Many of my blogs are inspired by the patients I work with in my practice and last week’s writing is no different. Most of us want to be loved, accepted, and approved of by others. We may find ourselves trying to prove our worthiness as a human beings because we learned that love was contingent upon achievement, performance, or productivity. Are there other ways to feel good about yourself? Absolutely, focusing on the significance and impact that you have on others’ lives can be a way to gain self-confidence. How about giving of your time and talents to help those in need?
Developing self-esteem is an inside job and starts with changing your self-talk. Many of us beat up on ourselves and have an easier time generating a list of flaws than a positive attributes list. Shifting our focus to our strengths rather than our weaknesses can prove to be empowering. I will often ask patients to generate a list of positive characteristics (maybe 10-20) and read the list daily. Remember we teach others how to love us by the way we love ourselves. Being assertive, saying no without guilt, confronting/resolving conflict and maintaining healthy boundaries are ways to build self-confidence and experience self-respect.
Life is filled with turmoil, conflict, and stress, but letting go of negative emotions, self-forgiveness, and staying connected to healthy people will enable you to successfully maneuver through difficult times. When we are emotionally healthy and secure, we have better relationships and value connectedness over performance. Our faith and service to others can enhance our humility and also help us to value our character over our accomplishments. Ultimately, life is about the people that we’ve influenced in a positive way, not the status we’ve attained. Live life through people, not things.