Are You Taking Care of Yourself?
Ever felt like a fraud and that you don't belong ? Perhaps you feel that you're not clever enough / funny enough / knowledgeable enough / old enough ... Blah - Blah - Blah.
If you, as a parent are constantly putting yourself last, and ignoring your own 'issues' then what sort of example are you setting to your children? Your children learn by observation. They are "sponges".
As a parent, you should be back on your own to-do list and focus on some self-care. If you don't look after yourself and have a low self-esteem then the rest of the family struggles. Just being a bit kinder to yourself will strengthen your confidence; giving you the resilience to cope with the challenges that modern-day parenting offers.
The good news is, that if lack of self-esteem is causing you and your family problems - then you can fix it.
What is Self-Esteem ?
Many, confuse self-esteem with self-confidence; but it is way more than just confidence. Confidence is how you judge your ability to do something; for example, deliver a presentation.
Esteem is how you value something. Therefore, self-esteem is how you value yourself. For many people nowadays, this is in very short supply.
How is our Self-Esteem Developed ?
Our self-esteem - is part of our belief system, which is stored in our unconscious mind.
Beliefs are initially formed very early in childhood. They are formulated based on a combination of : past experiences, comments made to us, circumstances and the emotions that we carry at the time attached to all of this.
"Garbage In - Garbage Out"
The problems start to occur when some of this information is either negative or disempowering. Our mind assumes all these are 'facts' and so goes on to create and store beliefs that in fact may not be accurate or even true. These stored beliefs are later accessed, when we need to call on them in the future. Scary huh?
Let me explain :
How Baby Elephants are trained :
Baby elephants that are held in captivity can be trained not to roam. One of his legs is tied to a wooden post driven deep into the ground. He is unable to free himself, because the rope is too strong, and after failed attempts to escape he soon 'learns' that he cannot walk away.
Eventually he stops trying. He grows up; still believing that he is not strong enough to leave his 'prison'; unable to recognise his own strength.
Humans operate in much the same way. We listen to our old conditioning and our old ways of thinking and do not stop to question these beliefs. Even if these old beliefs are no longer true - we still operate as if they are.
Our self-worth, affects how we portray ourselves to the outside world.
With low levels of self-esteem, life can become real struggle. Recognisable symptoms might include :
* Fears of rejection, judgement or failure
* Poor decision making
* Constant need for approval
* Anxieties and Insecurities
* Feelings of inadequacy
Imagine for a minute how this impacts your child.
"There's no such thing as failure - it's only feedback."
When someone has a very low opinion of themselves, they tend to fixate on their past mistakes. By understanding that failure is a necessary part of success, the individual is able to give themselves permission to accept failure is a possibility. This is so liberating as it empowers them to ditch their internal worries and builds their confidence as they start to become more adventurous and take new opportunities.
We judge ourselves harsher than others. But by being more compassionate when we slip up we can learn to build on and improve our own self-esteem. This in turn raises the self-confidence, as we are start to acknowledge our achievements and value ourselves.
People with a higher self-esteem, do indeed live happier lives. Recognisable benefits for the individual might include :
* Higher feelings of self-worth
* Having greater coping skills
* Having a more optimistic outlook
* Handling criticism better
Imagine now how this impacts your child.
How to improve self-esteem.
Just as a muscle needs to be exercised regularly - so too does positive thinking. Practice makes perfect.
To improve self-esteem I suggest a 3 stage process :
1. AWARENESS : Self-doubt is a habitual practice of negative thinking. Noticing and accepting that these feelings actually exist is a necessary first step. The first couple of times you try to do this may feel uncomfortable, and that's normal. But the more you confront our fears, the more you get used to stretching yourself.
2. CHOICE : In order to think more positively you need to take responsibility and make that conscious decision to think differently. You may have to push yourself out of your Comfort Zone. No-one can do this for you.
3. CHANGE : Thoughts become behaviour. To reach the desired course of action - in this case having improved self-esteem - it is important to calm the inner critic and give more space for the inner supporter. By changing your thought patterns - you are sending the unconscious mind a clear message that : "This is the way it's going to be from now on."
Building self-esteem doesn't always come naturally - which is OK. But I believe that just like learning a new language - it can be taught. This does not happen overnight - we just have to start and take it one day at a time.