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Recovering Your Self Esteem

Have you ever been going along “just fine” through life and then all of sudden felt a loss of self esteem? Does your feeling of low self-esteem last the day, the week, or does it stretch out for months?

I have had days when I felt high as a kite, but when my husband came home feeling low, or if we had a disagreement over something, I found that my mood and my level of self esteem dropped accordingly. I could not believe that I could let my relationship with another person affect my relationship with myself so powerfully…but with with someone I want to feel close to, it is easy to let happen.

Just like memory loss, there are two types of self-esteem loss: Short-Term and Long-Term.

Short-Term Loss Of Self Esteem

Short-Term loss of self esteem is usually the result of an event — due to a particular encounter or situation. Short-term loss is less earthshaking because it doesn’t penetrate down to the core of your being or shake the foundations of your belief system.

  • It can come about by not living up to your own standards of the way you want to behave in a particular situation.
  • It can come about by somebody’s unexpected reaction or criticism of you in a particular situation.
  • It can come about by an injury or accident that incapacitated you and left you feeling helpless and apologetically burdensome to others.

Recovering From Short Term Lack Of Self Esteem

Your can recover your self esteem by treating yourself as you would treat your own best friend: gently and lovingly. Say to yourself, “Oh, dear, I didn’t behave the way I would have liked to. Let’s see what happened inside me.”  Allow yourself to step back to gain some perspective on what took place and examine the expectations you had of yourself in that situation.

If you didn’t live up to your standards in a particular situation, you can ask yourself if your standards are realistic. If they are not realistic, then tell yourself it isn’t fair to hold yourself accountable to them. If they are realistic, you can ask yourself if you let one of your emotional “hot buttons” fire off in the face of your own better judgment. If you fired off at other people you can apologize to anyone who was in your “path of wrath” and explain that you drew the wrong conclusion because you lost your sense of perspective.

If you have been incapacitated, you can ask yourself if you are rebelling against the reality of your situation and judging yourself unfairly — or jumping to unrealistic conclusions about being a “terrible burden” to your loved ones.  When other people are involved, it helps to talk the situation over with them to see how they feel and determine the best course of action.

It is difficult to apply the best within you to every situation, but you can come closer by examining what happened, making amends, and coming up with a better way to handle such a situation in the future.

The most important thing is to treat yourself as your own best friend throughout this entire assessment process.

Long-Term Loss Of Self Esteem

Long-Term loss of self esteem is usually the result of an ongoing poor relationship with yourself. As I discuss in my upcoming book, a poor relationship with yourself comes from:

  1. Not taking your life seriously (making your choices without thinking about their consequences).
  2. Not taking responsibility for your life (blaming others for whatever goes wrong, and crediting others for whatever goes right).
  3. Not using a reliable measuring stick (trying to live by a double standard or an impossible standard).
  4. Thinking other people are more important than you (betraying your own dreams and shaping your life to the wishes of others).
  5. Giving in to your fears (letting your insecurities keep you from going after what you want in life).
  6. Taking someone else’s word for it (believing that others automatically know better than you).
  7. Believing you are not good enough (thinking you’re not worthy or capable of living a fulfilling life).
  8. Turning your back on reality (refusing to honor the facts in the face of your feelings, faith, or fantasies).
  9. Living by arbitrary rules rather than by reality-based principles (conforming to man-made codes of conduct that can harm your life).
  10. Giving up a higher value to a lower value (turning your back on your most important values and goals).
  11. Trying to live up to an impossible ideal of perfection (having unrealistic expectations and unhealthy restrictions for yourself).
  12. Accepting a harmful Recipe For Living (trying to live by a belief system that turns you against yourself).

It’s easy to see that your self esteem will bottom out with thoughts and behaviors like these. When you treat your life as unimportant, it’s hard for you to respect yourself.

Recovering From Long-Term Lack Of Self Esteem

Self esteem doesn’t come from what other people think of you…it comes from what YOU think of yourself. You can see that long-term lack of self esteem comes from deep-down, fundamental beliefs that you hold about your relationship to the world, yourself, and other people. It affects the very core of your being and undermines the quality of your life. In order to recover, you need to examine the beliefs that are running your life, which I call your “Recipe For Living.”

Right now your belief system is probably a hodge-podge of ideas you’ve accumulated since childhood — and you’ve never taken time to see if each of your beliefs make sense and are harmonious with each other and the facts of life. As an adult, you need to re-assess how you see the world, how you see yourself, how you come to know things, the best way to live your life, the best way to relate to others, and the best way to feel motivated, enthusiastic and inspired toward making your dreams come true. In my Reclaiming Your Life CD Program, I show you how to uncover your current Recipe For Living, how to assess it to make sure all your “Ingredients” are working for you, and how to revise it to make it healthier. In my upcoming book I discuss each of the above 12 mistakes and how to correct them. You will discover that adopting a healthy Recipe For Living, treating yourself with respect, and going after the things in life that are important TO YOU lead to genuine self esteem.

Just like genuine love, genuine self esteem doesn’t come cheap. It has to be EARNED. When you don’t choose to value your life you don’t “bother” to strive for good character or values. You end up with nothing to offer yourself or others, you become dependent on others, and you have no way to achieve a sense of competence or self worth. But when you do choose to value your life you take pride in developing good character and being your best. These achievements result in a sense of competence and self-worth. The whole world opens up to you and — as you make your own livelihood and are true to your values and dreams — you have endless opportunities to sustain your sense of competence and self-worth.

Complicated as it sounds, it all boils down to this:

CHOOSE TO VALUE YOUR LIFE and then act accordingly.

You self esteem will soar, and best of all, you will love living your life!

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