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By Brian Tubbs
September 18, 2010
Insecurity and low self-esteem can be devastating in a person's life. Not only can a low sense of self-worth affect relationships, job performance, and income, but it can also wreak havoc on one's health. Some researchers, for example, contend that low self-esteem leads to memory loss in old age, while others maintain that it can "lead to depression , paranoia, anorexia, bulimia."
A person need not accept defeat in the battle with low self-esteem. People can overcome insecurity and boost their sense of self-confidence, provided they have the right strategy, tools, and support. This article provides ten proven ways to help build one's self-esteem:
- Refuse to Accept a Bleak Future - Many people, feeling overwhelmed and discouraged by their present situation, think they can never or will never achieve anything better in life. Nothing could be further from the truth. The present doesn't dictate the future. As the legendary motivational speaker Nido Qubein says: "Your present circumstances don't determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start."
- Build Your Life Around Truth and Facts - In the famous Boston Massacre Trial of 1770, attorney John Adams courageously defended British troops accused of murdering Boston citizens. With passions aroused against the Mother Country and grief over the recent tragedy, many Bostonians were ready to condemn the soldiers to death. Adams refused to let passion and feelings govern the day. He defended the British on the particulars of the case as well as on the principles of the law, famously saying: "Facts are stubborn things." Adams won the case, and we would do well to heed his wisdom. Don't base your life or your self-worth on emotion and feelings. Build your life around facts and truths.
- Adopt an Ethic of Learning and Education - An old biblical proverb says: "A wise man will hear and increase learning" (Proverbs 1:5a). Education doesn't stop with high school or college. Education never stops. Never cease from learning or developing new skills. Keep your mind open to learning new things.
- Learn from (but don't internalize) Rejection - Everyone gets rejected. Whether it's for a new position, a date, a friendship, or a business venture, chances are that you will face rejection. Don't internalize the rejection and let it govern your sense of self-worth. Instead, accept the rejection constructively, finding out as much about the particulars as you can. Learn from the rejection, and do better next time.
- Don't Let Others Determine Your Self-Worth - Part of building your life around truths and facts (see #2) is refusing to let other people's opinions and feelings decide how you feel about yourself or determine your personal identity. As Joel Osteen writes: "Other people's opinions do not determine your potential...Don't allow negative words or attitudes to take root and keep you from pressing forward."
- Know the Difference Between Perfection and Effectiveness - People should always strive to be their best and to do their best, but too often, people are unduly harsh on themselves, demanding nothing short of 100% perfection. People are, by nature, imperfect. What's more, people measure performance and results often by subjective criteria, making "perfection" all the more unreachable. Learn to do your best, but focus on effectiveness rather than perfection. What is it that you're trying to accomplish? Are you accomplishing that objective, even if you fall short in some of the details or particulars?
- Speak Positively About Yourself and Others - Stop the negative talk. Stop putting yourself down and stop criticizing others. It's one thing to constructively point out areas for improvement in yourself (and, in the right context and setting, others), but it's quite another to always focus on and speak about the negative. Speak positively.
- Focus on the Positive - Keep your mind focused on the good things in your life and in the various situations you face. What do you spend most of your time thinking about? The answer will say a lot about your mood and perspective on life. Think positively.
- Help and Serve Others - The apostle Paul once famously wrote that each person should "esteem others better than himself" (Philippians 2:3). That bit of first century wisdom is every bit as applicable today. Not only will serving others enhance your own sense of self worth and do wonders for your happiness, but it will also help you achieve your dreams. As Zig Ziglar says: "You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want."
- Set Realistic Goals For Yourself - While people should dream big, they should set incremental goals. Start establishing realistic, confidence-building goals for yourself. Few things will help you build self-esteem than setting and achieving goals.
Low self-esteem affects tens of millions of people, but you don't need to be a victim. By cultivating the right habits of personal growth, education and thought and by developing the right sense of value in yourself and in others, you can overcome low self-esteem and enhance your life.