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LIVE FROM THE INSIDE-OUT: Five Sure-Fire Ways To Improve Your Self-Esteem

Why is positive self-esteem so important?

By definition self-esteem is how you feel about yourself. Your opinion is the only one that matters when it comes to your self-esteem.  Negative feelings and beliefs about yourself will prevent you from moving forward. Positive feelings and beliefs will empower you to reach your potential because, as  Zig Ziglar says “The way you see yourself determines your life.” 

You might argue, that your self-esteem is just a result of others’ opinions of you and how they make you ‘feel,’ but you would be wrong. That would be called others-esteem.  And it simply means you first have to gain control over your own emotions and feelings and stop allowing others to define you.

“You can not consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way you see yourself.” 

Dr. Joyce Brothers

Your thoughts and perception determine your feelings and emotions.

In reality, no one can make you ‘feel’ anything.   Only you can decide how you feel.  People can say all manner of evil against you and criticize you and try to beat you down.  But if you have high self-esteem you will consider the source and the motive and shrug it off, or maybe even laugh about it. If you have low self-esteem you may be crushed and become depressed at your own inadequacy. 

When someone praises you and puts you on a pedestal, if you have high self-esteem you will perceive this as confirmation of your own belief in yourself. If you have low-self-esteem you may discount it as as flattery from someone who doesn’t know who you really are. 

So you see, it is your own perception that makes you ‘feel’ any particular way.  You will act in accordance with who you believe you are. Your self-esteem determines how you perceive or respond to others opinions, which affects your future success.   If you don’t master your emotions, they will master you. 

Control your emotions and you will empower yourself.

Are you in control of your emotions? The key to empowerment is how we ‘feel’ about the circumstances we find ourselves in.  If you are not in control of your emotions, you will think others are responsible for your feelings, your failures and and your lot in life. You become a ‘victim’ constantly blaming others for your short-comings and circumstances. 

If you fall into a hole, do you despair that you can’t get out, or do you know you can get out of it, and start looking for solutions?  Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are right.  Your perception determines your response and your success. 

“Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  

Eleanor Roosevelt

You have no control over other people’s actions or opinions.  Their thoughts are simply a reflection of their level of maturity. They are only data points to be looked at objectively as your emotional maturity moves you toward more genuine self-awareness.

You can control your feelings and responses based on your perception of reality.  While others may say words that influence your thinking, if you are emotionally mature, with a healthy self-esteem, you can’t be influenced by anyone you don’t want to be influenced by.  You won’t be a victim, and you become empowered to determine your future.

The joy and happiness we experience is directly related to how well we perceive when we control our emotions.

Your self-esteem, the conclusions you have drawn about yourself are a natural and understandable result of your life experiences, both positive and negative.

Your idea of your self-worth is built upon a foundation that started in early childhood.  Young children do not have the critical thinking ability that comes with maturity, and are highly impressionable and easy to influence. Hardships, excessive negative criticism and punishment, and neglect can build a foundation for low self-esteem, while positive reinforcement, can-do attitudes,  appropriate rewards and consequences, and unconditional love can build a foundation for high-self-esteem. 

If you can identify the events in your life that led to low self-esteem, you can challenge those beliefs and replace them with a more realistic image of yourself.   As you learn to master your thoughts and emotions, you will grow out of the self-limiting beliefs you may have developed years ago. 

It can take time to build up a solid sense of self-esteem. This five-step  approach can help you to improve your self-esteem and empower you to control your future.

1.      Accept responsibility for your circumstances in life and your future.

Thoughts > Emotions > Actions > Outcomes

The responsibility for your self-esteem is yours no matter how difficult your past has been.  To believe you are “broken” or you are a victim, is to limit yourself from doing the things you want to do in life and being the person you want to be.  The ability to change what you want to change is within your power.  The past doesn’t not equal the future.  

Accept that you are now emotionally mature with the ability to control your thoughts and emotions, and choose responses and actions that result in positive outcomes. 

2.       Stop comparing yourself. 

People usually only compare themselves to one specific quality of someone else, that they, themselves lack, and forget to look at the other aspects of the person, so they end up feeling inferior. 

To mindlessly adore, worship and idolize the impeccably made-up, photo shopped models and actors who are playing composite characters in fictionalized settings can easily diminish rather than enrich our own life.  By glorifying idols we lose focus on our own qualities and drain our own power. 

Compare only with yourself – your best.  If you want to be better at a specific skill, you might search out an expert to learn all you can about that specific skill, but recognize there will always be someone better than you and worse than you at any given skill or aspect. 

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” 

Albert Einstein

Focus on your own strengths and qualities. Strive to be the best you can be at what you want to be.  But don’t get caught up in TPA – The Perfection Affliction. 

3. Replace negative self-talk with positive self-affirmations.

Results of studies at the College of Nursing, University of Kentucky, Lexington, USA, showed  participants using  positive affirmation techniques experienced a greater decrease in depressive symptoms and negative thinking and a greater increase in self-esteem. 

Positive affirmations help you believe in yourself. When you repeat affirmations, spirit hears you and the universe supports you.

The use of affirmations works because, as Scientists have confirmed, the neuroplasticity of our brain continues to create new neurons and reorganize our brain’s wiring. 

It means that it is never too late to change. We can adopt new skills, alter old habits and create new ones. We can rewire our brain with new beliefs.   Negative ideas and things that happened to us as a child and throughout our life,  that effect our perception of our self-worth can be reprogrammed by practicing positive affirmations for self-esteem. 

To create your personalized affirmations, any time you have a negative thought or event, think about an alternate and opposite thought and write a positive statement about it. Then repeat these affirmations at least daily, and every time a negative thought is triggered.  Below are a few thought starters. 

  • I love and accept myself for who I am.
  • I am in control of my emotions and I choose happiness.
  • I am grateful for all the blessings in my life
  • I do not need to prove myself to anyone. I am aware of my strengths and I am confident in my abilities.
  • Every problem is an opportunity to learn.
  • I transcend the past and build a wonderful future through my choices and decisions.
  • I think positively and expect the best.
  • I am in full control of my life and in complete harmony with the universe.

Limit your time around those who subconsciously seek to bring you down.  Although they may not have bad intentions, when you start your journey to higher self-esteem and others begin to see the change in you, they may subconsciously feel they are “losing” you. 

Misery loves company, but don’t commiserate with them.  Focus on the positive aspects of a situation. Remember, you are in control of your emotions and responses.  And sometimes you just have to “walk away.”

4. Make a plan.

Set achievable and realistic short-term goals for yourself to complete in the next week or so. That sense of achievement, however small the achievement, can be an excellent boost to your motivation and commitment to improve. Success breeds more success, and you will find yourself in and upward spiral of happiness.

5. Celebrate!

When you meet a goal, successfully challenge a negative thought, or catch yourself extending kindness towards yourself, mark the achievement with a celebration! Taking the time to revel in your success and enjoy the moment can give you the inspiration you need to continue your journey to self-improvement.  You got this!

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