Self Esteem

Living with low self esteem can be tremendously exhausting. We have seen people with a low opinion of themselves spend countless hours worrying about how people perceive them — at work, home and even at the movie theater or grocery store. Second guessing decisions is a regular pastime. Rarely asking for what they want or deserve is another. But the amount of time and energy it takes to try and feel better on any given day can be streamlined into feeling better all the time with one of our confidence building courses. See below for more information. It’s time to take a retreat from feeling low and join us at the Option Institute in the beautiful Berkshires of Massachusetts!

How Does Low Self Esteem Affect Our Lives

This is certainly no surprise, given what most of us are taught about ourselves. Over and over again, throughout our lives, we are taught to distrust ourselves and to be self-critical as a way to take care of ourselves. As a result, we learn to find things “wrong” with ourselves, and to measure ourselves based upon external standards.

We can tell ourselves that we are too fat, too thin, not smart enough, or not kind enough. We’re not good enough parents, not competent enough at work, not giving enough as lovers, or perhaps not valuable enough in our friendships. The list of self-criticism can on and on.

While it may sound extreme when we put it all together as we just did, the truth is that is exactly what so many of us tell ourselves day after day. Is it any wonder that so many of us struggle with low self esteem?

And it doesn’t stop with us feeling down on ourselves. Our level of self esteem and self image has far-reaching effects on other aspects of our lives.

Understanding Our Self-Worth

According to research by Jennifer Crocker, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research (American Psychology Assoc., Vol. 33, No. 11, 12/2002), college students who based their self-worth on external sources – including their physical appearance, the approval they do or do not receive from others, and even their academic performance – reported a higher level of stress, greater levels of anger, problems with their academic performance, conflicts in their interpersonal relationships, as well as higher rates of drug and alcohol use, and various symptoms of eating disorders.

After noting a huge correlation between self image and employment outcomes, a recent longitudinal study of all the children born in the UK in 1970 (“In Defense of Self Esteem”, National Association for Self Esteem) concluded that self esteem may have a far greater impact on future success than intelligence or talent.

Even more startling, a study published in 1990 (Sagan) found that, overall, the healthiest people are those with strong self esteem and a sense of personal control. Those who feel good about themselves, the report found, are actually more resistant to illnesses such as cancer. In fact, the study placed self esteem above such factors as drugs, new medical procedures, and the high-tech equipment of modern medicine in terms of impact on health.

But there is good news.

Build Self Esteem at the Option Institute

Helping people improve self esteem is one of our core competencies at the Option Institute. It is, quite literally, a centerpiece of everything we teach. We have helped thousands of people build greater confidence. Not with platitudes… Not with affirmations…

We have no interest in getting you to act like you have high self esteem while you’re still nursing a gnawing self-doubt. Rather, we seek to enable you to change your beliefs – the messages that you are sending yourself. After all, our level of self esteem and self-confidence is based upon our beliefs about ourselves. All self-criticism such as “I’m too fat,” “I’m not competent enough,” “I’m stupid,” etc.) is, in actuality, a litany of beliefs.

If these beliefs sound familiar to you, we have two important ideas to propose to you. First, we hold these beliefs for a reason. We think that we must tell ourselves these things in order to take care of ourselves in some fashion. That is why, in our programs, we give you tools to help you uncover what your reasons are. The second key idea to consider is that our beliefs are changeable. Even if we have been sending ourselves the same messages for decades – and even if others have been telling us these things about ourselves – it is never too late to radically shift these beliefs.

We have worked with countless individuals who, after finding fault with themselves for a lifetime, learned to find the beauty within themselves instead. And, truly, there is no bigger step to a better life than this.

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Emotional Fitness TrainingFearlessPowerDialogues

Personal Stories from Real Option Institute Participants

I arrived at The Option Institute ‘The Queen of Low Self Esteem.’ In 2 weeks of classes I feel worthy, loved, lovable, loving and aware that I am fully responsible for choosing or not choosing happiness. I am no longer a victim or a martyr. I have also let go of a variety of psychotropic medications during my stay (depacote, wellbutrin, and zoloft). In 5 years of therapy with a psychiatrist/MD, I only acquired more and more medication. In my short stay here, I have acquired infinitive self-worth and many tools to maintain a happy, self-honoring and self-loving state of being.

Jackie J.

Administrative Assistant, Florida

I came to the Option Institute really worried about what other people thought of me, which to me was a very limiting way to live my life. Going to a program gave me the opportunity to explore that, and the greatest revelation for me was that my belief is all about me and has nothing to do with other people. When I am focused on me, I free myself up to be more loving and a lot less worried. It feels great!

Elizabeth B.

Sociology Student, Denmark

During my program at the Option Institute I experienced exactly what I came for. It was an opportunity for me to overcome situations which I felt no control over and my feelings of inadequacy-(not good enough). It has been an opportunity for me to work through these feelings and come out ‘on top’ feeling better than good enough-feeling powerful for myself.

Darleen B.

Office Manager, Maine

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The Option Institute and its teachers have had the honor to present programs (during the last four decades) that explore the attitudes and beliefs we have (and may want to change) and to help program participants find their own answers to questions about relationships, careers, family challenges and health issues. Our new program, Health & Healing: Navigating Life’s Health Challenges (formerly '5 Days to Live') , focuses on navigating significant health challenges and decision-making with greater ease, clarity, and clear purpose.

We are not a medical facility and we do not dispense any medical advice. We have and would always guide our program participants, to consult with their doctors, healthcare providers, and family members in making medical decisions for themselves and those they love. Neither Mass General Hospital nor any member of its medical staff endorses any program being offered by the Option Institute and its teachers.

NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration



PRE-REQUISITES for attending Advanced Power Dialogues are:

  • Completion of The Option Institute’s PowerDialogues program.
  • If it’s been more than 5 years since you attended PowerDialogues, please call 413-229-2100 to discuss options.

NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration


Dear Donor,

Jeannie Reid was searching for answers to the challenges she and her family were facing. Jeannie and her husband Stuart’s son, Carson, had been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a condition on the Autism spectrum. For Carson that meant being completely involved in obsessive behaviors and only using minimal words to identify objects, as well as frequently and completely melting down.

Soon after, Jeannie found the book, “Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues” and when she read it, she KNEW she had found what she was looking for. She began using some of the Son-Rise techniques described in the book on her own until she was able to come to The Autism Treatment Center of America for the Son-Rise Program Start-Up. As she put into practice what she learned there, Carson’s world was opening up. Today Carson is attending a Montessori school as a 'typical' student and functioning at or above typical grade level, being fully verbal and conversational, and very interested in learning about the world and interacting as much as possible with other people. He is even taking swim lessons at the local YMCA and doing great!

“It has been wonderful to get, and stay connected with other people and Son-Rise parents from all over the world. My son’s progress had already come very far, but now I truly believe we can go all the way!”

Jeannie wrote.

Stuart Reid then attended the Empower Yourself course and brought home a new sense of clarity, balance and personal power. He shared his new empowerment with Jeannie and she in turn gained in confidence, strength and enthusiasm. Their own relationship began to flourish anew, as well. Life-altering changes were happening for Jeannie and her family.

Jeannie journeyed again to Sheffield, this time for the Fearless course at The Option Institute to help her recognize and overcome her personal obstacles. Jeannie wanted to continue her amazing journey as she had found using the techniques she learned in The Son-Rise Program and in Fearless had absolutely changed the lives of everyone in her family.

But, because the Reids’ finances had been seriously stretched by then, their next steps were put on hold. Then an amazing event changed everything. Jeannie’s college roommate and lifelong friend decided to start a Son-Rise Program scholarship fund for people from the Cleveland area. Since then Jeannie has been able to move ahead with her courses, taking Radical Authenticity, Son-Rise Maximum Impact and Son-Rise Wide Awake ... and eventually she became a Certified Group Facilitator.

Jeannie Reid’s story is about wanting BIG and making it happen. She is about to embark on her renewed private practice as an art therapist, and plans to be a super advocate for The Son-Rise Program in her area. Her wonderful new life is a product of her persistence and belief, and of the wheels she helped set in motion for others when her friends learned of how she and her family had been impacted by The Son-Rise Program.

“I know I will be able to give back by helping others, and that will be the top of my personal mountain! Thank you to everyone who donates! You are making a big difference in the world!

Jeannie Reid


Dear Donor

Two years ago, Antonio's kindergarten teacher told us something was not quite right with our little boy. He was not socializing, he somersaulted all the time and hardly spoke at all. At the time I was working for a municipality close to Florence, Italy and basically I had nothing left after seeing to basic necessities.

In the meantime, I looked up Autism with Google and as I was also looking for happiness and personal growth, I was guided to The Option Institute, thence the Autism Treatment Center of America. I read up as much as I could and started trying to apply the “Happiness is a Choice” suggestions. I'm not quite good at it but it has helped me with attitude, and everything else that seemed trying is really different after all this.

When I decided to come for The Son-Rise Program Start-Up, I really had little or no money to pay for it. I spoke to my friends, old and new. My mother helped me, friends I thought couldn't [help] tried their very best and the scholarship did the rest.

What the scholarship did was give a HUGE boost to my fundraising. About six friends contributed the rest, at the travel agency a very kind lady who I may now call a friend helped me some more. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness. Here I am, happy to have attended the Start-Up program and looking forward to learning more and praying to God for guidance.

So the gist of the matter is, I am a happy mum who hopes to implement a wonderful relationship with her child and is riding a not so easy moment with lots of hope in her heart and THANK YOU is not enough for what I feel. I still remember William's words, “If you do what you've always done, you will get what you've always got.” Now I'm trying to do different, bit by bit, day by day. I feel the difference already.

About Antonio ... we are going on with the Italian program and I play with Antonio after school in a quiet room in the house. Knowing what the little guy is exposed to (he's always putting his fingers in his ears and he seems to have problems with too much light in his eyes), I find him very brave as he bears it tolerably. Drums a lot to digest it all.

When we went to the doctor, just weeks after starting the program at home, she told me that she found him more attentive. His attention span has increased. He is also tagging or pulling at one's arm when looking for attention. The child psychologist last Saturday reported the same thing and what's more, my son has always required that I enter the room, hence assisting in every session. Well, this time he went in along with the doctor and told me, “See you later.”

At school, his teacher who speaks English as well, read up and watched my DVD (Kyle’s Journey, Jade and “I want my little boy back”). Now she's changing, bit by bit and I do appreciate that very much. He seems to be OK with her and actually sent me away from class this morning, again telling me, “See you later.”

He is now ONE HUGE GREENLIGHT and I'm hoping to be able to really have volunteers (still looking), raise funds and settle down to business.

God bless,



Dear Donor,

I am the mother of three children, all on the Autism Spectrum. Before I heard of the Son-Rise Program and the Option Institute, I was a desperate, angry and depressed person…. I was on Anti-depressants, sleeping multiple hours of the day, and for a period of time, using alcohol to run away from my pain.

Then I heard of the Son-Rise Program. I called to find out more about it and thought “this if for me!” But I could not afford it. You see raising one child with Autism is very expensive but raising three is just outrageously expensive with all the therapies and dietary interventions that we were doing.

But I was offered a full scholarship to the SRSU program. I have since attended all of the Son-Rise Programs and many of the Personal Growth programs offered by the Option Institute.  Each time I have been given a scholarship and each time I go I learn more about who I am and I change for the better each and every time.  Because of your most generous support, my children are recovering from Autism, I have found happiness in my life!  I am no longer on anti-depressants and I have so much more energy.

YOU are the reason that my family is in recovery. It is because of YOU that my oldest son now is enjoying school.  YOU are the reason my second son is speaking. YOU are the reason my daughter is no longer as rigid and controlling as she once was.  Thank you does not even begin to cover how much gratitude I have for you.  I thank God every day for you and I do not even know you.

Please know that you are changing lives with your donation to ATCA and the OI.  It is because of you that every day people are getting the help that they need. Thank you, thank you and thank you!

With so much love,

Kerry Rihtar