Ever felt like a fraud and that you don’t belong ? Perhaps you feel that you’re not clever enough / funny enough / knowledgeable enough / old enough … Blah – Blah – Blah.
Basically, these fears are self-doubt; which is a lack of self-esteem.
The good news is, that if this is causing you problems – then you can fix it.
What is Self-Esteem ?
Many, confuse self-esteem with self-confidence; but it is way more than just confidence. Confidence is how you judge your ability to do something; for example, deliver a presentation.
Esteem is how you value something. Therefore, self-esteem is how you value yourself. For many people nowadays, this is in very short supply.
How is our Self-Esteem Developed ?
How we regard ourselves – our self-esteem – is part of our belief system. All of which is stored in our unconscious mind.
Beliefs are initially formed very early in our childhood. They are formulated based on a combination of : past experiences, comments made to us by others, circumstances and the emotions that we carry at the time attached to all of this. These stored beliefs are later accessed, when we need to call on them in the future. Scary huh?
“Garbage In – Garbage Out”
The problems start to occur when some of this information is either negative or disempowering. Our mind assumes all these are ‘facts’ and so goes on to create and store beliefs that in fact may not be accurate or even true.
Let me explain :
How Baby Elephants are trained :
Baby elephants that are held in captivity can be trained not to roam. One of their legs is tied to a wooden post driven deep into the ground. The baby elephant is unable to free himself, because the rope is too strong, and after failed attempts to escape he soon ‘learns’ that he cannot walk away.
Eventually he stops trying.
The elephant grows up; still believing that he is not strong enough to leave his ‘prison’; unable to recognise his own strength.
Humans operate in much the same way. We listen to our old conditioning and our old ways of thinking and do not stop to question these beliefs. Even if these old beliefs are no longer true – we still operate as if they are.
Our self-worth, affects how we portray ourselves to the outside world.
With low levels of self-esteem, life can become real struggle. Recognisable symptoms might include :
- Resistance to change & risk taking
- Fears of rejection, judgement or failure
- Poor decision making
- Constant need for approval
- Anxieties and Insecurities
- Feelings of inadequacy
“There’s no such thing as failure – it’s only feedback.”
When someone has a very low opinion of themselves, they tend to fixate on their past mistakes. This stops them from accepting new opportunities, tackling challenges or even taking risks. This tendency to hold back allows them to shrink back into the shadows – preventing them from standing out.
However, mistakes are vital for personal development. By understanding that failure is a necessary part of success, the individual is able to give themselves permission to accept failure is a possibility. This is so liberating as it empowers them to ditch their internal worries and builds their confidence as they start to become more adventurous and take new opportunities.
It is human nature to be harder on ourselves than others. All too often we are quicker to forgive others for their misdemeanours. By being kinder to ourselves and having a more relaxed approach when we slip up we can learn to build on and improve our own self-esteem. This in turn raises the self-confidence, as we are start to acknowledge our achievements and value ourselves.
People with a higher self-esteem, do indeed live happier lives. Recognisable benefits for the individual might include :
- Higher feelings of self-worth
- Being more comfortable making decisions
- Having greater coping skills
- Having a more optimistic outlook
- Handling criticism better
How to improve self-esteem.
Acknowledging that perfection is not a realistic goal, allows us to remove the pressures that we place on ourselves.
“Practice makes Perfect.”
Just as a muscle needs to be exercised regularly – so too does positive thinking. By practicing positive thinking, the brain learns how to adopt this approach and the neural pathways become stronger and in time this new found behaviour becomes a norm.
To improve self-esteem I suggest a 3 stage process :
AWARENESS : Self-doubt is a habitual practice of negative thinking. Noticing and accepting that these feelings actually exist is a necessary first step. The first couple of times we try to do this – it can feel uncomfortable – and that’s normal. But the more we confront our fears – the more we get used to stretching ourselves. It therefore becomes easier to recognise exactly what we need to work on.
CHOICE : In order to think more positively we have to make that conscious decision to think differently. We make that choice by taking responsibility. We have to push ourselves out of your Comfort Zone. No-one can do this for us. We have to choose to think differently for ourselves.
CHANGE : Thoughts become behaviour. To reach the desired course of action – in this case having improved self-esteem – it is important to calm the inner critic and give more space for the inner supporter. By changing our thought patterns – we are sending the unconscious mind a clear message that :
“This is the way it’s going to be from now on.”
Building self-esteem doesn’t always come naturally – which is OK. But I believe that just like learning a new language – it can be taught. This does not happen overnight – we just have to start and take it one day at a time.
Much Love 💕