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SALT LAKE CITY — A lack of confidence can make you too quiet and shy, or it can make you competitive and loud. It can make you prone to gossip about and judge others. It can also create unhealthy relationships where you are dependent on others to make you feel valued.
So what may lead someone to have low self-esteem and how could they feel better about themselves?
Low self-esteem happens when you battle a deep subconscious belief that you aren't good enough, and many people have this belief at some level. If you want to eliminate these problems and finally feel better about yourself, you first must understand the root causes of your low self-esteem.
The following are some possible reasons your self-esteem might be low:
- You had an experience in childhood where you were told you were inferior or less than other people.
- You experienced things as a child that caused you to believe you might be inadequate and this belief stayed with you no matter how hard you worked to improve yourself. Until you can change this old belief it will likely continue to say you aren't quite enough.
- Your belief in your inadequacy has now become a self-fulfilling prophecy. You see your low self-esteem as proof you are inadequate, which makes you feel worse and creates more insecurity. This is now a vicious cycle in your life.
- You have a deeply-held belief that you must earn your value through your appearance, performance, property and what others think of you. You believe winners get prizes, beauty gets attention, good performance brings high grades or more money, and so on. You therefore subconsciously believe your value as a human being can be earned and lost. (This is not a fact by the way. There is no ultimate truth about how a human being's value is determined. So whatever you believe about human value, it is just that: a belief.) As long as you believe human value can be earned and lost, you will likely always find things about yourself that cause you to feel less than other people and you will likely always feel not good enough.
- You have been taught to see the world through a framework of comparison (bigger, smaller, taller, shorter, more, less, better or worse). You therefore subconsciously compare humans and see them in terms of judgment. You are deeply programmed to see people in judgment, not with compassion. As long as you do this, you will likely still compare yourself with others and find yourself lacking.
- Because you see everything in terms of judgment, you like to see "bad" in other people, at some level. This temporarily makes you feel better, because if they are bad one then you must be the good one. The problem is, as long as you see the "bad" in other people as making them inadequate, you will also see the "bad' in yourself as making you inadequate. The way you feel about yourself and the way you judge others are inseparably tied together. If you see other people as not good enough, you will also see yourself as not good enough.
Once you understand the beliefs that cause low self-esteem, you can work on the following things to change them.
Work on changing your belief that human value can change
The whole idea that human value can be earned and lost is belief; it's not fact. There is no universal system that determines the value of human beings. The way you see human value is just your perspective, born of subconscious beliefs and life experiences.
This means you can change your system to determine the value of human beings any time you want. You can decide to believe that all human beings have the same intrinsic worth and that value cannot change, no matter their appearance, performance, property or anything else.
There is nothing you can do to have more value than other humans and there is nothing you can do to diminish your value and have less worth than any other human soul. Commit to making this belief your truth.
Give unchanging, infinite value to everyone around you
In order to truly change your fundamental belief around how human value is determined, you must give up the judgment of others completely.
You must allow everyone around you to have the same value as you. You must allow them to make mistakes and still be good enough. You must allow them to be scared, struggling and divine students in the classroom of life with much more to learn, just like you.
The more you do this and give unchanging intrinsic value to others, the more you will feel it for yourself.
(I am not saying you must have these people in your life though. You can and should love abusive people from afar. Still extend forgiveness and compassion toward them, but maintain healthy boundaries at the same time. You will find that allowing them to be who they are and still seeing them as worthy of the same intrinsic value as the rest of us will help you to more fully love and accept yourself.)
Use the people you dislike to help you learn to love yourself
Take a minute and write down the names of the people you dislike, judge or who bother you. These people are in your life as special teachers to show you the limits of your love. You are a very loving person until it comes to these people.
An important practice you can do to improve your own self-esteem is to work on loving the people you most dislike. Work on seeing them as having the same infinite, intrinsic worth and as being worthy of love, even though they are flawed, broken, scared or behaving badly. Work on feeling God's love for them if you cannot summon any in yourself. Understand that your ability to see them as good enough reflects your ability to see yourself as good enough. (Again, this doesn't mean you have to have them in your life. You can do all this from afar.)
Choose to forgive yourself for your insecurity and other faults
We all have faults, weaknesses and fears. It's called being human. These faults don't change your value at all. You have the same intrinsic worth as every other human on the planet and you can't do anything to change that.
Completely let go of comparing human beings
There will never be two human beings who get the same genes, the same upbringing, the same experiences, the same wiring and the same life lessons. We are all on our unique classroom journey here and these journeys are incomparable. This means any comparison is going to be a waste of your time and energy. There is no better or worse in human beings, only different people having a different journey. There are better and worse appearances, behavior and performances, of course, but these don't affect your intrinsic value. They play into our extrinsic value and they create different classroom experiences, but no matter which experiences you are having, your intrinsic value is the same.
I have spent over 30 years in personal development. We have tried everything under the sun to improve self-esteem, and most of it never worked. The only thing I have seen create real change is adjusting the fundamental, subconscious belief you have about how human value is determined. Because you are changing your belief at the fundamental level, you are changing the lens you see the world through, and this changes everything.
You can teach this belief system to your children and make it the language used in your home. When someone makes a mistake, remind them that didn't change their value. When they win the soccer game (or lose it) remind them it didn't change their value. Over and over talk about how our mistakes create classroom experiences, but our intrinsic value doesn't change. Notice your dislike of some people and recognize they are teachers who can help you learn to love yourself. As you gain compassion and work on giving them infinite value, you will be giving it to yourself.
The more you work on this, the more bulletproof, confident and secure you will feel. But it's a process and will take time and commitment. Start playing with the idea today and I promise it will change how you feel about yourself.
You can do this.
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