Before you read this article, answer this question: On a scale from one to 10 with 10 being the best, how much do you like yourself? Go ahead. Give yourself the first number that popped into your head and read on.
An issue that we hear a lot about these days is low self esteem. There are books and articles coming out of the proverbial “wazoo” about the issue but that hasn’t made it go away. This week I read about a distinguished author who was intimidated by others thinking he wouldn’t be found acceptable and I heard a major media star state that she was afraid people didn’t like her. I would tell you who they are, but neither of them need that kind of recognition. So what about you? How much do you like yourself?
How much do you like yourself?
When I first started working as a hypnotherapist, I worked in a hypnotherapy clinic that specialized in weight loss. One of the key issues consistent with weight problems is low self esteem, and it was important to have some idea of the esteem level of the client. I used a simple little rating scale to get some ballpark idea. I simply asked the client, “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, how much do you like yourself?”
The majority of my clients at that time were women and their reactions were interesting. Some just gave me a “deer in the headlights” look and blurted out a number. A couple burst into tears and said they couldn’t do it. Others gave me “2 or 3 minus” for an answer. Very few assigned themselves a number above 5. That was twenty years ago. Now I ask it a different way but the results are still basically the same. Many women struggle with self esteem. But low self esteem is not the private territory of women because men suffer with it as well.
How does low self esteem show up? In a million different ways. But it’s how it affects the person that is what is powerfully significant. In general, it:
- keeps people from excelling
- prevents them from learning new things and going to new places
- traps them in bad relationships and unfulfilling jobs
- stifles creativity and strangles earning power
- leads some down the path of obesity or of anorexia
- entices them to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs
- keeps people comparing themselves with everyone else and always coming out in second place (or worse)
- hides talent and kills dreams
Raise your self esteem
So just what do you do about it? It is not an easy question to answer because each of us is wonderfully, uniquely different. What works for you, might not work for me or someone else. There are, however, some steps that everyone can take that will help such as
Become aware of
- your strengths— what are you good at? If nothing comes to mind, then you need to work on this. Everyone has something they are good at doing. If you have trouble doing this you might go to http://www.happinesshypothesis.com/beyond-strengths.html and take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths here, issued by the University of Pennsylvania. when you go to this site, look under the “Questionnaires” pull-down menu. You will need to register but it’s well worth it. The quiz will rank 24 strengths of yours in order. It’s long but you’ll be glad you did it.You can feel good about 24 strengths can’t you?
- Your weaknesses. It’s o.k. to have weaknesses. We all have them. They give you clues about what to stay away from when you want to excel. If, for example, you don’t like math but love words, you would do well to stay away from science and move toward something that let’s you write. It is very helpful to be realistic about the things that you are not good in.
- What you love to do. When you are doing something you love to do, don’t you almost always feel good about yourself? What is it that you love doing? Find a way to do it. If you love babies, volunteer for the newborn nursery at the local hospital. If you adore modern art, become a docent in your favorite gallery. You get a “double whammy” here. You get to do something you love which enhances your self esteem and you get to be of service which always give your self esteem a boost.Be of Service
Be of service
Find a need and fill it. Volunteer where you are truly needed:
- the local food bank, or homeless shelter
- a nursing home or a school for children with handicaps
- your local hospital
- reading to children at the library
- recording books for the blind
- teaching English as a second language
- get creative here. Use your imagination and find ways to help others using your specific skills and interests.
This just a brief glimpse at what you can do to raise your self esteem and you are the only one who can do it. To think that getting complements from someone outside of yourself will raise your self esteem, think again. That’s like putting a band aide on a large gaping wound. All self improvement effort is an “inside job.” YOU are the one who must approve of you.
Make a decision to like who you are and go about doing those things that make you believe it.
Then, come back in a few months and answer the question again, “How much do you like yourself.” You may have a lovely surprise with your answer.