Self esteem is a popular term you’ve heard before.
People will often say, “that person has high self-esteem” or “that person has no self-esteem.” But what exactly is self-esteem and why is it so important?
It is an entire way of viewing oneself and one’s circumstances. It’s understanding your inherent competence and self-worth in the world. And developing it will change your life.
In contrast to self-esteem, there is what I call, outside-esteem. Outside-esteem is the exact opposite of self-esteem because what you believe about yourself comes from the outside world.
Let me give you some examples:
In outside-esteem, everything is another person’s fault. This is because the person thinks that other people ultimately control their life, and so they get angry when other people screw up.
You constantly take things personally. Good or bad, when you take things personally means you believe that other people’s opinions determine who you are. You’ve given your power to them.
In outside-esteem, you’re almost never content with your life because you think that happiness is found outside of you. For example, you may think that “climbing the corporate ladder” will get you that feeling of fulfillment when you reach the top. Only to discover that there is always someone higher than you.
The problem with outside-esteem is not that it’s bad. Only that it’s sometimes a poor strategy for a happy, successful life.
What I’ve found is that people in outside-esteem often hit a place in their life where they are forced to start developing self-esteem. This may be because of some traumatic event, or it may be that they just start a spiritual practice like meditation. But something has caused a shift in them.
So, what does self esteem look like?
In self-esteem, you have clear values that you have chosen and follow them as closely as possible. This may make you unpopular with others or it may not. But popularity is not the primary motive of someone with self-esteem.
In self-esteem, the solution and the problem lie within you. You understand your competence to achieve a result and so you cannot blame others when things go wrong.
Your happiness comes from following your values and acknowledging your own self-worth. It does not come from external circumstances.
Another key thing to understand is that self-esteem is what allows well-being to flow into your life. This is because you cannot get more than what you feel you deserve in life. If you truly think you’re worth $20,000 a year, you won’t make more than that. And even if you do, you’ll find some way to either spend it or lose it.
Now you may be thinking, but don’t I already allow good things into my life? I think I’m worthy. This is a misconception.
Self esteem is rarely just a conscious choice you can make.
It’s buried deep in your subconscious mind, which is why just saying the words I am happy or I deserve good things doesn’t automatically cause it to happen right away. You cannot trick yourself.
So, in order to develop self-esteem, you need to start working with your subconscious programming. Build your confidence in yourself slowly by achieving smaller wins and moving onto bigger wins.
You also need to start becoming aware of authentic desires you might not be acting on. When you have an authentic need and you don’t act on it, what it translates to in your subconscious mind is that your needs are not important.
This will be scary because you’ll probably find yourself being asked to do all sorts of things your ego has judged as “bad”. And while I don’t advocate anyone purposefully hurting someone else, that may happen whether it’s your intention or not in certain situations. This needs to be accepted.
Over time, you’ll grow in self esteem.
You’ll see that many of your judgments were simply errors in thinking on your part. That’s when life really started to open up.
I wish you all the best in your journey to uncovering your inherent self-worth.