It was a beautiful Monday morning and I just resumed to work. As a custom, I turned on my computer to check my never ending emails. A particular one caught my eye. It was a new job posting sent to me by a recruiter that I submitted my resume to few weeks back. Quickly, I clicked to read the job description. “Oh my goodness, it fits my resume”. The job package was better than what I’d been seeking. I felt elated. “I should apply for this” I told myself. But then as I picked up my mouse to initiate the application process, I heard a voice, the same voice I heard the last time I wanted to apply for a new position. “You can’t do it”. What? “Yes, you can’t do it”…. the voice responded… “But the recruiter sent this to me”. “Yes he did. He was just trying to fulfill all righteousness. You don’t have the experience and expertise. So please don’t embarrass yourself by applying for this job” the same voice continued. I became very sad and deflated. I felt defeated and accepted my fate. With a deep sigh, I placed my mouse on the “x” button on my computer screen, closed the page and continued scrolling down my endless emails.
This was my story at the onset of my biopharmaceutical career almost 10 years ago. An occasional representation of self-doubt and negativism. Shortly after this, I knew I needed to deal with the occasional burst of negativism. I remembered I once read a book by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale “the power of positive thinking” when I was in my twenties. I always knew there is power in positive thinking but for some reason I had forgotten to apply it in this case. So, what did I do? Intentionally I worked on my thoughts. I replaced the negative ones with positive ones. As I did this, I saw myself overcoming huddles easier and achieving more in life.
Unlike me, a lot of people do not stop at negative self-talks, they allow these to build into self-condemnation, self-demoralization, lack of confidence, inferiority complex, insecurity etc. All these are products or should I say an extension of low self-esteem. Quite unfortunate.
So, what is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem, a word that denotes an intrinsic perception of self. It represents the value or worth an individual places on self. An individual can either have a low or high self-esteem.
The origin of low self-esteem is multifactorial spanning from childhood psychological or physical trauma, stigmatization for an unusual behavior or abuse to bad experience. It can also stem from broken relationships, constant barrage of criticism from friends and loved ones, fear, anxiety, weaknesses, the list is endless.
Amongst all the above mentioned root causes of low self-esteem, the type that crushes my heart mostly is the one that stems from childhood. As a mother, I have watched some mothers speak to their children in public in such condescending manner just to show the world that they are disciplinarians. I have met children who grew up in abusive homes. These are some of the factors that can expressly lead to low self-esteem in adulthood if not properly managed.
Signs and influence of low self-esteem
Low self-esteem can manifest in different ways. Generally, people with low self-esteem are unsure of themselves. They find it difficult to be assertive. Decision making is quite a challenge to them. They can’t make up their minds easily. If you ask for their opinion on an issue, they tend to throw the question back to you. They constantly seek approval from people around them hence they are people pleasers. They do not make good leaders and if coincidentally, they find themselves in a leadership position, they are inadequate and weak leaders.
Dealing with low self-esteem
Irrespective of the origin of the low self-esteem, the #1 factor that I think is responsible for all the drama is negative self-talks. It starts from that subtle negative talk that runs through an individual’s mind. Occasional self-doubt and negative self-talk is okay, but it becomes pathological when it takes resident in the human mind. When it becomes habitual. Negative self-talks should be captured and truncated at infancy, otherwise it will snowball into a setback that may require therapeutic intervention. Low self-esteem can also lead to serious health issues like depression and anxiety attacks.
The human mind is such a powerful and complex phenomenon. Google simplifies the definition of human mind and it states, it is “the human consciousness that originates in the brain and is manifested especially in thought, perception, emotion, will, memory, and imagination”. It further explains that these unconscious processed thoughts direct and influence mental and physical behavior.
To connect the dots, since our thoughts influence our perception, will, emotion and imagination, my suggestion to any individual experiencing this is to begin the healing process from the mind. Here are few ways to win the battle from the mind;
• Guard your thoughts jealously;
• Take charge of what goes in and out of your mind
• Have a zero threshold and tolerance to negative minded people and thoughts.
• Feed your mind and time with positive and happy thoughts
• For every negative thought that constantly invades your mind, find a specific positive thought that will counter it each time it comes up.
• If the root cause is a particular weakness, this needs to be dealt with individually.
So, what is your worth?
My question to you is this, what value are you placing on yourself? How do you see and carry yourself? Are you the type that constantly question your decisions or are you always unsure of yourself? Maybe you are the type that has been blessed with so much but yet think very little of yourself. Do you belong to the class of people that allow other people to talk down at you? If this is your story then please stop it. Negativism could hinder your growth if not managed early and appropriately. If I could control mine years ago, so can you.
Remember, only you have the ability to take yourself to the next level in life. I once read that “no one can make you feel inferior without YOUR CONSENT”. Unless you permit a thought, person or an occurrence take preeminence in your mind and life, no one or circumstance can negatively influence you. Take charge of those thoughts. If you can win the battle in your mind, you can succeed in overcoming low self-esteem.
Lastly, unless you place a high value on who you are as a person, other people will find it hard to appreciate you. You will be underpriced. You need to love yourself first before others can love you. Place a high value on you, your expertise and skills and see how highly people will think and relate with of you.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Racorn