Cultivating Strengths to Build Self-Esteem

September 12, 2023 Sean Gunderson

I work to cultivate my strengths, as living with a mental health diagnosis can present unique challenges to one's self-esteem and overall wellbeing. I know the internal struggles with stigma, self-doubt, and societal expectations can often overshadow my sense of self-worth. However, there is a powerful approach that can help rebuild and enhance self-esteem: focusing on and cultivating one's strengths.

Recognizing and harnessing these inherent qualities, individuals can navigate their mental health journey with confidence and resilience. In my journey, I have found that focusing on my strengths helps cultivate the necessary self-esteem to surmount the inherent challenges of living with a mental health diagnosis. 

The Simple Logic of Cultivating Our Strengths

Each of us has strengths and weaknesses. We also have a limited amount of time and energy. How we utilize these limited resources makes a significant difference in the quality of our lives. While in college, I had the opportunity to take a leadership class. In this class, we took various strengths assessments. We learned the importance of using our limited resources to cultivate our strengths. 

As I contemplated this simple logic, I realized that I could accomplish so much more by focusing on my strengths. In any community, people will inevitably have strengths that compensate for others' weaknesses. As we each cultivate strengths, we can create harmonious communities. This means that you have inherent value. Focusing on our strengths is but one pathway to realize this inherent value. I now realize that my best contributions to any community I am in are found through applying my strengths. 

Cultivating Strengths as a Journey of Self-Discovery

Cultivating your strengths can be a journey of self-discovery. How often do we focus on our weaknesses, striving to improve them to meet the expectations of those around us? This could be in a social setting, workplace, or even familial environment. However, we live in a profoundly beautiful, interdependent universe. We do not need to "do it all." Rather, we can find harmony in knowing ourselves and applying our strengths. 

In my own life, I have found that writing is one of my strengths. It allows me not just to express myself but also to grow in that process. Furthermore, my writing can benefit others. Here, my strength is a benefit to me and others. What could be better than that?  This kind of harmony facilitates a meaningful life.

I encourage you to identify, embrace, and cultivate your unique strengths. You have a meaningful contribution to make to whatever community you may find yourself in. 

APA Reference
Gunderson, S. (2023, September 12). Cultivating Strengths to Build Self-Esteem, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 19 from

Author: Sean Gunderson

Sean Gunderson (they/them) has a wealth of lived experience with mental health issues and, after publishing their thesis, "Uncomfortable Conversations with a Psychiatric Survivor: Exploring the Paradigm Shift in Mental Health," became an advocate for embracing the ongoing scientific paradigm shift in the field of mental health. Find Sean on Facebook, X (Twitter), LinkedIn, and their site

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