While many people believe that self esteem comes from outside – from others’ love and approval, as well as from financial success – this is not the case at all.
Have you ever thought about what really creates self esteem? Having a strong sense of inner worth is important to all of us, but many people have some false beliefs about what creates confidence in our own merit as individuals.
Some of the common false beliefs regarding what creates a sense of self esteem are:
- I will feel good about myself when I’m making $______(fill in the amount) a year.
- I will feel worthy when I am in a relationship with a (beautiful) (handsome) (wealthy) (loving) (fill in your own) person.
- I will feel worthy when I get enough approval from enough people, or when I’m famous.
- I will feel adequate when I have a baby.
- I will feel adequate when_______(fill in desired outcome that you attach to your sense of worth).
However, there are many people who have all of the above and still do not feel a deep sense of self-worth. That’s because self-worth has little to do with anything external, such as looks, approval, money, relationships with others or having a baby.
Self esteem, or the lack of it, is solely the result of how we see ourselves and treat ourselves. Those people who attend to their own feelings and needs with loving action on their own behalf feel good about themselves, while those people who ignore, invalidate, criticize or judge their own feelings and needs, feel badly about themselves.
Richard, a client of mine, is a very successful businessman. He is wealthy, lives in a big house, has expensive cars, a lovely wife and three children. But Richard consulted with me because of his low self esteem. He was perplexed that he continued to feel so inadequate in spite of all that he had achieved and all that he had.
As we worked together with Inner Bonding, it became apparent that, no matter what the outer truth was, Richard continued to see himself as the inadequate child his father told him he was. His inner dialogue was often self-critical, just as his father had been with him. And not only did Richard constantly judge himself as his father had judged him, he treated himself as his father had treated him – ignoring his own feelings and needs. As a result, Richard was always looking to others for the attention and approval that he didn’t receive from his father and was not giving to himself. Instead of being a loving parent to the child within him, he was a harsh and inattentive inner parent – until he started to practice Inner Bonding and learned to value his essence – his true self.
Jackie, another client of mine, is a very successful actress. Yet fame and fortune have not given her self esteem. No matter how often people tell her how beautiful and talented she is, she still feels inadequate and insecure much of the time. This is because she frequently tells herself that she is stupid. “How could I have made that stupid remark!” “How could I have acted so stupidly?” Mirroring her mother’s own self-judgments and her mother’s judgments toward her, Jackie constantly puts herself down. Until she learns, through her Inner Bonding practice, to see herself through eyes of truth rather than eyes of judgment, she will continue to feel inadequate and insecure – no matter how much fame she achieves.
Anna grew up with parents who were hardworking and very caring about their children, but who didn’t take good care of themselves. Both of her parents smoked, drank too much and didn’t eat well. Neither of them took responsibility for their own feelings, so both of them were anxious or depressed much of the time. Even though her parents were loving to her, Anna does not take good care of herself, having had no role modeling for personal responsibility. She doesn’t eat well or get enough exercise, doesn’t stand up for herself at home or at work, and doesn’t get enough rest or playtime. She is very attractive, makes lots of money, has a husband and children, yet often feels very insecure.
If you imagine that her feelings and needs are like a child within, you can begin to see why she doesn’t feel good about herself. Self-abandonment always result in feeling badly. She will not feel good about herself until she treats herself as a worthwhile person.
It seems like a vicious cycle. How can Anna be motivated to love herself when she doesn’t yet feel good about herself?
There is a way out of this negative circle. Anna doesn’t feel motivated to take loving care of herself because she thinks that who she is, is her ego wounded self, whom she doesn’t like. Yet if Anna opens to knowing who she really is – that she is a beautiful and perfect spark of the Divine, created in the image of Love – she will want to take loving care of this wonderful soul within. As Anna begins to practice Inner Bonding and learns to take loving care of herself, the part of herself that has low self esteem – her wounded self – begins to heal. The more Anna feeds herself well, gets enough exercise and rest, speaks up for herself and tells her truth, takes care of her financial situation, organizes her time and environment, treats others with kindness and compassion, and opens to her spiritual Guidance, the better she feels about herself.
Self esteem is the result of taking loving action, not the cause of it. Since we all have free will, we each have the choice to take loving action on our own behalf.
It doesn’t matter how badly you were treated as a child, or how badly your parents treated themselves. Your actions need never be governed by your past. When taking loving action on your own behalf replaces your inattentive and judgmental behavior toward yourself, you will discover that the result is high self esteem.
[Margaret Paul Relationship Toolbox]