The starting point for both success and happiness is a healthy self-image. “An individual’s self-concept is the core of his personality. It affects every aspect of human behaviour: the ability to learn, the capacity to grow and change, the choice of friends, mates and careers. It’s no exaggeration to say that a strong positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success in life.” Yet so many of us have a poor self image and low self esteem, as a result we wander through life beaten and dejected.
To achieve and live our greatest lives, we need to develop a positive self esteem, this shouldn’t be confused with a super inflated ego, of being greater than everybody around us. Below are 6 major causes of negative self esteem that we need to watch out for and get rid of in our lives:
1. Some of us have a low self esteem because our abilities, appearance and intelligence have been ridiculed or questioned many times by the people we care about; parents, teachers, friends and others in authority. In many cases, these hurts come in the form of insinuations, but they are just as real and devastating as if they were true. As a result, we see ourselves through the negative eyes of others. If your friends, family and associates find fault like there is a reward for it, you get a distorted picture of the real you.
2. The tendency to confuse failure in a project, or event, with failure in life. A child who fails a subject in school or who doesn’t make the team, makes the mistake of identifying a single failure with failure in life itself. An adult who fails an interview for a dream job, sees that as the end of his life, he begins to think he is no goo at all. This disheartenedly is often reinforced by teachers and/or parents. Once the low self esteem slide starts, the natural tendency is to feed the inferiority feeling.
3. Untrained memory; for some of us the fact that we don’t remember things or names well makes us feel inferior to others. But hear this; “a perfect memory doesn’t indicate a great mind any more than a huge dictionary, with all the words in it, represents a great piece of literature. Second, the person who can’t remember is infinitely better off than the one who can’t forget”. – Zig Ziglar “Actually, there is no such thing as a “good” memory or a “bad” memory; it is either trained or untrained”. There are lots of resources available, some of them are actually free on the internet that can help us develop and have a trained memory.
4. Unrealistic and unfair comparison of experiences; we generally make the mistake of comparing our experience with another person’s experience. We exaggerate their successful experience and downgrade our own success. Experience has nothing to do with ability. For example there are over 400 million Chinese under twenty-five who can do something you probably cannot do. They can speak Chinese. Does that mean they are smarter than you? Not at all; it means they have had a different experience. At this moment you are doing something that over three billion people cannot do. You are reading this post in English Obviously this does not mean you are smarter than three billion other people. It does mean you have had a different experience.
5. Comparing our worst features to other people’s best features; the world is filled with people who don’t find a certain part of their bodies attractive, and so it reduces their self esteem. Folks let us not see ourselves as unattractive. Inside each one of us is talents or good qualities. Comparing your worst qualities to someone else’s best quality is self defeating. Instead, let’s take our best features or talents, and use them to get what we want in life. Do not forget these words from the bible; “ I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth”.. – Psalms 139 :14 – 15
6. Unrealistic and unreachable standards of perfection that are unrealistic and unreachable; this often leads to failure. Often times when we fail due to our own overly high standards, we never forgive ourselves. We feel we must either be perfect, the best or the worst. And so since we failed, we now think and believe that we are the worst. “This affects all areas of life and is an underlying cause of job dissatisfaction, discord in the rearing of children, unhappiness in a marital relationship, etc. After all, if a person feels he is the “worst,” then surely he cannot believe he “deserves” a good job, a good mate, good children, or anything of merit or value.” – Zig Ziglar.