Copyright 2006 Donovan Baldwin
The first step in improving your self esteem has to be within. You must be determined to improve this situation and be willing to take the steps necessary to begin improving this situation. You must also accept the fact that self-esteem is something that CAN be raised intentionally.
There is no need for low self-esteem to continue to rule your life. You can take control of your thoughts and change how you perceive yourself.
So, what are some indicators of low self-esteem? See if any of these thoughts continually run through your head.
1. “People don’t like me.”
2. “I can’t do anything right.”
3. “I’m ugly.”
4. “People don’t listen to me.”
5. “I’m always saying stupid things”
6. “I always make the wrong decision.”
7. “My life is a mess and I can’t do anything about it.”
Remember, these are only thoughts. In many ways, life is going to GIVE you what YOU believe you deserve. What you THINK your neighbor feels about you is immaterial. What you believe about yourself is what is important.
If you want to exchange your low self-esteem for high self-esteem, you cannot just think about doing it. You have to act, and there’s no reason not to start right now. Start by believing that you CAN change all these thoughts and feelings, and that making this change will change who you are and what life has in store for you.
Start with this understanding; everyone things those thoughts at some time or another. If you think those sorts of things in the future, you are not thinking about an ultimate truth. You are simply thinking a thought that is a reaction to some moment in time. Who you are is not determined by that thought.
Here’s an example. Let’s say I buy a lottery ticket with five numbers. That night, when they draw the winning numbers, the first four numbers are numbers I have. Then they draw the fifth number, but it is not my number. Will I feel disappointment? Of course I will. I lost! Okay, I didn’t LOSE; I just wasn’t the winner…in that drawing. Does that make me a loser? Of course it doesn’t. A mistake you made, or think you made, a snub you got from someone, or think you got, doesn’t make you a loser either. Even if you are right and you DID make a mistake or someone DID snub you, that doe not mean that everyone will snub you or that you will always make mistakes.
Just like in the little scenario above, people will often get close to success and then miss the target. In many cases, however, they miss, not because someone drew a different number than the one they wanted, but because they threw away the ticket before the drawing was finished. Many people will throw away their ticket in life’s lottery even though they have four of the five numbers needed. They just cannot conceive of having the fifth number be the one they need.
Well, life is NOT a lottery, although there is an element of chance to it. Like a poker game, while all at the table are subject to the laws of chance, a better poker player tends to have more “luck” at the table. One of the skills a good poker player must have, as Kenny Rogers says, is to “Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away. Know when to run.” A good poker player must also know that just because he or she won or lost the last hand. That has nothing to do with what is going to happen when the cards are shuffled and dealt again.
When we are talking about exchanging low self-esteem for high self-esteem, we are talking about learning when to let go, when to hold on, or when to walk or run away. More importantly, we are talking about the skills needed for the game of life, skills that can be learned and improved. We are also talking about realizing that each individual life event is NOT a definition of who we are.
So many times I have spoken to someone with low self-esteem after something has happened that they have added to their list of disappointments. I find two points about most of these events.
1. The person with low self-esteem may interpret a completely normal or even highly positive event as a failure
2. They focus so completely on the event that they lose sight of who they really are and what they have to offer.
A person with low self esteem will be looking for negative signs in an event, conversation, or activity. Since they are expecting outcomes to be negative, if they cannot see a real negative item, they will either invent one or interpret a positive one as a negative. As an n example, think about someone who believes that I am about to hit them. I may see that they are about to be hit by a bus, and grab for them to pull them to safety. They may see my sudden move as an attack because they are already thinking that that is what they must expect from me. They may jerk away and be hit by the bus because they were already predisposed to interpret what I did in a certain way.
One of the most common experiences I have with people who have low self-esteem is that they look only at the negative experience and use that to judge themselves completely. Often, I have begun to recite a litany of good points about them or valuable things they have done, only to have them brighten up, look at me and say, “That’s right! I did do that, didn’t I? I didn’t think about that.”
Low self-esteem is going to originate in the interpretation of a few events as being the definition of who and what you are.
To change from low self-esteem to high self-esteem, you must:
1. Realize that self-esteem, high or low, is a judgment you have made about yourself.
2. Low self-esteem is based on judgments generally made on the spot at a negative moment.
3. Self-esteem CAN be changed, and you are the only one who can change it.
Decide to make the change. Write down all the negative things that are true about you. Don’t write down the negative things you THINK about yourself. Write down what is true. Don’t say, “People don’t like me.” That’s what you think. Write down, “I insult people when I see them.” That is a fact.
Then, write down the positive facts about yourself. “I like people, but they don’t like me.” is wrong. “I like people” is a fact, and that is what you need to look at.
When your list is done, you will probably find more positive facts than negative, unless you are an ax-murderer or something. This tells you that you are a good person and deserve good from life. Take a look at the negative facts and decide how you can change them. Take a look at the positive items and decide how you can use them to make your life better.
You can exchange low self-esteem for high self-esteem. Quit worrying about how others perceive you. Live your good qualities and revel in the good and wonderful person you are. Take joy in the pleasure you give others, and your self-esteem will shoot through the roof.
You ARE a great person.