Our Self Esteem

By: Michael Angier

A reader from the Middle East wrote to me recently asking how he
could improve his low self-image. He said, "it ruins my social
and professional life." He wanted to know what techniques he
could employ to solve this lifelong problem.

I felt somewhat inadequate in my reply to him and resolved to
write about my own struggles to improve self-esteem in hopes
that it will be helpful to others.

The dictionary says that esteem means, "to regard with respect;
to prize, to appreciate. To recognize the quality, significance,
or magnitude of, to admire greatly; to value."

I know people who have too much confidence and self-pride, but I
don't know ANYONE with too much self-esteem. Most people, in
moments of profound honesty, will admit to a lack of
self-esteem. They would like to feel better about
themselves--more confident and capable--in short, to love
themselves more.

It would probably be fair to say that most social problems are
the result--directly or indirectly--of someone's low

Not too many years ago, I was going through a dark time in my
life. I was broke--financially, personally, socially--even
spiritually. In describing it to someone once, I said, "I had
the self-esteem of a dead rat." That might have been overstating
it a bit but not much.

My life--and my confidence--is much better today. MUCH better.

So what changed? Was it outward circumstances? Did my
environment change and with it my inner experience? No.

Somehow I knew that any changes would have to be from me. It
would be an inner transformation that would eventually alter the
outward experience.

Some of the things I did unconsciously. Others were done with

First and foremost, I removed myself from people who had been
particularly critical. By distancing myself from this criticism,
I was able to gain a better perspective. I was perfectly capable
of taking my own inventory and didn't need someone else pointing
out my errors and keeping me focused on my shortcomings.

I immersed myself in good books--books of inspiration, books
that increased my belief and books that gave me hope. And hope
was severely lacking.

A good therapist helped me to see myself in a better light.
Because he wasn't emotionally involved in my problems, he was
able to see things differently. He would often point out that
things weren't nearly as bad as they appeared to be.

I made a conscious attempt to focus on my strengths: my talents,
my experience and my knowledge. I didn't allow myself to indulge
in negative thoughts. When I found myself musing about something
less than "uplifting", I would redirect myself to something
else. I gave myself no permission to have "pity parties."

I took to heart Thomas Carlyle's advice when he wrote, "Our main
business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do
what clearly lies at hand." I kept busy. I did what appeared to
me as needing doing. I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do
or how I was going to do it. The future was uncertain and for
the first time in my life I didn't have a plan. Like the AA
program, I took one day at a time.

And each day I did what I could to clean up my messes, make
things better, keep my focus forward instead of backward and
keep the faith.

It was my faith in Universal Spirit that helped me get through
this winter of discontent. I believe that everyone has a unique
purpose and I was determined to discover my own. God doesn't
make junk.

One of the biggest awareness' I had during these dark times was
that I WAS NOT my feelings. I HAD feelings, but they were not
me. I also realized that I had cared too much about the opinions
of others. I still care; I just don't let it run me like it used

Some people believe that if you feel good about yourself, you'll
do great things. That may be true, but I also believe that if
you do great things, you'll feel good about yourself--and then
do even greater things.

Taking these steps consistently over a period of years has
enabled me to rebuild my finances, establish a career I'm
excited about, develop a loving and committed marriage and, most
importantly, restore and improve upon my self esteem. I'm
grateful for the process.

Self-esteem is an upward or downward spiral. What you do affects
the way you feel. How you feel affects the things you do. The
things you do affect what you and others think of you, which in
turnComputer Technology Articles, affects how you feel about yourself.

You're either building yourself up or tearing yourself down.
There is no status quo when it comes to your self-image.

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