What is self esteem?
Self-esteem is what you think of yourself – your sense of self-value, or your reputation with yourself. People with high self-esteem believe in their hearts that they deserve to be happy, that they have the right to stand up for their needs. They trust in their ability to deal with the problems that come up in life. In short, people who have healthy self-esteem love themselves, not at the expense of the exclusion of others, but in a healthy way. Think of it this way, a person with high self-esteem treats him or herself the way a well balanced parent would treat a child – with unconditional love.
People with low self-esteem, on the other hand, have a bad reputations with themselves. They believe in their hearts that they don’t have the right or the ability to be happy – and that they don’t have the right to stand up for themselves. They have little confidence that they can cope with the problems that come up in life, and in fact they often dislike, disrespect, or even hate themselves. Many people fall somewhere in the middle, they have neither very high or very low self-esteem. But a lot of people fall below the middle. Those who fall into this category are not only often hampered from achieving their goals, but they suffer great emotional pain on a daily basis.
Having said all that, are you your own greatest critic? Do you have low self-esteem – have you ever thought that if people knew the real you, that they would think less of you? Does life feel an uphill struggle because nobody, not even you – is truly on your side? If any of these sound familiar, it is time to take a fresh look at the most important relationship of all:
“Your relationship with yourself” !
When you don’t know yourself, you cannot respect yourself. Without self esteem you lack inner strength and lose control over your thoughts, words and actions, ending up in a state of confusion, guilt and despair. You need to reverse this process so you can develop a true sense of the self respect ans self-esteem.
You need a certain degree of self esteem to believe that you are worthy of happiness and to be motivated to try to get what you really want out of life. Clearly if you have low self esteem, you may think that you are not worth of achieving anything – and you can stop yourself from trying. In fact, should success or “good luck” happen along, a person with low self-esteem will always find an excuse to sabotage that success or find away to side step the good luck.
How our self image is formed
As a child – your caretakers had total power over what you thought of yourself. Their “opinions” of you were not opinions to you but sacred words – in other words your only choice. So if your caretaker continually called you stupid, sloppy, lazy or inept, you have little choice but eventually learn the lessons they were teaching you, and to believe those things about yourself.
What if your parents or guardians beat or abuse you, and you learn to accept this as your due? You then think, that ” I am not lovable, I deserve to be punished, I am bad, and inferior”. Later you seek your abusive relationships. In fact you become relieved when you find them, because unconsciously, it is when you are being abused that your inner world make sense. It is the only subliminal logic you know, and so it goes on until you challenge the whole system.
Another reason you may have low esteem is due to the unwillingness of your parents or guardians being truthful with you when you were a child.
Your image is formed when you measure up yourself against other – as there is no actual “standard of perfection” out there that you must achieve. This self measuring against others is often fueled by parents, relatives, teachers and acquaintances in your early childhood years. In many cases it is a brother or sister who is put up as the ideal. For example, your mother may tell you, ” your brother John learned how to read so quickly. What is wrong with you?” Having used this method, chances are that she herself was raised that way.
Create your own standard and live up to it
Now challenge the negative image of yourself that you developed as you were growing up. You can realize that the reason you feel you are stupid or lazy is due to words that were spoken to you when you could not argue back. You can realize that as a child, you were probably being asked to measure up to impossible standards or other people standard. Now that you understand what has happened, you can create your own standard for yourself. You can joyfully, with sheer unthreatened calm work on being yourself. You are now an adult, no one is stopping you anymore from finding out what you should be. And no one is preventing you from creating your own standard, and living up to that standard.
Once you have started to live by your own standard, your self esteem will increase to a level you have never before enjoyed
12 Specific things you can do to raise your self-esteem
1. Decide and act – As the old expression goes “face the music and dance”. If you want to build self-esteem, whenever you are confronted with problem in life, no matter how unpleasant, don’t bury your head in the sand. Confront the problem head on.
2. Act quickly: Get up and do something – A sure fire formula for low esteem is not to do anything, just sit around, lazy about and waste time. And if you are forced to do something, put as little effort to it as possible – this will lower your esteem and your income. Get up and do something!
3. Find something small and succeed in it – when you take on a challenge and overcome it, you feel better about yourself than you did when you first started. Start small and build up later.
4. Challenge your negative thinking about yourself – don’t condemn yourself when you make a mistake. Don’t call yourself dummy and go away depressed. Challenge these negative thoughts.
5. Understand your “shadow” ( your darker moods) – your “shadow” exists within you, and is the most crucial obstacle to happiness we see. Dark moods or depressions come for a variety of reasons. You become depressed because you expect too much of yourself or others, then get angry when you are disappointed.
6. Get yourself in shape – getting in shape affect your self-esteem because there is a chain reaction. If your body is strong and muscular, and well proportioned, you carry yourself with great confidence. You walk with energetic trait. Your body sends a message to your mind that “you are strong. You are capable. You are in control,” and your mind agrees: Yes, I am worthy person, I deserve respect.”
7. Be generous: Contribute to the world around you – One of the best ways to raise self-esteem is to stop thinking of yourself some moments and focus on someone else. Instead of trying to help yourself, try to help someone else. You will feel better almost immediately.
8. Go to therapy if you are “stalled” or “blocked” – a good therapist can be the key to building self-esteem. By having an accepting, non-judgmental attitude towards you, by listening to your feelings, a caring therapist help you to do the same sooner or later.
9. Stand up for your rights – Your self-esteem suffers when you don’t assert yourself, when you go along with something because you feel too embarrassed or intimidated to take a stand and spell out what you really want.
10. Increase your vocabulary – each time you learn a new word, you increase your ability to think. Words are tools for thought. The more words you know, the more precise your thoughts. the more explicit your ideas.
11. Read inspirational books – remember, you are what you think, what you read, what you see. The bible warns you to be careful of what you put in your minds. It tells you to fill your mind with the true, honest and just. It admonishes you to guard your mind against thoughts that would taint your thinking.
12. Follow your dream – the last and most important category in self-esteem. Give up your dream and you will find it very hard to have self-esteem.