Often women, and every now and then men, reach out to express bewilderment at how they thought they knew a lot and were, in fact, at the top of their game, and now feel at an all-time low and quite frankly have little to no self-esteem to even try to achieve what they really want. They were high achievers and now they feel they just aren’t capable, somehow, anymore.
What happened between the feeling at the top and the now feeling so incapable? Quite simply, these specific individuals are often in new circumstances. All they relied upon before where their self-esteem was soaring is now not that wonderful and helpful. And now who are they? How can they be recognized? What can they truly offer without their identity?
So it isn’t all simple, actually. It’s quite a rough ride. Downright painful. Because their first attempt is to rectify that feeling of not being at the top of their game through ‘things’ to regain self-esteem. That never works in the long-term.
From my own journey scrambling, making myself sick and hitting even harder to get back who I believed I was and what I thought made me worthy, I’ve learned there is a difference. Trying to regain self-esteem creates short-term reprieve, if anything. Enabling something new to emerge from lost self-esteem, lost identity or lost recognition — self-worth — creates the capacity to live fully, abundantly and meaningfully. Crossing the veil tangibly means experiencing greater and deeper love, having even greater wealth, and having the things that bring deep fulfillment and through having all that, being in a position to have the real-world impacts. This has been one of my very biggest leadership learnings. I want to spare you of the unnecessarily long and painful journey and give you what you need to be living abundance. I want my son and my daughter to know what it means to have self-worth so they may be happy, abundant adults and successful leaders.
I believe understanding the difference is where you will start to regain what you need as your first step to leadership development, because it’s development in leading yourself to success that gives you that piece. Here’s where I think the difference lies. Self-esteem is what we think about ourselves that is directly related to titles, standing, ranks, heritage, particular education, or even particular skills and experiences. So, based on my title I might think and feel I have recognition for a particular expertise. But what if I’m transplanted to a country or place that doesn’t give two f&$#s about that title or my life-long developed expertise? Do I feel incapable and see myself as irrelevant and unimportant? Or do I move forward with grace and humility, chin up high, and just be, secure in who I am, and know that I am important to life?
The former is outward-looking for that self-validation; the latter is inward looking for the knowing that I am worthy and loveable no matter what happens on the outside, and that I am so, so important to life. Self-worth comes from knowing that I am greater than the title and all those things I attached myself to.
Here’s why it’s important to make the distinction. When your life goals aren’t happening [yet] — or your life falls apart, you’re in business or trying to make a change through your organization, and things are not going great [yet], do you give up believing you’re a failure — and you will get tons of evidence from naysayers — or will you move forward with grace and humility, chin up high, and just be, secure in who you are, and know that you am important to life, no matter what it seems? You are likely to give up if you bought into the idea of building self-esteem.
We are constantly bombarded by self-esteem programs, adverts for make-up, losing weight, whatever products to fill that void. I love perfume, clothes, fast cars, learning new skills, etc. So don’t me wrong, I am a sucker for the feeling behind all the enjoyments in life. But I tune into what I must be believing when my self-esteem has to be gratified and stamped by environment. I tune into what’s going on if I believe I must have that shiny, new thing. Do I want that thing for the joy of it or to fill something? It’s not always black and white, and don’t be hard on yourself if you are aware you’re trying to fill a gaping hole. Awareness is a huge step to self-worth! Environment is always in flux. Things come and things go. You want to start using that awareness be the one who determines how the chips land after chaos. The first step is through self-worth.
At minimum, self-worth gives you health, peace, strength, fortitude, trust, capacity to love, capacity to set direction, and capacity to be the conscious leader the world needs. It keeps you going when life throws those huge hick-ups, because you believe in who you are at the core, your worth to life, and your ideas, no matter what. Who you are and what you have to offer is so worthy, so important.
Here are seven steps to building self-worth:
What is that thought in your head that’s causing that low feeling? Thoughts become our beliefs about ourselves and the world. When a self-defeating one shows up in your head, acknowledge it. Speak to it. Tell it you thank it and it may now leave. Be firm.
This is an exercise that mentally separates yourself from the thoughts and beliefs that keep you feeling low because what you’ve done is identify with beliefs. Your work is now to become more and more aware; acknowledge that you are not your beliefs, and start a new habit to change that identification. You are NOT your beliefs!
2. ALIGN YOUR HEAD, HEART AND ACTIONS TO YOUR OWN FEELINGS
We identify with not just judgements of us and our choices but others’ negative feelings.
Ask yourself whose energy it is. If it isn’t joyous and peaceful, tune into the source. How do you feel about it? Separate them out and trust your own feelings. More importantly, do not second guess your own feelings. When someone is trying to direct your thinking and actions in a way that is not in alignment with who you are and your purpose, your feelings will let you know. Don’t stuff them down. Don’t ignore them. Don’t acknowledge them and then do what you’re told to do anyway. Your feelings matter!
3. KNOW THAT YOU ARE ENOUGH
Replace the negative chatter in your head and negative feelings with self-affirming and loving words. Affirm that you are enough. Marissa Peer, therapist and behavioral expert, says that the biggest disease affecting humanity is the belief that we are not enough.
There are psychological reasons for this exercise she teaches that works for both men and women. It’s incredibly simple but powerful. Use lipstick to write on a mirror the words: “I am enough”. Write those words in red lipstick. When you are feeling low, repeat the words, over and over, “I am enough”. You are enough!
4. PLACE BOUNDARIES
What do you want? Ask for it. What doesn’t feel right and dignifying? State it. Change scenes. Do what you need to to have your rights and dignity. What is worthy of your time? Start making decisions to honor and respect where you are investing your time and energy. Who is uplifting and honoring of your being and who isn’t? Do not take bullying, hurtful words, put downs or physical harm for that matter. Start surrounding yourself with people who love you in words and actions. You matter! Place boundaries!
5. GIVE YOURSELF WHAT YOU WANT
It’s one thing to affirm your worth; it’s another to to prove it to yourself. Would you tell your loved one you love them and then ignore them? Would you tell a child to be healthy and feed him or her crap? Your own child part of you wants proof, or else you’ll never really truly believe and never truly feel worthy. Take care of your body, your health. Go on that trip, treat yourself to that item. Dress to the nines. Take time out to smell the roses. Give yourself what that self both needs and desires. Every day! You are worthy of love!
6. BE UNF#CKWITHABLE
Being unf#ckwithable is ‘just being’. If you find yourself explaining yourself and your choices, stop. Don’t justify. Refuse to. You do not need affirmation or permission from anyone for who you are, who you are growing into, and where you want to go. It’s letting people’s opinions roll off your back like slick oil. Being unf#ckwithable is a mental and emotional attitude. To look past your circumstances, no matter what is happening right now, and move forward, from today on: You are unf#ckwithable!
7. YOU ARE SOURCE
You are one with God, the Universe, the Universes, the Cosmos. You are one with All That Is. You are a resourceful, abundant, intelligent being whose intelligence and knowing goes beyond yourself. You no longer rely on anyone or anything for your well-being, providence, happiness, and success. The Universe or whatever you believe in is truly your Source and you are one with it — and so can tap into ‘It’.
There are numerous studies that prove quantum physics and our connection to everything. With intention, taking inspired action and trusting the process, create the life you are meant to. You are limitless power and potential!
Originally published at medium.com