Building Self Esteem

Building Self Esteem for most of us is a challenge. I conducted stress management programs for many years and in the program is a segment on the stress of one's self worth. Inevitably 99% of those attending the programs or those I worked with in private practice had significant self esteem issues. These were for the most part professionals who were accomplished with excellent educations. What are the causes of low self esteem?

When each of us was born most likely we were the apple of one or both parent's eyes. As infants we could do no wrong. Of course there are exceptions to every rule and there were a small percentage of us born to the wrong parents-maybe it was a karmic thing. By in large as babies 99% of us were loved by our parents, grandparents, siblings… We were perfect in their eyes. If those feelings of importance would have continued, none of us would have self esteem issues. When did it all change?

Did it change when we cried at night and awakened our parents too often because of colic? Did it happen when we broke an heir loom accidentally? Was it something of this nature that angered our parents and they realized that we were a pain in the butt? Or did they never waiver in their adoration and we did it to ourselves by comparing ourselves with other kids?

I could ask dozens of similar questions and one of them had a "Yes." It could have been as simply being asked what we want to be when we grow up which indirectly says "You're not much now, but one day by doing something like your older brother (sister) you'll be somebody."

Or maybe we learned from our parents, teachers, friends that "self praise stinks" and to love yourself is an egoistical thing to do. So we began to play our value down and we ended up believing we have little value.

Of course we observed others too. We saw that when others were successful at something they felt good about themselves--accomplishments breed self esteem and failure breed self contempt.

When we got compliments from others we felt good about ourselves and when we were criticized or even thought someone might criticize us we felt less about ourselves.

The point is at some point, things changed-either we believed undeserved destructive criticism as one might find in an alcoholic family, or we came to our own conclusions that we were valueless. We compared ourselves with others and fell short. Somehow we learned that to feel good about ourselves we had to be accomplished, married or in love with the right person, educated, socially popular, talented, physically attractive… And as long as we could measure up to these qualities or goals, then we could feel good about ourselves. If we fell short, then we felt less of ourselves.

We even learned that when we're happy we can feel good about ourselves and when we're down, depressed, lonely, in despair, angry, frustrated, we can't feel good about ourselves.

Building self esteem is something you do everyday. It's to realize that:

•Comparing ourselves to anyone else is to kill self esteem.

•Some of our best laid plans will simply fall through.

•We are emotional beings and rather than be ruled by our emotions we can acknowledge them and move through them.

•We each are a child of the universe deserving of feeling good about ourselves regardless of what we do or don't do.

•We only feel less about ourselves because of what we've learned to believe.

•Love of our physical, emotional, and spiritual self is deserved and until we can love ourselves, it's unlikely that another can love us.

•Egotistical people really don't love themselves.

•Out of every fallen plan or disappointment is an opportunity to somehow:

•Benefit from it.

•Move beyond it.

•Learn from mistakes.

•Truly forget about it.

•Let it go.

•Profit from the experience.

And then, most importantly, self esteem is something you build everyday by assuring yourself that when things:

•Work out as planned, you like yourself, and that you are a fine person;

•Fall through and you're disappointed, upset, angry… that you embrace the emotion and likewise like yourself--that you are a fine person regardless of the outcome. Do this daily and feel your self esteem grow.