Research and clinical experience consistently point out that it is difficult to be happy when you do not like yourself. Respected Reader, pause for a moment and ask yourself that question. Do not analyze, just listen to your gut reaction. And the answer is?
Most people have parts of themselves that they don’t like. Don’t like categories may include physical appearance, academic or professional failures, disappointing behaviors, failing relationships, etc… Unfortunately some people let the undesirable facets of their lives take over their entire self and, thus, make an overall negative assessment of themselves. The outcome of this is low self esteem. People with low self esteem rarely become their best well rounded selves carrying such a negative belief.
People with low self esteem too often do not see the big picture. They overlook many positive qualities and characteristics that they possess. They need to re-focus their perspective. This process begins with an understanding of what past experiences have led them to such a conclusion. Once that is done a person can heal and re-frame such thoughts and feelings and move forward to a healthy loving, and liking, of oneself.
Self loathing can come from a variety of sources. If you were not parented in a healthy loving manner you may conclude that you are not lovable. You may have physical attributes that dismay you. You may have suffered some hurtful rejections. You may not feel you measure up to your contemporaries in some manner or form.
Self talk is important here. What you tell yourself gets embedded in your brain. You are continually “wiring” your brain as you perceive and process your experiences. Optimism and pessimism play a part in such processing. Do you know your inclination along this line?
If you are a pessimist you will take a few of your undesirable facets and generalize them to your whole self and, thus, wallow in your low self esteem. If you are a healthy optimist you will recognize that you have some weaknesses, will do your best to overcome them, and realize that overall you are a special person – your core self is special!
In my practice I encourage low self esteem people to use affirmations as part of their self talk. I ask my client/patient to bring me a long list of all the positive qualities that s/he possesses. Secondly I ask that person to read it to me. Then take this list home and read it every day, preferably in the morning to begin the day on a positive feel good note. Such repetitive affirmation can make a positive difference in the perception of who you are and how you feel about yourself..
Another aspect to empower an enhanced self esteem is to focus on gratitude. What are you grateful for in life – and in each and every day? You probably have much to be grateful for – if you could just see it. What you focus on, pay attention to, “wires” the brain with the consequent feelings.
People with high self esteem learn to nurture themselves. Without being selfish they find ways to nurture their well being. They “vote” for themselves without having to disenfranchise others. They take care of themselves – physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.
One more tip, focus on your character. Become a person who thinks of ways to care for other people and consistently demonstrates it in positive behaviors. As you become a better person so you will appreciate and believe that you are a good and likeable person. You will have an enhanced character – and become someone you can truly love! These efforts are worth it because you are worth it!
“The unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates