Self-esteem isn’t something you take seriously – it’s not something you put at the top of your agenda. Or spend money on books to read about.
But it’s there deep in your consciousness.
You sometimes acknowledge it and sometimes when it raises it’s head you bury it again deeper so it doesn’t frighten you. It’s there, yes of course it’s there.
And it has an impact on your life every single day whether you acknowledge it or not.
Have you ever noticed that some people have a pattern to their lives that’s repeated over and over again. Like the woman, for example, who gets mixed-up time and time again with men who abuse her. She has no idea why this keeps happening, she keeps asking everyone,
‘Why me? Why does this keep happening to me?’.
The answer to that lies in self-esteem.
Or what about the man who bemoans again and again he doesn’t ever get the promotion he deserves. When he does get it he’s constantly late to work, he makes mistakes he knows he shouldn’t have made. He knows better! But still he continues, until he gets reprimanded and demoted. Then he says:
‘I knew that would happen, it always happens to me, what have I done to deserve this treatment?’
Do these stories sound familiar to you?
I’m sure you’ve heard them before.
In my years as a counsellor I certainly heard many stories like that.
What’s interesting about these stories is what they have in common and that of course is self-esteem.
What is Low Self-Esteem?
Low self-esteem isn’t about the way you see yourself.
It’s not as simple as changing your thoughts will change your low self-esteem.
That skims the surface.
It’s not a case of repeating affirmations and this will transform your self-esteem from low to high. There’s nothing wrong in affirmations and they’re an effective way of reinforcing new thoughts.
But if you want to change your self-esteem you need to go deeper.
Basically that means:
To trust your mind and to know that you are worthy of happiness is the essence of self-esteem’. – Nathaniel Branden – The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem
Just to briefly review what we’ve covered. You can see for yourself from the above quote that the basic meaning of self-esteem as expressed by Nathaniel Branden is totally different to what you’ve heard before. But it makes sense when you think about it doesn’t it. Self-esteem is inherent in us – not an add-on. Not something bolted on after everything else is formed. Self-esteem is part of our nature and like other parts of our personality it can be normal or not so much and different degrees in between.
I think if I aksed that question most people would admit to not thinking that they’re worthy of success and happiness like a right to expect.
Take Care of Your Body
Body image is similar in its roots to self-esteem as it invariably results in some form of treating the body badly, punishing your body for what your self-esteem is or isn’t. I heard Tom Hanks recently, after he’d found out he had Type 2 diabetes, say to his fans, ‘You gotta take care of the temple, you gotta take care of it’. And this is so true. My quote is similar urging you to take care of your body as you would your home. Because your body is your home.
For me the thing I loathe is exercise. It’s not me. The idea of sweating together with a whole lot of other sweating bodies doesn’t ‘float my boat’. But we’re all different and for some it’s their special time doing what they love which is great. But when it comes to body issues it’s pretty much filled with things we don’t like doing and don’t like hearing.
- Cut down
- Cut it out
- Diet Plan
- Exercise Regime
None of the above are pleasant especially the word ‘regime’ in any context it sends my brain a picture of pain, as bad as visiting the dentist. Body issues and the way we feel and think and treat our bodies is as complex as we are as human beings. But definitely linked to self-esteem. In fact if we don’t tackle our self-esteem issues, we tend to hide away from them and our bodies pay the price for us doing that. Because we tend to hide in eating, or drinking, or busyness, or laziness. And the cycle continues.
That pretty much is this post. As we continue to search through self-esteem and body image issues you’ll learn more about it as a subject. But you’ll also learn how to apply what you learn to your own specific situation.
Until next time, take care and chat soon,
A Bit of My Background
I come from a rigid background. Mum was raised a strict Methodist. Boy! What a strict bunch!
Dad wasn’t christened; his Mum didn’t believe in organised Religion or in Churches either.
The only ‘bunch’ she could ‘stomach’ she said, was the Salvation Army.
She called them, ‘The Sally Army.’
The rest she considered a band of thieves!
My Mum had strict codes of behaviour and ‘standards’. I still remember her standards. For example: Each family member had their own serviette holder. They weren’t paper either. Only the best linen would do. She did this when nobody else used serviettes! Mum didn’t care – she had her standards’.
Dad, on the other hand, was as broad-minded and easy-going as the day was long.
This frequently led to arguments, which were fantastic to listen in on – my brothers and I would have to get out of their sight so we could laugh out loud!
Dad being so broad-minded was great I could ask him any questions and he would answer. Mum considered some of my questions as sinful and not the correct thing for me to be thinking about!
As a kid, I loved writing. From the age of five I would sit at my dressing table imagining it my office. And I would sit and write. What I can’t remember. Just that I loved it!
When I was nine years old, I wrote a poem proudly showing it to mum.
She gave me a telling-off for lying about it – she thought it was written by someone much older than me – therefore I couldn’t possibly have written it she said.
That hurt a lot, but I continued to write anyway but never shared it with her.
I wrote hospital thrillers and crime-stories which my friend’s Mum loved. She couldn’t wait to get the next installment.
Encouraged – I wrote love stories for my classmates which also went down well – and they couldn’t wait for more either.
At this stage I was about 10 or 11years old.
And then something happened which badly impacted my life putting all writing temporarily out of action.
Sometimes Life Just Happens Changing Everything
When I was in my early twenties, I tried a Creative Writing Course. Writing the delegated assignment and getting a critique.
The first two returned to me with wonderful comments, encouraging and yet lots of comments and suggestions on how to improve.
Disaster struck! I was allocated a new tutor – and his first critique was so negative and nasty I was devastated.
It was horrible I didn’t think it worth continuing. I was rubbish at being a writer so I gave up!
Some years later I tried again.
This time, I was fortunate to have a mentor who guided and encouraged me.
On his recommendation I bought a guide to Journal Keeping called, Ira Progoff ‘At a Journal Workshop.’
What a treasure of a book it was!
If you like the idea of keeping a Journal and you love plans that are well-structured and organised, you’ll love this. It’s still available at Amazon.
If you like something a little less structured and is available on P.C. you might like to try: http://www.lifejournal.com/. You can download a free trial and then upgrade later when you’ve got a feel for it. This is a fantastic tool for self-help on just about anything. I am an affiliate for this, but that doesn’t change anything for you – if you buy it – it wont cost you anymore than usual. I like to be honest is all.
If you would like help on how to use it and enough of you want to – I am prepared to run a workshop on how to keep a journal and use it effectively. But back to my story.
Encouraged by my mentor’s help and assistance and journal keeping, I wrote plays which were short and narrated. The narration was necessary so people who had little time could take part.
What I learned from my mentor was invaluable. To me, he was a proper teacher; he could critique what I’d written in a way it was impossible to feel defeat.
In fact: if you didn’t take notice of what he scribbled over your paper you would be a damn fool!
He had this tremendous gift of opening-up your mind to the possibility of so much more than you ever imagined.
So I continued writing, normally poetry. I loved writing it, that is, until one day I submitted some poems for review by a critic and again was overwhelmed by his words.
All of it was negative and he also managed to sound patronising. He spoke down to me like I was the village idiot determined to come good. It was humiliating.
Crushed once more – I gave up writing poetry and haven’t written another poem.
You might wonder how all this could make me a better person.
Key Word is Pivotal Here
You may think the horrid criticism I got built character – that’s often what they used to justify it.
But it wasn’t ever true for me. I found it suppressed imagination and deadened any creative spirit.
There is a saying that goes: ‘If you can’t handle rejection and criticism – don’t become a writer.’
I can see that is true.
But it doesn’t exactly encourage you to try does it?
After all you can ‘work through’ your negative experiences. Right?
You can reach a point where you have a wondrous ‘Aha’ moment. Can’t you?
Well thank God; the answer is yes you can!
Simply reflect back over your life (your journal is a great tool for achieving this) and pinpoint those people who played a pivotal role in your life.
And pivotal is the key word here. It’s a wonderful word meaning ‘of vital or central importance’. I love it.
My mentor was a person who played a pivotal role in my life. His influence showed me a completely new way of criticism. One I had never known before.
He showed me what criticism is meant to do. And that is to teach.
At the end of the day – it’s a teaching tool. You’re meant to learn from it.
It’s not a weapon of mass destruction! Targeting a nation’s soul and creativity.
That learned – it was possible to experience criticism differently.
With that in mind I went back over the negative critics of the past, working out where they were right. I took every last crumb I could from them.
As for the rest – I ditched it like so much rubbish!
Before I learned that valuable lesson I would view things impacting on me in two ways:
- Good or bad,
- Hurtful or helpful.
Now I take from everywhere without preconceived ideas. No longer is it a case of good/bad. Hurtful/helpful. It’s a case of extracting exactly what I need
It’s all about what I want/need.
I don’t allow anyone to use criticism as a weapon against me.
I use criticism as a tool for learning.
And that, my friends, is how criticism has made me a better person.
I am a unique and beloved individual who has already changed the world by being present. I am filled with joy knowing I have offered the world my gifts. I shine no matter what my family says; my talents reach far outside of this realm. I now focus on what my talents can do for the greater good. I love what I can do!
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED worldwide. Copyright © 2013 by The Goddess Network Inc., and Charlene M. Proctor.
My thanks go to Charlene M. Proctor for allowing me to share these beautiful affirmations with you.