Transform yourself by the renewal of your mind

Your self-image is a set of thoughts and mental images which manifest in attitudes, emotions and behaviours. If it needs a makeover, apply the I-T-I-A Formula. Remember: all four parts are necessary to effect permanent change.

Intention: Decide right now that you’ll treat yourself with love and respect, and accept only what is right for you.

Thinking: Monitor your self-talk, examine your beliefs, and use affirmations to re-align your thinking. Self-deprecating thoughts have nothing to sustain them other than our own habits.

Imagination: Create the person you want to be in your imagination, knowing that he/she will eventually become the reality.

Action: Let your intentions, thinking and imagination show in your behaviour.  If this feels uncomfortable at first, take it in small steps, ignore any discomfort, and above all persist. Consistent action based on right thinking always brings results.

Persistence and determination are key. Let nothing get in the way of your quest for high self-esteem and inner peace. Stretch yourself a little every day. Each success, however small, brings encouragement..

 

©David Lawrence Preston, 10.1.2017

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Conditions of worth

Although the relationship you have with yourself is the most important, you also have to deal with the demands others place on you.

We are put under tremendous pressure in society to conform to attitudes and behaviour patterns which are not necessarily of our choosing, especially children. They assess their self-worth mainly by how others respond to them.

Some adults are very demanding and/or controlling. They judge their sons and daughters by some imaginary ideal that is not realistic, or (sometimes loudly and continually) compare them to other children. The result is children who feel defective and unloved, and who believes they are rejected by those they need and respect the most.

Self-esteem

You can easily determine a person’s level of self-esteem by the way they relate to others. People with low self-esteem often:-

  • Crave recognition and approval from others
  • Compare themselves unfavourably with others
  • Are daunted by others’ success
  • Are unable to speak up for themselves
  • Apologise a lot
  • Are easily upset by criticism
  • Are always criticising or blaming others
  • Have a boastful, rude or bullying nature as a defence
  • Gossip
  • Are excessively over-generous
  • Are unable to accept a compliment
  • Have a tendency to seek out others who have low self-esteem

Conditions of Worth

The criteria used by one person to gauge the ‘acceptability’ of another are called ‘Conditions of Worth’. The main ones are:

  • Physical appearance
  • Intelligence
  • Mode of speech
  • Performance
  • Money and possessions

When you were young, you were probably very concerned about what people thought of you. Children, of course, can be especially cruel. Have you ever heard schoolchildren mercilessly teasing a classmate who is overweight, has red hair or wears glasses? Or whose parents can’t afford the ‘right’ brand of clothing and footwear? How do you think the ‘victims’ feel? What does it do to their self-esteem?

Be your own person

No matter what has happened to you in the past, you can take responsibility for your thoughts and actions and evaluate yourself by your own criteria. Remember, you can’t change or control other people, but you can take charge of yourself. As Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘No-one can take away our self-esteem unless we give it to them.’

Naturally we all prefer to be liked and respected, but if we allow this to rule our lives, we’re giving away our personal power. Of course, there is nothing wrong enjoying a compliment, but it becomes a serious problem if our need for approval governs all our actions. What counts is self-approval – the conviction that we are valuable come what may.

Comparisons

Start by shunning comparisons. Avoid comparing yourself with others. You’ll always find people who are better than you at some things, and people who are worse. That’s the way it is.

The uncomfortable fact is that people treat you exactly the way you teach them to. You get back what you give out, so if you want to be treated differently, learn to give out different messages.

From now on, instead of pandering to others, give most value to what you think of yourself.

©David Lawrence Preston, 1.8.2016

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Self-esteem is happiness and success

Self-esteem is happiness, success and a whole lot besides. It governs your behaviour in every area of your life and without it you’ll almost certainly underachieve.

Self-esteem is the experience of feeling that you’re worthy of happiness and capable dealing with life. It’s a combination of self-confidence (beliefs about your capabilities) and self-respect (beliefs about your value and worthiness). It’s closely related to your self-image – the way you see yourself – and is absolutely fundamental to everything you do.

For example:

  • People with low self-esteem always underachieve. A poor self-image effectively places a glass ceiling on your achievements.
  • It’s also at the root of many health and psychological issues such as weight problems and most eating disorders.
  •  Much crime is caused by drugs, unemployment and/or poverty – all heavily influenced by low self-esteem.
  •  People with low self-esteem usually have problems in their relationships and social lives. Their constant need for reassurance can impose an intolerable strain on any relationship.
  •  It’s the fundamental cause of most marriage breakdown, parent-child friction and sexual problems.
  •  If you feel good about yourself, you are more willing to try new things and meet new people. You’re also more likely to be successful in competitive activities such as sport.
  •  If you have high self-esteem, you’re more likely to be interested in self-development because you know you’re worth it.

Your self-esteem is made up of three core sets of beliefs and feelings about yourself:

  1. The value you place on yourself; your feelings of self-worth. Key words: ‘I deserve’;
  1. Your beliefs about your ability to cope with life’s challenges, solve problems and think for yourself; your feelings of competence. Key words: ‘I can’;
  1. Your beliefs about the way you fit into society and relate to others. Key words: ‘I belong’ and ‘I am accepted’.

How you feel about yourself varies from day to day, hour to hour and situation to situation. You may be confident at work, but not in social settings; you may regard yourself as a kind and loving person, but hate your body. And so on.

Your self-image covers:

  •  Your physical make-up: health, fitness and appearance.
  •  Your emotional nature, e.g. are you a loving person, caring and considerate, or beset with anger, worry, guilt or fear?
  •  Your intellectual make-up: your knowledge, qualifications, skills and intelligence.
  •  Your social standing: beliefs about what other people think of you and whether you feel comfortable in social situations.

You are probably more deserving and more capable than you think. Remember, most of us only ever use 5-10% of our abilities – perhaps less. This means that over 90% of your talents waiting to be discovered and used. Isn’t that exciting!

How your self-esteem was formed

Your self-esteem was more or less established by the time you reached eight or nine years old. By then, the average child has already received over one hundred thousand negative injunctions from adult authority figures. The accumulated effect over many years can be very destructive.

Here are some examples from my own observations:

  •  A seven year-old girl is struggling to keep up with Mum on the way to school. ‘Come on. Hurry up,’ says Mum. ‘Mum’s cross with me,’ she thinks, ‘I’m not good enough.’
  •  A twelve year-old boy volunteers to take over the drum stool in a school concert at the last minute. During the rehearsal, he misses a beat. ‘I thought we had an intelligent drummer,’ sneers the teacher. (Sarcasm is very damaging to children; they take most things adults say literally.)
  •  As a girl, Diane was repeatedly told that ‘overeating runs in the family’. By the age of thirty, she is three stone overweight. On a similar theme, John, an obese 52 year-old, has a compulsion to eat everything put in front of him because, as a boy, he wasn’t allowed to leave the table until he’d cleared his plate.
  •  A small girl picks up a bag of sweets in a supermarket and asks her Mum if he can have them. ‘No you can’t’ comes the reply. ‘They’ll make your teeth drop out and you’ll be even uglier than you are now.’

Incidents such as these cause leave a child emotionally scarred for many years.

Sadly, many people go through life believing that they are unable to overcome their conditioning, but it is simply not true. Many happy and successful people suffered as children. In most cases, it they simply decided not to let it hold them back.

Without high self-esteem you’ll always feel as if someone else is in control of your life, but the exciting thing is, no matter what your background or your current level of self-esteem, you can improve. Big improvements can be made in as little as 3-6 months.

Forgive your parents

Whatever your childhood experiences, commit yourself to the first two steps to higher self-esteem:

1. Decide to do something about it.

2. Forgive your parents.

Forgiving your parents is one of the most liberating things you can do. Continuing to blame them for your lack of self-esteem prevents you from developing a healthy, adult relationship with them. After all, they were products of their own conditioning, and they probably did the best they knew how, struggling to raise you whilst coping with all the other pressures of life.

Whether they deserve to be forgiven or not is not the point. You’re only hurting yourself by hanging on to all that ‘stuff’. You owe it to yourself to be free of all the resentment and bitterness you’ve been carrying.

Remember, it is not the people, events and circumstances in your past that determine your confidence and self-esteem, but your beliefs about those people and events.

 

©David Lawrence Preston, 30 7.2016

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Building Self-Esteem in Children

Whether a parent, teacher or simply a friend of the family, the most important thing an adult can do for a child is to help build their confidence and self-esteem.

High self-esteem can only be learned from parents who have solid sense of their own self-worth.

How can we place self-esteem at the heart of our work raising children? Here are some tips (born of hard-won experience!):

  1. Once it was believed that all that was required of a parent was to feed, clothe, educate and discipline their children. Nowadays, it is recognised that psychological ‘food’ is just as important. Tell them you love them, often. Give them plenty of hugs (these provide a feeling of security).
  1. Don’t just tell them how to behave – show them. Young children model themselves on their adult caretakers. They learn best by example and soon observe if their parents’ words and deeds to not match up. Work on your own self-esteem and demonstrate it in your words and actions.
  1. Spend time doing things together. In a recent study, working parents claimed to give their children an average of an hour a day, but observation revealed that they gave them their full attention for less than five minutes! Listen to them. Help them, but don’t take over: let them learn to do it for themselves. Just being with them and letting them talk about the issues in their lives (however trivial they may seem to you) – is equivalent to telling them you love them.
  1. What you say to children – and how you say it – matters. Adults are often unaware of the hidden messages expressed in their tone of voice, facial expression and body language. Avoid disparaging remarks – a hurtful remark taken to heart by a child can have long-lasting repercussions. Never use sarcasm. Children don’t understand it. They find it confusing and unsettling.
  1. Don’t lie. Children find it hard to understand why adults tell them not to lie and then lie themselves. How can a child make sense of an adult who says one thing and then does another?
  1. Children who are told they are stupid, clumsy, ugly etc. grow up believing it – whatever the truth. Children don’t have the ability to reason as adults. They take it all on board.
  1. Don’t compare them with other children. ‘Why don’t you work as hard as Johnny?’ is more likely to result in children resenting Johnny than making a greater effort themselves.
  1. Of course children need discipline. Even the best behaved children have to be told off from time to time. When this is necessary, comment on their behaviour, not on their character. Point out what they have done wrong and how they can do better next time. Reassure them you love them. This way, children keep their dignity while learning to correct their mistakes. Children respond best to loving support, not verbal abuse.
  1. If the offence is serious, isolate them for a short time. Send them to their room, alone. This gives them an opportunity to cool off and reflect on what they’ve done.
  1. When they behave well, reward them. A smile, a word and a hug do wonders for morale. But don’t be drawn into bribery. Good behaviour is better taught than bought!
  1. However, excessive or insincere praise can be damaging. If everything a child does is ‘fantastic’, then nothing is special. Children recognise empty words; unwarranted praise gives a child the impression that second-rate is good enough.
  1. Set a good example by setting your own goals, and help children to set goals too. Be sensitive though: too much pressure can build resentment and make them give up altogether.
  1. Gradually give children more responsibility. Make them accountable for their actions by accepting the consequences. For instance, if they forget their lunch box, make them go without – they won’t forget again. Sheltered children rarely cope well as adults. The ultimate goal of a good parent is to teach them to stand on their own feet, and be happy, competent, fulfilled and contributing members of society.

All parents know they day they’re born that one day their children will grow up and leave the nest. When they are ready, let go. Your job is done.

©David Lawrence Preston, 4.6.2016

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