The latest installment in my research on self esteem has presented a different way of looking at the concept. Self esteem is finding out who you are and living according to your own intuition. It is being empowered enough to stand up for yourself - not necessarily by being confrontational, but by having such a solid belief that your own choices are right for you that you do not need to justify yourself to anyone else or seek their approval.
When we are children and teenagers, our family (our tribe) determines our self esteem. They set the rules we live by, our values, and our religion/spirituality. High self esteem comes from operating within these expected 'norms' which results in approval from the family.
There comes a point when we need to determine our own rules, values and spirituality and when we become conscious beings, we find that sometimes we are quite different to the 'self' our parents want us to be. If we authentically express our individuality we are sometimes in conflict with our family and they express their disappointment that we have 'betrayed' their ideals. All of a sudden we start questioning ourselves because there is a seed of doubt - what if we are making the wrong choices?
The truth is that the path we choose for ourselves by listening to our inner voice is the right path to be on. Our confidence and trust grows as we acknowledge that the things we value, although different from other people's opinions, are essential values for us to honour. As we embrace our individuality our self esteem grows. We start the momentum that unlocks our unlimited potential.
Self esteem is a choice. When faced with a choice to act or think in a particular way, we choose the action or thought that will align with the person we are on the inside.
I will use myself as an example.
The way I behave at work demonstrates that I believe that I have the intelligence and the courage to take on any challenge. I am not afraid of trying new things, or changing things around. I question why we do things a certain way, and I am not frightened of working through conflict. I believe that there are many ways to skin a cat and just because your solution is different to mine, it is still valid. I am not afraid to fail, and I support everyone in my team who fails as long as they tried with the best information that had at the time. I accept that some people don't like what I do because I shake up their safe and secure world, but I don't equate any of this for one moment with them liking me. My work self esteem is high and unshakable because I know who I am in the workplace, and I am empowered to act on this image of myself.
This is also true of my relationship with my husband. I know that I love him more than any other living being on the planet and that I enjoy being with him. I also know that there is no guarantee of forever, so if he didn't love me anymore, I would be sad, but I would survive. I am not jealous or needy, I am simply happy to be with him and happy also to have time on my own. I am a woman who is content to be with the love of my life, with my soul mate, but also strong enough to survive on my own. My relationship self esteem is high and unshakable because I know who I am in this relationship and I feel empowered to act of this image of myself.
The other areas of my self esteem have been a little shaky and I think I now know why. I have an intuitive image of the real 'me' that has been at odds with what I was brought up to be. This has filled me with doubt as to whether I was really doing or being the right thing.
Without going into how I am NOT the person my parents, family, old friends and church thought I was or should be, I would instead like to articulate who I really am. I am realizing that it is perfectly OK to be this different and unique person.
★ I am a spiritual being whose beliefs align with Buddhism much more than Christianity.
★ I believe that it actually is "all about me" because it is my primary responsibility to care for myself.
★ If I prioritize the nurturing of my body, mind and spirit I am not being shallow and self centred, I am leading a conscious, authentic life.
★ My body is the only instrument I have to interact with the physical world. To participate fully in this physical world, I need to prioritize my physical needs.
★ My body, mind and spirit are interconnected. I find joy when I am using my mind to learn new things, when I am expressing happiness, love and compassion and when I am lean and strong. I believe that all three areas are as important as one another and that 'wholeness' is only achieved by investing effort in my body, mind and spirit.
★ Every time I make a choice to think or act in a particular way, I measure my success by how it makes me feel [mentally, physically, emotionally], at that moment and in the future. I recognize that I will make wrong choices but they will only serve to teach me how to choose differently in the future.
★ I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and my purpose is to be an empowered being. I choose not to sabotage my power because of my fear of disapproval from others.
★ I can be everything I have dreamed of, otherwise I wouldn't have dreamed it.
How's that for a list of credits!
In closing I will remind you how I know all this to be true.
I have known for a long time that I wanted to be a vegetarian. I never had the courage to try because I had been brought up eating meat, I had been told that a high carb diet causes weight gain and insulin spikes, and I had read all the articles that said I couldn't get enough protein or iron from a vegetarian diet to function as an athlete. But I listened to the still small voice that told me I might feel better without the beef, chicken, fish and whey/diary in my diet. I chose to stop eating those things temporarily to see what would happen.
I absolutely made the right choice. I have no doubt that this way of eating is perfect for me. I have no intestinal distress, I am more than 'regular', I feel light and energised, and I have no feelings of deprivation or cravings. My veins pop in the gym [hello Harold (he's the vein in my left shoulder)], my strength is increasing and cardio is a joy, not a chore. Fruit and vegetables are my favourite thing to eat, followed closely by oats, rice, legumes and grainy bread. I add a little tofu and soy protein to look after the protein.
The most important thing is ... it just feels RIGHT. Knowing this has given me the confidence to try other weird and wonderful strategies my inner voice comes up with. It is unbelievably exciting to think what else I might discover ...
Day #12 - Give up the Psycho-babble and GET ON WITH LIVING
TO DO LIST
I ate food that provided my body with energy and vitality
I trained hard in the gym
I discovered that carrot cake does not taste that good and makes me feel unwell after I have eaten it
I listened to an audio book on self esteem and wrote down my thoughts
I liked myself quite a bit today
I stopped looking for answers in a book and looked inside instead