How good is your self esteem, really?
Our subconscious mind acts as a sponge, soaking up the messages we tell ourselves – and like anything else, the more frequently we repeat the messages the more powerful they become.
Unsurprisingly, negative thoughts beget more negative thoughts.
"You always mess things up... Nothing ever goes right for me... I knew it was too good to be true..." Do these sound familiar?
If so, you've fallen into the trap of self sabotage through negative thinking.
Your mother or sister or teacher isn't undermining you now (and if they are, it's time to confront them!) The real damage is done when we repeat their negative messages to ourselves. If the negative voice in your head takes on the tone of someone else it's a sure sign you're stuck in a time warp of negative thought.
Decide on a positive message and next time a negative one pops in your head say the new message to yourself. Keep doing it until it becomes a habit.
"I'll go back to college once the children have grown up," or "I would exercise but I'm too fat to join the gym"?
Or perhaps, you think "If only this or that would change in my life, then I could really make something of myself"?
If so, it's time to take a long hard look and ask yourself whether, deep down, you'd rather find an excuse than try and (potentially) fail.
Write a list of things you can do – right now – to help you reach your goals. Could you do an evening class one night a week or build up a portfolio even if you can't commit to a course? Could you do a fitness DVD f you don't feel confident enough to join the gym?
Taking a positive step (no matter how small) in the right direction will give you confidence to take the next and the next.
And remember to celebrate your achievements!
People with low self esteem often find it hard to say 'No' - whether to work requests from their boss, or demands from partners, friends and even children.
If assertiveness is a problem for you, the good news is that it gets easier each time you do it.
Start by saying 'No' to small requests and then work up to tackling bigger issues at home or at work.
If delegating tasks to others feels wrong it's worth being honest and asking yourself if you're afraid to release control, or on some levels you've got used to playing the martyr?
If you can delegate tasks - whether to the office junior or putting your teenager on washing-up duty - you'll feel more in control and less like a doormat.
Very few people are lucky enough to have a life they are 100% happy with - and anyone who says that things are perfect all of the time is a liar!
Spending time thinking about what (you perceive) others to have uses up mental energy you could be putting to good use working on yourself.
Deliberately spend time remembering the compliments you have been given and the things that have gone well.
Mentally run through everything you have to be grateful for. Say a silent thank you (a prayer if you're religious) or just a message to the universe.
All too often we focus on what we want – which puts energy into the things missing in our lives. Put some focus into the things you DO have and you'll feel better.
Of course, it's not just shopping. Other artificial self esteem boosters include using alcohol to boost confidence in the short term or going back to a relationship that boosts our ego but which is ultimately destructive.
Thousands of people find that counselling provides them with a valuable opportunity to talk through problems and give them a new way of viewing things - especially useful if you've been trapped in a pattern of negative thinking for years.
By tackling the underlying causes of self esteem you will be on the path to a new, more positive future.