According to Wikipedia: “Self-esteem reflects a person's emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self. It encompasses beliefs (for example, "I am competent", "I am worthy", I’m not good enough,”) and emotions such as triumph, pride, and shame.” According to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self-esteem is one of our ‘basic needs’ after food, safety and love. Everyone agrees that those with positive self-esteem achieve more of their goals and have healthier relationships, resulting in a happier life. The question then becomes, how can I evaluate or improve my own self-esteem? Do I learn positive self-esteem or do I earn it? The answer is both! One of the first questions to ask yourself is, “Do my feelings about myself depend on what others think of me?” If you find that your feelings about yourself vary depending on whom you are with and how they make you feel, you probably need to strengthen your self-esteem. Although not everyone is going to like you, just like you don’t like everyone else, your feelings about yourself should not change. It’s normal to feel bad if someone criticizes you or is unkind to you but hurt feelings do not have to change the way you feel about yourself.
Self-esteem begins to develop from birth. As a child, your beliefs about yourself were formed by the messages you heard from the important people in your life. It begins with your immediate family and soon encompasses friends, teachers and social situations. Although there is some genetic component to self-esteem, it is never cast in stone. For example, if you were teased by siblings and classmates you probably developed a low self esteem thought pattern regarding friends and social situations. You could have been good at art or math and developed positive self esteem thought patterns regarding those areas. It is common to have confidence in one area and feel insecure in others. The solution is to not let your shortcomings affect your self-esteem. Because no one is perfect, one of the most effective ways to improve your self-esteem is to accept those things about yourself you cannot change and celebrate your strengths. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. By focusing on only your negative qualities, your self-esteem weakens, but by focusing on your positive qualities your self-esteem will get stronger. The first step is, of course, awareness. Observe your self -talk. What do you notice is your habit, or pattern of thought, positive or negative? As an adult, obsessive thinking can trigger negative feelings from the past while in social gatherings creating thoughts like: “No one seems to talk to me, or I don’t like crowds.” As you repeat these thoughts, the negatives beliefs increase. Remember, a belief is nothing more than a thought that you have repeated over and over again. Often our negative thought patterns, as adults, are from someone’s opinion of you from the past, but it was just their opinion! By repeating the thoughts, your negative self-esteem becomes worse. You can change that by changing your thought patterns.
I am reminded of a client who came to me for weight loss and had poor self-esteem as a result of her weight. She defined her value by the weight she was carrying. She was sure she would like herself better if she lost weight. In hypnosis it became obvious that she ate to make herself feel better and the poor self esteem created the over eating. She realized that her body was only one small part of who she was and that she really loved the person she was inside. When she focused on those qualities, overeating became unnecessary and she has begun to lose weight.
I found a wonderful resource for those of you who would like to learn more about how you can improve your self-esteem. Visit http://www.self-esteem-experts.com/how-to-increase-self-esteem.html. Remember, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. When will you begin to change your negative thought patterns?