Self esteem: the four steps in detail(Continued from Self Esteem)
If you have a need to rebuild your self esteem, then here are four techniques that may help:
#1: Get your facts rightThis may seem an odd place to start, but low self esteem is often the result of holding incorrect views, such as "I'm no good at anything" or "no one likes me" or "I am unimportant".
If you "get your facts right" that you will put aside these false beliefs. This doesn't mean having an over-inflated view of yourself, but rather a realistic view of yourself in comparison to others. In particular, there are some truisms that you need to recognise and accept:
- Everyone in the world is good at some things, and bad at others.
In an ABC interview, Bill Gates (the world's richest person) said that, although he was good at computers, he was bad at sports and playing musical instruments.
People with low self esteem are only aware of, or only look at, the things they are bad at. When you have good, healthy self esteem, you recognise that you are good at some things and bad at others. Even if you don't know what you are are good at, accept that you will be good at something - you then try and find out what you are good at. You then try to focus on doing those things and improving at them, rather than worrying about the things that you will never be good at.
- No one can get everyone to like them
To put it another way, there is no-one in the world whom everyone likes. To use the example of Bill Gates, again, many people admire him, but many people dislike him and what he has done.
People with low self-esteem sometimes think it is important that everyone likes them. When you have good, healthy self-esteem, you accept that people are different - some people will like you and others won't. Don't waste time trying to get people who don't like you to like you - find friends who do like you and build relationships with them.
- Everyone in the world is of equal worth, though privileges may differ
The view that some people are inherently more important than others is erroneous - the law in most countries of the world is quite clear that everyone is of equal worth. The legal process does not discriminate on the basis of individual importance, and in countries where there is a "bill of rights" it applies to everyone equally.
People who suffer from low self-esteem sometimes confuse individual worth with "privileges". For example, in the UK a "Privy Councillor" is historically someone who has had a special relationship with the Queen. Although that is no longer a particularly meaningful position, Privy Councillors still get preferential treatment when speaking in the house of commons.
But this does not mean that Privy Councillors have greater inherent worth or importance than other people - it simply means that they have certain privileges that others do not. The converse is also true: some people have privileges that the Privy Councillors do not. In fact, there will be privileges that you have that the Privy Councillors do not.
It is therefore important to recognise that you have the same worth, and the same rights as anyone else. What differs are the privileges that each person obtains, whether that be access to people, remunderation, budgetary control or whatever.
#2: Get a supply of warm fuzziesThere is a popular psychological theory ("transactional analysis") that recognises we all need "warm fuzzies" to maintain healthy self-esteem. Warm fuzzies are transactions of recognition from other people - they range from simply looking someone in the eye to telling them what they have done well - and warm fuzzies are free. You can give them to other people, and you can get them from other people.
If the people you spend most of your time with don't give you recognition, then you have two options:
- Make those people give you recognition
- Find other people who will give you recognition
#3: Don't discount yourself"Discounting" is the practice of playing down your own worth. It can appear in the following types of conversations:
- Other person: "You did a good job there."
You: "It wasn't me, it was the team"
- Other person: "Thank you for doing that"
You: "It was nothing"
- Other person: "Wow, that's impressive"
You: "Oh, anyone could have done it, really"
Don't discount yourself. When someone praises you, accept the praise (eg: say "thank you").
#4: Don't accept the baton of low self-esteemWhen people suffer from low self esteem - ie they are carrying the baton of low self esteem - they sometimes try to make themselves feel better by giving the baton to someone else.
If that happens, don't accept it. (But don't try to make the other person feel bad in the process)
The following examples show how someone might try to pass on the baton of low self-esteem, and how you might accept it, or reject it:
|Other person||You accepting the baton of low self-esteem||You rejecting the baton of low self-esteem|
|"You're totally useless"||"I'm sorry"||"There are some things I'm good at, and some things I'm not so good at. But I am not 'totally useless' so please don't say that"|
|"You're really ugly"||(Feel bad and cry)||"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and real beauty is in the personality."|
|"You're opinion is irrelevant"||(Go quiet)||"You are entitled to disagree with my view. But you are not entitled to discount it."|
Self esteem summary
This page has outlined four ways to get self-esteem:
- Get your facts right
- Get a supply of warm fuzzies
- Don't discount yourself
- Don't accept the baton of low self-esteem
Remember, no matter what other people say (when they are suffering from low self and try and take it out on you): you are of significant self-worth. Start believing it, and start behaving as if it is true (because it is true).