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How to learn self-value: The key to an authentic self

How do we learn to judge our value?

Why is our sense of self-worth so strongly connected to the way we are seen, valued, or treated by others?

Let’s put the question in a different way.

If I feel worthless because of how I am treated, does this really mean I am worthless?

Is how I feel who I am?

Whose Job is it to stipulate what is worthless or valuable anyway?

Forgive me if this sequence of questions seems slightly confusing.

But you see,

If I believe I am worthless or useless, what objective evidence do I have that proves beyond any doubt that I am indeed worthless?

Do you any of these points as evidence of why you are worthless?

  • I am worthless because I am ugly
  • I am worthless because I am fat
  • I am worthless because I have no friends
  • I am worthless because no one likes me
  • I am worthless because am useless, and I am useless because I can’t’ get anything right
  • I am worthless because nothing ever goes right for me
  • I am worthless because I am afraid all the time

Think about it carefully,

Are all these points (i.e. being ugly, being fat etc) really good objective evidence of being worthless?

How did we get the rule that something is considered worthless because it is ugly?
And I can ask a similar question for all the other points.

Interestingly, I understand that the “Most Valuable Orchid is Ugly and Stinky.“

And sure you are aware of loads of people who were failures but turned out to succeed in the end.

Failure can however be used as a very strong springboard for success. This can be so if we spend less time mentally beating ourselves up and focus that energy on what we can correct to do things better.

In fact, this was how I learned to do Mathematics as a child. I had to spend some time figuring out what I did wrong so that I could get it right next time.

The internet is full of true-life stories of people who failed woefully in life who then later became magnificently successful.

I have fished out a few I was able to find on the net: hope it helps.

Henry Ford, you know the one who all those ford cars are named after, failed at business five times before finally making it with the Ford Motor Company.

I understand that during those five times of failure he was completely broke. Now there's so much evidence that he became successful.

Before F. W. Woolworth started the Woolworth department stores, he was often told by his manager that he did not have the mental capacity to wait on customers and was not allowed to do so.

Bill Gates Dropped out of Harvard and failed at his first business Traf-O-Data. Now he heads the global empire that is Microsoft.

Colonel Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken did not do well at first selling chickens; His best chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times before it was accepted by a restaurant.

Walt Disney: Like some of the already mentioned people tired his hand at a number of businesses that left him bankrupt. In fact, he was once sacked from his job as a newspaper editor with the criticism that he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.

The value we place on anything is derived from how we see others relate to that thing.

A common African tale that is told of Sierra Leone is of how their land used to be full of diamonds. It was said that the diamonds were as plentiful as stones.

At the time, diamonds were of no value to the natives of Sierra Leone as such the diamonds were treated as stones.

So how did the people of Sierra Leone come to place value on diamonds?
The introduction of the western ideology into Sierra Leone brought with it the values, which now determine how Sierra Leoneans treat diamonds.

This Ideology brought us the now popular legacy of the “Blood Diamonds”

Now, how valuable is that?

The value you place on yourself is only a perception. A perception that is determined by what other people around you are currently considering valuable.

Unfortunately, this perception of value is often derived from propaganda.

You only have to look at the current trend of "size zero supermodels," and its impact on people all around the world to see how this sort of perception can easily cripple people.

It is, therefore, important to note that the perception you have of yourself can only "stick" if you are unaware that your perception of yourself is

"NOT Really Who You Are."

If you believe that your perception of yourself is who you are, then that perception is bound to determine your path in life.

Question: How do we come to this sort of perception in the first place?

Our five senses: The doorway to knowing who we are

We interact with the world around us through our human senses.

The things we hear people say about us, how we see people treat us.

How we see people react to our achievements and failures, and how we feel people are perceiving us are all crucial factors that influence developing a balanced sense of ourselves.

Let’s try to consider this in greater detail by investigating how our five senses help us to gain this knowledge of who we are.

Think about it.

How does a baby inside the womb (apparently knowing nothing) get to the point of being able to answer its name?

How is it able to know who the mum is and who dad is?

As basic as this might sound, this learning is gained through the use of our five senses (sight, taste, smell, touch, and hearing).
After all, the senses are the only windows we have for interacting with our external worlds

Some researchers argue against the idea that babies in the womb don't know anything.

Experiments have been carried out, which suggest that babies are already using some of their senses to learn about their environment even in the womb.

This is why pregnant women are encouraged to talk to their unborn children. This is also why babies can be calmed by the smell of their mother when they are born.

See this link for more evidence of this

So the newborn baby has to tune into its mother's voice and body odor through its basic senses. As it's held in its mother's arm, it experiences warmth comfort, and a sense of safety.

It is as if it realizes

"This is where I belong"

"This is where I am safe" 

How we determine our position and value in our world

So on a basic level, our five senses act as the interface through which we interact with the world and through which the world gives us feedback that helps us determine who we are and how we are valued.

The five senses act like a compass through which we know our position and purpose in our society and the world.

However, to make this interaction work, our senses rely on the medium of our basic human needs.

For example, the warmth comfort and care a baby gets from its mother are really only basic needs which all humans have. If these needs are not met, we will struggle to determine our place in this world

These needs appear to be hard-wired to our makeup and the manner in which they are met (or not met) can have a lifelong impact on how we view ourselves and compare ourselves with the rest of the world.

The biggest step for learning self-value

The more our basic needs are met whilst growing up, the better our sense of self will be. Vice versa, the less our basic needs are met the less our sense of self becomes.

Once we understand and accept that our low self-esteem is being driven by our unmet needs, we can as adults put strategies in place to meet those needs. The more we are able to meet those needs, the more we will find our sense of self-worth improves.

Unmet basic human needs can create a void that causes us to spend our life chasing after the things we believe will fill the void. 

This chase often becomes stress provoking. This is especially the case if we do not have a clear idea of what we are chasing and how to go about dealing with what we are chasing even if we find it ( the phrase "a cat chasing its own tail" comes to mind).

Before we can effectively use the various strategies that can in addressing the low self esteem problem, we need to gain some understanding of why the problem exists in the first place.

How people develop low self-esteem (A case example)

"I don't even know who I am anymore."

A phrase often echoed by many clients I have worked with.

One particular client's (let's call her Clara) life narrative gives a clear case study of how basic human needs, self-esteem, and stress are all intertwined.

(Please note that all case examples found on stresstherapist.net have been changed somewhat in the interest of client confidentiality).

 

Clara’s mother had postnatal depression when Clara was born.

Due to her mother's depression, Clara was not carried or breastfed for the first six months of her life.

Clara’s father was not even on the scene so her mother had to rely a lot on the grandparents for things like bathing, bottle feeding, etc.

When Clara grew older, her mother was still suffering from frequent depressive episodes.

Clara felt neglected and heavily criticized by her mother and often recalled feeling like being born was a mistake on her own part.

Considering Clara's history, it is not surprising that Clara developed low self-esteem driven by the following basic needs.

  • need to belong
  • need for acceptance
  • need to be listened to
  • need to be understood
  • need to feel human warmth
  • need for security
  • need for safety
  • But how does the lack of having our basic needs met impact on how we view ourselves and produce signs of stress?

 Let’s consider how a few of these unmet needs impacted Clara’s view of herself. 

The need to belong and our self-esteem

If people around us don't seem to like us or don't seem to want to be around us, it is possible that we might begin to mirror the way they treat us by treating ourselves in the same way.

In Carla's case, she eventually began to believe that something about her was abnormal. She felt she was always the odd one out in most situations and had to work hard to be liked by other people.

The more she thought about it, the more she hated different aspects of herself until she became certain that her whole person was the problem.

In my experience as a therapist, people's low sense of self seems to be more entrenched if their experience of rejection can be tracked right to their childhood experiences.

The low sense of self tends to be worse if the first person who rejected them was a parent or important family member.

The need for acceptance and our self-esteem

Too much negative criticism from others can give us the impression that something is wrong with us. It can cause us to become convinced that we fail at everything we do because of our weaknesses and that people will always feel disappointed with us.

This was the case for Clara, she always expected to be criticized but yet was petrified about people finding something about her to criticize.

Unfortunately, because Clara believed she was worthless, any of her friends who accepted her were viewed with suspicion. She would become uncomfortable with them, especially if they acted kindly towards her, and start to avoid them whenever she could.

She often became anxious that these friends would soon begin to interpret her symptoms of stress as a weakness or as proof that she was weird.

When she succeeded in chasing the friends away, she would conclude their rejection of her was evidence that they were only pretending to accept her in the first place.

Unfortunately, the more we feel unaccepted by others, the more we will find self-acceptance difficult. If we think we are not acceptable, we are more likely to behave in ways that make it difficult for people to show that they accept us.

The need to become our own compassionate adult

If we grow up with frequent experiences of incompassionate treatment from our closest ones, We may struggle to know how to treat ourselves compassionately.

An Inability to be self-compassionate creates a sense of being constantly under attack from forces within ourselves and forces outside ourselves.

Unfortunately, feeling under constant attack places the brain under constant stress which makes simple activities increasingly difficult to perform. The end result is a poor sense of self.

Clara's unmet need for compassion made her an easy target

Due to lack of compassion and warmth from others, Clara saw herself as unimportant in the scheme of things. She often felt like she had no value and explained that she felt worthless and useless.

She always put herself last even though there was no obvious reason for her to do so. She always let her partner have his way even though she knew he was wrong.


Somehow she was always in the midst of people who took her for granted and abused her generosity. She explained that she always felt like the doormat but believed she deserved the negative treatment she got from other people. Naturally, this made improving self-esteem difficult.

Clara concluded that people would be able to see the symptoms of low self-esteem she was exciting and that this made her an easy target.

Clara later got into a relationship with a young man who was extremely critical and verbally abusive towards her. Although people tried to advise her against the relationship she had concluded that this was her natural lot since she could do no better.

Clara felt she had no way out of her predicament as such her signs of stress continued to Increase.

The effect of an unmet need for security and safety

Low self-esteem causes us to zone in on our weaknesses. It makes us see our weaknesses as intricate parts of ourselves. As such we often fail to look for ways to break the bounds those weaknesses have on us.

This is because we have come to believe that it is not possible to break free from these weaknesses.

Instead, we unintentionally seek out solutions that can help us to patch the obvious weaknesses. Solutions we can hide in.

For some people, this may mean that they wear a confident mask so that they can camouflage "The Real Me". For others, it means that they simply avoid doing anything that will expose their perceived weaknesses.

The lasting effect is that they never get the chance to explore strategies that might make them stonger in their areas of weakness eventually leading to anxiety and depression symptoms.

In Clara's case, she felt her weakness was that she was an easy target for emotional abuse, so she developed a tendency to seek out men who were physically strong or strong in character in order to feel safe.

Unfortunately, these men would abuse her emotionally and physically leading her to believe that she was not capable of making good decisions/choices.

Slowly the signs of stress in her life began to increase. She soon began to detest herself for being so foolish enough to keep falling into the same problems.

In the end, she started to isolate herself as she concluded that the only way to keep safe was to stay indoors and isolate herself from people.

Unmet needs play a big part in our experience of stress and self-loathing.

As you can see our unmet needs can lower our self-worth by making us react to life in unproductive ways increasing our experience of bad stress.

Knowing how our unmet needs of compassion and security can make us become easy prey, causing us to experience more life difficulties is essential. Once we can pinpoint this, we can begin to work out different strategies that can stop us from falling into the same old traps.

 

Practical steps for meeting unmet needs and overcoming low self-esteem

Ultimately, the impact of unmet needs is that they cause us to develop "Self Value Rules" that influence our sense of self, impact our decision-making processes,  and influence how we react to opportunities for growth and development we encounter.

So what can you begin to do about your unmet needs today, and how can this help us develop a positive sense of ourselves?

Firstly, we have to become aware that unmet needs are present for us

And

Secondly, we have to start actively working to find out how we can begin to meet those needs ourselves.

But how does this actually work in practice?

Let’s use an example that I commonly come across whilst helping people treat their depression.

Whilst this may not fit exactly with your personal experience, you should still be able to relate to it, and interpret the structure for your own personal experiences of depression and low self-esteem.

Our working example:

The example is of a lady (let’s call her Stacy).  

Stacy, the background was that as a child, she was constantly criticized by her parents, both father and mother. In addition, they did not praise her for doing anything well. In her own eyes, she could do nothing whatsoever to please them.

Add to that, she was heavily bullied and criticized by her peers at school. Hence she lived in a world where it seems everybody was constantly criticizing her.

In order to cope with this, and avoid making mistakes and criticisms from others, Stacy became highly critical of herself.  She also became what I call a “YES person.”

She would take on a lot of responsibilities from others, even if she did not have the time to accommodate those responsibilities. She was fearful that she would be rejected if she said no to people.

She then ended up experiencing depression.

Let’s now move on to the actual strategy. I have broken this strategy into five steps. I will use Stacy’s example to work through these steps. It is highly important that work through the steps with your personal example for this to be useful for you.

Step 1. Identify your unmet need.

Look through the comprehensive list of unmet needs that’s in the N.U.I.S worksheet you downloaded. If you have not downloaded it yet, click here to download it now. It’s free to download.

Follow the instruction in the worksheet to arrive at your own personal list of unmet needs. But you will be working on one unmet need at a time.

Applying step 1 to Stacy’s experience

Question1:

What unmet needs can you highlight in Stacy’s experience?

Answer 1:

Stacy had an unmet need for praise. As children growing up. Even as adults, we all need to be praised occasionally for our efforts.

Having a life devoid of being praised by others can make us feel like we have no good abilities whatsoever.

Other possible unmet needs highlighted in Stacy’s experience -

  • Need to be heard and validated
  • Need for love
  • Need to belong
  • Need to be valued

Okay for the rest of the steps we are going to stay with the unmet need for praise

Step 2: Determine what activates your unmet need

Once you have chosen one unmet need to work on, try to determine why the unmet need exists as a problem for you today.

(In other words, what situations in your current life tend to reactivate the unmet need and the emotions that are connected to it now?)

So think of the last two three weeks and pick a time or situation when you felt really down, frustrated, angry or maybe anxious. Usually, there is an unmet need connected, and often, the case is that whatever you were going through has activated that unmet need.

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Applying step 2 to Stacy’s experience

Question 2:

Can you give examples of how Stacy’s unmet need for praise might be acting as a problem for her today?

Answer 2:

1.    Across the year right from childhood, the unmet need for praise would have caused Stacy to establish a pattern in her brain (Remember neuroplasticity? We covered this in Part 1 of this series)

2.    Stacy would have a lack of confidence (You see, Stacy ended up criticizing herself for every single thing she did. She would criticize herself heavily when washing the dishes, cleaning the house, cooking, getting the kids ready for school, etc.

She did this to try to do things perfectly and avoid making mistakes that would lead to others criticizing her or thinking ill of her).

The unintended result of this was a huge lack of self-confidence and an even bigger sense of low self-esteem.

3. Now because she had to do everything with extra care and effort, simple tasks became complicated, anxiety-provoking and stress-inducing.

Making life today feel very painful and uneventful. Everything about life became about just surviving and getting through the day.

4. She often sold herself short by avoiding well-paying Jobs and regularly went for Jobs where the possibilities of being criticized are reduced.

5. She struggled with the Idea of accepting praise from people. Praise from people made her cringe because she felt nothing she did was good enough.

So you can see how Stacy’s unmet need for praise influenced her “every day.”

Step 3. Finding your personal TRAP

What counteracting action have you gotten used to taking whenever this unmet need is activated? What purpose do these actions serve? Write this down.

So when you are in that zone experiencing those emotions, what do you do

Important note: please don’t skim over this step as it highlights your particular actions that make your past experiences influence your life now. It is a massive TRAP!

Why is it a trap?

It is a trap because the counteracting actions people get used to using start off by having some positive effect on what they are trying to resolve in the past, but as they grow older and life becomes more complicated and complex, the counteracting actions fail to be effective and actually start to hinder or work against the person.

Applying step 3 to Stacy’s experience

Question 3:

What counteracting actions did Stacy learn to rely on when her unmet need for lack of praise has been activated, and what purpose do her counteracting actions serve.

Answer 3:

1. She does everything doubly hard by becoming a perfectionist.

2. She Tries to do everything "better than better."

3. Self-criticizing (Following the same patterns she learned from her parents. She sometimes found herself even using her parent's words to criticize herself )

4. Avoid looking at the positive and praising herself for a job well done because this might cause her not to take the precautions of being extra careful of not making mistakes.

The Purpose of Stacy’s counteracting actions was to help avoid negative judgments from others.

Stacy’s trap:

Stacy feels that if she criticizes herself heavily, she is protecting herself by avoiding making mistakes and therefore, avoiding negative judgments from others.

But the more she self criticizes, the less she notices the positive things she is doing, the worse she feels about herself as a person.

The result is that she gets increasingly depressed.

Can you see how this is a trap?

She is trying to run away from the issues of her past but unfortunately, the particular action she is taking is pulling her more into the issues of her past. The action she is taking is making her past negative experiences influence her actions and her life now.

Can you see the pattern here?  Can you see how people can literally live through their life without realizing that they are being driven by unmet needs?

Can you relate this to yourself?

Please don’t skimp over this section. It is extremely important to see the pattern here before moving on.

Now write down some examples of how your unmet needs might be causing you to take actions that you are trying to use for coping now. Then write down how these actions are actually keeping past problems alive for you now.

Step 4. Develop an opposite action to your TRAP

What is an opposite action I can take on my counteracting action (Wow that’s too many actions in one sentence)? This opposite action needs to be an action that can help you meet the unmet need you are targeting.

Tip: You will find that in most cases if you work against what you usually do, you would be taking action that is meeting your unmet need. This is an irony because the reason why we react the way we do to live’s difficulties is that we are trying to meet our unmet needs, however, we strangely end up doing just the things that work against us meeting those needs. Forming a negative loop.

When you have found your opposite action, Just the thought of using it should make you feel really uncomfortable. For some people, the thought of the opposite action would even make them cry. If you don’t feel uncomfortable, this is a suggestion that you have not found the correct opposite action to use.

Applying this to Stacy’s experience

Question 4:

What opposite action can Stacy apply on her counteracting actions? Remember her counteracting actions are

  • Self-criticism
  • Being a perfectionist
  • Avoiding noticing the positives in things that she does

Answer 4:

One of the strongest opposite actions Stacy can apply to the counteracting actions is to start acknowledging what she does well.

Whenever I discuss this with people who have similar experiences to Stacy, they struggle with the Idea of acknowledging what they do well. It feels extremely uncomfortable.

This brings me to a VERY, VERY VERY IMPORTANT POINT.

If you are looking for an opposite action that will help you deal with your unmet needs, the opposite action you choose should initially feel uncomfortable. If the opposite action does not feel uncomfortable, be aware that you have not gotten the correct action you should take.

You see, when you arrive at this solution, it is going to feel uncomfortable to start with, but if you keep on with the strategy, the uncomfortable feeling will gradually dissipate leaving you with the added advantage of breaking free from the unmet needs that was driving your low sense of self.

At this stage, it is a good thing to remember neuroplasticity again, because all you have to do is to keep repeating your opposite action whenever your unmet need becomes activated. Remember that anything, thought or behavior you do repeatedly eventually becomes fortified by a network of neurons which eventually makes that activity easier to perform.

So even though, at this moment, you don’t feel comfortable with your opposite action, and as it is in most cases, you don’t even believe in the opposite action, after you practice it for a while, it soon becomes what you do naturally.

So for Stacy, I would say something like this to her

“What I want you to do now, is to actually praise yourself. You have finished washing the dishes, and yes it may not be a perfect Job, but praise yourself for the Job you have done.”

Now I know that some people will immediately say this,

“But if I only just keep praising myself all the time, won’t I leave myself in a situation where I am vulnerable to failure?”

Okay, Understand that self-criticism of itself is not wrong. It is the extreme use of self-criticism that causes the problem. In other words, the extent to which self-criticism is utilized causes the individual to constantly live in a dark place.

If all you do is to self-criticize, and you never acknowledge the good things you do, an imbalance is created that naturally breeds toxic stress and emotions.

So you see, the opposite action of praising herself on occasion would help Stacy to bring her survival strategy of self-criticism into balance. This balance is healthy, and it will create a massive uplift in her sense of self.

Note that I am not expecting anyone to be able to take this action immediately. This opposite action for meeting your unmet needs should feel completely alien and difficult, and this is why the final step of the exercise is so, so important.

If you want more examples of opposite actions and how to use them, then register (For Free) here to gain immediate access to watch the replay of the live video tutorial. Once in the member’s area look for Part 2 of how to stop my past negative experiences for the correct video

Okay let’s recap on what we have done so far:

First step: Finding out what our unmet needs are.

Second and third steps: Getting to understand why they are influencing us or impacting on us today.

Fourth Step: Starting to understand the actions we need to take to meet our unmet needs.

 

Step 5. Use E.P.T 3R's

Experiment, Practice in baby steps, Test, Review the outcome, Readjust the experiment and Repeat the experiment. (E.P.T 3R’s)

Experiment using your new opposite action instead of your usual counteracting strategy.

Highly important to Practice the new action in baby steps. You see, because the opposite action will feel very uncomfortable and probably painful. Practicing the changes in big steps will easily overwhelm anybody.  It can be really disorienting and might actually hinder your goal of breaking free from depression.

It is a bit like if you were going for a swim, and you suddenly jump into the pool. You get a big shock as the coldness of the water hits you. But if you go into the pool slowly, the shock is not as intense.

The next step is to Review the outcome of your experiment. Did it work out the way you were expecting? Where your expectations are realistic.  Then you Readjust the experiment and keep Repeating the new behavior until it becomes the norm for you. Remember, you want to build this new behavior into your neural pathways.

Once you have got a good handle on you unmet needs, it is time to build the right network of people around you.

Grow healthy relationships with people for better self-esteem

Positive relationships are crucial for our physical, emotional, and mental health.  To grow healthy relationships it is helpful to seek out people who will support your growth, encourage your strengths, and challenge your weaknesses.

When building healthy relationships, it is important to focus on the present moment, be authentic, and be aware of the emotions that come up.

The following steps can help you build true friendships:

Step 1) Be authentic: Being authentic means being true to your authentic self. By being authentic we can build trust with others and improve our self-esteem. To be authentic means to be true to ourselves and our authentic selves. When we are true to our authentic selves we connect with others and build strong relationships.

Step 2) Seek out supportive people: A supportive person will help us feel supported, accepted, understood and encouraged to grow. We can learn how to accept our weaknesses and strengths and to appreciate ourselves for who we are. These people help us feel safe, secure, supported and loved.

Step 3) Learn to take as much as you give: If you only give to receive, you are giving energy and attention away from yourself. When you only take and don’t give, you create distance. This distance is unkind to both you and the other person. As a result, you are left feeling disappointed and alone. This kind of relationship is not healthy. It is important to ask for what you need, but at the same time, you must also be kind enough to give when your friends are in need.

Step 4) Find people who are okay with you saying no to them: Most toxic people don't like it when you say no to them. If any of your current friends treat you badly just because you say no to them, It may be a sign that you should wean those friends out. However, if your friend genuinely likes and respects you, he/she will respect your right to say no.

How to stop difficult people from damaging our self-worth

How to stop difficult people from damaging our self-worth The most important thing to learn how to live with difficult people is to learn how to value yourself.

Difficult people tend to drag us down, and we don't realize it until it's too late.

It is important to understand that difficult people don’t hate us, they hate themselves. They are simply a reflection of their own insecurities and lack of self-worth.

When you begin to accept yourself and love yourself, your relationship with difficult people will transform into an exciting adventure. You will attract good people into your life, and you will be able to have healthy relationships with the people who matter most to you.

So here is my top tip to help you overcome difficult people.

1) You must first accept that you are not perfect, that you are capable of making mistakes, that you are human, and that you have a lot to offer the world.

This is the most important step to overcoming difficult people. If you don't accept that you are not perfect, then you will always feel inadequate and insecure.

2) Now start to love yourself, and show it.

Once you begin to accept yourself and love yourself, the people who love you will be attracted to you. You will feel special and loved and this will put you in a great mood. You will have more confidence and self-esteem, which will help you attract more positive, loving and respectful people in your life.

It is important to be honest with yourself, and not to hold back your authentic self. So say it as it is. Speak from the heart and speak from the truth. And when you are done, believe in yourself and in your abilities.

It is essential that you accept your imperfections because those are the things that make you different and unique. You can never be exactly like anyone else, so you should embrace your differences.

3) Don’t be a victim.

Don't allow yourself to be pulled down by the negative energy of the difficult people in your life. Learn to stand up for yourself. Say no when you need to. Learn to be assertive.

When you become an independent person, you will also have a lot of space to think about the best way to handle your relationships with difficult people.

Avoid making your self-esteem dependent on career success goals

1) Your self-esteem is based on your inner values and not your outer status

It is a popular notion among psychologists that our self-esteem is dependent on our external accomplishments, particularly our academic achievements. And it's true that we tend to believe that our self-esteem is only defined by our material accomplishments. However, this view is extremely limiting. It means you are never going to feel good about yourself unless you achieve something, and you will never feel confident in who you are unless you improve in some areas of your life. 

There are actually much better ways to think about how to define and raise your self-esteem. Rather than focusing on what you need to do to make yourself feel better, you should focus on how you can grow and develop yourself into the person you want to be.

2) Stop comparing yourself to others

You can easily compare yourself to other people. Even worse, you can easily let yourself down because of those comparisons. This can lead to feelings of inferiority, feelings of failure, and feelings of being inadequate. So instead of thinking, "Oh I'm not as good as X or Y," try saying, "Wow, I'm actually really good at this."

3) Focus on what's important to you

When you look around at the world and you see everyone else is so happy, it's easy to think, "How come I'm not happy?"

But the real question is "What is important to me?" What makes you feel good about yourself? If you were to think about what you value, you might find that there are a whole lot of things that you enjoy and cherish in your life.

4) Value yourself as a person

Instead of thinking, "How do I deserve this?", you can change the way you think about yourself by asking, "How do I value myself as a person?". That question can help you start to feel good about yourself because you are starting to value yourself as a person.

Develop powerful core beliefs

People have core beliefs about themselves that are unconscious. Core beliefs are things we believe about ourselves that define us. These beliefs are often the source of our feelings of worth and self-esteem.

People with a lack of self-esteem often suffer from poor confidence and self-doubt.

When your core beliefs are strong, you can feel good about yourself. Your self-esteem improves and you feel more capable of taking on challenges and making decisions.

But when your core beliefs are weak, your self-esteem dips and your confidence plummets.

To develop strong healthy core beliefs do the following:
1) Find your values

Finding your values is a powerful way to start the process of building a positive self-image and getting rid of negative self-talk. 

Think of your values as the basis of your entire belief system. They define what you value, how you live and how you define success. You need to clearly identify what you value and use that knowledge to guide your decisions and actions.

If you want to be kind, you need to have kindness as a value. If you want to be happy, you need to have happiness as a value.

You can find your values using the following steps:

a) Start with what you are grateful for. This could be something like, "I am grateful I was born, I have a loving family, I have great friends, I am blessed with so much." Notice the gratitude and don't add anything else.

b) Take this as far as you can. For example, if you are grateful that you were born in Australia, you might say, "I am grateful that I was born in Australia. I am grateful that I have so much health and fitness."

c) Think about the world's great thinkers, artists, sports stars, politicians, inventors and innovators. Ask yourself what they valued in life. Did they value creativity, curiosity, passion, health or wealth?

d) What do you value? If you don't know, ask yourself why you have always lived your life the way you have. Why do you believe that is the way you should live? You may be living the way you do because of the negative beliefs you have around wealth and success.

e) You have to write down your answers.

2) Assess your thoughts

You have to challenge the beliefs you have around your values. You may have an automatic thought like, "Money is the key to happiness and prosperity" or "Successful people are arrogant and self-centered."

In reality, there is no evidence that money or being successful make you happier.

Your thoughts around your values are also known as core beliefs. When you hold the core beliefs, you will automatically judge yourself and others. Your thoughts can either be helpful or harmful, and you have the power to choose the ones that support you or those that don't.

You can easily change your beliefs. You can do this by challenging your thoughts around your values.

First, you have to notice when you think your thoughts. This is the key to changing them.

Next, ask yourself if your thoughts are helpful or harmful.

The more you notice and challenge your core beliefs, the faster they will fade away and be replaced with new ones that support you.

3) Build your self-esteem

The next step is to build your self-esteem. This is another area where your thoughts affect your emotions and your behaviour. You may think, "I'm stupid," "I'm not worthy," "I'm a failure."

When you constantly think these thoughts, you feel bad about yourself and you may begin to behave in a way that confirms your self-beliefs. You may start avoiding situations that would help you develop your potential, and you may act in ways that lead to a negative self-image.

You can break the cycle of negativity by thinking positive thoughts. You can tell yourself, "I am smart," "I am strong," "I am valuable." You can tell yourself you have a lot of gifts and abilities that can be used to make the world a better place.

You have to repeat these positive affirmations as many times as possible. They may seem silly at first, but if you really believe them, they become part of your subconscious and eventually take on the power to change your life.

Once that happens, you will feel better about yourself and act differently.

4) Re-program your brain

Every day, you can re-program your brain to stop having negative thoughts. The way to do this is through the power of meditation.

Meditation is the most powerful way to change the way you think. It takes practice to meditate for just 10 minutes a day. When you start, you will notice that your mind is wandering from time to time. That's okay. The goal is to stay focused on your breath. You can learn to relax, slow down your mind, and use your breath as a way to calm your mind.

5) Make your life an expression of your values

When you express your values, you will get more of what you value.

For example, if you value

Written by Adewale Ademuyiwa
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