What does the phrase “self-esteem” really mean? We hear the phrase “self-esteem” all the time, but what does that really mean?
Isn’t it a pivotal part of how we see and interact with the world around us? If our world is a reflection of us, then self esteem is our paintbrush.
Imagine it’s one of those rare days where everything seems to “go right”. Have you ever had one of those? You get up rested, you smile at yourself in the mirror, you actually like what you see. You master your domain effortlessly. And people seem friendlier and want to be around you.
Contrast that with the opposite, one of those “Other” days, you slap at the alarm 4 times, finally rolling out of bed 10 minutes late, hanging your head “Oh yuck, another Monday!” You stumble into the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee, snap at the kids, kick the dog…well ok not really…but you get the picture.
Have you noticed one of the key elements involved in both experiences is how you are feeling about yourself? About what you are doing with your life, your perception, everything is colored by that all encompasing factor; your self esteem. So high self-esteem is truly one of the most important and valuable commodities you can possess. Some people have been known to raise an eyebrow and act as if that might be a selfish preoccupation. I can only say that if how you treat yourself is a measure of how you treat other people, then we all need to learn to treat ourselves very well indeed!
Why am I so interested in the them of self-esteem? Well as one of my favorite mentors John Di Lemme says: “I believe in the power of story telling:” So here is my story: At the age of eight, I was taken from Boston and transported to a remote compound in Northern Maine where I spent over the next ten years in what I can only refer to as a cult. Freedom of speech, self-expression, free will and independence were forbidden and resulted in harsh punishment, even exile. My self-esteem was crushed by years of systematic and repeated mental and emotional abuse. Yet my internal compass stayed the course and I finally mustered enough courage to leave the cult in 1989 and joined my younger sister who had escaped to Washington where I was briefly reunited with my brother who I hadn’t seen in five years.
This was my first time in the real world – I had never even learned how to use a pay phone. I worked a string of odd jobs, putting myself through school where I earned an Associates degree in computer science. Since then I have worked for fortune 500 companies such as AT&T and Nextel Communications as a systems engineer and project manager. Despite financial and profeessional success, I found that I still wrestled with the debilitating hang over of low self esteem. In an attempt to free myself from this haunting past, I dedicated myself to writing my story and published my autobiography “Firewalker.”
The process of expression through writing became a burning drive; it was something I HAD to do, for myself and for you. At my lowest points in life (there’s been more than one), a powerful and imaginative warrior was always there to rescue me. Now I know that warrior was me! Even when I only saw myself as a worthless, helpless victim, that voice within me dared to ask questions, challenge negative thoughts and fuel me to imagine a different set of circumstances. Writing became my personal healing process and is now a universal testimony to the dream warrior that lives within every single human being. Through all of this, I developed a deeper understanding of the significance of self-esteem in our lives.
As an author I write about becoming a firewalker, not only because I have literally walked on burning coals (I had the amazing experience of actually doing a fire walk,) but because I had to walk through fire in order to help myself and to show you that there is no tragedy you cannot conquer.
I believe that self esteem is extremely powerful, it affects not only ourselves, but the world we touch as a whole.