“The Value We Place on Ourselves Is Usually the Value Others Place on Us”
Management guru John C. Maxwell feels that self esteem is the single most significant key to a person’s behavior. And behavior (from the way you present yourself to your willingness to reach out to others to the effort you are willing to put into achieving your goals) is key to success.
Most of us suffer from at least occasional issues with self esteem. Here are some proven techniques to build it:
- Pay more attention to the internal conversation you are constantly having with yourself. As Maxwell writes: “You need to learn to become your own encourager, your own cheerleader. Every time you do a good job, don’t just let it pass. Give yourself a compliment. Every time you make a mistake don’t bring up everything that’s wrong with you*”.
- Move beyond your limiting beliefs. Identify a limiting belief (like “I’m no good at tech stuff”), think about how that belief holds you back, decide how you would ideally like to act, feel, or believe about that and create a “turnaround” statement that allows you to move forward (e.g. “I know that when I put my mind to something I succeed, and there’s no reason that shouldn’t be true with tech”).
- Stop comparing yourself to others. It’s a needless distraction, and a wasteful one, since you are unable to know what the others’ situations truly are, and therefore you’re really not able to draw accurate comparisons. You need to focus on comparing yourself with yourself. Are you moving forward, becoming better today than you were yesterday? That’s the relevant comparison you need to make.
- Add value to others. People with low self esteem feel they’re inferior, and so become self-protective and self-absorbed because they feel they have to in order to survive. Making a difference in the lives of others, even a small difference, lifts self esteem. It’s hard to feel bad about yourself when you’re doing something good for someone else.
- Practice a small discipline daily. This will help you advance in skillfulness and at the same time will provide you with concrete evidence that you are capable of disciplining yourself and improving. After all, practice makes perfect. Exercise is a great place to start (even if it’s only a daily 10 minute walk), but journaling, reading, meditating, skipping dessert, or even housekeeping can serve. Just make sure the discipline you choose is a discipline that you can stick to!
- Celebrate small victories. Instead of responding to achievements with negative self talk (“It shouldn’t have taken this long;” “I didn’t do as much as I should have;” “That won’t make a difference;”) give yourself a pat on the back: “I knew that if I tried hard enough I could do it;” “Every little bit helps;” “I’m one step closer to success!”
- Spend more time around people who make you feel good. People who laugh at your jokes, who find you attractive, who confide in you, who ask you for advice.
- Make lists of your strengths and your accomplishments. Sometimes these are hard tho identify, hidden as they are by the darkness of low self esteem. Ask a friend or a coach to help you with this. Then review that list frequently.