self-esteem

The Number One Reason We Prevent Our Own Progress (and what you can do about it) Part Two

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Last week we looked at the benefits of accepting our weaknesses, this week we explore the psychological reasons we reject our weaknesses and explain what can be done to counteract this.

 

The Psychological Reasons We Reject Our Weaknesses

 

Humiliation

 

We immediately do anything to avoid humiliation. Humiliation can therefore have a big impact in terms of failing to accept our weaknesses. For instance, if we are in a team at work and are a senior staff member, the last thing we wish to do is accept we are bad at teamwork.

 

We can overcome this by accepting the truth that whenever we admit our flaws invariably we endear ourselves to others and often gain their respect, rather than inviting further criticism or put downs.

 

Shame

 

Sometimes when we behave in ways that are bad (like screaming at someone) we psychologically distance ourselves from our actions to avoid feeling shame.

 

Shame tells us we are something wrong as opposed to guilt, which is much more healthy an emotion and tells us we have done something wrong.

 

The trick here is to reassert that although we have done something wrong we are not unlovable or worthless. The redeeming thing about this approach is that it allows us to rectify the wrongdoing by apologizing, seeking to right the wrong and restoring the relationship or situation if possible whilst still retaining a sense of our inherent worth.

 

Competitiveness

 

In today’s corporate world of work and with the media portraying everyone having ‘the perfect life’ competitiveness is rife. Whenever we compare ourselves to others or are competitive and wanting to be the best, we naturally distance ourselves from our shortcomings.

 

Being a type A personality and very goal orientated I suffered with comparing myself to others. To remedy this I needed to realize that everyone is on their own journey. Once you accept that we all have different strengths and weaknesses and there is no better or worse – just different – you will be well on your way to taking ownership of your weaknesses.

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Finding Balance In Action: Read my Tiny Buddha article on self-esteem

Tiny Buddha article link =  ‘Learning to love yourself: 3 steps to instantly boost your self-esteem’.

 

Today take ten minutes to read my Tiny Buddha article and do the exercises as featured in each step, resolving to base your self-esteem on your character rather than your job. The feeling of liberation this brings is immense because you and only you get to decide the type of person you want to be, so in essence your self-esteem is completely within your control.

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Living out loud; How to develop lasting confidence Part One

Confidence

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Confidence – that quality so many of us admire. During my younger years I was plagued by insecurity, often colouring how I interacted with those around me. As I grew older I naturally developed more confidence as I actively worked on my self-esteem but I still sometimes have my moments when I become a little insecure.

 

I remember talking to my boyfriend for the first time on the phone. I was feeling anything but confident in the lead up to the call. To help the conversation along I Googled ‘fun dating questions’ so that I wouldn’t run out of things to say. It seems funny to me now, but at the time it did wonders to improve my confidence, even although my nerves didn’t go completely. There have also been times when I have experienced inner confidence, when my insecurities faded and I felt truly comfortable with myself and my surroundings.

 

After having experienced this I realised here are two types of confidence, internal and external. In this series I shall briefly discuss how fostering external confidence (with internal confidence somewhat absent) can help us to develop internal confidence in the long-term. That said, we can also work on developing internal confidence, whereby external confidence naturally manifests itself. With this in mind I shall explore how to develop internal confidence in-depth, as this is by far the most powerful form of confidence because it has many deep rooted psychological benefits. Having lacked confidence in the past I definitely believe it is something we can all develop with patience and  practise.

 

The difference between self-esteem and confidence

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Romance central; How to cultivate healthy intimate relationships and get the most out of your love life Part One

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It’s hard to believe but this year I will be thirty five. When I was just seventeen I entered into a destructive relationship which taught me that my thoughts, opinions, beliefs and feelings just didn’t count; the relationship had made me forget my inherent worth. When I finally made the break I was petrified of being alone. I didn’t like myself very much and being in my own company with no one or nothing to distract me scared me silly, I could think of nothing worse.

 

But something deep within me knew that being alone, truly alone, was exactly what I needed. I didn’t really know who I was anymore, my sense of identity lost itself as it was slowly but surely replaced by his. His opinions, his beliefs, his family, his life.

 

So I embarked on a journey, having no idea where it would lead. All I knew was that it was a journey I needed to go on, a journey comprised of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, one on one psychotherapy, Tony Robbins and faith. During this time my friends and family supported me through the inevitable ups and downs. The loneliness, the anger and the confusion. The letting go, the forgiveness, the elation at finding myself again and in the empowerment I experienced.

 

Once I worked on my self-esteem and liked myself again I crafted a life that brought me joy and happiness, a life that nurtured my creative spirit and celebrated those I loved. It was a six year journey, but it only took two years for me to be happy again. With every year I grew more and more in love with the life I had created. I had male friends again, my creativity flourished, I landed a managerial job and I even decided to start this blog so I could reach out to others that might be facing similar struggles.

 

Although I was the happiest I had ever been in my life I thought that it might be nice to share my happiness with someone, a partner, maybe even a soul mate. But this time my motivations were completely different, I didn’t need a partner out of fear of being alone, I simply wanted one.

 

So I joined eHarmony. I have to be honest, most of the guys on the site looked like either geeks, arrogant bankers or play boys looking for one thing. Just as I was about to cancel my subscription I saw a hunk of a guy. He had the most handsome smile I think I’ve ever seen. His eyes were intoxicating and looked so genuine I almost got lost in them. So we started talking, first on the site, then on WhatsApp, then on the phone. Soon after we had our first date; it was nine hours but it felt like three. Being in his company felt so effortless.

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How to teach self-esteem without teaching narcissism

As someone who has always wanted a child I have often thought about how amazing it would be to shape someone’s life. I envisaged myself reading the latest parenting books, written by child psychologists and experts. One of the reasons parenthood is such a huge responsibility is that early childhood experiences can shape a person’s personality, beliefs and approach to life.

 

Interestingly in previous generations there was a big emphasis on boosting children’s self-esteem which inadvertently led to some parents teaching their kids entitlement – one of the essential ingredients of narcissism.

 

If you are thinking of starting a family or already have one of your own here are some useful tips on how to encourage your child’s self-esteem without teaching them entitlement.

 

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How to Silence Your Inner Critic and Become Your Own Best Friend Through Self-Compassion Part Five

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Picture Courtesy of Shutterstock

Why the work we do on ourselves helps others too…

 

In her conclusion of the series, Tami Simon, the founder and publisher of Sounds True, eloquently describes the notion of projection (projection being an unconscious self-defence mechanism characterised by a person unconsciously attributing their own issues onto someone or something else) by going on to say that…

 

“the work we do to accept the unlovable parts of ourselves, to accept the actions that we take that we wish we hadn’t taken. That that work is not work that we’re just doing for ourselves alone. Not at all. It’s work we’re doing for the whole world and to quote Parker Palmer, he talked about how racism and homophobia and every form of scapegoating that we’ve ever known in the world, it comes actually from the part of people where they can’t accept themselves. ‘I have to scapegoat and put you down because you’re bringing forward something in me that I can’t stand to look at.’ So when we do this work of self-acceptance we’re actually liberating humans to be accepted for who they are. When we accept ourselves we can accept other people.”

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How to Silence Your Inner Critic and Become Your Own Best Friend Through Self-Compassion Part Four

Picture Courtesy of Shutterstock

Picture Courtesy of Shutterstock

 

 

How to deal with shame…

 

One of the ongoing themes to the interviews that I saw surrounded shame – a destructive emotion that tells us we are something wrong as opposed to guilt, which is useful and tells us we’ve done something wrong.  I think that one of the reasons why shame was such a central theme in the series is because when we experience shame, our inner critic goes into hyper drive.

 

Brene Brown, an award winning speaker who has spent the past ten years researching vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame gave one piece of advice that stuck with me at a core level. Brene’s self confessed mantra is “don’t text, talk or type anything” when you are in a state of shame.

 

Once you have calmed down Brene suggests confiding in a friend or family member. “If you put shame in a Petri dish it needs three things to grow exponentially, secrecy, silence and judgement. If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dish and you douse it with empathy you create an environment that’s hostile to shame.”

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How to Silence Your Inner Critic and Become Your Own Best Friend Through Self-Compassion Part Three

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Picture Courtesy of Shutterstock

 

How to manage your inner critic when it arises…

 

Throughout all twenty-three episodes of the Self Acceptance Project I found Dr. Kristin Neff’s insight into self compassion both astounding and revelatory. But what strategies does she use when faced by her own inner critic? The simplicity of her answer was beautiful.

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How to Silence Your Inner Critic and Become Your Own Best Friend Through Self-Compassion Part Two

 

Picture Courtesy of Shutterstock

Picture Courtesy of ShutterstocBuild confidence…

 

Build Confidence…

 

When we learn to accept all of our experiences in this way we build what Tami Simon, the founder of Sounds True, refers to as ‘unconditional confidence’. ‘Unconditional confidence’ is a principal which is well known in meditation and refers to the confidence we possess once we know that whatever experience we may face, we are able to manage it by fully being with it unconditionally.

 

This ‘unconditional confidence’ enables us to take risks in life and love because we know that whatever the outcome, we will be able to manage it. In all honesty I often fight and struggle against unpleasant and painful feelings (like I’m sure so many of us do) which is why I am so eager to practise being more aware of my pain, breathing into it and accepting it, thereby developing more ‘unconditional confidence’ – an asset which would be invaluable.

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How to Silence Your Inner Critic and Become Your Own Best Friend Through Self-Compassion Part One

Picture Courtesy of Shutterstock

Picture Courtesy of Shutterstock

 

I have to say I am very blessed to have wonderful friends in my life. My friends are loyal, considerate, understanding and believe in me even when my own self-belief is lacking. They are kind and loving and extremely thoughtful.

 

Sadly though, the most important friendship I’ve ever had (and certainly the longest standing one) was both love and hate for way too long. Over the years this friendship has changed from being toxic to dysfunctional to much better but there is still work to be done before it becomes completely kind and nurturing. What’s most troubling however is that, unlike all of my other friendships, this one isn’t optional. Who is this friendship with you ask? Myself.

 

How sad it is that such an important relationship, the relationship we have with ourselves, is often so cruel and uncaring. And yet it is the most important friendship we will ever have. When we consider our best friends in life – the friends that are there for us no matter what – we take for granted how these close bonds developed.

 

We forget it took work and that we invested a great deal of time into forming those bonds. Bonds that were built on trust, loyalty, empathy, understanding and love. Why then do we not put that same amount of effort into the friendship we have with ourselves? Surely it is nonsensical to think that we can be our own best friend if we fail to invest the time and effort into fostering a healthy relationship with ourselves.

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