Self-esteem is your opinion of yourself. It is how you regard yourself in terms of your accomplishments, your job, your relationships with your family and your peers, and how you think you fit in with the world around you. Having healthy self-esteem means you value your contribution and have a high regard for yourself. Having unhealthy (or low) self-esteem means you feel your contribution is negligible and you are of no value to anyone.
People with healthy self-esteem are usually happy and confident and comfortable with themselves and their accomplishments. People with low self-esteem are invariably unhappy and lacking in confidence. They regard themselves as one of life’s failures.
What this actually means in practice is this, if you value yourself highly, this high regard for yourself will manifest itself in all you do. Conversely if you have a low opinion of yourself the opposite effect is true. The person who sees himself or herself as a failure is likely to fail at just about everything they try in life.
What’s more, if you do see yourself as a failure your subconscious has a vested interest in creating self-sabotage to make sure the eternal failure stays that way. Why? To reinforce the self-image it has created and, at the same time, prove it is right! Always remember your sub-conscious likes to reinforce its viewpoint by being proved right, and it doesn’t like change!
Your self-esteem develops from your self-image which develops from how you were treated as a child, so if you were encouraged and praised as a child you will probably emerge into adulthood with healthy self-esteem. However, even with a good start there are still factors which can cause the development of low self-esteem in adults.
One of the most common of these is rejection in the form of failed relationships. Broken love affairs, divorce, separation and even family rifts and falling out with friends can cause deep feelings of rejection which can cause a person to question how they feel about themselves and why they have been rejected.
A person made redundant from their job may start to ask themselves the question, why me? In no time at all the feeling of rejection can sweep everything in its path and destroy the once healthy self-esteem they had.
Healthy self-esteem is your defense against the competitive nature of society, which means there is often someone looking to get the better of you in one way or another. Having healthy self-esteem means you know, and have confidence in, your true value when you feel threatened in this way. Healthy self-esteem is something to be valued very highly. It is something you should seek to attain and maintain.
How You Can Raise Your Self-Esteem
Raising your low self-esteem is not going to be easy. The only person who can do it is you – no-one else can do it for you. No amount of external intervention can help you raise your self-esteem if you don’t want to do it. Wanting to have healthy self-esteem is a conscious choice.
So how can you develop healthy self-esteem? Listed below are some of the areas you will need to address.
Learn to let go of mistakes
Dwelling on your mistakes is a habit that must be broken. Let go of your mistakes and move on. Learn the lessons and then leave the negative things behind. Recalling mistakes will drive your self-esteem lower and lower and eventually you will have nothing left.
Stop comparing yourself to other people
There is only one you. You are who you are and you are unique, so comparing yourself to anyone else is a pointless exercise. Be yourself and let others be themselves.
Re-train your inner voice
Your inner voice is the small voice inside your head which tells you why you cannot achieve something. It is the voice in your head that seeks to convince you that you are about to fail – yet again. It works to keep your self-esteem down by dwelling on your faults and weaknesses. Stop listening to this and learn to address yourself in a positive tone. Make a conscious effort to always use positive remarks and try to leave out the destructive criticisms.
Know your strengths
Take time out to understand what you are really good at. It is important to identify and nurture any talents that you are naturally gifted at. Whether it’s the ability to write well, have a photographic memory, the ability to speak Latin backwards – whatever it is, you must find a venue for your talents to flourish.
Acknowledge your weaknesses
Weaknesses should be recognized for what they are. The worst thing you can do is try to ignore or hide a weakness. Acknowledging your weaknesses is actually a sign of strength and confidence. No-one else is perfect so why should you be?
Identify the real you
Self-esteem starts with self-acceptance and self-acceptance is built through identifying your own strengths and weaknesses. Recognizing your true strengths and weaknesses can be a useful tool in becoming a better person by having a better feeling towards yourself.
Don’t take responsibility when you are not responsible
Learn to step back from situations and take a logical view of things. (You may have to do this after the event, but do it anyway). Take each situation as it comes. Passions can often run high on the spur of the moment so that logic and reason are easily ignored.
Be prepared to accept responsibility that is truly yours, but never let others lay blame on you and make you feel bad just to make themselves feel better. Avoid these people like the plague! Trust me, this is vitally important and it will be worth it.
Don’t ever let other people try to lower your self-esteem in this way.
Know what you can control
There are few things in the world you can truly have control of. Your attitude is one of them. You can choose to have a positive or negative attitude, but you know there should only be one choice! Your attitude is the vehicle for all things possible, and with a truly positive attitude you will be amazed just what you can achieve.
Learn to enjoy your life
The world is a strange and bizarre place. You should accept the absurdity of life and don’t take things too seriously. Identify and enjoy the company of others on the understanding that they all are here to help you and are taking their own journeys to better themselves as well.
Likewise identify those who are only intent on bringing you down for who and what they are. These are the people you should avoid if you are serious about raising your self-esteem to a healthy level.
Know your dreams
Identifying exactly what your real dreams are cuts through all the chaff. But don’t hedge your bets – aim high, believe you will achieve and let your mind find ways to do it.
The whole point is to make sure you decide where you want to get to in the future and that you don’t accept what others might expect or want you to be.
This is an excerpt from the book Release Your Genie by Peter Ford. You can find out more here: http://releaseyourgenie.com