Tag Archive: self worth


Beautiful Is…


I was really struck and impacted by this blog I just read this morning on the subject of beauty. Isn’t beauty something that all women wrestle with at some point in life, whether it is an ongoing insecurity we battle with for all of our lives, or merely a result of something profoundly impactful that happens in life that distorts our understanding of beauty, or simply popular culture which dictates that beauty is skin deep… and what about aging? What do we do and how do we measure our beauty if we only look in the mirror and see the outward appearance? Must we be trapped by the image pop culture says about the subject? Or can we begin a new image for beauty… perhaps something far deeper and healthier for our self esteem than criticizing every feature we see when we look in our mirrors and walk away depressed that the image before us isn’t the perfect reflection we wish to see.

I encourage you to check out this link below to an article on beauty that weighs beauty by standards far deeper than the current trends coming out of Hollywood! Isn’t it time we value ourselves by something far deeper than our outward appearance?

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This month, I have been doing a series on taking initiative and developing assertiveness, and I was thinking it might be a great start to today’s article, if I simply start out with some definitions of initiative and assertiveness, so we have a proper working knowledge of what I will be referring to in today’s blog!

First of all, initiative involves taking an introductory act or step, a leading action; for example: he took the initiative in making friends. Initiative also involves a readiness and ability in initiating action. It is one’s personal, responsible decision: to act on own’s own initiative.

Perhaps you feel you have little or no initiative or you have been told this by people in your life. Does reading the above simple definition change your thinking on that definition, even if only slightly? Perhaps you are told you are not assertive enough and wonder if either taking initiative or developing assertiveness skills are ever possible for you. Let me first shine the light of truth on that negative distorted belief. EVERYONE can develop the skill of assertiveness and learn to take more initiative in their life. It involves work, and one small baby step forward after another, if that is all you feel you can muster the strength for, but it can be done. Before I get WAY ahead of myself, let me give you a definition of assertiveness:

Assertiveness is a style of communication. It is about being confident and self assured, positive. Assertiveness is NOT a strategy to get your own way, instead it recognizes that you are only in control of your own behavior and actions and realizes that other people are responsible for their behavior. It respects the wishes of others as equally as you respect your own.

Assertiveness is one of many styles in which we communicate with each other. Some others include reacting and responding to other people in an aggressive manner, or a passive style that tends to give in to the unreasonable demands of others. We all have heard of the passive-aggressive style, which is a combination of both passive and aggressive behavior which can include manipulation, or cannot clearly express their anger, but take it out on others in more subtle ways, like being late for work always because you are angry at your co-worker or boss, or addressing your displeasure with a result by speaking to the person you are angry with in the third person format, for example: “some people NEVER take out the trash and clean up after themselves” with a slightly aggressive tone, when they are obviously referring to you as you see the dishes you left in the sink, and know you hadn’t gotten around to taking the garbage out. This is a form of veiled communication. Often, if we are raised with one passive parent and one aggressive parent, we may use a combination of both skill sets we were taught by our families. Another style of communicating, apart from assertiveness, is the alternator…. Someone who sometimes is passive, holding things in, until one day all the bitterness and resentments burst to the surface like a volcanic eruption with a burst of aggression. Once the person has spewed out their building tension inside, they may return to a passive state of taking resentments in until the next eruption occurs.

The reality is we all have probably used one or more, if not all of these methods of communication at varying times in our lives! I know I have!

When it comes to communication, and developing effective skills to communicate well, as with all things it takes time and effort to make the changes in ourselves to do so! And the issues lying beneath the surface are the best place to start. What we believe often dictates how we respond in a situation. If we believe no one likes us, we will begin to act like no one likes us. If we believe we have to take responsibility for other people’s actions, behavior, moods or emotions, guess what? We will take responsibility for those things, despite the fact that we are only responsible for our own choices, actions, behavior, moods and emotions.

If you believe you are a loser, a failure, ugly, stupid, fat etc. you will act in such a way as to diminish your human dignity and incredible value as you continue to tell yourself what a horrible person you must be. I do not have enough time to dig into the root issues that lead to a diminished sense of a lack of confidence in oneself in this blog, or why your initiative may be low as well as your assertiveness skills perhaps under-developed, but I do offer a personal development program on my coaching website at http://www.freedomlifelove.com if you are looking for additional help in this area of your life. You may even want to look back through last months blog series where I discussed self worth and self esteem.

But my focus for today is to define initiative and assertiveness and our communication styles to open our eyes to see where we currently find ourselves in this area of our lives. And I want to give you some hope along with some practical help to develop some assertiveness skills today!

Let’s start here. This is what it means to be assertive:

“Assertive self-expression is direct, firm, positive – and when necessary persistent – action intended to promote equality in person-to-person relationships. Assertiveness enables us to act in our own best interests, to stand up for ourselves without undue anxiety, to exercise personal rights without denying the rights of others, and to express our feelings honestly and comfortably (eg. affection, love, friendship, disappointment, annoyance, anger, regret, sorrow)” – Your Perfect Right by Robert Albert, Ph.D and Michael Emmons, Ph.D.

Joseph Wolfe would define assertiveness in our interpersonal relationships as

“The individual places himself first, but takes others into account.”

While I don’t entirely agree with his perspective, as I take the viewpoint of considering others above myself in a respectful manner, in the form of honoring and preferring others, I do believe that to love others we must first be able to love ourselves. The bible suggests that we:

“Love others as you would love yourself”

I believe we must treat others as we would want to be treated, thereby having a balanced perspective on equality. We do not see others as less or more important than ourselves, but rather cherish our own humanity and others. To see ourselves in a positive light with grace for our weaknesses and compassion and love for ourselves as we see others in that same positive light, showing compassion and love for their mistakes, treating each other fairly, respectfully, and with loving kindness. When we can see other people like this, as well as ourselves, we are on the verge of discovering unconditional love.

On becoming more assertive, there are certainly things that we can do to get there. Setting reasonable goals for ourselves is a good place to start about the things we want to improve, work on, confront or address. It can involve learning effective communication skills. In fact I think I did a blog series on that a while back! It involves learning how to “say what you need to say” as I unintentionally quote lyrics from John Meyer’s song, while learning how to say it effectively in an assertive, yet respectful manner. It involves learning to change what we are choosing to think, to become more aware of our thoughts, and challenging the negative ones, and speaking positive confessions about ourselves, learning to love and care for, rather than sabotaging ourselves! Just simply choosing to believe it is a skill you can learn can make a world of difference. It is a big step in the turn-around! If we believe it is attainable, we have already begun taking initiative to develop assertiveness skills!

Last but not least, take it one step at a time! Find what you feel you are able to start with, even if it feels like a small step to others or yourself, and see what comes of it! Don’t despair! Don’t give up! You can make changes! You are not helpless! I believe you can! One small step at a time!


I realize as I embark on today’s mission of blogging about things like body image, and appreciating our positive qualities and learning to like ourselves, that this subject alone should be a three part series! I am attempting to do the impossible in one blog! I will do my best to summarize without losing a great deal of content!

While in general, for a person who wrestles with their body image when they look in the mirror, it may be easy to see all the flaws, wrinkles, bulges, grey hair, and within seconds of asking the question of what you like least about your body, you could easily rattle off about 50 things you hate about the way you look.

Let’s begin with a simple exercise in non-judgment. Instead of looking at ourselves in comparison with what society and media says the average man or woman should look like, let us rather appreciate the beauty in others and in ourselves, and try not to make comparisons or judgments. It’s an effort in changing the way we think about ourselves, as well as what is important.

The reality is, outward beauty will always fade away eventually, and if this is what we live for, we are missing a deeper, more authentic and internal beauty of strength and character. I am not saying “Don’t be fit”, “Eat junk food all day long” and just let yourself go. By no means! I am suggesting that we care for our bodies, spirit, soul and body. We all know eating healthy, and staying fit is good for our bodies in a multitude of ways… Exercising regularly and eating well not only help mental acuity and promote healthy a heart, and make our brains happier, but it also does so much for helping with emotional issues such as depression and anxiety! I believe we need to learn to care about our whole self, simply because we are worth it.

Our worth is intrinsic and God given. What we need to determine is WHY we do what we do. If we are at the gym 5 days a week out of pressure to look good according to society, bearing ourselves up for not losing enough weight, or eating too much at the last family holiday dinner, these motives can actually be harmful to us, and do not promote healthy self care. If, however, we are learning to have compassion for ourselves and learning to like who we are, and are doing these things to be healthy and to care for ourselves, not only will your success and results come sooner, but you will also notice you are beginning to feel much better about yourself as a person. What you see in the mirror will be someone you care for and treat with respect and honor and love.

So how do we get there? Paying attention to the negative messages we are telling ourselves and believing is a good start. Noticing them enough to reframe the message to something positive or to simply say ‘stop’ to ourselves when we begin to judge ourselves harshly, and practice non-judgment of ourselves is a good start.

I’m going to propose a few steps further.

First, I’m going to ask you to write a list of ten positive things about yourself that are true and realistic. For instance, you might recognize that you are a loyal friend, or that you are very organized, a good listener, or compassionate and empathetic. You might like the fact that you take charge of a situation when it is needed, or are an advocate for those who need one. You might believe that you are responsible or successful. Make a list of these qualities. They can be internal character traits or external, such as you might like your eyes even though you aren’t happy with your current weight. You might like that tattoo you have that expresses who you are or that you are talented and athletic.

Are you, or have you been recently,

Kind to anyone?
Clean?
Helpful or handy?
Humorous in a way that helped another person?
Trustworthy or loyal?
Gentle?
Determined?
Strong or resilient?
Do you see the best in others?
Are you patient?
Disciplined?
Imaginative or creative?
Persuasive?
Intelligent?
Co-operative?
Open-minded?
Accepting?
Expressive?
Energetic?
Affectionate?
A leader?
A good story teller?
Adventurous?
A thinker?

You should have a pretty good list by now to get the juices flowing! Are you already starting to feel less negative about yourself if you find yourself identifying with anything on the above list?

Once you have your list, try repeating it to yourself daily for a while. It helps to re-wire your mind and train your Brian how to think using new neural pathways that are more positive toward yourself. If you have just done this exercise, you have just been kind to yourself and loving! Way to go!

If you struggle with negative physical body image, focus on six areas of yourself physically that you DO like, and repeat that to yourself daily! Often we see ourselves externally in a way that we allow to affect how we view our core worth. Our core worth does not come from anything external. We simply have worth. But for the purpose of this exercise, to help you get to that understanding, look at yourself in the mirror several times a day and look for things that are ‘right’ about your body and physical appearance and find what you feel is attractive about yourself. This too, is caring about yourself, despite what others think, say or do, increasing your own sense of intrinsic worth which is not dependent on such externals like other’s opinions or popular media ideals.

Next, let’s take a look at the deeper part of the self. Your character. Your moral values and strengths you possess in these areas. As they say, beauty is only skin deep. If all you have is the outward looks, but are empty inside, you will become a shell of a person. The charisma of a person comes from what is on the inside and flows outward. Let’s look at the inward beauty you possess, which miraculously, automatically makes you more beautiful outwardly!

Which qualities from the list below do you identify with and feel are attributes you possess? Mental note, do not look at this list from a place of judgment of yourself for each quality you don’t identify with. Without counting a score, or getting down on yourself for what you don’t relate with, simply take a few moments to enjoy the qualities YOU possess! We are all unique and have our own gifts, skills and talents. None of us were meant to all possess all qualities. Variety is the spice of life!

Do you feel like you have:

Integrity?
Love?
Empathy?
Knowledge?
Affection?
Compassion?
Patience?
Respect for others? Yourself?
Willing to admit your faults?
Honesty?
Helpfulness?
Thoughtfulness?
Supportive?
Tolerance or appreciation for diversity?
Trustworthy?
Forgiveness?
Hope?
Selflessness?
Friendliness?
Courtesy?
Appreciation?
Gentleness?

Your challenge today is to combat your negative self judgments with anything positive from the lists above that you identified with, and repeat them to yourself and remind yourself to have compassion toward yourself and self care by being loving toward yourself!

Good luck!


Each one of us has within us weak parts of our character, defined by psychologists as an Achilles heel based on the Greek myth of Achilles and his mother Thetis. According to legend, when he was born, his mother, in an effort to make him immortal, took Achilles to the Styx river and dropped him. She held him by one heel. The area she held him on his heel remained dry and was not touched by the water in the river. It was the one vulnerable place on Achilles. Years later, Achilles was the hero of many great battles during the Trojan War. Legend suggests Paris, Prince of Troy, shot an arrow in his heal in the spot untouched by the waters to make him immortal. Since that spot remained untouched by the waters of immortality, the arrow struck him there and he died.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In modern day psychology, they loosely take this concept to define that there is usually at least one dominant negative attitude or defensive and possibly destructive pattern of thinking, feeling or acting. We all have at least one lifelong chief character flaw or personality defect.

Now how, you may ask, is this going to help me with my sense of worth? Bear with me, as I unpack this a little further and we learn together how to appreciate our strengths, but also to have compassion for our weaknesses.

According to psychologists, our chief feature (dominant negative attitude) is our primary ego defense as well as our main stumbling block in life.

The seven chief features they suggest are:

Self-Depreciation
(belittling/diminishing/undervaluing oneself)

Self-Destructiom
(sabotaging/punishing/harming oneself)

Martyrdom
(reacting as if persecuted/victimized/oppressed)

Stubbornness
(resisting change in one’s life)

Greed
(selfish over-indulgence, over consumption)

Arrogance
(inflating/exalting/overvaluing oneself)

Impatience
(reacting as though being sabotaged/obstructed)

I bring this up for a very important reason. Those of us who identify with one or more (or maybe all, and that’s ok… Have compassion for yourself! 🙂 from the above list , will understand why this has much to do with your feelings about yourself.

For those of us who wrestle with self-depravation will identify with feelings of inadequacy, or perhaps you identify with the feeling of loss of control that accompanies self-destructive tendencies. The Martyrs among us may feel worthless about themselves. Stubbornness may cause the fear of change or new situations. Psychologists associate greed with fearing lack or not having enough. Those who wrestle with arrogance fear their vulnerability, and the impatient may fear missed or lost opportunities.

We can all relate to feeling either unlovable, worthless, rejected, and a host of other core issues that seem to plague us for a lifetime without the appropriate tools to overcome the self-defeating beliefs we cling to.

Today I simply want to remind you that your core worth does NOT diminish because of any of your weaknesses. Nor does it increase because of your personal strengths or external accomplishments. You may ‘feel better’ about yourself for a time when you succeed, but if your worth comes from something extrinsic (an outside source – such as performance, or people’s approval), your level of a perceived sense of worth will rise and fall like the tides in the sea. In out, up, down, swayed by a negative comment about your weight or performance at work, or a personal expectation you set for yourself that you failed to meet.

But IF your worth is intrinsic, your motivation is not determined by external factors, but rather it occurs because we ate driven to do something because we want to learn, change, grow or be healthy, or just because it’s fun and interesting to us, or because, most importantly, we recognize that our worth is innate and God – given, we will not do the things we do for fear of punishment or to gain a reward or approval. Rather, our motivation will come from loving ourselves compassionately and loving others.

If we care about ourselves in a healthy way and not excessive self-love (arrogance/pride/narcissism) we will do what we need to do to learn, grow and change unhealthy patterns of behavior or unhealthy eating patterns.

Self compassion for our weaknesses involves caring about ourselves in a deep way in order to heal these dysfunctions, rather than allow them to perpetuate as we sabotage ourselves by keeping the unhealthy habits around. Change is hard, it takes work and it takes time! Have a little patience for yourself!

“Self acceptance does not breed complacence. On the contrary, kindness, respect, encouragement, support, firm but caring discipline… These are the soil and climate for development.” – Author Unknown

Keep in mind, “Self criticism asks ‘am I good enough? Self compassion asks ‘what’s good for me?'”

Try asking yourself the following if you wrestle with any of the above – ESPECIALLY WHEN you are wrestling with judgment or self criticism or self sabotaging thoughts… Or even if you’ve just been pushing yourself too hard and know your body needs a break:

“what would be the most healthy and most self-compassionate thing for me to do right now?”

Try to listen to your body, and to your heart, to it’s core needs, and find ways to nurture your inner self, not your self sabotaging needs like eating the WHOLE chocolate cake!!!

In closing today, I will leave you with some core thoughts of self esteem that you can try telling yourself as well! And remember to monitor your judgments -of other’s AND yourself and replace those judgments with these types of thoughts:

1. I think well of myself. This is a good thing.
2. I accept myself because I am more than my mistakes, or any externals.
3. I can criticize my own behavior without questioning my worth as a human being.
4. The work I do is worthwhile and good quality, and I expect I will do many worthwhile things in the future.
5. I am aware of my strengths and I respect them.
6. I am aware of my weaknesses and show myself compassion for them. I trust I can change & improve.
7. I consider myself a worthwhile person.
8. I like myself without comparison to others.
9. I feel stable and secure inside because I regard that I have intrinsic core worth.
10. I expect others to like and respect me. If they don’t, that’s ok. My worth does not come from other people.

One more time… Just so it starts to stick: your worth does not come from anything external. It is intrinsic and God given and does not depend on anything external, it is unconditional, just as the love of God is unconditional.

You are worth it!

“There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear. Fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect by love.” I John 4:18


Why Self Esteem? Experts appear to agree that a healthy sense os self worth and value helps contribute to better health, physically and emotionally, improves cognitive function, and general performance, while a lack of self esteem, or low self-worth, or even self-hatred, contribute to a host of problem areas, including:

Depression
Stress & Anxiety
Entering into abusive or unhealthy relationships
Alcohol Abuse
Eating Disorders & Unhealthy Dieting
Poor communication
Hostility
Low performance & achievement
Dependency
Withdrawal, Isolation & Loneliness
Preoccupation with Problems.

It’s amazing how the way we view ourselves can affect so many areas of our life. It also amazes me how many of us struggle with being our own worst internal critic, sabotaging ourselves by believing messages that simply aren’t true of ourselves, and judging ourselves harshly and over-critically, rather than showing ourselves compassion.

Kristin Neff, author of the book, “Self Compassion”, suggests that when wrongdoers are treated with compassion rather than harsh condemnation, cycles of conflict and suffering can be broken!” She also openly claims that “if we were perfect, we wouldn’t be human; we’d be Barbie & Ken.” acknowledging the weakness and imperfections of our humanity. She sites Jesus as an example when he said “Let him without sin cast the first stone’, and later, as he hung dying on the cross, he said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ The message was clear: we need to have understanding and compassion for even the worst wrongdoers, ourselves included.”

Why are we such harsh critics of our weaknesses, failings and mistakes? Doing so only leads to greater depression, self hatred, addictions, and further self sabotage and pain. When we grow up in a less than thriving environment, it is as if our brains are hard wired to be drawn to repeat those same patterns throughout life. Abused, we either become abusive or look for abusive relationships, subconsciously, as an example. While this is not always the case, as there are exceptions, generally if we grew up with a lack of nurture, sense of safety, role reversal relationships, abuse, excessive alcohol use, we grow up in an environment that lacks the proper breeding ground for our brains to function with a positive self image. See my previous articles on brain re-training to understand how our brains work and the information they take in, and how they are able to re-wire previous negative circuitry of the brain to involve higher brain functioning to overcome the negative patterns of thinking that decrease our sense of self worth. While this is a fascinating subject to me, and I will likely blog more on this topic in coming months, I do not want to get too far of track by getting too technical in this blog!

Here’s a little self esteem checkup taken from the book, “The Self Esteem Workbook”, which I highly recommend you to read if you struggle at all with self esteem.

Rate from 0-10 how much you believe the following statements. This will give you an idea of where you are currently in you sense of self esteem.

1. I am a worthwhile person.
2. I am as valuable as a person as anyone else.
3. I have the qualities I need to live well.
4. When I look into my eyes in the mirror I have a pleasant feeling.
5. I don’t feel like an overall failure.
6. I can laugh at myself.
7. I am happy to be me.
8. I like myself, even when others reject me.
9. I love and support myself, regardless of what happens.
10. I am generally satisfied with the way I am developing as a person.
11. I respect myself.
12. I’d rather be me than anyone else.

Next rate yourself from 0-100 on a scale from total lack of self esteem, to total fullness of self esteem.

Where does you gut tell you you fit on that scale? Now ask yourself why that is. See what answers come to the surface. This is the beginning of paying attention to what your core needs are.

For the next month, I will be spending every Friday blogging about self image and self worth.

Today is simply an intro on how to build self esteem.

I will leave you today with a definition of what self esteem is, and the foundations of building self esteem. Next Friday we will delve a little deeper.

What is Self Esteem?

“Self Esteem is a realistic, appreciative liking of oneself. Realistic means accurate and honest. Appreciative implies positive feelings and liking.” – The Self Esteem Workbook

Self Esteem involves self confidence. A belief in one’s abilities. It involves accepting yourself, having compassion for yourself, looking at yourself as neither less than or greater than others, with proper humility and awareness that all of humanity involves weakness and imperfections, with grace for both ourselves and others mistakes.

The Foundation of self esteem involves three things; like building blocks, these three attributes build self esteem:

1. Unconditional Worth.
2. Love
3. Growing

These three building blocks help build a proper, healthy working sense of self esteem.

Stay tuned. Over the next few weeks I hope to equip you with some solid tools to get your sense of self worth out of the gutter, and moving in a more positive direction! It IS possible to retrain our brains, it’s just like physical exercise, it takes work to examine what we are thinking, and consciously taking an effort to think more positively of ourselves. Visualize yourself in the ideal situation, that your needs are met, that you are happy and fulfilled… Apparently, according to research, simple exercises like this DO help. Even if you don’t believe it, spending a few minutes thinking like this, empowers our brain to feel happier, in just the same way that smiling, even if forced, “activates significant areas of the brain – good mental therapy. So at least once in a while, force yourself to laugh or smile, even if you…are smiling through your tears… Get your facial muscles moving!” – Susan Anderson, Taming the Outer Child, A revolutionary program to overcome self-defeating patterns. (Also another highly recommended read!)

That’s it for today, so go ahead… Smile. Even if it’s forced, it triggers neurons in your brain that help the process of retraining our brains to live a healthier lifestyle, and move up the ladder of self esteem.

I will leave you with one last piece of food for thought… To get you thinking about your needs and how to show self compassion to those needs. Take a look at the photo below from Maslov’s hierarchy of needs:

Have a great day!


Self compassion. What is it?

To understand this concept better, we must first understand the concept of self worth. For people who generally already have a pretty good sense of self esteem and who recognize that their worth does not come from something external, such as how you perform or whether you are accepted or rejected by the people you love, self compassion is a relatively easier concept to understand. These people have either taken in enough emotional object constancy from their formative years and taken in enough nurture and love from their parents at that crucial stage of development, that they have enough love within themselves to understand self compassion. Or, they have learned the tools to develop a positive sense of self esteem later on in life. And yes! Self-esteem can be taught, learned and appropriated!

It is for those who have come from a more traumatic background of neglect or abuse of any kind or who lacked the nurturing or a stable, consistent environment while growing up who will likely find this subject of most value. A stable consistent environment can include anything from receiving consistent messages of worth and value as a person, not by what you do or don’t do, but just for who you are, to having steady, consistent people in your life, to living in the same neighborhood, growing up with the same kids from your school to increase the sense of bondedness and connection. Kids who grow up with one parent who has several partners who come and go frequently lack the steadiness of knowing both parental figures will be there for them. When families move frequently to different cities, uprooting their kids and planting them in new schools every couple of years or so, even if it is necessary for work related reasons, the child learns to adapt, but not to feel a sense of consistency or attachment with peers, which is also essential for the stability necessary to build into a child a healthy sense of connectedness. Even those who grow up with healthy parenting can be affected by low self worth for a variety of reasons. No family is perfect, and you may miss out on one or two of the essential pieces necessary to build a strong sense of worth, as in the above examples. The nurturing may be there, but moving a lot can affect the child, or if the nurture is inconsistent, or a variety of other factors may affect one’s sense of self esteem. So the bottom lime is, everyone can benefit by understanding more about self worth and where it comes from. So let’s take a look at a simple definition of it, before we unpack how to build that self esteem by introducing self compassion.

Self esteem is a realistic and appreciative opinion of oneself. Realistic meaning an honest and accurate assessment of yourself. It involves having positive feelings toward the self. It involves the ability to know that you have worth regardless of external circumstances.

Trauma has a way of re-wiring the brain to de-rail one’s sense of worth. What then begins to happen is that a person begins subconsciously speaking negative messages to the self. “I am not lovable because I was abused” or “I can only be worth something if I perform well” or telling oneself messages like “I’m a failure.” “no one loves me.” “I’m worthless.” “It would be better if I were dead”, etc. These are a few examples of negative self talk. The more you listen to these subtle statements, the worse they become. A person can begin to self-sabotage themselves and give in to self pity, or reject love when it is offered by dismissing it with reasons and assumptions as to why it can’t be true that someone loves us. Why? Because we have re-programmed our brain to only listen to negative messages that we use as a wall to protect ourselves. That’s right! Pain can be a protector. So can anger and rage. Anger and rage turned inward on ourselves is deadly to self worth. The sad thing is, most of this is going on subconsciously as we go about our day to day life, battling depression, despair, or self hatred, not realizing where it stems from, due to a lack of mindfulness about what we are allowing our minds to dwell on. There is a lot of research on how our brains work, and in many studies revealing ways to by-pass the trauma centers of our brain to re-route as it were, by reformatting the messages the brain is taking in. I do not have the time to go into that further. But the point is, there is sufficient evidence that our brains can learn new messages. We do not have to stay in trauma forever!

The bible suggests that ‘ whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” Philippians 4:8 NIV

This is good advice and wise counsel. Buddhism and Psychology also offer good tools for paying attention to what we are thinking about, called Mindfulness.

“Mindfulness is the practice of skillfully managing our attention and awareness. Attention regulation leads directly to emotional regulation.”

” Mindfulness is…knowing what you are experiencing WHILE you are experiencing it. Moment to moment awareness. Paying attention to our stream of perceptions rather than our interpretations of them… It is both knowing where our mind is from moment to moment AND directing our attention in skillful ways.”

The above quotes are from the book “The Mindful path to Self Compassion” by Christopher K. Germer, PhD.

The bible discusses this concept as well when it instructs us to “take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:5

Joyce Meyer teaches on this concept as well, to “think about what you’re thinking about” instead of carelessly allowing destructive thoughts to take up residence in your mind.

Before I get into self compassion, I must look at the flip side of the coin. There are those who dwell on pain and allow pain to be their protector. The same applies to self hatred. But, there is another aspect to take a quick look at. Studies show that the mind naturally wants to avoid distressful events and uses denial and all sorts of other coping mechanisms like projecting our distress on others, etc. The problem with this is that denial amplifies the problem. Seeking pleasure or addictions to numb pain are temporary fixes that inevitably make things worse for us later on.

“The ability to see things as they are, with acceptance, gets us through.” (taken from the book, the mindfulness of self compassion, Again.)

Suppression actually ends up becoming preoccupied by what is trying to be avoided, causing all sorts of anxiety, self hatred, depression, etc.

“New research suggests that establishing a new relationship with our thoughts and feelings, rather than directly challenging them, makes the difference. This new relationship is less avoidant, less entangled, more accepting, more compassionate and more aware. Leaning into our problems with open eyes and open hearts – with awareness and compassion – is the process by which we get relief…Resistance creates suffering. Acceptance alleviates it.” (The Mindfulness of self compassion)

Now acceptance is not embracing and feeding the negative emotions and coddling them and making them right at home where they can wreak havoc on our souls, but rather to take a look at what is happening in our emotions. I have had it explained to me to try and look at those problematic emotions as a cloud passing by in the sky. You watch it with interest, apply compassion, and allow it to move on.

“Self compassion is a form of acceptance. Whereas acceptance usually refers to what’s happening to us -accepting a feeling or a thought- self compassion is acceptance of ourselves while we are in pain… Self compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.”

“Mindfulness says ‘feel the pain’ and self compassion says ‘cherish yourself in the midst of the pain.'”

The bible, as does like every other religious teaching out there, the golden rule: To love others as you love yourself.

I invite you to practice kindness toward yourself. Give yourself grace for when you feel like you have failed at something. Every time you want to automatically criticize yourself, you are hurting yourself by engaging in self-sabotage. Some of you believe that is all you are worth. It is a lie in it’s ugliest form. We were all made in the image of God and are dearly loved by Him. We were all designed with dignity and incredible worth. My heart goes out to those of you who believe you aren’t worth much. My advice: If there are people who are contributing to this message of a lack of worth in you, that you separate yourself from them, at least for a time, to begin to practice self compassion and self worth, until you recognize that your value does not come from external validation, but that it is innate within you.

I could say SO much more on this subject… It is very near and dear to my heart. But I can only say so much in one blog.

Remember to think about what you are thinking about and extend kindness and compassion to yourself!

If you’d like to look at a great resource, check out my one-on-one Personal Development Program which will help you overcome this and other struggles such as depression, unhealthy thought patterns and so much more!

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If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Life Coach

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