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The Great Self-Esteem Fallacy

Loving yourself isn’t always the best answer

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If you’ve ever had the feeling that you’re just not ‘all that’ – and most people have – you’ve probably read somewhere that you have to start loving yourself, because you’re worth it. Start telling yourself you’re wonderful, the story goes, and the sun will come out and you will be full of admiration and adoration for that wonderful soul you can see in the mirror first thing in the morning. Bed hair, morning tongue, the lot.

You don’t give a fig about other peoples’ bed hair or morning tongue, of course, mainly because you privately believe they probably don’t have them. Instead, they bounce out of bed, all fragrant and lovely, and totally aware of how super cool and authentic they seem to be to everybody in their vicinity. Okay, perhaps they do have bed hair and morning tongue but only for a nano-second, obviously, since just like everybody else they almost instantly transform into a vibrant and confident member of the human race while you’re still struggling to get your eyes in focus. Okay, that’s a slightly humorous ‘take’ on an uncomfortable situation but it has more than a grain of truth beneath it.

And therein lies a problem with that notion that you have to start loving yourself… the comparison with others. It’s never honest. You compare how you feel with how they look. You compare the private ‘you’ that you keep hidden (but might believe others can somehow see) with the public self they show… but they also have a hidden side that maybe even their nearest and dearest don’t know about. You don’t see that bit and you have no idea what lurks down there! And it’s odds on that you’d be astonished if you found out, which is why the media so avidly grab ‘dirt’ on celebrities, of course, even though that ‘dirt’ is quite often not so very different from what the rest of us harbour!

But even when you ‘get’ that, that ‘loving yourself’ thing still isn’t easy. After all, you despise that part of you (otherwise why would it be giving you low self-esteem) so how on earth can you start to love it? This being the case, acceptance might be the answer for some. Here’s a little twist on the ‘serenity prayer’ that might prove relevant:

If there’s something you don’t like about yourself, change it; if it cannot be changed, accept it; and if what you have to accept is socially undesirable, control it with all your might.

Now, you might think that last part is cheating, since it doesn’t actually make a difference to that deep part of you that you feel so uncomfortable about… but it’s what most people do, even people that you might think are totally beyond reproach. We all, every one of us, have our secrets. This is a totally normal part of modern life (anybody who insists they don’t have even one is probably telling fibs!) and it’s odds-on that your secret is far from unique, no matter how dark it seems. And consider this important fact:

You didn’t choose it!

If you did, then you wouldn’t be upset about it because you would have specially chosen it to be a part of you. You will probably never find out where it came from or why you have it, but it somehow became part of you by some roundabout route. And here’s the surprising thing: it’s valuable beyond recognition. It’s part of your history that led you to this very point in your life, where you are right at this very moment, on the cusp of making an important change for yourself. It just needs a slight adjustment in thinking processes for you to turn things around to the point where you don’t even need to think about loving yourself – you’ll just be happy being you.

Autosuggestion is a technique that has been used effectively for more than a hundred years to make changes deep in the psyche and it just means repeating a phrase over and again that is designed to create a sense of wholeness. The phrase must be connected with whatever you’re seeking to change, and this one is perfect for working at self-esteem: “All that I’ve been and all that I am gets me all that I want.”

There are two ways you can use autosuggestion:

  1. Just repeat the phrase to yourself over and again whenever you get the opportunity.
  2. Say it to yourself a dozen times (or more) when you first wake up and last thing at night just before you go to sleep.

You don’t have to try to make it work and you don’t have to believe it to make it work – all you have to do is let it work.

And then it will!

©Terence Watts, 2020

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