Am I Stupid or Did I Just Believe You? Overcoming Low Self Esteem

Tag: Personal Growth,Self EsteemBeth Banning

The Ups and Downs of Self Esteem?

In order to raise your [tag-tec]self esteem[/tag-tec], [tag-tec]improve your self confidence[/tag-tec] and just plain start feeling good about yourself, you must stop protecting yourself from the ups and downs you feel when you are judged or criticized. People will always have opinions, some people will like you and some won’t. You will succeed at some things and not others. Some people will think you’re wonderful and some will criticize you. Rather than defending yourself from these negative judgments and opinions, start translating them into what they truly mean…

How do you react to being  judged or [tag-tec]criticized[/tag-tec]?

If you believe that your self-esteem is attached to how you feel in each moment, whether someone likes you or not, or whether you succeed or fail with your goals, then it will feel like your sense of self-esteem is on a roller coaster ride.

A great woman once said,

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

The woman was Eleanor Roosevelt and she understood that you and you alone are responsible for how you feel. Why would you feel bad about what someone else thinks of you unless you are worried about it being true in some way?

Now, you’re not alone in this. The “habitual way of being” of constantly buying into the judgments of others is extremely common. In most cultures we are actually taught that our parents, teachers, and most other adult authorities were the best judge of whether we were good or bad, right or wrong, or acting appropriately or inappropriately. With this as our training, why wouldn’t we grow up believing that we are defined by other people’s judgments of us?

We are trained so well in fact that as we grow up we learn to judge ourselves in these same ways. So then, not only did we lean to worry about the judgments of others, we become paralyzed by our judgments of ourselves.

If this sounds all too familiar to you then the question becomes: how do we get out of this mental habit so we can improve our self-confidence and start feeling good about ourselves?

“The only way to change is by changing your understanding.” ~ Anthony De Mello

The key is to get conscious

A good first step toward becoming conscious is to recognize that our low self-esteem has deep roots in our fear of being judged, both by ourselves and others.

The next step is to start translating these judgments into the truth of what they really mean. This may be hard to see at first, but we’ve found that every judgment springs from a desire to support you.

You might be saying; “Support me, how can anything so negative and destructive be supportive?”

“Suffering occurs when something is taken for what it’s not, rather than for what it is.” ~Suzanne Segal

Judgments and criticisms are never about you. They are about the values and needs of the person expressing them. We believe that within every judgment or criticism–even the ones you have about yourself–there are core values that the person making the judgment wants to experience or needs they want to have met.

As an example, let’s say you locked your keys in the car and the person riding with you says to you with a tone of disgust; “You’re such an idiot!” Then you say to yourself; “They’re probably right. That was a stupid thing to do.” This response is a reaction from your old conditioning. Whenever you respond without investigating the deeper meaning of these negative labels you reinforce this “habitual way of being”. It’s no wonder that anger, frustration, sadness, and lowered self-esteem are the result.

“Whenever anything negative happens to you, there is a deep lesson concealed within it, although you may not see it at the time.” ~Eckhart Tolle

But let’s take a look at what happens after you’ve become conscious of this old pattern and have chosen to respond from the understanding that every judgment or criticism is stimulated by a value or a need that has yet to be revealed.

We’ll use the same example where somebody says; “You’re such an idiot!” But this time — rather than defending yourself or submitting to the judgment — you respond with curiosity and say to yourself; “I wonder what’s going on with them, what value are they trying to experience or what need are they trying to met?”

You are now ready to take the third step. This is when you start guessing what the other person may value or need that would lead them to say such a thing in the first place. This process requires that you develop your Values Intelligence.

Similar to Emotional Intelligence, Values Intelligence is the ability to identify the deeply held values that motivates a person’s thoughts, intentions, strategies, and the actions they take. It’s also the ability to recognize, regardless of our circumstances, what we personally hold deeply important. Our Values Intelligence is what allows us to, in an instant, form our own intentions and strategies so they are in harmony with the essence of who we are at a very profound level.

In our example the person may value predictability or carefulness and their remark is the best way they know how to encourage you to pay attention to these traits. They may be in a hurry and the remark was stimulated by their value for integrity or punctuality and they were hoping to let you know how worried they are about being late.

“In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.” ~Ansel Adams

It’s important to remember that you can’t know what the other person may value from a critical remark such as this. You can only put yourself in their shoes, guess what might lead you to make such a statement in a similar situation, and then perhaps ask them if your guess is accurate.

The crucial thing here is that, whether or not you get to what is important to them, you have taken your attention off of what might be “wrong with you” and placed your attention on discovering the hidden motivation that stimulated the comment in the first place.

Learn to turn your attention from the superficial judgments and criticisms you may hear to discovering the underlying values and needs that they so effectively hide, and you’ll also learn to turn their sting into a sense of anticipation about exploring a deeper connection and understanding with the person making them.

When you stop buying into these judgments you’ll start discovering it’s surprisingly easy to figure out how everyone can experience more of what they value in life. You’ll find that this ability to translate negative judgments and criticisms into their true meaning can lead to a deep sense of self-confidence and feeling good about yourself.

And isn’t that what self esteem is–feeling good about yourself?

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Are You Looking for Intimacy in All the Wrong Places?

Start with Yourself

Great relationships start with people who already love themselves. [tag-tec]Intimacy[/tag-tec] like any other aspect of a [tag-tec]great relationship[/tag-tec] begins with the love and intimacy you have with yourself. The more you learn [tag-tec]how to love yourself[/tag-tec], the more you can love others–and the more love you will experience in return.intimacy-starts-with-self-love

Regardless of your relationship status–single, dating, married, or divorced–intimacy can only be achieved by learning about [tag-tec]self-love[/tag-tec] or “loving yourself first”. This is the first step to experiencing the kind of fulfillment and deep [tag-tec]intimacy you want in your relationships[/tag-tec].

Start Today!

How do you enhance you ability to love yourself? First, commit to noticing all of the terrific things about yourself, and celebrate when you do. When you focus on what you appreciate about yourself, you’ll find that others will begin to notice them too.

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
~ Buddha

It takes a practice to focus your attention on all of the positive things about yourself. It might seem like negative self-talk is the norm. When you focus on only the negative aspects of yourself, not only do you miss your own beauty, you tend to discount the love others express for you.

Start Because You’re Worth It

Few people actually take time to recognize their own wonderful qualities. The sooner that you can start to appreciate your good qualities and love and appreciate yourself for them, the sooner your relationships will become happier, more satisfying, and more intimate.

Make a conscious choice to do this and you’ll find yourself more able to fully love and receive love from others.

Remember, the shortest path to a happy life is found through conscious choice.

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Knowing Yourself = Loving Yourself

Tag: Happiness,Personal Growth,Self EsteemBeth and Neill


Catherine asked us this question: “How can I continue to strive to regard myself as worthy of [tag-tec]unconditional love[/tag-tec] in a relationship, just as I am?”

She asked this because, in her words, “I have been in two long-term relationships that ended with me feeling used and taken for granted. I came out of them thinking that I must be doing something that gives the impression I am not worth making an effort for — that I am perceived as the one who meets needs without requiring any reciprocal effort to meet mine as well”

There are many ways we could answer this question, but we would like to address how  Catherine (or anyone for that matter) can start treating herself like she’s [tag-tec]worthy of unconditional love[/tag-tec].


Artwork by Rita Loyd

Which might cause you to ask, “Easy to say, but how can I do that”?

You can start with these three beginner’s steps to practicing [tag-tec]self-love[/tag-tec]. By applying these self-love techniques you will automatically start treating yourself as the valuable being that you inherently are.

What are You Thinking About?

Step One: Explore your thinking.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, it’s the thoughts you think that generate the way you feel about yourself. The way you feel about yourself influences the actions you take. And your actions generate everything you create in your life.

Most of us have been raised in cultures that teach us to focus on what’s happening outside of ourselves as being responsible for creating the situations in our lives. “If only they wouldn’t…” “If only it hadn’t…” “If only you would…”  “It wasn’t me. It’s two other guys…”

When you primarily focus on what’s going on “out there” it’s very challenging to really know what’s going on “in here”–to know yourself, and to understand what’s most important to you.

So, if something happens “out there” that you don’t enjoy, and all you know to do is try and change those external circumstance, you’re bound to feel bad. Why? Because without first changing your internal reactions it is much harder to effectively change your external circumstances. Or, as Einstein put it:

“Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”

That is why we suggest you start the practice of exploring your internal thoughts as the first step to treating yourself as worthy of unconditional love. You will know which thoughts are important to explore by using your feelings as an alarm.

The next time you feel uncomfortable in any way, try to identify what you were thinking about just before you started feeling uncomfortable. Then use the next step to change this level of thinking.

Identify Your [tag-tec]Personal Core Values[/tag-tec]–Who You are at a Deep Level

Step Two: Identify what’s most important to you.

The quickest way to start giving yourself unconditional love is to get to know yourself well enough that you can appreciate who you are–even when you don’t like how you feel.

Shakespeare said it best when he wrote, “To thine own self be true.”

Discovering what’s most important to you–what you most deeply value–is the best way we know to discover who you truly are.

These [tag-tec]personal values[/tag-tec] are sometimes well hidden inside your every day feelings. The stronger your feelings–the more important the value is that they express.

In step one you identified what you were thinking about just before you started feeling uncomfortable. Now that you’ve interrupted the thought, ask yourself questions such as: “What is so important to me in this situation that I feel so strongly about?” “What is missing for me that is so important?”

For example, underneath a sense of deep sadness, you might discover caring and consideration are very important to you, and those things are missing in the situation at hand. Hidden within confusion could be a strong desire for understanding. Beneath frustration, you could discover that you want to be more effective.

When you can get under your feelings to what’s deeply important to you—you will start to notice wonderful qualities about yourself. So rather then being stuck in the negative thoughts and the feelings they generate,  you can discover “thine own self”–a valuable person you can easily learn to love.

Knowing YOU is Loving YOU

Step Three: Get to know your best friend.

Although at times you may feel very sad, frustrated or lonely, once you learn to stop yourself the very moment you begin feeling uncomfortable, and then identify what’s most important to you beneath your feelings, you’ll find that you can always be there for YOU. You can listen to what’s important to you. You can figure out ways to get more of whatever you deeply value that is missing in your life.

Using these self-love techniques you are guaranteed to find the best friend you’ve ever had and will be well on your way to mastering the art of self-love and acceptance.

Never Settle for Less Again

Now we’d like to get back to the other thing Catherine said: “I have been in two long-term relationships that ended with me feeling used and taken for granted. I came out of them thinking that I must do something that gives the impression I am not worth making an effort for – that I am perceived as the one who meets needs without requiring any reciprocal effort to meet mine as well.”

[tag-tec]Loving and accepting yourself[/tag-tec] is the first step to creating unconditional love in all your relationships. This will make it much easier to experience the mutual respect and consideration you desire.  With practice at interrupting negative thoughts, and then discovering what you really want, you’ll gain the confidence to ask  for what you want and know that you’re worth getting it.

Personal Values Education – Knowing What You Need and How to Get It

To Get What You Need You Have to Know What You Value

magnifying-glass-valuesDo you ever find yourself unsure of what you “need” in a situation or what would be the “best” thing to do? Would you like more confidence that the decisions you make are not sowing the seeds of regret? If so, you may be intrigued by our response to this question from our community: “What’s the difference between [tag-tec]values and needs[/tag-tec]?” This is our attempt at a very brief education about [tag-tec]core human values[/tag-tec] and a look at how to develop what we call your [tag-tec]Values Intelligence[/tag-tec], or V-IQ.

[tag-tec]Values Intelligence[/tag-tec]

Let’s start by defining what we mean by [tag-tec]core human values[/tag-tec].

The word value originates from the Latin word “valere“, which means “be strong, be well, be of value,” and is also the root of the word “valiant.

We define [tag-tec]human values[/tag-tec] as:

What’s most deeply important to a person, without reference to specific people, places, actions or times.

Human values are the landmarks that guide a person’s choices so their actions are in harmony with what is most meaningful to them. They are what a person finds most important or motivating at the deepest level.

[tag-tec]Examples of Core Human Values[/tag-tec]

To be clear about this. here’s a very brief list of things we would describe as [tag-tec]basic human values[/tag-tec].

Accomplishment Discovery Leadership
Adventure Enjoyment Mastery
Autonomy Experience Play
Beauty Harmony Pleasure
Compassion Health Relatedness
Connection Inspiration Self Expression
Contribution Integrity Spirituality
Creativity Inter-Reliance Support

Again, this is a very brief list of examples of core values. Your most important [tag-tec]personal values[/tag-tec] may exclude some that are on this list, and may include many others which don’t appear here.

You may notice that things such as: air, food, water, shelter, etc. are not on this list. That’s because these are not what we would call exclusively “[tag-tec]human values[/tag-tec].” These fall more in the category of things that are valuable for sustaining life in whatever form.

The important thing to pay attention to when reviewing this list is the last part of our definition. You’ll notice that each of the words in the values list describes something “without reference to specific people, places, actions or times.” If they did, we would call these “strategies” rather than “values.”

This distinction plays an important role in answering the next question.

What’s the Difference Between [tag-tec]Values and Needs[/tag-tec]?

By definition, a need is: a lack of something useful, required, or desired. Therefore, if we don’t consider something useful, required, or desired, we can never be in need of it. As a corollary to this, we cannot “need” something unless it is lacking.

In short: you can’t need it if you don’t value it or if you’ve already got it.

There are a few benefits from shifting our understanding of these words in these ways. One is that by using these definitions we naturally turn our attention to what we value that’s missing in a situation, rather than dwelling on what is lacking that we “need.” This turns our attention from what we don’t have to what we want, which is a much more powerful perspective for identifying our options.

Second, we all know how quickly someone can become “one to avoid” if they always express themselves in terms of their needs. Have you ever heard someone describe someone else by saying, “They’re just too needy!”

But expressing what we want in terms of what we value allows others to relate to us in terms they can identify with. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone reacting negatively to someone “valuing” everything in the [tag-tec]examples of values[/tag-tec] listed above. You’ll probably never hear someone say, “They’re just too valuey!”

The Importance of Knowing What You Value

Everything we’ve covered so far was intended to bring us to this point. We can now take a look at the critical importance of being able to identify your own, [tag-tec]personal core values[/tag-tec], which is this.

If you misidentify what you value, it’s likely you’ll misidentify what you need, which makes it likely that you’ll develop strategies that will satisfy neither what you need nor what you value.

This is why we believe it’s so important that people begin to develop their [tag-tec]Values Intelligence[/tag-tec], or V-IQ. We understand this as your ability to:

  1. Know what you value
  2. Identify what you value that’s missing in a situation
  3. Develop concrete, actionable strategies to begin experiencing what you value
  4. Take only actions that are in harmony with your values
  5. Measure your success by whether you’re experiencing more of what you value

In this process, identifying your personal values is the first step in knowing the most valiant actions you can take in any situation. In fact, we’ve found no better way for a person to begin experiencing a truly “valuable life” than developing their V-IQ.

If you’re new to our work you may be interested in knowing that we offer a free values exercise worksheet.

This is designed so you can use it in any situation or relationship in your life to determine what you value most–the first characteristic of [tag-tec]values intelligence[/tag-tec].

If you’re interested in developing the other four aspects, subscribe to this blog, read our articles, or visit our store. Helping people with their “[tag-tec]values education[/tag-tec]” is a core part of what we do.

Can You Regain Trust in Your Relationship with a Lying Spouse? Part 2

Re-Establishing Trust in Your Relationship

Lost Relationship Trust

(The following is Part 2 of our response to a question we received. To the best of our ability we removed all personally identifying information and have made the situation as generic as possible.)

We assume you have read part one of this response in the previous blog post. We also hope you have taken the opportunity to read the article we suggested near the end of that post. Part one concluded with the importance of [tag-tec]establishing trust[/tag-tec] in your ability to take care yourself in this kind of situation, whether or not you choose to stay with your spouse.

If you choose to move forward in the relationship, then it will be important to establish more openness and honesty with your spouse. It can be quite challenging to [tag-tec]reestablish trust[/tag-tec] with the spouse who has lied about something as important as drug use, and overcoming these issues can take quite a while. So we recommend you only undertake this journey if you trust your ability to take care of yourself along the way.

But, no matter how much you trust yourself, you cannot [tag-tec]reestablish trust with your spouse[/tag-tec] on your own. Your spouse has to want this too. As the saying goes: It takes two to tango. It will take cooperation from both of you to get your relationship back on track.

We have an article that offers advice about how to establish this kind of [tag-tec]cooperation[tag-tec]. And most importantly, it does it in a way that can free you from judgment, blame, fear, and shame that you and your spouse may feel toward each other in this situation.

Following the steps in this article can help you start to reestablish the trust has been lost. It will help you figure out what each of you wants from your relationship and what each of you are willing to do to resolve your current [tag-tec]relationship troubles[/tag-tec]. The title of the article is: 5 Keys for Creating Genuine Cooperation in All Your Relationships

You can the process described in this article to come to agreement about what you want to create in your relationship together, and then make specific agreements to work together to create it. Practicing genuine cooperation is the best way we know to build trust in relationship.

Getting Help for the Journey Ahead

If you both agree that you want to work together to resolve these trust issues and [tag-tec]improve your relationship[/tag-tec], then we suggest you seek the support of someone with [tag-tec]relationship counseling skills[/tag-tec] that you trust. This help can be very important in keeping you on track as make progress [tag-tec]regaining the trust you’ve lost in your relationship[/tag-tec].

You may be able to find someone with these skills by asking your friends, coworkers, or your spiritual counselors to suggest someone they trust. You may already know someone who is fair, impartial, and has the wisdom to provide the guidance you need. But regardless of how you choose to find them, we strongly suggest that you get this support.

Whatever you choose to do next, we hope you are able to do it with compassion for yourself and for your spouse.

We hope this has helped in some small way. We would enjoy hearing from you if it has.

Committed to supporting your happiness,

Beth and Neill

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