One of my coaching clients recently asked me how he could
improve his low self-image. He said, "it ruins my social and
professional life." He wanted to know what techniques he could employ to solve this lifelong problem.
I felt inadequate, at the time, in my reply to him; so now I
try resolve this by writing about my own struggles to improve self esteem in hopes that it will be helpful to him and you.
The dictionary says that esteem means, "to regard with
respect; to prize, to appreciate. To recognize the quality,
significance, or magnitude of, to admire greatly; to value."
I know people who have too much confidence and self-pride, but I don't know anyone with too much self esteem. Most people, in moments of honesty, will admit to a lack of self esteem. They would like to feel better about themselves, more confident and capable; in short, to love themselves more.
It would probably be fair to say that most social problems are the result, directly or indirectly, of someone's low or faulty self-concept.
Not too many years ago, I was going through a dark time in my life. I was broke (financially, personally, socially and even spiritually). My life and my confidence is much better today...
So what changed ? Was it outward circumstances ? Did my environment change and with it my inner experience ? Fortunately: no.
Somehow I knew that for things to change it would have to be me who would have to change. It would be an inner transformation that would eventually alter the outward experience.
Some of the things I did unconsciously. Others were done with deliberation.
"If I've got correct goals, and if I keep
pursuing them the best way I know how,
everything else falls into line. If I do
the right thing right, I'm going to succeed."
~ Dan Dierdorf
First and foremost, I removed myself from people who had been particularly critical. By distancing myself from this criticism, I was able to gain a better perspective. I was perfectly capable of taking my own inventory and did not need someone else pointing out my errors and keeping me focused on my shortcomings.
I immersed myself in good books and tapes of inspiration; those that increased my belief and provided me with samples and role models.
One of my coaches helped me to see myself in a better light. Because he wasn't emotionally involved in my problems, he was able to see things differently. He would often point out the obvious; that things weren't nearly as bad as they appeared to be. In other words: he helped me close the gap between my imaginary world (self image) and reality.
I made a conscious attempt to focus on my strengths: my talents, my experience and my knowledge. I didn't allow myself to indulge in negative thoughts. When I found myself thinking about something less than "uplifting," I would redirect myself to something else. I gave myself no permission to have "pity parties."
"Think highly of yourself, for the
world takes you at your own estimate."
I took to heart Thomas Carlyle's advice when he wrote, "Our
main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what clearly lies at hand" ... I kept busy. I did what appeared to me as a good thing to do. I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do or how I was going to do it. The future was uncertain and for the first time in my life I didn't have a plan.
And each day I did what I could to clean up my old and useless internal programs and data, making things better ... keeping my focus forward instead of backward.
I believe that everyone has a unique purpose and I was determined to discover mine.
"If we all did the things we are capable of
doing we would literally astound ourselves."
~ Thomas Alva Edison
One of the biggest awarenesses I had during these dark times was that I WAS NOT my feelings. I HAD feelings, but they were not me. I also realized that I had cared too much about the opinions of others; I was living for my images, instead of just enjoying every step. I still care; I just don't let it run me like it used to.
Some people believe that if you feel good about yourself, you'll do great things. That may be true, but I also believe that if you do great things, you'll feel good about yourself, and possibly do even greater things.
Taking these steps consciously and consistently over a period of months has enabled me to rebuild my finances, establish a future I'm very excited about, and restore and improve upon my self esteem.
Self esteem is an upward or downward spiral. What you do affects the way you feel. How you feel affects the things you do. The things you do affect what you and others think of you, which in turn, affects how you feel about yourself.
Keep me posted on your progress, and choose your own choices.