Seeing yourself clearly: 4 secrets to high self-esteem
Self-esteem refers to how a person judges or values him- or herself. Does it depend upon a person's belongings or achievements? Or how other people perceive him or her? No. People with true high self-esteem do not depend upon these things to determine their self-worth. Instead, their self-esteem comes from within and they do not need to prove themself to other people. Does this mean that they think they are better than others? No, it merely means that they believe they are as worthwhile as the next person.
Key differences between people with high and low self-esteem centre around how they respond to their perceived strengths and weaknesses. People with high self-esteem will recognise, rather than ignore, their strengths, and do not ruminate about their weaknesses. Instead they will accept that everyone has weaknesses. With this understanding they may (or may not!) decide to try to change or overcome the identified weakness.
Do you have high self-esteem? Would you like to improve your self-esteem? Improving your self-esteem does not happen overnight, but requires consistent effort.
First, start to become more aware of your positive points (without using back-handed compliments!) List as many of your strengths as you can think of and ask others for ideas. Think of any compliments you have been given or any achievements you have made (and what strengths you demonstrated to achieve them). Try to think of the times you have demonstrated these strengths and note them down. Be sure not to minimise any of the strengths by thinking of times when you have not demonstrated them (it is almost impossible to ALWAYS behave a particular way. When labelling yourself with a weakness, do you ensure that you have never behaved otherwise?).
Next, watch out for any critical remarks you make towards yourself. Challenge any labels, such as dumb or inconsiderate. Limit yourself to the facts – describe specifically what it is you believe your weakness is. For example, rather than calling yourself selfish, describe behaviourally what you did (for example, I didn't remember to call a friend on the anniversary of a loved ones death). Remove any generalisations, such as always or never. Rather than saying “I never remember to call people at important times”, be specific: “I have forgotten to call 2 friends on important days in the last 6 months”. Look for exceptions to the rule. For example, remind yourself that you did call 5 other friends when they were upset and you took around some food just recently when a friend needed support. Finally, try to understand what factors resulted in your purportedly demonstrating the weakness (explored more below).
Learn from your mistakes, rather than be immobilised by them. Rather than seeing a mistake as just another example of your weakness, actually explore why it happened. For example, if you arrive unprepared for an important meeting, rather than seeing it as just another example of your being lazy, try to examine all the factors that led to the result. Did you sleep in as you had insufficient sleep over the last few nights? Did you spend too much time on a less important project? Or did you spend extra time playing with your children or spending time with friends? After looking at the factors that led to the result, try to problem-solve around them. How could you ensure that you get adequate sleep in the future in the build-up to an important presentation? Could you re-prioritise your work tasks to ensure that time is spent according to importance? Consider your priorities with regards to how much time you spend with family or friends (after considering this you might decide it was worth being unprepared in order to spend more time with those you love or you may decide that you need to decline invitations to do things in the days preceeding important meetings).
Remember that doing is not the same as being. Failing at one task does not make a person a failure. Learn to distinguish between who you are and what you do. It is easier to change a weakness if you believe it is something that, given the right circumstances, you occasionally demonstrate than if you believe that it is who you inherently are.
Everybody has the right to feel like a worthwhile person, from the homeless beggar to the Prime Minister. Improving self-esteem requires persistence, but the effort is well worth the reward. If you would like assistance to improve your self-esteem, please do not hesitate to contact me on 1800 768 411.