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Do you have a healthy self-esteem?

 
Did you know that by the age of 8, we've already developed our self-esteem? 

Our environment along with anyone we come in contact with, molds this newly developed regard for self.

So, that time you ran to your dad and said, "Daddy I'm scared." And he replied, "There's nothing to be scared of silly." created a discrepancy of data between you and your dad's response. These seemingly insignificant moments of conflict result in building a foundation of self-doubt.

When your environment and internal systems don't correlate, you begin to conclude that you can't trust yourself, which erodes your self-esteem.

Beginning our journey in this world with depleted self-esteem, we find ourselves as adults exhaustively trying to shed our old self-concept for one that will help us feel capable of creating and living a successful life.

Self-Esteem vs. Self-Concept

Before we look at how we can strengthen our self-esteem, let's be clear that we are seeking to increase our self-esteem, not our self-concept. We're after understanding our general attitude and feelings towards our self versus the facts about yourself.

The great news is that we have total power over our attitudes -- we just have to become aware of them first, which leads us to self-awareness.

Self-Awareness

Self-awareness allows you to become conscious of the sabotaging thoughts and reactions that need your attention. With practice you begin making conscious choices moving away from reaction mode.

Looking inward can feel scary and the process of changing painfully slow, however, healing occurs when we learn how to relate to ourselves differently.

The truth is that changing is inevitable, not scary. Change is a universal law of life; it's one of the things in life that we can trust. Change will always happen. The type of change depends on you.

When we begin waking up to patterns of behavior that have been holding us back, we can quickly become blocked. If you find yourself being defensive, you're probably onto some significant change possibilities. Another tell-tale sign you're in a growth spurt is that you're super judgmental. At first you'll see how often you judge others, but eventually, you'll wake up to the fact that you're most judgemental concerning yourself. Blame is another behavior that stunts growth so be sure to watch for it as well.

Self-awareness is a vital practice to healthy self-esteem because ultimately how you feel about yourself colors every aspect of your life.

Let's look at the two most significant risks of not proactively taking the reigns of building your self-esteem.

Risk No. 1 of Not Taking Your Self-Esteem Reigns

You'll Always Need Things or People to Feel Okay.

I'm sure you've experienced the difference between needing a relationship vs. wanting a relationship. These are two very different experiences. Life can feel excruciatingly painful when our perceived need isn't met, which is how so many people live, needing someone to feel okay. If you often find yourself saying I need; I can relate.

I spent years climbing the corporate ladder in search of happiness. Needing to be like the people around me, desperate to find the love I needed. I thought if I worked harder, got promoted, and made more money than I would finally feel better about myself. I thought if I found the right someone then I'd be okay. I didn't realize that increasing my self-concept, the facts about myself had nothing to do with self-esteem.

The more goals I reached the worse I felt. Six figures, living in a dream home, working in a dream career, none of it made a dent on how I felt about myself. I was utterly oblivious to my inner landscape, I worshipped the external world, which kept me in a constant state of restlessness.

I had no anchor. I had no inner connection.

By continuing to allow false needs, other people, circumstances, and old beliefs define your sense of self; you will always feel like you're living on shifting sand. Forever chasing the dream, afraid of change and believing that you're incapable of living truly fulfilled.

Risk No. 2 of Not Taking Your Self-Esteem Reigns

You'll Never Find Lasting Groundedness and Feel at Peace.

Striving to fill a forever shifting landscape is exhausting. When we establish an inner connection, our needs begin to be met effortlessly from within us. We become less and less dependent on forever changing external sources to feel grounded and at peace.

When we establish self-awareness, we're building self-esteem from the inside out, from the depth of who we are.

To succeed in life, we need to journey to our accomplishments feeling fulfilled. Otherwise, our goals are hollow making us feel good for a day, week, maybe a month only to grow restless again.

Two Ways to Practice Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is key to unlearning. Becoming curious about old patterns and becoming willing to surrender old ways of being, we can begin trusting our inner resource.

Asking questions and contemplating long enough for the answer to emerge from within is a continual practice of self-discovery.

1. Self-Inquiry is a process of questioning the belief structures that we currently have in place. Self-inquiry can be in a formal process of writing down the repeating thoughts that race through our mind, or it can be quickly questioning beliefs at the moment.

I have the thought, "I'm not skinny enough." I run that thought through an inquiry process. There are many processes of self-inquiry out there, but for this post, I will use one that changed my life. It is a 4-question process called "The Work," by Byron Katie.

  • Is it true that I'm not skinny enough? Yes or No. (If no, skip to bullet #3).
  • Can I know that it's true; that I'm not skinny enough? Yes or No.
  • How do I act with the thought, "I'm not skinny enough? (Examine how you talk to yourself and others walking around with the thought? How does living with this thought make you feel?) I exercise too much than not at all. I don't nourish my body with healthy foods. I beat myself up about how I should be eating and exercising. I resent skinny people and continually think about my body image.
  • Who would I be without the thought, "I'm not skinny enough"? (Now close your eyes and envision yourself without the thought) I would fuel my body with tasty, healthy food. I would take the time to cook and nurture my body. I would be gentle with my exercise. I would have balanced weeks of exercise and food. I would ask for help from others. I would continue learning what balance is for me by going within through meditation, inquiry, and reflection. I would practice self-love using affirmations in place of negative self-talk.

2. Meditate. If you have an aversion to the word meditation or believe that you are not the type of person to sit still, I invite you to do it anyway.

When my mind says, "You can't sit still, you're too busy, do you need to do that EVERY day, etc." I ask myself, "Is it true?" After contemplating the question for a few moments I know I am not alone. Most people have trouble sitting still, and I can continue to build my practice one moment at a time.

If you're new to meditation download a complimentary copy of Reconnect Now, which includes the two practices that changed my life!

Unshakable self-esteem comes from a solid inner foundation. Choosing to live inside out.

Experience has shown me that the smallest desire to change coupled with continued practice creates a life worth living and a self-esteem high enough to receive it.

"When the mind is silent and no longer troubled by concerns about the past or future, we connect with the pure Self beyond name and form. In this experience of pure Being, we find a steady, unshakable peace that is not dependent on what we have or do in life. We find the fulfillment we have always been seeking and the peace of God that pass, or lies beyond, all understanding." ~ Peter Russell

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