For those of us who know we don’t have it, self-esteem is that ever elusive mystery quality that would magically make our lives better. We know all the signs of not having it – feeling not good enough, not worthy of love, we have difficulty accepting compliments, we sometimes want to hide away and be invisible, we allow ourselves to be mistreated….but we never learned what having self-esteem really feels like or how to get it, all we know is that we don’t have it.

Self-worth comes from placing value on who we are. We learn all about our value by the way we are treated as children. If those closest to us treat us as a person of value then we too, will treat ourselves likewise, but if we are mistreated and emotionally abused, our self-perception becomes skewed. We see everywhere that parents love their children. It’s all over our culture. We see it on TV shows, commercials, magazines and even at our friends house, so when our own parents don’t treat us in a similar fashion it’s pretty clear where the fault must lie – with us. If those closest to us don’t treat us as persons of value, it’s no wonder we never learn how to value ourselves.

Who Are You?

One of the keys to acquiring self-worth is knowing who you are. Critical parents are quick to point out flaws and we very seldom, if ever, get to hear what’s right with us. We don’t spend the time developing and growing into our personalities, instead we tended to grow up feeling equal parts shame and flawed. We learned to become afraid to look inside, out of fear of what we might find. It’s important on our journey to have a full understanding of who you really are in the hopes that you will grow to be comfortable just being authentically you. If someone asked you who you were what would you say? Take a few minutes and answer that question:

Acquiring Self-Esteem

Acquiring self-esteem really is all about changing the lens that you view yourself. It’s one thing to understand that you developed a warped sense of who you are and now that you’ve put some thought into who it, now let’s look at some behaviors that can help with this process:

Learn how to control your emotions: People that have low self-esteem feel things deeply and they tend to internalize other people’s issues. Learn the pass back technique – when someone behaves irrationally, or their behavior is way over the top, don’t internalize their behavior, understand that how they behave has nothing to do with you and pass their issues back to them. As well, stop listening to that critical voice in your head that keeps trying to pull you down and sabotage your progress. Know that you are not this voice – this voice is a tape that’s been playing since you were very young and it has one purpose – to keep you where you are and lead you to a place of hurt.

Learn how to give and take criticism: People with low self-esteem have difficulty hearing criticism and no wonder. If negative stuff is all we ever hear we’re going to become pretty sensitive to more of the same. But not all criticism is bad. Sometimes it’s important and helps us to understand what we’re doing wrong in order to know what we need to change or focus on. It’s important to learn the difference between someone who means to do us harm and someone who is try to help and make us better and how to react to both.

Let go of the need to be perfect: People that need perfection will always be disappointed. When you have a highly critical parent you tend to become critical yourself and believe that only the absolute best is good enough – for you and everyone else. This need for perfection often stops you from trying and putting yourself out there out of fear. If you are waiting around for perfect conditions you will always be waiting. Learn how to accept things as they are and let that be good enough. Practice just being uncomfortable with the imperfection. Sit with the feeling and realize that it’s ok to have and expose that flaw. Tell that inner critic to shut the hell up and just do and be and let that be enough. When you start to let go and just accept what is, you will find just how much fun you were missing out on.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: The late Wayne Dyer always used to say, “The only person I have to be better than is the person I was yesterday.” You don’t have to look like Gigi Hadid to be good enough. There’s only one person that looks like Gigi Hadid and that’s Gigi Hadid. You can be you and have flaws and still be good enough. You can have curves and be good enough, you can have no curves and still be good enough. You can be black, white, Asian, Indian, Korean or Chinese and still be good enough. Practice letting go of the need to be better than someone else to be Ok. Practice being you and being ok with that – just one time and see how that feels. If plus size model Ashley Graham waited around until she was as thin as Gigi Hadid she would never have had such a lucrative modeling career, nor would she be the voice of millions of women struggling to accept themselves. You’re you be brave enough to own who you are.

Negative thinking: There is no one harder on people with low self-esteem than themselves. Get into the habit of noticing every time your thoughts head in a negative direction. We learn by repetition, so if you want to change your attitude start by interrupting your negative thought patterns and practice steering them to a more positive perspective. It isn’t easy to control your thoughts especially since we have so many every day. Get into the practice of challenging your perspective and not just letting these thoughts run amok inside your head. Positivity is important if you find yourself being self-critical stop that voice immediately and change the message.

When we’re talking about self-worth and self-esteem the key to remember is that you were born good enough – you were born worthy. You’re worthy because you exist and that’s all you ever had to do to be worthy. Know that your perception of you was altered because someone close to you, at a critical stage of your development, kept giving you false information and immature little ole you believed it – that’s all. So stop looking to other people to show you your worth. They can’t give you your worth because they don’t have it.

Your self-worth is a constant, it doesn’t change based upon whether someone can see it or not and that includes you. You’re the one that has to get in line with where it’s at. It’s is an inside job and it’s a choice you have to make every day.

I’m going to tell you a huge secret (lean in real close) – Nobody gives you self-worth – you decide your worth and you just reach out and take it. It’s yours – it belongs to you and it’s your job to own it and protect it.

Just like Dorothy in the Wizzard of Oz, understand that the power was always inside of you – you just didn’t know it – now you do.

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