Who knew I would spend three weeks blogging about success. It seems like everyone, including me, has an opinion about what defines success. Two weeks back, I blogged about whether it is epitomized in a good or a goods life. Last week, I recalled that significant opportunities lead to success, which come to us based on our cultural and historical backgrounds.
In my recent research, I came upon a blog titled, To Succeed, Forget Self-Esteem, and this triggered a need to respond and add further clarity to the topic. Given that many successful people (i.e., Louise Hay, Marianne Williamson, Oprah Winfrey, Wayne Dwyer, Gary Zukav, Eckhart Tolle, the Dalai Lama) spend the greater part of their careers purposefully improving self-esteem, I have to think the author of the above blog was defining self-esteem as ego. Although some dictionaries describe it as self-importance, in general speech we use self-esteem to refer to our confidence in our own worth or abilities; our self-respect. Ego, as typically used, reflects our sense of self-importance. One can have low self-esteem or self-worth and a huge ego, which is often displayed outwardly as bravado or arrogance or even aloofness.
Here is a checklist to help you recognize low self-esteem in yourself or others—
- You spend very little time living in the present instead you regret the past or worry about the future.
- You fear new experiences and change.
- You mistrust others, meaning you mistrust yourself.
- You want something someone else has (envy).
- You respond in exaggerated ways to defeats or disappointments.
- You boast about and exaggerate the nature of your successes.
- You sabotage yourself by isolating or withdrawing from others.
- You are a ‘people pleaser’ with an overwhelming need for approval and support.
- You put down and deny yourself with thoughts like “I don’t deserve…” or “I’ll never be able to…”
- You neglect your physical appearance.
- You have difficulty making eye contact.
- You avoid deep intimate relationships.
- You lack self-awareness.
- Your desire for material possessions controls you.
- You keep ‘busy’ to avoid confronting your personal issues.
- You are not comfortable in your own skin.
- You feel hopeless.
- You lack energy and enthusiasm.
- You tend to be anxious.
- You are overly sensitive to criticism.
- You are overly critical of others.
- You struggle with addictions.
- You are always apologizing.
From my own experience, I can confirm that the higher my self-esteem or self-confidence, the greater the likelihood I will take the necessary action. A very simple example illustrates this point. I began to practice yoga in my later 40s to regain flexibility in an overly muscular body. I loved the physical and spiritual nature of the practice because both challenged my status quo and moved me into growth. However, when the time came to do arm balances, fear overwhelmed me. Generally speaking, I approach change with a fearless attitude but not this time. My fear or my disbelief, mistrust of myself, overwhelmed my physical strength even though I was strong enough to do the pose. Until I confronted my fear (low self-esteem), a happy expression of the pose was illusive to me. As my self-esteem grew stronger so did my arm balance. Today, it is one of my favourite poses.
Low self-esteem is the result of a negative-thinking problem. Negative thoughts, attitudes, emotions, words and/or deeds manifest negative outcomes. Positive self-esteem manifests positive outcomes (success).
You can use affirmations to reconfigure your perceptions, attitudes and brain into a positive mindset and improved self-esteem. Try some of my favourites listed below, or better yet, write your own and repeat them just before you rise from bed and just as you are ready to fall asleep.
I believe in myself and my ability to succeed.
I am responsible for my thoughts, emotions, words and deeds, therefore I think only positive, uplifting thoughts.
I am spontaneous, flexible and balanced in my response to Life’s opportunities.
There are no mistakes only opportunities to learn better, kinder ways.
I assert my desires without harming others.
I listen calmly and respectfully for truth to emerge.
I am comfortable in my own skin, and I gratefully accept what is.
I gracefully handle all challenges and opportunities that Life brings.
What one act can you commit to that will strengthen your self-esteem?
As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single
thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep
physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental
path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish
to dominate our lives. Henry David Thoreau