Self-Esteem is confidence in your ability coupled with the assurance that you deserve the rewards of your actions. Low Self-Esteem is a thought disorder challenging both your ability and assurance. Low Self-Esteem leads to two distinct realities: Self-Sabotage and Stagnation. Self-Sabotage is a personal failure. Stagnation is a failure in the community.
Self-Sabotage. This is when you attempt to control the situation to the point where you limit the opportunities for it to evolve organically. You do this to limit your exposure to hurt and reduce your sense of vulnerability in the situation or relationship. It comes across as distance, guardedness, and possibly immaturity. It often has the oppositive effect on relationships. You are more clearly identified as a target by emotional predators and avoided by healthy individuals.
The solution involves an honest, open, and interactive approach to control. Rather than putting energy into defense and structuring a wall of protection for yourself, engage your vulnerability within yourself. Accept you for who you are. Learn what that looks like. Give yourself a break. Feel your emotions as they come. Process them with gratitude. Then, when engaging with others, engage authentically. Expect that same energy in return. When it is not reciprocated, limit interaction.
Stagnation. A term describing when you allow others to demean, belittle, and discourage you by giving them time and opportunity even though you could limit time and opportunity. You keep the same friends and interact with family even though you are drained and discouraged after each encounter.
The solution is simple. Get new friends. It is not easy, but recognize that the disease is due to your infection of negativity. You are unable to accept a compliment with gratitude and trust that someone cares without wanting something in return. This is a post-traumatic response to prior relationships. Find ways to heal, prosocially require a standard, and engage with new relationships.
You become worthy through a process of addressing the thought disorder. Healing begins with accepting your current thoughts:
“I am thinking of myself as unworthy. I release that thought and any feelings associated with it.”
No need to force more than that. Just state that phrase and move on with your activity. Over time, your mind practices release rather than self-protection and wall-building. Space is created for the second step.
The next step can be practiced at the same time as the first. Accept you. Your actions, your physicality, your reactions, your tendencies, quirks, and daydreams must be put on the table and accepted as current and real without any judgment. Allow them to be. They are a part of you now whether you decide to change them later or not. As you notice You, state:
“This is me. I know this about me. I can choose to change this or integrate this.”
The choice to change or integrate is important to your evolution as a human being. Change is a systematic process or replacing the trait with something else. It must be scheduled, triggered, and practiced. Integration is a search for origins, answers, and utility. Your task is to articulate what the trait defines within you and develop that truth into an unparalleled strength.
The final step is to realize that the environment is as important as your resolve. Surround yourself with people that celebrate you for being you in every sense of the word. Engage with people to communicate who you are authentically. Allow them to decided whether they will be a friend or whether they take themselves out of your circle. Know that you are the arbiter and decision-maker. Your self-esteem is not dependent upon their choice.
Survivor: You First
As humans, we are concerned about what others think. To attempt to convince ourselves otherwise is a denial of self and community. What we don’t have to do is define ourselves by their interactions or feelings about us. We must arrive healthy, whole, and convinced of our worth and preparedness for the current task. Even in finding that we have more to heal from, missing pieces, or things to learn, we know that we give our best. You also know that giving your best is enough.
The choice is between maturity and immaturity. Most people hold the fear of failure. With that fear comes fears of embarrassment, imposter syndrome, anxiety about preparedness, and more. The fears are reinforced as we rehearse the words of our worst critics in our own voice. Most often, these were small-minded people or manifestations of our insecurities about who is in the audience. When you rehearse these fears, you are putting their concerns, perspectives, and considerations first. You are considering them before considering You.
You First is checking in with You first. Any deficit can be addressed or accepted. If you are not prepared, get prepared or accept that any lack will be questioned. Questions don’t mean that you are not worthy or should not be where you are. It means that you have work to do. You make the choice to do that work. Their opinion or commentary on the situation doesn’t change that fact. Simply stated, immaturity seeks to prepare a safe space to resist falling resulting in a less authentic experience. Maturity prepares with confidence and accepts that any fall is an opportunity to learn, get up, and celebrate your achievement as a survivor.