I remember thinking that there was a secret that everyone else knew except me. I thought once I figured out this secret, then my life would be okay. I would be okay, but despite my best efforts, the answers I was seeking always seemed to elude me.

Everything always seemed to come easy to other people. I always had road blocks and hurdles to climb over before I could even get to the place where everyone else started from. As I grew older I realized that the hurdles were my beliefs about myself. I had brutally low self-esteem. I walked around knowing that I was flawed and that others were more worthy than I was, so I didn’t put up too much resistance.

The one thing that I did have in my favor was a voracious appetite for knowledge. People have been asking me recently– how do you acquire self-esteem? Can you show me step by step how to get self-worth?

I imagine the journey is different for everyone. Mine wasn’t pretty and may even turn some people off. I wish it was easy to wrap into a tidy package with a step by step plan, but I figure the best I can do is tell you how I came to become a self-love warrior and hope that it has meaning to those of you still looking for the answer to that question.

A number of events happened that, as I look back, all seemed to draw me from one epiphany to the next. The first thing that happened was, I met a woman that could see dead people. Just like John Edwards or the Long Island Medium, Theresa Caputo. She told me that there was a father figure present, my father had died when I was 17. Prior to this meeting I would have called myself agnostic. I was a student of science. I wanted to believe in some higher power, but I had to see it to believe it. I had never met this woman before. She knew nothing about me and she said the word ‘Mug Wamp.’ Suddenly the hair stood up on the back of my neck. That was the nickname my dad always called me when I was a little girl. No one knew that and worse still, no one could have pulled that name out of a hat. After revealing a few more things that she couldn’t possibly have known I walked away from her in complete shock.

My entire view of the world, the universe and God changed that day. I had to restructure my thinking to include the notion that our consciousness carries on, that we are not just this body. That we are these immense, powerful, eternal beings. That was the first eye opener.

Next came the death of my mother from a car accident and the departure of my long-term Narcissist, who left me for another woman.

I was at the very bottomest of bottoms and I can totally identify with J.K. Rowlings quote, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” My life was a complete disaster. I had never known depression before and it became debilitating. I had no one and nothing and I spent many a day doing nothing, but stare at the wall.

But I’m a fighter and I couldn’t stay immobile for long. I wanted answers for everything and to find a way to dig myself out. One of the answers I was seeking was, ‘Where are my parents? Are they okay? Can they see me? What are they doing?’ I came across a book called Many Lives Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss. It was a true story and first person account by a prominent, Jewish, New York, Psychiatrist, who had a patient he was not getting anywhere with. One day he decided to do a little regression hypnosis with her, to see if he could pinpoint exactly where her problem started in childhood. When he did that, she didn’t start talking about her early childhood, she was talking about another life entirely. He was Jewish and he didn’t believe in past lives or reincarnation and neither did I for that matter. But over the course of many months he recorded his hypnosis sessions with her. Through these sessions she took him back to many different lives. She revealed things in hypnosis that she couldn’t possibly know about ancient civilizations, cultures and even languages that he knew the young woman lying before him didn’t know.

Reading that book led me to read Journey of Souls by Dr. Michael Newton, which tells the story of the doctor’s patients, who described under hypnosis, just what happens when you die. It was all pretty fascinating. I wasn’t sure I believed in reincarnation, but I sure liked the concept.

Because I have to know everything, I took matters a little further. I contacted a hypnotherapist and I wanted to schedule a Life Between Lives session. This is supposed to take you to that place you go after you die. I was told that I couldn’t do that until I had had a past life regression session first. This was all really expensive and I was barely getting by. At that time knowledge was more important to me than food, so I booked them both and was in for about a 4 hour hypnosis session.

First up was my past life regression. I went back into three different lives. I can’t honestly tell you that what I experienced was real or something my imagination conjured up. I just don’t know, but it did show me something pretty profound. In my present life I have never been comfortable in my own skin. I’ve always felt flawed and broken. I noticed that in all of my lives that same feeling came up, I had different bodies, even different genders, but I still had the same problem. I had no self-esteem, and I felt worthless. All of them seemed to play out the same way too, where I lost everything, I was miserable and all alone.

We took a break and I tried to process what all of this meant. I told the hypnotherapist that I wasn’t sure if it was real or not. She said it doesn’t matter. Whatever is coming up for you is what your spirit or your subconscious mind is telling you to address.

The Lives Between Lives session was next. I had no idea what to expect and what happened was pretty incredible. The hypnotist told me to go to the end of one of my lives and asked me to describe what was happening. As I left that body she asked me if I could see anything. I could feel my own vibration. I could feel it getting faster and faster to the point where every molecule in my body was vibrating at a level that I’ve never experienced before. “What do you see?” she asked. “My spirit guide,” I answered.

If you ask me now, ‘was your past life regression real?’ I could honestly tell you –  I don’t know. If you ask me, ‘Was meeting your spirit guide real?’ I would have to say it sure felt real. I could feel the molecules in my body vibrating so fast.  I don’t know if I had to raise my vibration to be able to be on the same frequency as my spirit guide– no one ever went over that. I don’t know why it happened and the hypnotist said when it did happen all of the energy in the room changed, she said a huge smile came on my face and it was all very palpable.

The hypnotist asked my spirit guide if I was a healer. The answer I got was, “No, a teacher.” I was kind of upset with that answer. This was years before the idea of Esteemolgy ever came to me. Who wants to be a teacher? I thought at the time. The idea of being a healer was much more appealing to me, so I remember not liking the answer I got. She told me to ask my guide about the question I wanted to know, so I asked, “How do I learn to love myself?” It was the theme of all of my lives – me not loving myself. The answer I heard was, “You already know. The answer is already inside of you.”

Now many of you might be saying hogwash this is all a bunch of nonsense and you could very well be right. I don’t claim to believe this anymore then the next guy. All I can do is lay out what I experienced. If you want an answer to the question – then you have to understand how I got to the answer.

What I understood to this point was that I was not this body. I was an immense energy being, so much more than this skin and this hair. I understood that I was important and loved. What was said to me I was disappointed with because it seemed like a non-answer. Hundreds of dollars later and all I walked away with was a riddle.

I was still trying to dig myself out of depression. My life was still a mess, so I started to read every book I could get my hands on, on self-esteem. Nothing really helped. I tried the mirror technique – where you stare at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself, “I love you,” and other positive phrases – that didn’t work. I tried affirmations – didn’t really change anything. I was still looking for this thing, where I could do something and feel the effects immediately, but that never happened. The more I searched the more elusive the answer seemed to be.

What did come however was the immensely popular documentary The Secret. In it there was a story about a man, who had been in an airplane crash. He was completely paralyzed and could only blink his eyes. He told the doctors and the nurses that he would walk out of the hospital by Christmas. They humored him believing he would always be completely paralyzed, unable to blink, or even swallow on his own and they were stunned when he actually walked out of there by Christmas.

Being a student of science, that story and understanding the principle behind the placebo effect moved me the most. It taught me that the mind is the most powerful thing in the universe. It really could move mountains. I finally understood that what we actually believe about ourselves, our lives, our future will actually shape our lives and our future. The placebo effect is real, there’s no dispute about it. If our minds believe it – it becomes real for us. The paralyzed man in the bed had so much mental discipline that he didn’t allow himself to get riddled with doubt. He convinced himself that it was going to happen the way he wanted it to and it did.

From that, I realized that our minds control all things. I strengthened my mind further by getting into meditation. Through meditation not only could I learn how to control my mind, I could also control my emotions. That lead to visualization, focus and a ton of mental discipline.

I began exercising for no other reason than I wanted to look good. With all the natural endorphins jumping around in my body, I not only looked good, I felt great too.

At the same time I was still trying to get to the bottom of why I didn’t love myself. I read a lot, including Robert Burney’s Dance of the Wounded Soul and it helped me to trace back the message that I wasn’t good enough – that I was broken and flawed, all the way back to my childhood. I could recall vividly, incidents with my mother, where she hammered that sentiment home. I looked at her and her childhood and realized she got the same message. Upon deep reflection, I finally understood that the message was a lie. I recalled her telling me that when people would complement her, her father would immediately put her down, because he didn’t want her to get a big head, or become prideful. In her father’s twisted mind, tearing apart her self-esteem was more beneficial to her wellbeing, then letting her gain confidence and she was passing this pathetic reasoning down to me.

It was a lie, it was always a lie and finally I began to see it as a lie. I was overwhelmed with the understanding that I was good enough, I was always good enough – that I was born good enough. I realized that I was looking to others to show me that I was special, lovable, worthy, but it was always an inside job. I’d herd these words before, but they never really hit home until that moment. I understood that no one could ever give you self worth, because it’s already yours. I had done so much for myself that I knew just like everything else, no one in this world was going to give me self-esteem, it was something that I had to reach out and take for myself.

Another thing happened too. My Narcissist was gone, my mother was gone and I felt a kind of peace I had never felt before. Sure I loved my mom and I missed her, but I didn’t miss her constant criticism and the way she always made me feel. The toxic people in my life were gone. I was looking good, feeling good and completely in control of my thoughts and my emotions. I felt free.

I was alone. I had nothing and I had to do everything for myself. This made me fiercely independent, ambitious and it gave me a lot of confidence too. For the first time I was feeling really good about me. I was taking care of myself. I was treating myself like I was a person of value, because finally I believed it.

The new friends I was making all shared a really healthy and positive attitude towards themselves and their lives. They were my teachers even if they didn’t know it. If you’ve ever watched the movie The Pursuit of Happyness, staring Will Smith, it was kind of like that. A man drives up in an expensive car, dressed in a designer suit, reeking of success and Smith’s character says, “Hey man. What do you do for a living?” “I’m a broker,” the guy answers. From that point on Smith’s character immerses himself into learning everything he can about the trading business. He saw the lifestyle he wanted (the end goal) and said, hey why not me? If hard work can get me there then I’m all in and he followed the blue print that others had layed, until he achieved his success.

There was no buzzer for me, no alarm bell, no fanfare, that happened that alerted me to the fact that I not only didn’t hate myself, but I loved myself. It was a long process and a lot of work. I just woke up one day and realized that the message I had received earlier from my spirit guide now made sense to me. The answer was always inside of me. It was a battle at times, but just performing the actions of caring for myself – mind, body and spirit was the formula. When you do good things for yourself, when you treat you with love, care and respect, you can’t help but feel good about yourself, that’s it and others will follow your lead. It was never a secret riddle that I had to figure out. All I had to figure out was myself and the rest followed.

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