How to Overcoming and Improve Low Self-Esteem
Maybe you think you feel good about yourself? And yet, do certain patterns keep playing out in your life that you wish you could change. You just don’t seem to be able to do anything about them, no matter how hard you try? You might not even be aware of it, but it is possible you are suffering from low self-esteem.
Evaluate your self-esteem
- Perhaps you always seem to “attract” the wrong partners?
- Maybe everything that happens to you is someone else’s fault?
- Perhaps you always seem to have problems with authority figures?
- Maybe you have a successful career but suck at relationships?
- Maybe you keep yourself small and never really reach your potential?
- Or possibly you have anger issues?
- Perhaps you are afraid of socializing, and so you rarely go out?
- Do you not like yourself? Are you self-critical?
- Do you not believe you deserve good things?
- Do you always put others first before yourself?
- Are you uncomfortable being assertive and fighting for your own needs?
There are many possible scenarios that could be happening, and, according to counseling psychologist Elizabeth Morelle, they all have one thing in common: “The underlying reason is the lack of self-worth that that person feels, on a deep, subconscious level”. (Source)
It is an almost universal human belief, at least as far as western culture goes, that on some level, each one of us believes,
- “I am not good enough” or
- “I’m unworthy” or
- “If that person gets close to me they will leave because they will discover what an undeserving human being I am.”
- And so on, and so on.
Origins Of Low Self-Worth
These beliefs get “programmed” into us at a young age. Each one of us sees the world through our unique lens. You could say we all have our unique color that we view the world through. No two people see the world in the same way. Our colored lens gets tinted by all our early childhood experiences.
These go into making up our mindset: the thoughts and beliefs we have about life, the world, our place in the world, and our relationship to ourselves and other people. We can pick up beliefs about being hurt, wounded, or rejected, even if that wasn’t the intention of the “perpetrator.” This is an important point which pivots around the way we view the world.
You can only feel hurt, wounded, or rejected if you are taking something personally.
Don Miguel Ruiz writes about ancient Toltec wisdom in his book, “The Four Agreements.” These four agreements, when put into consistent practice, can radically shift your perspective, the way you view the world and your opinion of yourself.
One of the agreements is particularly pertinent when considering how to go about changing your internal script, so you no longer suffer from low self-esteem.
How To Change Your Internal Scripts
There are many ways you can work at changing your internal belief programs or your internal scripts. These are the subconscious beliefs you picked up in childhood that you have bought into as “the truth.” The “truth” is that they are not truths, just beliefs, and just thoughts.
Beliefs and thoughts are not infallible truths. They are not facts. It is entirely possible to change your beliefs, to change your thoughts, and create a different outcome as a result. Thoughts and beliefs are what generate our emotions.
And our thoughts and beliefs are entirely based on how we choose to perceive the world. It is not what happens to us, but how we choose to respond to what happens to us that causes us to experience our reality as we do.
Once you can identify a limiting belief, it then becomes easy to let go of that belief and replace it with something that serves you in a healthier and more positive, more empowering, and productive way. (Source)
Just tell the subconscious you are willing to let it go! The subconscious will obey and oblige you by letting go of the thought that has been running one of your more undesirable patterns for so long.
You then have an opportunity to replace it with a new, inspiring, more empowering, and uplifting thought. You can re-train your brain.
By retraining your brain, you can change the ways you respond to life. And so, your life will also change.
Three Ways To Reprogram Your Subconscious Mind
We will discuss three main ways to reprogram your subconscious mind and retrain your brain so that you can increase your sense of self-worth. (Source)
#1. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Following the logic of Don Miguel Ruiz and the Four Agreements, nothing in life is ever about you. Because everybody views life through their own individually tinted lens or perspective, no one’s experience is about anyone else other than themselves! Let me explain this another way: Because our thoughts and beliefs that program our subconscious mind is built out of our interpretation of our early childhood experiences, we then go on to respond to the world in a way that is driven by these thoughts and beliefs. (Source)
Everything we see is seen through the lens of this belief system.
Therefore, we do not see the ultimate truth. And it is the same for everyone else too. Everything they see, in us, or other people, is a projection of their own set of thoughts and beliefs about themselves.
Here is an example: A small child you dropped crumbs on the floor. Your mother scolded you, and you learned from this, and other, similar, experiences, that you were a bad person who could never do anything right! That belief was born out of your interpretation of events. That belief subsequently underwrote everything you ever did.
It affected the way you acted in the world. It modified what you would and wouldn’t do. Ultimately, it made you feel unworthy!
But your mother did not believe you were a bad person! She had a great need for orderliness at that time because she felt so stressed, tired, and lonely raising three small children.
She over-reacted and scolded you because she had had so many sleepless nights and never got a break. Having a clean house gave her a sense of control at a time in her life when she was experiencing a lot of chaos and challenge.
It was never about you! Her reaction to you dropping crumbs was about her, not you! This rationale extends to all interactions with all people:
- When something good happens, it is ultimately never about you;
- When something bad happens, it is never about you;
- When somebody loves you, it is not about you;
- When somebody hates you, it is not about you!
This is why, when you can understand this concept, you never have to take anything personally ever again!
This will liberate you from the chains of feeling hurt, wounded, and rejected. This will allow you to feel more loving towards yourself, because the stories you formed, when you believed it was “your fault,” just will not be happening. Never taking anything personally will help liberate you from the bonds of feeling unworthy.
#2. Thought Changing
This leads on nicely to the concept of thought changing. Although you now know that nothing anyone ever did to you or said to you or about you, was actually about you, it is very likely that you have some subconscious beliefs that you are not worthy or deserving in some way.
The subconscious, having been programmed to act as if these beliefs are “true,” will do so. However, once you can identify those beliefs and tell the subconscious that you are “willing to let them go,” the subconscious will simply oblige, and let go of them.
You then have a wonderful opportunity to replace the old beliefs with something new, something empowering, positive, uplifting, and inspiring.
How To Get Started With Thought Changing
⦁ First, identify your limiting belief. You may need to keep a thought journal for a week. Carry it around with you, and every time you notice you are thinking something negative, write it down. At then end of the week, look at the most common unhelpful thoughts you have been having. Let’s imagine your most common, limiting belief is, “I look terrible.”
⦁ Now ask yourself, “What feelings and sensations do I notice in my body when I believe this thought?” Write down everything you notice. Maybe you notice your jaw, clenches, your brow furrows; perhaps your lips purse and you feel a knot in your stomach. Perhaps your legs feel heavy, and your hands are trembly. These are the bodily sensations you notice when you think and believe this thought. The feelings might be something like this: When you believe that you look terrible, you feel disheartened, disappointed with yourself, sad, depressed, miserable, insecure, afraid, and timid.
⦁ Think about any other thoughts that arise when you believe in this thought. Perhaps you start thinking “I feel like hiding away where no one can see me,” or “No one will ever love me,” or “I’m not good enough.”
⦁ Stick with the first thought as you go through this process. Then you can address the others one by one. (However, you may find they all lose their charge after you go through the process with the first thought). Now that you have identified the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that you experience when you believe this thought, ask yourself, “Is this belief 100% true?” Ideally, you will see that it is not 100% true.
⦁ Ask yourself: “Is there one, good, positive reason to continue believing in this thought when it is not even 100% true, and it makes me feel (depressed, etc.)?”
⦁ If you cannot think of a positive reason to continue believing in this thought, that is great! Now ask yourself’ “Am I willing to let go of this belief right now?” If you answer yes, then continue:
⦁ Ask yourself, “What new, more empowering thought can I replace the old belief with?” Maybe for this scenario, you can replace it with “I am acceptable exactly the way I am, at this moment, and I love myself unconditionally.” You choose whatever new, positive belief makes you feel enlightened, uplifted, or inspired.
⦁ That is all you have to do. You have now reprogrammed your subconscious!
If you are not willing to let go of a particular belief, do not worry. All this signifies is that you hold another, more powerful, belief underneath it.
Explore, identify, and then work through the process with the newly identified belief. Then you will find both beliefs easy to let go of.(Source)
Tapping is also known as Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT. It was developed by Gary Craig and uses the Chinese meridian system. Tapping on a certain sequence of meridians appears to release the energetic blockages associated with the limiting beliefs. (Source)
No one knows how or why this works, but many people swear that it does! If nothing else, it acts to interrupt the unhelpful thought and distract you from thinking about it.
- Let’s say the belief you want to change is, “I don’t deserve love.”
- Rate the intensity of the belief, regarding how badly it is making you feel, on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is you do not have the thought, and ten is, the thought is affecting you severely. Let’s say you rate yourself as an eight at the start of the exercise.
- Use your left hand to “karate chop” the outside edge of your right hand, while saying’ “Even though I believe I don’t deserve love, I unconditionally love and accept myself.”
- Now, you are going to tap various points in a set sequence, using a “reminder.” In this scenario, your reminder could be, “Don’t deserve love.” (Source)
- Tap the top of your head, while saying the words, “Don’t deserve love.” You only need to tap three or four times.
- Tap the inside corner of one eyebrow, while saying the reminder phrase (in this case, that is, “Don’t deserve love”).
- Repeat the reminder phrase, while tapping outside of the eye, on the same side.
- Repeat the reminder phrase while tapping under the mid-point of the eye on the same side.
- Repeat the reminder phrase while tapping on the fulcrum, that is, the point below the nose and above the upper lip.
- Repeat the reminder phrase and tap the middle of the chin.
- Repeat the reminder phrase and tap the point just under the inside edge of the clavicle bone, where it meets the sternum.
- Finally, on the same side, tap about four inches under the armpit, in the midline of your side ribs (on women, this is the bra strap area). Repeat the reminder phrase as you do this.
- Now, rate yourself again. Has the rating go down? Frequently you will find it goes down by one or two points. You can then repeat the exercise and rate yourself again. It will often keep going down. You can repeat the exercise until you have got the rating down to one or even zero. At this point, the thought will to longer be “running the show.”
Other stories you might wish to change with tapping, to increase your self-worth, could be,
- “Even though I am afraid to be myself, I unconditionally love and accept myself.”
- “Even though I fear rejection, I unconditionally love and accept myself.”
- “Even though I feel like other people are better than me, I unconditionally love and accept myself.”
Do you get the idea?
Writing Your New Story
Whichever approach you use, or perhaps you decide to use all of them, using actual internal scripts to replace old, limiting beliefs, is part of the key to success in any area of life.
Here are some positive phrases you might use to replace the old scripts with:
- I love and accept myself exactly as I am
- I am perfectly lovable
- I deserve to enjoy my life
- I deserve love and affection
- I am worthy of financial abundance
- Health, wealth, and happiness are all part of my birthright
- I am worthy to receive
- I am great; I am a master
- I am filled to the brim with love and happiness, and I spread joy wherever I go
- I can have what I want
- I am worthy
According to scientific studies, it takes 21 days to establish a new habit. Therefore, it is a good idea to practice your new scripts for at least that long, before you pass judgment on a result.
Changing your deeply held beliefs in your unworthiness is possible. Most of us humans have this belief on some level. You can improve your self-esteem, your self-image, your feelings of deserving and worthiness, and your confidence, by taking steps to “rewrite” your internal scripts. There are many ways to do this. Three of those ways are thought to change, not taking anything personally and tapping.
Understanding nothing is ever personal can help you avoid taking on others’ projections: This can help you not experience feelings of sadness, hurt or self-blame, when someone puts you down, says unkind or hurtful things or acts in other abusive ways towards you.
You know on a deep level that they are acting out scenes from their own internal scripts, beliefs, and experiences; as we all do this, their behavior can never have anything to do with you! This understanding helps you to become immune to what others think about you. In fact, as Don Miguel Ruiz points out, what others think of you is none of your business.
Thought changing, based on cognitive behavioral therapy, is an effective way to change your subconscious limiting beliefs about yourself. Through a simple process which includes identifying the belief and its associated emotions and bodily sensations, you can let go of the belief once you realize that it is not true and that it is not serving you.
Once you declare that you are willing to let it go, your subconscious mind obliges you and you then have the opportunity to replace it with a new, more empowering belief.
Tapping is a process which seems to interrupt the unhealthy thought patterns by tapping on a sequence of pressure points taken from the Chinese meridian system.
There are plenty of studies which show this system is effective in getting rid of negative emotions which keep you stuck in old patterns of behavior. It trains you to love and unconditionally accept yourself, even though you may be experiencing negative emotions. This acceptance makes room for the negative emotion to shift to something more positive. Therefore, tapping is an excellent choice for improving your self-esteem.
It is possible to build your self-worth by rewriting your internal scripts; however, it does take a certain amount of commitment and dedication to the process. The deeply held beliefs are like dandelion roots: the smaller, younger roots can be dug out quite easily, but the older, bigger roots go down deeply and are very hard to pull out all in one go.
Sometimes you must dig deep and try more than once to get to the real “root” cause of low self-esteem.
So, don’t give up!
And sometimes it is helpful to get the support of a trained professional who can help you identify and release the beliefs that you may not be able to identify on your own.
Reaching out for support is a sign of strength and resilience and can help you shift your mindset at a very deep level.
You know you deserve it!
Stay well and take care of you!
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