When you look in the mirror, self esteem is everything! It is very different from self confidence. Self esteem is how you feel about yourself when you fail: when your partner leaves you, your kids get in trouble, you lose your job, you gain five pounds or fail that class. If your self esteem is low, you criticize, blame and punish yourself. If your self esteem is high, you learn from your mistakes, grieve, get mad and move on. Self esteem is like the peel of an orange. If you drop the orange, it isn’t damaged because the peel protects it.
So how do you get this wonderful self esteem? It develops naturally in early childhood. When parents/teachers are overly punitive, harsh, critical, overprotective or neglectful, self esteem is diminished. The minute that happens, children start to lose their internal power…..meaning that they lose faith in themselves and start to look OUTSIDE of themselves for approval. In the child’s mind, a thought forms:
“I am not good enough. I need something/someone else to make me feel like a better person.”
Once this thought takes root, even unconsciously, the stage is set for all kinds of problems. Anxiety, depression, addictions and codependency are just a few paths along this road. So, how do people create high self esteem later in life?
Identify the voices in your head. We all have them. You know, the voice that says, “You look terrible” or “You’re an idiot for doing that.”
- Take 30 minutes each day and write down all of the negative things you say to yourself.
- Attribute those voices. Who do they belong to? A parent? A teacher? The media? (If you haven’t noticed, the media is constantly reprimanding people for what they think, what they do and how they feel, etc.)
- Reparent yourself. Catch the voices and simply say to yourself, “Oh, that is my Mom/teacher. I think differently. It’s OK.”
- Compliment yourself, not on your behavior, but on your person. Do this constantly. Gosh, I’m smart.
- Keep a journal of your progress.
Of course, this is purely educational. It is not meant to cure, prevent or treat any disorder. It is meant to help you know that you’re already beautiful.