yourself – your faults and weaknesses were in the forefront of your thoughts.


- Where in your body these thoughts and feelings are located. Intensify the thoughts and see what else you can notice about them (size / shape).

- The image(s) that come up when you think these thoughts.

- Any sounds associated with these thoughts.

2. Dissociate from the experience

Now break from the negative state by getting up and moving around; shaking your arms and legs; blinking faster and changing your facial muscles.

Think of what a Jersey cow looks like.

Continue until you are fully out of the previous state.

Representational systems

We have 3 main representational (or “rep”) systems, which represent senses: auditory, visual or feeling (or kinaesthetic). People tend to use all three in the way they “operate” in the world, and will also favour one specific system.

So if you think in pictures – then you will have a more visual dominance. If you talk to your self or process things well via sound, then you are more auditory. And if you operate at the touch and feel level, you are more kinaesthetic.

When creating new constructs (such as positive self esteem) it’s important to use all rep systems to generate a strong construct.

(For each rep system or modality, we have a series of "finer tuned" sub-modalities. See below table.)

3. Create powerful self-esteem imagery

Now you are going to create your super powerful, positive self-image that will be yours to own.

Seee yourself with amazing and profound self esteem.

Use all the major representational systems. So think about:-

  • How you appear – your gestures, the way you hold yourself, your facial expression.
  • How you sound – is your voice relaxed, in command, generous?
  • How you feel – the tone of your muscles, your temperature
  • How are fragrances – do you smell something specific, flowers? A certain perfume?

Think about how people might react to your self esteem.

Think about how you can use this in a particular situation in the very near future.

Think about how this fantastic feel is crowding out cares about previous attacks on your self esteem. It’s acting like a barrier or force field around you.

Amplify the submodalities

  • Make image bigger and brighter; saturate it with colour.
  • Increase the sounds
  • Increase the texture and feelings
  • Increase the fragrances

Build on the feeling that you need and want this and that you already have it.

Add the thinking: “It feels good to be me”.

Submodalities (examples)

Black & White or Colour
Loud or Soft
Strong or Weak
Near or Far
Near or Far
Large Area or Small Area
Bright or Dim
Internal or External
Weight: Heavy or Light
Size of Picture
Stereo or Mono
Texture: Smooth or Rough
Associated / Dissociated
Fast or Slow
Constant or Intermittent
Focused or Defocused
High or Low Pitch
Temperature: Hot or Cold
Framed or Unbounded
Verbal or Tonal
Movie or Still
If a Movie-Fast/Normal/Slow
3 Dimensional or Flat

4. Practice shrinking and restoring the self-esteem image

Put a mental frame around the image of you with high self esteem.

Now shrink it to a tiny image in the space in front of you.

Very quickly, enlarge that tiny image to its original size and fullness of feeling.

Add the “It feels good to be me” (if it’s not already there).

Open your eyes then close them again. And think of a black screen.

Picture the full size image again, and quickly shrink it.

Now take it back to full size again.

Practice this a few times.


5. Set up the swish

Shrink the big, positive image into the small image again, and place it right in the middle of the horrible image you thought of in step 1.

Now shrink the horrible image into an insignificant grey dot.

Quickly bring back the positive image to full size so that it completely covers the grey dot. Include the “It feels good to be me” as you do this.

Say SWISH and snap your finger as you do this.

Repeat this several times, increasing the speed as you practice.

6. Swish ten times

Open your eyes and have a walk around.

Close your eyes and imagine a black blank screen.

Start with the negative image and shrink to a tiny grey dot as before.

Repeat your swishes 10 times, each time generating the full feelings associated with your positive self image you have created; saying SWISH and snapping your fingers.

Open your eyes after each swish, then close and repeat starting with the black blank screen.

7. Experience extreme pleasure all around

Close your eyes and imagine you are in an elevator.

The elevator has mirrors on each side (including the doors).

Now notice that your positive self image is in those mirrors – being reflected behind you (into your past); in front of you (to your future); and all round you.

See the positive you in the past.

Now get in touch with the positive you in the future with all the energy, power, happiness and thrill that those images convey.

Attach: “Look at me. I feel GREAT being me.”

Future Pace or Future pacing is mentally rehearsing a future result or state of mind so that the desired outcome automatically occurs.

8. Future pace

Now imagine waking up tomorrow with all those powerful, positive images all around you.

Imagine people reacting to your positive self image. Banish any negatives (if they are still there) by using the SWISH.

Notice the change to peoples faces in your presence.

Feel your strength and your positive state. Notice how you look.


9. Finish the pattern

Do whatever you want to complete the pattern. Add a sparkle? Add a whimsical smile?

Open your eyes and take the new image with you for the rest of the day.

10. Test

Bring up one of your negative self images and see if it has any power over you.

If it does, repeat the above steps.

If you struggle to bring a negative self image back – it’s working!

Notice – over the next few days – any effects of your new positive self esteem. People reacting differently to you; a readiness to tackle stuff you would have shied away from in the past; greater amount of energy; dealing with difficult situations more positively and creatively.


Here are the key steps again to summarise this exercise:

1. Select a negative self-esteem image

2. Dissociate from the experience

3. Create powerful self-esteem imagery

4. Practice shrinking and restoring the self-esteem image

5. Set up the swish

6. Swish ten times

7. Experience extreme pleasure all around

8. Future pace

9. Finish the pattern

10. Test


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    • LiliMarlene profile image

      Elisabeth Meier 

      3 years ago

      Cool tips, thanks for sharing. I just discovered your hub although it is already 2 years old, but whatever, NLP rules don't change.


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