The definition of self-esteem is a belief in oneself; self-respect. We all deserve that as individuals and human beings. And yet, in our lifetimes, different messages have been delivered, and received into our psyches that bit by bit or in a traumatic event deprive us of our self-esteem, our belief in ourselves and our self-respect. These messages that cause us to shut down, mentally and emotionally also prevent us from moving ahead in fulfilling or actualizing our life dreams. Perhaps some of these messages have even stopped you from dreaming altogether, and you have been thinking of yourself and building a life based on negative and false beliefs.
In reality, you create yourself and your life by the choices you make. By becoming conscious and aware of the thoughts that course through your head and the feelings that flow through your heart and your body, you can begin to see who you truly are. What do you believe about yourself? Do you believe you’re worthwhile, capable, deserving? If not, why not? What messages have you been given that have indicated to you that you are less than worthwhile; that you are less than whole? When you have a dream and say I want to be…, and then hear a nagging voice in the back of your head that says…“that can never be… you can‘t do that… who do you think you are…” take the time and effort to write it down… because it’s vitally important that you actually look at the messages that have undermined your positive belief in yourself. By really looking at these negative messages, you can begin to see some of the obstacles that have played a role in your life. Now you get to look at these messages, and challenge them.
By challenging the limiting thoughts and beliefs that have been interfering with your ability to feel good about yourself, you are giving yourself the opportunity to change, grow and evolve. Each new day offers up opportunities to re-create ourselves by the choices we make, and the choices we make are based on beliefs that we have…so who do you choose and/or want to be? Are you willing to face and examine these negative messages/beliefs you have long held as truths, and challenge them so that you can feel more positively about yourself and create a life that will reflect this new perspective?
List the messages that you have believed which sound and feel limiting, or demeaning. Then list examples in your life that show you that these messages weren’t always true. (Maybe you were told you weren’t bright enough; List the times when you acted with intelligence and competence. Maybe you were told you were mean and selfish; list the times in your life when you were kind, friendly, self-less. Maybe you were told you’d never amount to anything; list the times when you experienced successes, etc.)
True success in our lives comes when we believe in ourselves. My goal here is to help you find that belief which lies inside you waiting to be discovered, and released to share with the world. Your self-esteem grows from the inside out, and that means replacing the old messages with new messages, new thoughts, new beliefs that more realistically reflect the worthwhile, capable person you are.
Once you can see the two lists in front of you, you are able to challenge and let go of the old messages. Look at the positive side of your paper. What thoughts go through your mind looking at the positive messages? Even if your list of positives is short, pay attention to it without judgments or criticisms. Your fears and old beliefs want to take hold again and keep you stuck in old behaviors, habits and beliefs. Know that it takes practice, patience and perseverance for a new message to sound or feel normal. Acknowledge now how many times you have heard the negative messages; that’s why they sound so familiar, and unfortunately, due to familiarity, you‘ve accepted them as truths. Even though you may not feel good about the negative messages, because they‘ve been with you for so long, it may feel weird to let them go. So the new messages are going to take practice. Read your list of positive attributes and successes many times each day for the next 28 days (and beyond).
You do deserve the best. You are the one who now defines what the best is for you. You don’t have to settle for the crumbs in life unless you choose to believe that that’s all you deserve. However, if you choose to focus on the good and positive things you deserve in life, you will start to see, feel and hear much more positive energy flowing within you and around you. Even with the negative messages you may be bombarded with from family, past and present, you now have a very powerful and effective tool to combat getting sucked into that negativity.
It really does matter what you think, and how you feel about yourself and as you practice and allow the more positive messages to become a stronger part of you, you will notice a stronger and more positive sense of yourself. You won’t be quite so ready to settle for crumbs, or less than wonderful behavior from others or from yourself. You’ll feel and believe that you deserve the best that life has to offer.
The following 3 steps are important as you take this leap forward in honoring yourself and acknowledging your self-worth:
1. “What I think about myself does matter, and I believe that I am important, worthwhile, lovable and capable.” Breathe through any resistance to that belief, knowing that it is just the old messages trying to keep hold within you. Repeat this affirmation many times each day for the next 28 days. Know that you are ready to feel better and stronger within yourself, and move forward in your life with new found confidence, hope and self-esteem.
2. I am willing to challenge messages and beliefs that do not enhance my self-worth: This means that when you hear messages that feel hurtful or demeaning, give yourself the time to write it down and really evaluate their veracity. Even if you are unable to respond immediately in a positive and assertive way, you will learn and grow. Each time you acknowledge a negative message, and challenge it, you grow stronger. You will know when messages enhance your self-esteem and when messages undermine it.
3. STOP! BREATHE! FOCUS! What is your desired outcome? This is critical in the change process in order to break old habits and beliefs. Keep your sights set on your goal of feeling whole, empowered and deserving to live authentically in your life. Know that now you have choices, and do not have to just accept what is given.
I understand that making these changes is not easy, but every challenge we face in life that we don’t automatically just shy away from helps us to grow, learn and evolve. Take that deep breath and give yourself permission to face and overcome this challenge. You deserve to feel good about yourself, and now is the time. It’s normal to feel fear when embarking on something new in your life, but fear does not mean “don’t do it,” it means proceed with awareness and with conscious purpose. You can now consciously choose who you want to be and how you want to be. This is where self-esteem begins: within yourself; in your heart, in your mind and in your soul. Remember, self-esteem is all about owning, believing in, and trusting who you are.