By Michelle Casto
The way you feel about yourself impacts how and why you do everything in life. If you feel good about who you are, then what you do will be an outside reflection of your innermost thoughts and feelings. Contrary to popular belief, self-esteem is not something anyone or any accomplishment can give you. Just because people like you or you receive an award, does not mean that you will love and take care of yourself. Positive self-esteem comes from within and does not change because the scenery or circumstances change. To have esteem for something or someone is to regard highly or favorably. High self-esteem is relatively stable even when the forecast looks foreboding.
Your self-esteem is like a star at night that shines brightest when it is the darkest. It is your inner light that burns brightly and freely no matter what is happening around you. A zen saying reminds us: "What was your original face before you were born?" Self-esteem is perfectly intact when we are born, in fact, it is inherent to us; however, it often diminishes over the course of our childhood. We lose a little of it whenever we fail, make mistakes, misbehave, feel guilty, refuse to forgive, neglect ourselves, and/or do things we are ashamed of. As an adult, we sometimes feel as if our "self" is in pieces--- that we are somehow not whole and complete.
This is not true. We are whole and complete even with our missing pieces and broken parts. We just need to decide to gather up ourselves up and become whole again. I am willing to bet that when you look back over your life, the first thing that comes to mind are the regrets, the sad times in your past. Do you see the pieces of yourself lying along the path of your life? The ones where you didn't feel good enough, or where you were criticized or blamed by someone else? But have you ever stopped to look at the memories of when you won the prize, felt really great, on top of the world----those moments that prove what a wonderfully amazing human being you are? Try it right now, write down 10 things you are most proud of.
It is your birthright to love and honor yourself. The good news is that you can reclaim that which is yours.
What follows are 10 Ways to Reclaim Your Self-Esteem:
1. Define life success
One of the most empowering things you can do for yourself is to define your criteria for life success. This requires reflecting on what the key elements are and the experiences you wish to have.
2. Choose to be happy
Happiness is a state of mind. The Dalai Lama says that the very purpose of life is to seek happiness. He believes that if you train the mind to be happy, you will be. Likewise, you can train yourself for higher self-esteem.
3. Set challenging goals
How much you like yourself is often reflected in the level of goals you will set for yourself. Generally, people who like themselves and feel valuable, set higher and more challenging life goals.
4. Honor your core values
When you live by a clear set of values, it is easier to align your life with what is most important to you. When you honor your core values, (those things you would fight for), you honor your true self.
5. Enhance your energy
People with high self-esteem seem to have a reservoire of energy, and seldom get sick or let life's set backs keep them down. Their energy and enthusiasm for life encourages them to take care of their body, mind, and spirit.
6. Maintain a positive attitude
Attitude determines your altitude. The more positive your thinking, the more positive your feelings, the more positive the outcome. There is nothing more powerful and creative than your thoughts, so you may as well make them positive and uplifting.
7. Be passionate
Passion takes hold of you and feels like "fire in the belly." It is a source of power that enables you to get fired about life and make a difference. The more passion and zest you feel, the more alive and brightly lit you are.
8. Live by vision and work with purpose
When you know your life vision and purpose, life has more meaning and direction. Vision and purpose provide a sense that you matter, that you have a part to play, and that you truly belong here.
9. Reward success
Set yourself up for success by breaking big goals into daily action steps and take time to acknowledge and celebrate the small successes. This will feed your need for recognition and provides the extra push to keep you moving forward.
10. Make smart life decisions
When you care about yourself, you make smarter decisions. You take care to choose the right mate, occupation, and lifestyle that support you.
Self-esteem is an inner state that can be nurtured and cultivated. The National Association for Self-Esteem (NASE) defines self-esteem as the experience of being capable of meeting life's challenges and being worthy of happiness. That definition underlines two key things: going after goals and choosing happiness. Another definition is the level that you respect and value yourself as a loveable, worthwhile human being.
Your self-esteem contributes to your vitality, energy level, persistence, and personal magnetism. It is not to be confused with "self-image," which is the comparison of those around you. Self-image is about what is on the outside and causes you to judge yourself and others. It changes whenever the wind blows. This fosters competition and fragmentation.
Self-esteem is about what is on the inside, a belief in yourself and your abilities. Positive esteem focuses on acceptance of self and others. It remains constant despite the storm. This fosters cooperation and wholeness.
It is common to have high self-esteem in one area of life, like career, but not in others. The highest form of self-esteem is when you can accept all of yourself---- strengths, weaknesses, best/worst parts, and overall, still feel good about who you are and what you do. Someone with a strong sense of worth will believe in herself, take more risks, say and do nice things for self and others, can let things go, not take everything so personal, forget the bad and focus on the good in life.
How do you feel about yourself right now?
10: perfectly happy with my whole self
to 5: moderately happy with my whole self
to 1: not at all happy with my whole self
If you are less than a 10, commit to using one of these tips today and feel your esteem rise, create a stronger sense of self, and reclaim your inner power. You deserve to feel great!
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