Set a goal for something you would like to change about yourself. There are different ways to set goals. Choose the way that works best for you. Consider setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and anchored in a Timeframe.)

Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, more profits, more activities or more accomplishments, we buy into the belief that we have to do more to have more to be more. And that will sum up to success. And then along comes The Great Resignation. Where employees are signaling that the “more” that’s being offered — even more pay, more perks, and more PTO — isn’t summing up to success for them. We visited with leaders who are redefining what success means now. Their answers might surprise you.

As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Marion Davis.

Marion Davis, President and Founder of Self Esteem Boston Educational Institute Inc., is an inspiring, energetic and dynamic visionary leader. She founded Self Esteem Boston in December of 1993 with a vision of providing self-esteem programs to everyone in the Greater Boston area regardless of ability to pay. She has built a dynamic service delivery program for individuals in shelters and recovery transitional facilities in Massachusetts. Under her leadership, the agency continues to fill gaps in services for the homeless, women in recovery, returning to the community from the correctional system, victims of domestic violence and services for homeless women veterans.

Thank you so much for joining us! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path?

I originally started this agency to provide access to self-esteem tools for a wide range of people who may not have had the information necessary to learn to love themselves and get what they want out of life. Self-esteem tools were very important for me as I worked to move forward in my life. They came out of a process of self-discovery from my personal experience. I asked myself, “How am I here to serve?” I wanted to make a difference in the world. When I first started Self Esteem Boston, I did so in order to provide self-esteem tools for everyone working to find their purpose, their value, and to discover their self-worth. Everyone deserves to have this information.

Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self-acceptance?

I started Self Esteem Boston out of my personal experience as I worked to develop my own self-esteem. When I tried to find a self-esteem program to help me to move forward, nothing was available. I made it my life’s mission not only to find these resources for myself, but to bring these programs to anyone in every community who was in search of a more purposeful and fulfilling future.

I had a very dysfunctional family. My father was an alcoholic. My mother dealt with stress by volunteering to help others. I had traumatic stress at home. I felt that my life was in danger all the time. I was overweight and I was drinking alcohol too and developed a lot of health issues. I ate and packed on the pounds. In my mind, I needed to be strong and protected. Then I developed serious health issues. It came to the point of asking myself if I wanted to live or die. I wanted to live. I wanted to learn to love myself. When my father died, I knew I had to transform the anger I felt, and to forgive him, so that I could move forward in my life. I found a Louise Hay book and tape on forgiveness in the thrift store. I learned the importance of integrating affirmations into my daily life. As a result, I began feeling better and making different decisions to regain my health.

All around us, we see our sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, aunts, and uncles killing themselves with drugs and alcohol, because they are addicted, in pain, and, for many, rooted in low self-esteem. Some people feel worthless and cannot connect with their life’s purpose. Others have been abused, or they feel as if no one listens to them and that they aren’t valued as human beings. I had limited resources, but I knew gaining self-esteem was vital piece in my own development. I saved my money each week so I could see a therapist to help me learn new skills to transform my life. I discovered that I could use what I learned to help others, by making self-esteem programs and resources more accessible. To this day, the work affects me personally as it opens my mind to work on my own self-esteem. I am the voice of the agency. I needed to model this for others.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now?

For the past 28 years, Self Esteem Boston has created a self-esteem service delivery system for people who live in shelters and transitional recovery programs, so they have access to this information to move forward. Now, in our 29th year of operation, we created online programs to make self-esteem tools more accessible to people living across the country. Our Self Esteem Online Learning Center for individuals launched during the pandemic to provide people with important mental health supports in goal setting, life purpose, affirmations, priorities, conflict resolution, and the wisdom to know the difference. We also run the “Manage Your Stress Because You’re Worth It” and the “You’re Worth It” job readiness program. Additionally, a new Self Esteem online Workforce Development Training Center just launched as a one-stop self-esteem shop for nonprofit community agency staff, complete with continuing education credits for social workers, licensed mental health counselors, drug and alcohol counselors and recovery coaches. Additionally, we are planning a public service campaign thru social media to educate people about the Six Elements of Self Esteem: Living Consciously, Living Purposefully, Self-Responsibility, Self-Acceptance, Self-Assertiveness, and Personal Integrity.

How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?

Both of our Self Esteem online learning centers offer courses that encourage self-discovery for the learner in the areas of goal-setting, purpose in life, conflict escalators, wisdom to know the difference, setting priorities, self-worth and managing stress in the context of applying self-esteem to daily activities in one’s life (

Service providers can apply what they learn in our new online Self Esteem Workforce Development Training Center in Self Esteem Principles & Practices, nutrition education and wellness, managing stress and self-worth, and job readiness to helping clients achieve their goals in all areas of their lives (

To some, the concept of learning to truly understand and “love yourself,” may seem like a cheesy or trite concept. But it is not. Can you share with our readers a few reasons why learning to love yourself is truly so important?

Negative thoughts about yourself are destructive mentally and physically and will negatively impact the quality of your life. When you love yourself, you treat yourself with greater respect, and this leads to opening the door to a better life. What “they” say about loving yourself first is true. Those who do not love themselves have a really hard time truly loving others.

When I talk about self-love and understanding I don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves?

— Am I happy?

— What is my purpose in life?

— Am I living my truth?

— Am I walking my talk?

— Am I learning something new?

Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?

I’ve been addressing personal challenges since the mid-70s. It started with addressing food and lifestyle issues, which were a reaction to the trauma I experienced as a youth. I needed to find out why I wasn’t happy and why I was making decisions to sabotage my life. It’s been a gradual process that led me to founding the agency in 1993 and getting into alcohol recovery in 2000. I’ve been in recovery for 21 years and I continue to do Self Esteem work every day.

So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)? It is important to learn how to be with yourself.

In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?

People should take a self-esteem workshop. Start by reading a self-esteem book. Take a self-esteem course. It takes practice everyday.

Here is the main question of our discussion. What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from?

1) Find the humor- Find reasons to laugh and be happy.

2) Set a goal for something you would like to change about yourself. There are different ways to set goals. Choose the way that works best for you. Consider setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and anchored in a Timeframe.).

3) Develop an affirmation in the present tense as if you have reached your goal. Say it as much as you can until it becomes true for you.

4) Wake up early everyday and take a walk. Plan healthy meals to take care yourself including plant-based meals.

5) Practice Gratitude — What are you grateful for today?

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…

The movement I would inspire is “The 6-Elements in Public Education Movement”To make the 6-elements of self-esteem part of public education curriculums: Living Consciously, Living Purposefully, Self-Responsibility, Self-Acceptance, Self-Assertiveness, and Personal Integrity.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by?

“All I Seek is Already Within Me” — Louise Hay

Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?

I wasn’t happy, so I looked for happiness outside of myself — in food, alcohol and relationships. I never wanted to be alone with myself. The way I found my happiness was by going within. It had to do with me deciding to love myself. This changed my life.

We always go outside of ourselves looking for the answers, while the answers are within each and every one of us. You just have to ask the right questions and listen to your own answers.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.