How to Get Through a Crisis and Improve Your Self-Esteem

June 4, 2015 Emily Roberts MA, LPC

A crisis can harm your self-esteem. Here is an awesome dialectical behavior therapy skill to get you through a crisis and improve your self-esteem.

It can be hard to get through a crisis with your self-esteem intact. Whether it be a major meltdown or a mini crisis, learning how to get through a crisis can improve your self-esteem.

A dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skill that works to get through a crisis or situation that makes you anxious without killing your confidence and self-esteem is called "improving the moment." It's all about reevaluating your thoughts and feelings so you can make the best, or find happiness, in even the worst situations. This doesn't mean you ignore the negative emotions or feelings that a crisis creates; it means you make a choice to temporarily change and to think more positively. When you do this, your self-esteem gets higher and your mood improves.

Can a Crisis Improve Your Self-Esteem?

Recently, I was trying to get through a crisis, I was lost. Perhaps it was minor, but being lost freaks me out. To make matters worse, my phone was dead and I was running late. I could have sat back and let my self-loathing thoughts take over: "you should have charged your phone, idiot! What were you thinking?" But instead, I got active and improved the moment.

I went to a coffee shop, enjoyed my favorite beverage and began to think about how lucky I was to have found this place. Then I saw someone charging their phone. I asked them if I could use it for a minute and after chatting for a moment, they told me they knew an easy route to get to my destination. Although the whole experience wasn't amazing, I sure did get out of my negative mindset by doing something positive during the crisis.

Get Through a Crisis with the IMPROVE Skill

Remember the acronym IMPROVE when you are in a crisis or a situation that may take a toll on your self-esteem. Try to integrate one of these tools in:

Imagery -€”- Use your imagination and fantasize about something pleasant or enjoyable. I often go to the beach in my mind. Picturing something or "going somewhere" in your mind can help us experience the thoughts and emotions that go along with this vision. Think for a moment about a very calming or happy time in your life, perhaps a place that you've always enjoyed.

Meaning -- A spiritual teacher once asked me, "what's the assignment here?" There's a deeper meaning and learning experience behind everything. Maybe there's a lesson to be learned or maybe there's some irony or humor in the situation. From the crisis I encountered, I learned that I feel more confident with a charged phone or with directions written down on paper. As minor as this may seem, it's huge for developing self-esteem. Take a moment and try to find at least one positive or learning experience that can come from the crisis.

Prayer -- Many people find solace, strength and comfort through religion and prayer. If you are one of those people, pray and meditate to gather that strength. You don't have to be religious though, use mindfulness skills to help you calm down and just be with the moment. Help yourself by being grounded and trying to focus on the here and now.

Relaxation -- I know this is almost laughable, and you may be saying, "if I could I wouldn't be reading this." Cope ahead for crises and learn what works to relax your brain and body. Try a breathing exercise, download a self-help app for meditation or mindfulness, or try progressive muscle relaxation. In the moment, you will be more likely to remember it if you practice beforehand.

One thing in the moment -- This is practicing mindfulness of the here and now. I sat down and noticed my coffee, the taste and the delight it brought me. Think about what your body is feeling at the moment. What do you observe in this moment? Be curious. Slowing things down to one moment at a time can be difficult, but it does slow your brain down and allow you to become more aware of the experience.

Vacation -- In a long-term crisis this could be literally going to a friend's house or getting away for a day or two. In a crisis moment, it could be taking a walk, going on a vacation in your mind, getting a 10 minute massage or booking a spa appointment. You can window shop, meet a friend for lunch or take a break and catch a cat nap.

Encouragement -- Think what you would say to a friend in the crisis situation. Perhaps, "It's okay, you can do- it. I have faith in you." Cheer yourself on with positive self-talk: "You've made it through worse situations." Decide what you'd say to him or her, then silently say it to yourself. Repeat it over and over again and allow yourself to hear what you're saying.

When you practice these skills through mini and major crisis moments, you will develop more trust in yourself. These techniques can get you through a crisis and improve your self-esteem for life.

Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are. You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

APA Reference
Roberts, E. (2015, June 4). How to Get Through a Crisis and Improve Your Self-Esteem, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Emily is a psychotherapist, she is intensively trained in DBT, she the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are. You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

June, 13 2015 at 12:26 pm

Indeed yes when the mind is haunting with guilt ..only out of haste , still the mind needs tremendous amount of elaborated explanations of positivity . Because the original status of the soul or the sub concious is always positive !.. This is where we need to carefully nurse and pamper the soul ........

Dorcas Nduati
June, 10 2015 at 4:30 am

For me when I feel I have low self esteem I go to the Lord through prayer and I ask him to touch me. I pray for the people if there are participating to my misery and God gives me extra love towards them. In fact the Bible says you see the other person better than you and learn to appreciate others. You will accept yourself in the final analysis. I practice this and am able to coup up even with very difficult people at home and in office.

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