Self Respect Keeps you Healthy - Learn How to Increase your Self-Esteem

by Pankaj Kotak, M.Sc., N.D.

Self-respect or self-esteem refers to a person's image or belief about oneself. On a deeper level, it is a measure or evaluation of how much a person is able to love and accept himself. Self-love makes the person feel that his/her existence is worthwhile, which brings vitality and a sense of meaning in his/her actions.

Scientists have studied the effect of self-esteem on health and found that a lack of self-respect is a major cause for disease. Low self-esteem creates stress which increases the secretion of the hormone - cortisol in the body. Increased levels of cortisol in the body have been found to cause weight gain (3).

A study done at University of Pittsburgh (1) of girls age 9-10 years found that low levels of self-esteem were associated with a higher rate of obesity. A literature review of self-esteem and obesity related studies was done at University of Minnesota (2). It found that obesity was clearly linked with lower self-esteem in adolescents and children. This means, higher self-esteem leads to a normal body weight and shape. It is well known that obesity leads to chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.

Dr. Bernie Siegel, the author of "Love, Medicine & Miracles" put down his experiences with Cancer patients in the book. He describes the typical psychology of a Cancer patient as someone who views himself as stupid, clumsy, weak and inept at social games or sports despite real achievements that are the envy of classmates. Rejection of a person by himself/herself, which is often brought on by others, is a major cause of illnesses.

Autosuggestion is a very simple and powerful technique of bringing positive changes in a person. Autosuggestion means making positive suggestions about yourself to your subconscious mind. One of the simplest ways to do this is to create a positive statement about yourself such as a statement expressing self love or self satisfaction.

The longer you repeat it the better. Do this for at least 10 to 15 minutes everyday. The best times to make auto suggestions are early morning, immediately after waking up or just before going to bed. During these times, your brain is in what is known as the alpha state which is between the waking and dream state. Autosuggestion made during the alpha state bring fast and accurate results. You may start seeing positive results in as little as one week.

A Dutch study done at University of Amsterdam (4) found that people with low self-esteem and feeling of inadequacy who read a positive text about themselves twice daily improved in 3 weeks. The study concluded that people with low self-esteem benefit from positive self-instruction.


  1. Kimm SY., et al. Self-esteem and adiposity in black and white girls: the NHLBI Growth and Health Study. Annals of Epidemiology. Nov 1997;7(8):550-60.
  2. French SA., et al. Self-esteem and obesity in children and adolescents: a literature review. Obesity Research. 1995 Sep;3(5):479-90.
  3. Epel ES., et al. Stress and Body Shape: Stress-Induced Cortisol Secretion Is Consistently Greater Among Women With Central Fat. Psychosomatic Medicine. 2000;62:623-632.
  4. Lange A., et al. The Effects of Positive Self-Instruction: A Controlled Trial. Cognitive Therapy and Research. June 1998;22:3225-236.

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