Tips on How to Raise 
Self Esteem  
Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Raising self esteem requires one thing, but protecting it from the bumps and bruises of normal living requires quite another. Protect your self esteem from negative judgments and opinions of others. Above all, protect it from your own assaults on your self image. 

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." That statement contains a profound insight into the workings of human emotions! How can you own something (in this example, a negative self image) if you don't buy it in the first place? 

We all have negative echoes of the past, the unkind words said and the insults hurled  when we were small and defenseless. Those elements stored in our psyche give their consent to someone putting us down. Abusers know it too well. They try to make the abuse-victims believe that they are worthless and deserve the treatment meted out to them. When victims buy that, they are virtually trapped. They stop even trying to get out of the abuse situation. 

If somebody says, "You are no good, or you are a worthless human being, " and you say to yourself , "That's right! I am no good, I am worthless, " you have bit the hook. When you endorse a negative label emotional upset, anger, sadness, and hurt, are bound to follow. 

If someone tries to put you down on purpose, defeat their purpose by letting it just fall flat. Dismiss the negative communication by saying out loud or silently to yourself, "That's just one person's opinion. " To make it even better for your self esteem, try saying something to the effect, "I disagree with your opinion and I know many other people who really know me, they will disagree as well." This technique works better if you make yourself believe what you say. 

A prophet in the East, lived from hand to mouth and didn't hold any earthly possessions. At meal time  he would knock on the doors and collect food for just that meal. One evening, the prophet,  was knocking on the doors in the neighborhood for his dinner. An unkind lady who answered the door was enraged to see a beggar, and she let him have it. She unleashed a barrage of insults and choice words at him. 

The prophet thanked her and "returned" her what she had "offered" him. As a enunciate, he told her, he did not keep what he could not use right away. At the time, he said, all he needed was food. So he "gave her back" what she gave him and left with a smile on his face. Don't we wish we had a self esteem like that?

Accept all constructive criticism with an open mind and you will benefit greatly. Welcome all balanced criticism and invite people whose opinion you value to critique your work and ideas. On the other hand, if you feel someone is trying to put you down rather than critiquing your work and ideas. That person is not doing it in the spirit of helping you. Look directly into his or her eyes, and ask, "You're not trying to put me down, are you?" The question will serve as a gentle reminder and make your critic aware of his or her own behavior towards you.

A lot of times when others share their proposal or a plan they want to work on, we launch on a fault finding mission. This may be with a good intention. We may think that a good way to help others is to forewarn them of all the possible pitfalls. 

Then there are others who will find faults with everything because it gives them a great deal of satisfaction to shoot as many holes as they can in the plan of others. Both types of people need redirecting if all they are offering you is negative criticism. You may redirect them with a polite interruption, such as, "I am now quite aware of the problems. Tell me what are the positive points in this proposal (or plan or whatever), what of this is workable or appeals to you and why?" The well meaning people will redirect their efforts and give you the feedback you need. In regards to the other type, the negative-destructive type, they may not have anything to say after that, in which case your self-esteem will go a notch up because you know that you can now handle the "difficult people " in a tactful manner. 

If you want to really feel good about yourself, you have to do not just one thing, but two: One, stop criticizing others, and second, stop criticizing yourself. Yes, accepting others helps one to accept oneself. When we love others and open our heart to them, we really like ourselves more than we ever did before. If we are at war with ourselves, we are at war with others. 

Criticism and intolerance creates barriers between us and the others. Feeling connected with others brings down the inner tension. Stop judging others and it may help you to quit judging yourself.

Return to Self Help 

Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



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