When you look in the mirror who do you see?
Maybe you’re short or tall, thin or fat, or somewhere in between. But what do you see on the inside? Whatever you see on the outside and on the inside you need to like, because that is what gives you good self-esteem. If you have low self-esteem, you’re definitely not alone. But the down side of having a low self-esteem is that it turns you into your own worst enemy.
What is self-esteem?
Self-esteem means loving and valuing yourself. This doesn’t mean have an over-inflated opinion of yourself but rather an acceptance and healthy appreciation of yourself. Take a moment to consider these questions which give an indication of your self-esteem
- Do you accept yourself for who you are? That means accepting your looks, your feelings, your strengths as well as your weaknesses.
- Do you recognize your achievements and hard work? Or do you only exist solely to meet other peoples expectations, hoping that they’ll think you measure up?
- Do you accept credit for what you do? Or do you belittle what you do or discount any praise others might give you?
- Do you turn ‘failures’ into victories? There is no such thing as failure but rather an opportunity to learn, but not so for a perfectionist.
Self-esteem comes from being happy and accepting of who you are, with your strengths and weaknesses.
Our own worst enemy
Our worst enemy is often ourselves. Advertising bombards us with images of the ‘perfect’ person who they think we should aspire to be: rich, slim (for women), six-pack abs (for men). And they don’t hesitate to tell us how to achieve this perfect body – just buy their products and make them rich!
If you’re very self-critical you’re paying too much attention to that worst enemy voice inside your head. Give yourself a break and for a few days ignore that voice that tells you’re no good at __________ Finish this sentence yourself.
Perfectionism and Workaholism
Have you ever thought that perfectionism and workaholism are symptoms of low self-esteem? You might be fooled by this because these traits are often the ones that seem to get you credit in the workplace. And that’s exactly the point – you get external credit only. Inside you still feel inadequate. So you work longer hours, berate yourself for being less than perfect, all in an attempt to boost your self-esteem. It won’t work! The esteem has to come from yourself, from within. Also neglecting your family through workaholism can lead to all sorts of other problems.
How poor self-esteem develops
Children hear far more negative criticisms from their parents and teachers than positive messages. Instead of eliciting a response of good behavior in children, these criticisms rather promote poor self-esteem and a sense of low self-worth.
Children believe their parents to be God-like, that their words are the ultimate truth! This is how negative criticism internalizes itself and and becomes a belief that the child has of their low worth.
- Guilt about being ‘bad’ makes children develop into ‘people-pleasers’, pleasing others and denying their own needs. Some health studies have shown that children who are brought up with a lot of guilt messages sometimes experience throat problems. Bear in mind that sometimes anxiety is a result of believing that you have no right to express your feelings or opinions. Where does your voice come from? It originates from the larynx, the throat. People with anxiety often feel that their throat is closing on them. Through our voice we show others who we are.
- Fear of facing the world develops when a naturally inquisitive child is bullied into ‘not asking so many questions’. Fear quenches creativity and willingness to love. Learn to love and value yourself and you’ll overcome fear.
- Criticism can cause huge damage. Words like ‘can’t you do anything right?’ causes self-esteem to plummet.
- Resentment of others and comparing yourself as inferior to others and their success will lead to low self-esteem. See yourself as a unique and separate individual, with your own abilities.
Making changes for the better
What we think about ourselves become the truth for us
Start to consciously love yourself. If you don’t love yourself it’s going to be difficult for others to love you. Besides anything else if you don’t think you’re worthy of love you’ll reject love from another because you won’t believe it to be true.
Visualization Part 1
- Relax and breathe. Get comfortable, play soft music, do whatever it takes to get comfortable. Then focus on your breathing – regular steady breathing.
- Feel what you need. What would you like in your life? What do you care about? How can you unleash your creativity? Just enjoy how good this feels, how fulfilled these ideas make you feel. Don’t judge what you think of as ‘nonsense’ or ‘stupid’.
- Visualize the details. Visualize the success you’ll feel if you carried out some of your dreams.
Visualization Part 2
A person with low self-esteem can ‘hate’ part of themselves – those parts or beliefs about themselves that stop them from being the person who they would like to be. This hate can often be directed to that child within them, the inner child.
- Take a photo of yourself as a child, or imagine yourself as a child.
- Just as you are hurting that child is also hurting and longing for a loving adult to affirm them as being precious and lovable.
- Can you give that inner child, ‘the little you’, the unconditional love that it so desperately needs. Tell that little child how much you love it.
- When you react with a child-like emotional reaction that stem from those hurts from the past, forgive yourself and tell that little child in you, that it’s okay, that you’re learning together. Don’t let that critical parent voice get the upper hand ever again.
Use the visualization technique to get prepared for any new situation you have to face. Affirm yourself and your successes.
Affirmations work because they give a message to the subconscious. They counteract those criticisms in the subconscious.
Start the day by looking in the mirror and giving yourself affirmations about who you are and what you are going to achieve.
Life is like a play which always has a consistent beginning, middle and end. Just as you can re-script a play, you can re-script your life. You already have the beginning, but how about re-scripting the middle that will ensure an ending that you would like.
Click here to view another helpful post on self-esteem.