Self-Esteem Exercise: Turn Negative to Positive

Self-Esteem Exercise: Turn Negative to Positive


This is a simple yet powerful exercise that helps delegates discover something positive in every experience. The structure of the exercise is actually quite simple yet the power resides in asking a simple question that leads to positive thinking as opposed to asking questions that lead to self-blame and reduction of self-esteem.


Identify positive outcomes from a negative experience.


  • Divide the delegates to pairs. If you have an odd number of delegates use a group of 3.
  • Ask a volunteer in each group to tell a story of something bad that happened to them recently or years ago. Consider the following:
    • It can be work-related or personal.
    • It should take a maximum of 5 minutes to share.
    • It should be something that people can easily share and talk about without feeling uncomfortable.
  • The partner who told the story should now state what good came out of the experience. Each person’s partner should then help the other person in exploring these positive results.
  • Allocate 5 minutes for this part.
  • Swap roles and repeat the exercise by first explaining a negative experience and then looking for positive outcomes.
  • After 10 minutes for the second round, bring everyone back together.
  • Ask delegates to state what they thought of looking for positive results and discuss accordingly. Note that they don’t have to share their experience with everyone as this can take a considerable amount of time and might also be uncomfortable for some to be scrutinised by a lot of people. Instead, your aim is to get them confirm their ability in identifying positive outcomes in a negative experience, however negative it might have been.
  • Follow with a general discussion.


Explaining the Exercise: 2 minutes

Activity: (5 min sharing negative + 5 min sharing positive) * 2 rounds = 20 minutes

Group Feedback: 10 minutes


How easy was it to come up with the positive outcomes? Were you surprised to identify these positive outcomes? How do you feel about your negative experience now?

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