When one of your consistent beliefs is that you are never good enough, you open the door to a lifetime of feeling insecure in relationships, feeling resentful of others, feeling guilty about your own behaviour, feeling afraid of new experiences, and feeling unfulfilled in your life. When you believe that you are never good enough you are not only very critical of yourself; you are also critical of others. The only time you are truly comfortable is when you are alone and even then, your own thoughts about your inadequacies can haunt you.
When you believe that you are never good enough you frequently withdraw from others or from opportunities because of low self-esteem. It is a withdrawal out of fear, not out of choice. The fear is that you don’t measure up, that you are not capable, or that others will see all of your flaws and dislike you or judge you negatively because of them. You fear rejection and failure.
The majority of your beliefs about yourself are formed in childhood. As time goes on, these beliefs become entrenched in your subconscious and define your self-esteem. Your self-esteem is a description of the beliefs you have about yourself and how you value the different aspects of yourself. You make choices based on these beliefs and you actually shape your experience to reinforce them. You may even strongly defend your low self -esteem by saying things like, “That’s just the way I am”, or “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, or “I’ve always been this way”, or “I’ve never been good at things like that”.
To improve your self-esteem, you have to challenge the beliefs that diminish your view of yourself. Replace the negative, limiting, and critical messages you received as a child with beliefs that support and build your self-esteem. Tell yourself that you matter as a person, and that you are worthy of love and attention just the way you are. Tell yourself that you are capable of accomplishing your goals and that you do have the power to make things happen in your life. Tell yourself that you have unique talents, strengths, and abilities that you will offer to make a worthwhile contribution to this world. Tell yourself that you are as good as anyone else – no better and no worse – and that what you believe about yourself is more important than what anyone else thinks about you.
I am not asking you to lie or to flatter yourself with empty words or false praise. Spend some time thinking about each of these statements and you will see the truth in them. Every human being has value, every human being has two or three things that he/she does well, and every human being is capable of exerting his/her will to make things happen. You don’t need money, you don’t need great beauty or great talent, and you don’t need someone else to do it for you. You cannot control others thoughts; quit trying to control what they think about you. You can control your own thoughts so put your effort into changing your beliefs and building your self-esteem.
Next, you have to take the big step of putting your behaviour behind your words. Think about how you treat someone who is important to you and treat yourself in the same way. When you believe that you matter as a person you will listen to your inner self, you will be gentle and forgiving with yourself, and you will do everything you can to give yourself what you need. When you believe that you are worthy of love and attention, you will give yourself love and attention. You will treat yourself with dignity and respect. You will take care of your body by living a healthy lifestyle; you will take care of your mind by being open, flexible, and willing to learn; and you will take care of your spirit by getting to know who you are and what you value, and by living in accordance with your values.
When you believe that you are in control of your life, you will decide what you want to do with your life and then you will put your effort and will behind that decision. You will set realistic goals that give you the opportunity to make the most out of your unique blend of talents, strengths and abilities. When you believe that you are as good as anyone else, you will not measure yourself against anyone else nor will you judge others. You won’t waste your time searching for the truth or the value of your life in someone or something outside of yourself. You will look within and focus what you have to offer this world.
Self-esteem is just that – the esteem you give to yourself. Only you can choose how you value yourself, how you care for yourself, and how you are to live your life. Even if you choose to let someone else have the power or if you choose to live your life by default, it is still your choice and you are creating your life. Nobody can make you do anything. You will only be a victim of your past if you choose to be.
You are good enough and you always have been good enough. You set the standard and you decide your value. Use this power to build your self-esteem, to make the most of who you are, and to live with love, confidence, and happiness.
Shirley Vandersteen, Ph. D., R. Psych.