Self-esteem is everything. It is the natural vibe around you that promotes your identity. It says, I am worthy, I can do this, I deserve what I want, I can have this.
Indeed, the view you have of yourself skews your world to being either positive or negative. In psychology we call this thinking 'attribution theory.' An example of this is how some people are always broke or sick. You can bet that their external and internal narrative is negative, and that they literally push away many avenues for getting support, love, abundance or wellness. By talking about something, you reinforce it. The same goes for thinking about something over, and over. A basic idea becomes concreted into the mind and then the automatic pilot (attribution) takes these thoughts as short cuts and runs with them without any effort at all.
The old phrase, "What you think about comes about' is actually scientific. The mind creates, controls, destroys, rejects, loves, hates and ignores before it is even conscious thought. However, you can control the mind with practice and reinforcement. It is not about looking externally to find our self-worth. NO.
No one person can or will give us 100% of what we need.
Therefore, we have to get it for ourselves. I am not saying that you will never doubt yourself again, or never feel intimidated by someone better than you, that is impossible. But, you can weed out a good percentage of of this automatic control system; and when you do feel that you have more control over the outcome of events in your life, there is less frustration, less doubt, and fewer people can take away your power.
I am an expert on self-esteem, it is my biggest challenge. Most people think I am extremely confident; and I am on the outside, but I battle daily with memories of rejection and harsh words heard in childhood. The only person that can help you forward, through the painful limiting beliefs created during your childhood, is one who has overcome the very thing that you struggle with.
Moreover, this is what many people come to see me about for life coaching. These clients know full well what they need to do, but they have an invisible barrier of fear that paralyses them from doing what they need to get the life that the want.
Methods for increasing self-esteem
1. Regression: Look at the specific moments in time that caused the self-doubt (we will get nowhere if the hurdles aren't eliminated)
2. Exercise these events, speak of them until they matter no more than a mild annoyance. (I use a combination of NLP, rehearsal, and CBT for this.)
3. Look at the methods you used to stall or sabotage the progress before (this can then be used in strategies)
4. Exactly specify the goals/ dreams one wants to achieve
5. Create a strategy for achieving the goals at a pace that is comfortable (baby steps work too)
6. Keep up the momentum for the work. Check in, reassess, tweak, tweak, tweak...
Talk to me about overcoming a lack of self-esteem, I will understand completely. I have clients who are discovering themselves and working on their self-love. And you too can work towards eliminating the negative voice (internal critic), and planning the new you. How exciting!!
Call or SMS for a free 10 minute phone chat on 0439 888 070.
Those of you who know me, know that I am blatantly honest at times. Of course, during therapy, this talent gets used subtly, at the right time and in the right way. Therapy is after all, about listening to words, body language and keywords. These keywords lead my mind down a therapeutic path; I instinctively know where to go. This is not something learned at university; for although my practice is based on experience and learning, it also relies heavily on intuition.
However, I have found that during the introduction, before a story emerges, clients behave in two ways, and it is their attitude in the first five minutes, that reveals whether they are there by choice, or by pressure: The first is uncomfortable, and needs to have their story drawn out, and the second type is overflowing with words, emotion and some sense of moral anguish. So, there are clients that want to be there for self-improvement, and clients that don’t. In fact, the ones that don’t want to be there may be aware that it will be good for them in the long-term, or they are in denial about being in therapy - with the stigma that that entails, or have made an assumption that it doesn’t work.
Importantly, it takes a lot of courage to book in to see a counsellor, and I applaud that. The less judgement clients receive the better. Yet, from my side, I can tell the clients who want to be there, and these clients are easier to work with. These clients are grateful, willing to learn and grow, are eager to find solutions and ask a lot of questions. This type of client also makes it easier to assess whether their issues are mental, biological/genetic, historical, time-based, or socially learned behaviours: Sometimes they are a combination of a few. An example of this might be depression. Depression can be caused by an underlying grief for a life that has taken a turn to the left, when the person wanted to go right, or it can be caused by a lack of hormones (serotonin, dopamine) because the stresses of modern life promote a high level of cortisol (flight or fight). Sadly, more people today go to the doctor’s clinic for anti-depressants than for anything else.
The unconditional, positive regard that counsellors offer, is that old social acceptance that we once had while living in small communities. We cared for each other. People did not go into old folks homes, mental facilities or daycare. Odd behaviours were accepted as eccentric, and seriously antisocial behaviours resulted in a short life span. The very thing, we so desperately need when things get stressful, are lessened by family support and solidarity. This has unfortunately diminished now, and until we once again live in small collectives, we will have to turn to friends and family when they have the time to listen, and to counsellors and psychiatrists when they do not. Until then, maintaining, good emotional health should be part of an overall, health plan, together with exercise, nutritional food and fresh air and sunlight.
Consequently, life isn’t easy in this day and age, and sometimes we need clarity or guidance on a situation; a kind word of encouragement from our social networks, or more acceptance and less judgement. However, if this is not forthcoming from the people we spend time with, we need to act like our own best friend, and book in to see a professional.
(Homage to Carl Rogers – the best listener there ever was)
‘When people are listened to sensitively, they tend to listen to themselves with more care an to make clear exacty what they are feelng and thinking.’ - Carl Rogers
Effective, yet gentle probing and listening, allows for the other person to do most of the talking (Afterall that is what they are paying for.) Good questions must be centred on the other person’s experience in order to be meaningful. In order to fully hear what the client is saying, sometimes just responding with questions for clarity, or repeating back the understanding or outlining the dilemma, helps a person to dig a little deeper; revealing their own answers. The counsellor is just the sounding board. It is the client that is the expert on their own life. This beautiful therapeutic alliance can open up ideas, solutions and acceptance.
Empathy by design, evokes in us deeply-felt responses from our own life experience, which is why clients (myself included) prefer older counsellors with life experience. The power of change must be with the client, not the therapist; moreover, a person-centred counsellor will work give the client the lead.
‘Listening, when it is open and non-judgemental, is a way of validating others and becomes a powerful force in human relationships. It can build teamwork, trust and a sense of belonging to a group.’ - Madelyn Burley-Allen
One of the best things I was ever taught at uni was by my professor Dr Jodie Bradnam, who taught the 'Love, Sex and Relationships' class.
Jodie taught me her secret for marriage and it really stuck with me. So much so, that I use it with my couples counselling clients.
Anyhow, the 'Marriage Jar' is a simple concept that the mind can easily 'get.' It is amazing how this simple idea can adjust one's behaviour every day. Basically, it works like this: When you are first together, the jar is full. As time goes by, the jar empties. For every kind gesture, kiss, supportive comment, intimate moment, lunch pack made, etcetera, a marble goes in. For every sarcastic remark, episode of not listening or avoidance of connection, five marbles come out.
The “Marriage Jar” can even be a real jar. Some people put post-it notes of gratitude in for the other person. So that the partner knows they are appreciated and the little things do not go unnoticed. Notes that say, 'I love it when you bathe the kids without me asking.' 'You looked so hot the other night when we went out. ' I was impressed at your skills changing my car battery.' 'Thanks for paying that parking fine.' These little notes can mean so much to a couple that are under financial strain, have little time for date nights, or have a multitude of pressures.
When a jar is running on empty for long periods, it cannot be sustained. One person will inevitably ditch, or release the pressure of conflict with a third party (cheating). These simple concepts are preventative measures. The marriage jar needs to be replenished regularly. It should be cherished and fed daily.
What else fills the marriage jar?
Kindness, thoughtfulness, appreciation, nurturing and encouragement are just a few things that can fill a marriage jar.
Say, "Thank you." Say, "I fancy you." Say, "I think you are beautiful."
Instead of noticing what your partner does not do, focus on the positives. We can't control another person, but we can reinforce behaviour that we like.
Sometimes in life, we are forced to change. Something happens that makes us peel back the layers we have built around ourselves. We are forced to confront our true essence. During this time, we are given the opportunity to feel deeply, the good and the bad; to examine who we really are, and what want to achieve with the remainder of our life.
With this profound and honest awareness, we will start clearing, releasing, and letting go of things that blocking us from finding and fully feeling our truth. We have no avenues left to avoid this. It has to come out and be dealt with.
This compulsion requires us to surrender and accept. We feel it in our lower chakras, and it hurts. Yet, it is only through surrendering and accepting this honest discomfort, that we can accept and move on. In order to let go, we have to fully accept all the shameful faults and the ego tricks. When we have learned to sit with the parts of ourselves that are really uncomfortable, we are not only brave, but we are survivors of major scary events from childhood.
This black emotional goo, bubbles up, to be exposed and to breathe. Ninety percent of consciousness is beneath our awareness, and as we sit in this discomfort and accept it in all it’s horror, it suddenly has no power. Yes, you are healed.
Additionally, this work allows you to be ready for deeper stuff. The beauty of life, is that it never throws anything at you that you can’t handle. Yes, you might think it is too much at the time, but then there are counsellors and psychologists to help you through it. No one said you have to do it all alone. The maze has a light if you reach for it.
The beauty of this transformation, is that as you release the old hurts, residual guilt and old shame. It simply releases from the physical body, and mind, and so that you look healthier, calmer, more centred and relaxed. Not only will you accept yourself more, but you will be more empathetic of others going through something similar. By accepting that within you, that you never wanted to face, you will lead the way for others to be brave, making the world a kinder, more humanistic place.