This article was last updated on September 5, 2017
It was an overcast day in 1997 in my hometown. My parents were arguing again. The yelling had become commonplace and it had reached its boiling point. My mom got in her truck and I ran after her. I was in the front yard and my mom and dad were both calling to me to come with them. I didn’t know who to trust because I was 6 years old. It represented powerlessness to me. For many years, that situation and others like it trapped me into perpetuating this cycle in the rest of my life. I kept reliving it because my self- concept was of a person who deserved to be helpless and indecisive. It led me to extremely toxic relationships with women and to this day, I am still learning to establish healthy relationships with women. You can accomplish a lot with low self-esteem, but you can end up like many people who have all the trappings of life yet no fulfillment or self-love.
If you have poor self-esteem, you will live a life of emotional poverty.
You will have to distract yourself using drugs and other dangerous behaviors. If you have high self-esteem, you will live a life of emotional wealth and abundance. This abundance does not have to be dependent on what is happening in the moment either; it is a baseline of happiness. Today I will share 7 actionable steps on how to improve self-esteem that I have used in my journey from a helpless inner child to a man.
Before we start
I asked three people I know if they knew what high self-esteem was – all were oblivious to the true meaning. The consensus was that it means you are a happy 99% of the time. It turns out even with high self-esteem you have bad times. I find it necessary to establish what we are actually trying to improve and measure here. So, what is self-esteem? We all have a general idea, right? Ill quote the experts at the University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center.
“Your self-esteem is something more fundamental than the ups and downs associated with situational changes. For people with good self-esteem, normal ups and downs may lead to temporary fluctuations in how they feel about themselves, but only to a limited extent. In contrast, for people with poor self-esteem, these ups and downs drastically impact the way they see themselves.”
The difference between high self-esteem and low self-esteem is taking bad experiences and letting them define your self-worth. This doesn’t mean you cant have a bad day, rather it means you don’t think that the events of the day happened because you are a horrible person etc.
So how does a person have low self-esteem when others do not? It happens generally when a person they are close to views them a certain way and they adopt that view of themselves (usually at a young age). They construct an identity that is made up of a network of subconscious beliefs. This web really controls your destiny. So what can we do consciously and subconsciously to change it?
Awareness of the problem
I know awareness seems to be the first step in everything that is because it is! How do you know you have low self-esteem? I realized I had low self-esteem when trying to do sales at 18 years old. When someone told me no, in my head they were saying no to me as a person. If you feel like this has happened to you, or you are experiencing mild depression, take this quiz. Before you learn how to improve your self-esteem, you need to know where you are.
Know where you want to go
When I was learning how to drive a motorcycle, they used to say that most newbie crashes happened because they forgot the first rule of motorcycle driving. Look where you want to go. If you are in a bad situation, freak out, and look at the thing you fear most, you will drive straight into it.
You keep on your eyes focused on what you want. I feel like everyone needs to be taught this or crash as we were in motorcycle certification. This is not positive thinking mumbo jumbo. This is natural law because where your focus goes your energy flows. My point here is that if you want to have high self-esteem, describe the person you wish to become in detail on paper. This leads me to step two.
What is the one thing that can really be the difference between you using this article and the remaining steps as a springboard for your life? Certainty that you will succeed is the deciding factor. People in general get crappy results because they take half-hardhearted actions, because they believe they have crappy potential; because they have crappy belief systems. This cycle is never ending because your brain cannot accept being wrong. Therefore, you will look for all the things to prove that you are bad at business or bad with men/women.
The thing is, you have years of garbage in your subconscious. You have to weed that stuff out or it will continuously try to affirm itself as correct. The first great step is to start visualizing what you want in your life. There has been so many successful people to say that this has changed his or her life, yet hardly anyone does it. It provides the certainty you need to continue taking action. We all know the feeling of hopelessness that leads to inaction.
The little discipline creates a phenomenal life. Start visualizing 10 minutes a day, I know that’s how I had to start – a little at a time. A book called psycho-cybernetics is also a great read on this subject. If you don’t feel you visualize well imagine familiar surroundings in your life. They are usually much clearer, that’s because you’ve seen them so much they are familiar. You now have to create what you want so many times that its clear.
Change your peer group and find your mentor
Have you ever had a friend or family member tell you, “You can’t do that”? It’s kind of mind-blowing, but somehow you accept what they say because you want their approval and love. I’ve done this so many times in my life and at the time I didn’t realize that peer groups really are the basis for our own standards. Ten thousand years ago if we left the tribe (peer group), we died. DNA that survives has a memory of what worked in the past.
We still have the tribal mentality and the secret is you must choose your tribe. Seek out the people that you want to be like and assimilate with them. You could approach it as “I just want to be myself”, but the truth is what you view as yourself is just a bundle of beliefs that someone else gave you. So choose the programming. A great place to start to find these people you enjoy being around on meetup.com. A gem that is free to very low cost. This one site has gotten me around business-oriented friends that want to achieve career success, people that want to establish healthy relationships, and some fun groups that meditate together etc. This is such a good site to start building a tribe that is already living the life you want to live (mentors).
Belief systems work
Many approaches have been proven to reshape the subconscious mind. I will briefly discuss a few of them.
- Get help from a Clinical Hypnotherapist. When people think of how to improve self-esteem they rarely think of hypnosis and programming the subconscious mind. Yet only 5% of our lives are controlled by conscious thought. Effectively, the remaining 95% controls is very important in achieving high self-esteem. You can search Google for “(your city) clinical hypnosis” to locate a trained hypnotherapist. Hypnosis bypasses the conscious mind to get in the brain wave patterns. They are a gateway to the subconscious mind. I asked a friend of mine who is a certified hypnotherapist what he says to people that call hypnosis “mind control”. He said that when it comes down to it, is not like stage hypnosis and all of those fake effects. It comes down to the fact that you can choose to not obey, but in this case you do want to accept the suggestions because you and the hypnotherapist decided that’s the beliefs you wanted to change. Just know you have free will no matter if you are under hypnosis or not.
Also give this a try
- Buy a Self-Hypnosis Book. This is a way you can begin to recondition your subconscious for very little money. This is my favorite book on the subject and it provides scripts so you can hypnotize yourself. You can order it used from Amazon Marketplace and it will literally cost you $4-5. Another option is to get the Kindle version.
- Purchase Subliminal Recordings. This is another way to get into theta brain waves and you can do it as you fall asleep (or are asleep). Subliminal recordings are a very passive way to affect your subconscious. The first night I did this it affected my dreams, which is a good sign that it’s affecting my mind. I continue to use it and notice things happening in little ways.
- Hire an NLP Coach. Neuro-linguistic Programming is the science of the effect that language, both verbal and non-verbal has on the nervous system of our body. Your ability to do anything in life depends on your ability to communicate with yourself and others. This has been claimed by some to be a cure for all. I am finishing up a 15 month long NLP Master’s program right now. I can tell you it is a very powerful tool for change, but it is by no means a cure all. It’s also not the “religion” some people make it out to be, but it has made a profound effect on my life for the better. These NLP belief processes go very deep to discover limiting core beliefs and connect them with positive supportive experiences to give you more resources to heal and reprogram yourself. If you would like to talk to me about this, feel free.
While I feel my interest in psychology and personal development is not a traditional psychologists approach, I am not the person that’s going to tell you that “psychotherapy never works.” These are all just tools and when you think of them in that way there is no need to defend any of them with such fierce aggression. Psychotherapy is an option when things get badly out of control and you need help immediately. It is also a good option in my opinion to use this in conjunction with the other tools to accelerate the process. I found these two sites that you can actually video chat with counselors. I think this is a great option for busy people that cannot afford a $100 an hour shrink.
I hope you have found my article helpful. These are some great first steps to get started and here are a few other books to help you on your journey.