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Module 1 - Understanding The 'Concept' of Self-Esteem

In this class: An introduction to self-esteem. Discover why even when you have difficult experiences, how you end up feeling about you will come down to the judgement you make and how much you choose to agree with what you think is the other person's perception or the 'indicators'.

When people who struggle with self-esteem think about improving it, it often feels like an insurmountable task. You get so used to being a certain way, thinking certain things, engaging in certain habits, that to suddenly or quite gradually throw all of that out the window can seem pretty damn scary.

What? I can't just keep trying to find someone to love me, or keep buying things, or trying to fix other people, or even taking substances to numb the pain or make me feel more confident?

What Is Self Esteem?

There's a reason why self-esteem has the word 'self' in it - you can spend your entire life looking for people to validate you, to tell you your worth or confirm what you think your worth is, to make you feel good, to give you a personality and values, but that's actually external-esteem. Bearing in mind that the only thing that you can actually control is you, to put yourself at the mercy of external factors means basically resigning yourself to having no control and having your self-worth yanked around on an 'index'.

Self-esteem is about how you regard you.

Whatever happens externally, what you think, how you see things, and what you may choose to draw meanings from about yourself, is wholly and solely down to you as it's you in your mind.

When you have a reasonable self-esteem, something external happens and you can look at it fairly objectively and not make it all about you and your worth.

When you have low self-esteem, which is where you don't like or love yourself very much and how you feel is conditionally based on what is happening outside of you, something happens and you add on your own take, which is distorted by looking at life through a low self-esteem lens where you see things outside of you as being a reflection of your worth, and then you make a judgement and draw a conclusion that's quite critical and even damning.

The conclusion amounts to basically not feeling good enough, enough being that you believe that you wouldn't feel this way and that certain things would not happen if you were a 'better' 'enough' person.

X (the external factor) + Y (your take on things - your beliefs, assumptions) = Z (I'm not good enough).

In fact, if your default mode of not feeling good enough is quite instinctive and done with little thought, it can become X = Z, which means you're assuming that your worth and your experiences equate to one another because they hold the same value. They don't.

Of course when you think like this, you then keep seeking other people, experiences, objects and even substances to increase the value of X so that you can increase the value of Z.

Self-esteem is about you. It's about treating yourself as a valuable and worthwhile person which in turn gives you confidence. When you don't value yourself and when you don't consider yourself worthwhile, you end up with beliefs that limit you because your beliefs are rooted in what you believe that your capabilities are. Self-esteem requires you to have unconditional love of yourself - this means always treating you with love and care irrespective of what takes place around you.

There is of course a period of your life where self-esteem is actually greatly influenced and even 'acquired' from other people and that's in childhood, especially in the early years. When you are either not nurtured and treated with the love, care, trust, and respect within an environment that helps you grow and navigate the world, or you start off with drawing a conclusion through a child's eyes that's actually incorrect but isn't adjusted, you end up blaming yourself for stuff that has little if anything to do with you and see yourself as someone who 'can't' do this and that and who isn't loveable etc.

I drew a conclusion as a child that if I were loveable 'enough', my father would have been around, he wouldn't have abandoned me in my time of need, and my mother wouldn't have acted in certain ways or said certain things. That's just too much responsibility for an adult, never mind a child, to take on.

We then wake up as adults and are expected to navigate relationships, further our education, seek success, try new things, meet people, be capable, love, think and the whole kit and caboodle and we're not equipped for it.

Sometimes we actually rock up to adulthood with decent self-esteem and then we experience something that devastates us. It may consciously change how we see ourselves and we do the X + Y = Z thing and draw a wrongful conclusion about ourselves, with the judgement having far reaching consequences.

Sometimes that painful experience causes us to withdraw, to be afraid of our feelings and we inadvertently seek out relationships that limit the opportunity to be hurt (or so we think) and then of course end up clocking up more experiences and withdrawing even further and drawing more conclusions.

Sometimes painful experiences cause us to draw conclusions about the world and people, and we might not realise how we're actually affecting how we see ourselves, but everything you believe ultimately comes down to how you feel that you will cope in that context. "The world is an unsafe place" = "I don't believe that I can cope and manage my safety. I can't trust anyone or anything." "Everybody cheats eventually" = "It's not safe for me to trust in a relationship". "All relationships eff up and end" = "I don't think that my relationships can last."

Self-esteem is about how you regard you.

It's not that people don't do things to piss us off, to hurt us and that bad things don't happen, but what is critical to recognise about self-esteem, is that how you feel about you and the conclusion you choose to draw and actions you undertake off the back of what someone says or does or an experience, tells you how much you agree with them. Each time you agree with someone who essentially may be screwing you over or being self-serving and not actually thinking what you think they're thinking about you, you're saying "I agree." You are assigning value to 'everyone else' and 'everything else' because you don't assign enough value to yourself.

When you have low self-esteem, you are agreeing with what you think external sources think about you or are indicating about you.

The funny thing about low self-esteem is, because you see a lot of things as a reflection of your worth and tend to do a lot of ruminating and making misguided conclusions, it's easy to think that others are thinking about you to the same level and making the same conclusion.

As you can see from your own experiences, you think about you a lot, even if you are being critical, but judging by the amount of time you spend thinking about you and your own experiences, it's also time that you realised that good self-esteem or not, most people are actually in their own bubble, thinking about themselves and their lives, and yes, possibly even making dodgy conclusions themselves.

I've dared some people who insist that X + Y = Z to ask, for instance, the person who represents X if this is true. If you've ever told someone about themselves or told them what you think that they think or meant and got a blank face or an entirely different explanation, you can see how wide of the mark we are.

When you have low self-esteem, I can say with 100% certainty that you are too harsh with yourself, which when you think about how generous to a fault that you can be with others, shows the inconsistency in your life.

People and objects, and even substances are basically shortcuts. They may give you instant and even some short-term fun and validation, but you can up, down, round, diagonal and all over the gaff about it, but you can only acquire your self-esteem from you.

You're an adult now which means you have an opportunity to nurture the child within you, to help raise you so that you can look at you and life with renewed perspective instead of with a perspective that's likely rooted in time from long ago that you've just added onto you.

And that's something else you can learn: Self-esteem is also about having perspective, a fairly balanced one where you don't make everything about you, but you don't absolve yourself of all responsibility and claim that you're a victim and that it's everyone else's fault.

From the moment that you start to accept that actually, you have been good enough from the moment that you came onto this earth and that woah, you're actually a worthy, worthwhile person irrespective of anything that has happened in the past, you start to gain perspective and let you own your own actions and let others own theirs.

During this 8 week course, we're going to examine the components or ingredients of self-esteem and how they work together and help you to build up and boost these in your own life.

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