Self esteem – is just that – we esteem ourselves. Healthy, robust self esteem, doesn’t come without effort, because from birth we are taught by parents and caregivers to value ourselves conditionally because that is how they valued us. Unless we question this, we assume our worth and treat ourselves based on how we were treated, and how loved or neglected we felt growing up. Despite best intentions no one, no parent or caregiver can love and approve of us unconditionally unless thy have done this for themselves first. If they have, it is a rarity – one for the Guinness Book of Records!
So we are going to probably undervalue ourselves until we step beyond parameters we have innocently bought into. To break into high self esteem – we need to love, care and respect ourselves and our bodies in a way that others could not do for us in the past. And guess what, people magically reflect our decision about our worth back to us with more care, love and respect. Life reflects our decision back to us with more opportunity, abundance and success than ever before. The transition really means giving ourselves permission to decide what we are worth and then stand by what we decide and not give in to self-doubt.
You can tell a lot about how far you have evolved past needing validation from others when you revisit your family or carers. It can be intense can’t it? If you haven’t shaken off your self doubt, instilled in you by all the judgement you received growing up, you get sucked into the old dynamic of reacting to the hurt of perceived or outright criticism. Annoyingly, family feel entitled to judge your adult decisions and you still hustle for approval so that you can feel good about yourself. Why ? When you left home and forged an independent adult life, you did not form an independent decision about your worth that made you feel good. To make up for what your parents could not and cannot give you – do you bend over backwards for approval from lovers, spouses, bosses and larger social or political circles? If you do, your cycle of approval seeking has not been broken.
If you really want to get off this merry –go- round, then you can start by evaluating your worth on your terms. This means unravelling the emotional blocks and hurts to really allow the energy of love to flow through you so that your hunger for love and approval gets satisfied. And this I know is not easy because we are so deeply programmed to judge everything in life which means we can be very blocked to receiving our own love.
We are brimming with reasons not to like, let alone love ourselves. We find it painful and extremely difficult to forgive or have compassion for our so called human failings and failures.
If we get ill or we have been betrayed we don’t allow ourselves to feel sympathy for our misery. Instead we put on a stiff upper lip so that we can be loved and approved of for our heroic courage. This is self denial, a refusal to give to ourselves. If you have been conditioned that “it is better to give than receive” – then why not realign to” charity starts at home”, charity for your inner being. All denial does, is alienate us from the love and compassion that we essentially are. Believe it or not, there is no one else who can do a better job of loving you than you because you are the only one who knows what feeling good feels like to you. But choosing to do this I know is scary because we have a lot of resistance or don’t know how to start. Most of us need help.
It is the unconditional part of self love that is crucial to self esteem, because anything else is judgment. Judgement is the seed of self doubt and this destroys confidence. Change doesn’t happen overnight but when you commit to loving yourself without judgement, you can unravel fears of disapproval and find that your confidence and self esteem will steadily soar.
So let’s stop and take a moment. Move your awareness into your body. If you feel relaxed and are breathing easily without trying, it is a sure sign you are feeling good about yourself right now. In contrast if you are tense and your breathing is shallow or irregular you won’t be feeling so good about yourself.
We can be in a tense state, habitually. We might only notice how good we can feel when we do yoga or meditate, dance or have sex. We just feel loving and expansive and free.
The warmth of love seems to infuse us and we like it – a lot! That is why we are obsessed let’s face it, in finding a mate who will love us relentlessly, unconditionally, because it makes us feel great. The point here is not to assume we should always be feeling one feeling and judge ourselves when we can’t hold on to peace or happiness or what ever. We all know how we can feel fabulous after a holiday. But it’s as if we never went away once we are back in our routine and something or someone triggers us and we are annoyed or offended or feel rubbish! I would like to help you here. I am not advocating staying around abusive people, discernment is vital, but when someone offends or hurts us, it usually has more to do with our self belief, maybe a hidden belief, that that person may be justified in their criticism or that we are not worthy of being treated well somehow. Instead of holding ourselves stable in our own good energy we drop down into a low energy frequency to match the energy of what the other person is saying or doing. But in reality when someone is offensive they are usually projecting onto you the way they have been treated and it is not about you at all. It is their stuff. So the essential thing is to not drop your energy to match your critics! What is helpful is to recognise, and again not judge, that there is something inside us that anchors us back into to those familiar feelings and grotty energies of low self esteem. What anchors us is a force field of energy that we can work with rather than attack with force. If we attack with force, all we do is further anchor the disharmony we want to release.
Any degree of self-limitation, unworthiness, fear, timidity, shyness, inadequacy, shame and guilt will inhabit our energy fields until we align ourselves in choosing love in response to everything that arises in us. That includes our own resistance to choosing love or our fear that we don’t know how to love.
Intention is everything. When you have the intention to love yourself without having a clue how, your nervous system will still get the message and start to relax. Then you will automatically feel better and more confident. What helps in the beginning is just taking deep long breaths as a way to invite the flow of love in. Breath for this reason is central to yoga and tai chi and many meditation practices. Breath contains light and light is the source of all creation and the source of all is the highest vibration, LOVE. So love is in our breath. Less desirable feelings get transformed. In the presence of love all lower energies are raised to a higher frequency.
There is a lot more to self love than breathing and there are complex reasons why so many people have a real resistance to taking time for themselves, to being consistent in caring for themselves. People have big blocks to love that are rooted in their conditioning, in the subconscious. Some people think self love is indulgent, selfish or a weakness because some religion said so. Actually that type of thinking is an erroneous and incomplete circle of love. Perhaps you mask your resistance to self love and instead anaesthetise painful low self worth, guilt, shame or inadequacy with;
- alcohol, cigarette, drugs,
- over exercising
- being consumed in a drama or a risk situation all the time
- taking care of others
- over working
- codependent relationships where lacking confidence or self love is somehow taken care of by your partner. Your partner feels strong when you need them because they need to be needed
The very thing that actually heals shame, self loathing self abuse, self sabotage, the effects of abuse, childhood abuse of any type is the softest, gentlest kindest most sympathetic love that any humane being would give to a five year old in distress. It is not weak to love, it is strength because it is the power that heals us all.
The key here is not to assume that just because we don’t enjoy how we feel all the time, that we should not be feeling what we feel or not witness our feelings with compassion. By treating everything that arises in us with the same dignity and respect, we strengthen the presence of love within that is our core.
A stable core of self love is what allows us to embrace emotions as they come and go so that they don’t become blocks in our system. So we are not trying to eradicate or deny any emotion. Grief is grief, loss is loss. When we fully, lovingly allow every emotion to be what it is, we learn what we need to learn from the emotions and then they just naturally move out of our energy field. The core of self love that we have built inside remains untouched. With every successive triumph in loving what arises, this core becomes an anchored confidence. We learn we can trust and rely on the love that we are no matter what. Instead of desperately seeking or demanding love and approval from another to bolster us up and soak up our pain with their love, we do it for ourselves. We stop being needy and sabotaging all our relationships. The momentum of core love inside, magnetises the people and situations that mirror our self love. This is the law of attraction in action.
Now, a lot of people are familiar with this law of attraction and understand in principle that we need to be at a vibratory energy match for what we want to attract, be that a relationship, new job or a new home. But try as we might to be a vibratory match, by visualising, meditating, trying to be happy in the moment or any mental gymnastics we put ourselves through to get what we want – it doesn’t always work. We get very frustrated and we start to doubt ourselves and all the work we have done on ourselves.
With the law of attraction the missing part of the energy puzzle for most people is unconditional self love. I will be talking a lot more about how energy works, self love, self esteem and the law of attraction in a series of articles starting at the launch of this site, a few short months from now.
Louise offers free 15 minute emotional detox consultations – check out her site for details.