Have you ever wanted badly to change your job, give your business idea a go, or held yourself back from doing ‘that thing you’ve wanted to do for so long now, but just don’t fundamentally believe you can do it? And so you don’t?
Well if that’s true, there’s a good chance the level of your self-esteem could be holding you back.
Dr. Tony Humphreys. A Psychologist from Cork, states that only 5% – 10% of Irish people have what is classed to be high self-esteem. That’s not to say the other 90% – 95% of us have desperately low self-esteem, but it would appear there is certainly room for how we feel about ourselves to grow in a more positive direction.
Firstly, just to clarify, self-esteem and confidence are two different things. Though I think the word confidence is often used in reference.
The difference, in a nutshell, is this; self-esteem is how we view ourselves in this world. How worthy we feel. Confidence refers to how confident we are in our abilities to perform various tasks. So it’s very possible to be high-functioning and confident in your day to day living but have low self-esteem.
Tony Robbins says “People are not born with or without self-esteem, they have to build it.” I couldn’t agree more. That was true of my experience.
I struggled with my self-esteem since I was a painfully shy child.
From a young age, I instinctively built coping mechanisms around this internal issue of mine. I went to great lengths both consciously, and subconsciously, to hide it and bury it. I hated it. I hated that I struggled in this way. I wished I was a person who felt so fully secure in themselves that they didn’t overthink everything they said or did, particularly in a group setting, but I was. I was that person.
I rejected that version of myself and that affected how I viewed myself. But what that also did, was set me on a trajectory for where I am now. It also gifted me an intuitive ability to read people and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge around human behavior.
“Self-esteem is a learnable skill, like typing or riding a bike, you develop it with practice” – Brian Tracy, author of Maximum Achievement, a fantastic book. (He also wrote Eat That Frog.)
How great is that though? It’s actually possible to build self-esteem. So what would your life look like if you built yours higher than it is now?
It was in my mid-twenties when I started to get a handle on my spiraling self-esteem and that was a pivotal moment in my life. I came to recognise that if I didn’t start to understand what was happening I would live my life playing small, behind a mask and settling for a life I didn’t love.
My instinct to not only survive but fully thrive, kicked in. I was determined, and still am, to get out of my own way. I was not going to let this own me, or dictate my life. And that was the moment I started to actively build and work on my self-esteem.
So, here I am 10 years later. I’d love to say I have flawless self-esteem but that would be untrue. I still have to work on it, especially on a bad day. But what I will say is this, since actively choosing to build my esteem I have since left a corporate job I was in, started and grew a successful business in a recession, wrote a book, an honest account of the loss of my father – The Man Who Moved The Nation. I recently won an All Star Business Award and closed my business after 8 years to pursue this new direction, helping other people move through blocks that are holding them back from going after the life they want to live. I can honestly say if I left my self-image untended to, I would most likely have done none of those things.
I tell you those ‘wins’ of mine for no other reason but to show you that while you may struggle with low self-esteem, once you decide not to allow it to own you, you still get to be successful in your life, whatever success looks like to you.
And so, here’s a few things I did to start building my self-esteem.
1. Accept and become Aware
Accept, acknowledge, and have compassion with where you are with your self-esteem. Become aware and have a real and honest look at how it’s impacted your life so far and where it still continues to.
2. Be WillingIn this step, you are making one commitment only – to be willing. That is all. Just be willing. In order for change to happen, we have to be open to it.
- To be willing to let go of the old stories you have been telling yourself.
- To be willing to rebuild a new narrative outside of your current ‘story’.
- Be willing to walk into uncertainty, because what you do know for certain right now, is the way you are perceiving yourself in this life is not serving you.
3. Envision the future you.
This is important. Take a minute and sit with your eyes closed. Who is the person you want to become in order to live the life you want? Can you see that version of yourself?
What do you look like, dress like, sound like, and most importantly how do you feel? How are you holding yourself? What are you doing?
When you fully let yourself drop into this powerful version of yourself, what you are actually doing, is giving your brain and your soul a map. You subconsciously will start to navigate yourself and your life towards this image.
4. What is the tone of your undercurrent?
We have an internal river that runs deep. It has a voice. It can be loud or it can be subtle. But what it is saying, is so important. Start listening.
Keep a journal by your bedside. When you wake in the morning, or about to go asleep, what are the thoughts that flow through your head? Write them down. They make part of your belief system. When you look at your thoughts on a paper, after a week you’ll start to see a pattern in your thinking. Any unhelpful or self-deprecating thoughts need to be addressed and healed.
5. Where is your stretch?
You’ll often hear you have to “live outside your comfort zone to grow”. If it were that easy you would have done it by now. So while I do believe this to be true, I also believe there is a way of doing it that’s manageable and helpful and healing.
I found this way of looking at it helpful.
The Stretch Zone is a great place to play around in. Moving from the Stretch to Comfort zone appears to be the best way to grow. You’re never too far from your comfort zone so you can dip in and out for a rest, while you still make headway towards your goal.
If you launch straight from the Comfort Zone into Trauma Zone, the jump may be too big. If so, it could be counterproductive. (I’ll do a full video on this on my Instagram, keep an eye out if you’re interested.)
6. Don’t wait around.
Now this might sound harsh, and I mean it with the best of intentions – but you may never feel 100% confident in yourself, it may always be ‘that thing’ you have to work on. So, if you are hanging around for the day that you feel 100% ready, you may be old, grey and just don’t care enough anymore to try. Don’t let that happen. It’s never too late.
You have only one life, you are worthy of it. Let it be lived as you truly want to live it. Fill up the self-esteem tank so the engine can take you far and wide.
I hope this reaches the people who need to read it. Please share with anyone you think it could help.
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See you next month.