The Truth About Self-Esteem…It’s an Inside Job.
1 Apr

The Truth About Self-Esteem…It’s an Inside Job.

The truth is self-esteem is an inside job. In a world where insecurities and negative self-talk are prevalent, it is crucial to recognize negativity stems from the mind. While the symptoms of low self-esteem are well-known, the root cause is often less understood. By understanding the cause of low self-esteem, we can begin to take steps towards building a more positive self-image and developing a healthier sense of self-worth.

Self-esteem matters because it’s an essential component of our mental health and well-being. It can be a significant challenge for us, impacting our personal and professional lives. In fact, it can be a debilitating issue that leads to feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, anxiety, and even depression.

Millions of people worldwide struggle with low self-esteem. In the 21st century, it’s become a huge issue and a billion-dollar industry. Advertising tells us…we should be richer, prettier, happier, and better than we are now. While many believe that self-esteem comes from external factors such as success, popularity, or material possessions…the truth is, it’s an internal state of mind.

Healthy self-esteem comes from a deep sense of self-worth and self-respect that is cultivated through self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-trust, and self-competence. By recognizing, valuing, and focusing on our own unique strengths and qualities, we can build a strong foundation of self-esteem that allows us to navigate life’s challenges with confidence and resilience.

Everyone has insecurities and experiences negative self-talk from time to time…even the most successful. Yes, even the most successful people face periods of self-doubt and hits to their self-esteem. It’s common. Yet, we don’t have to settle for what’s common.

So, let’s begin by understanding what self-esteem is and then move on to how to improve it. Self-esteem is our overall sense of value or worth. It’s what we believe to be true about how worthy, lovable, valuable, and capable we are. Self-esteem is typically defined as having confidence in one’s own worth or abilities. It’s how we perceive ourselves and how compassionate we are toward ourselves.

Now, let’s explore some of the characteristics of both high and low self-esteem. People with high self-esteem accept their flaws, are kind to themselves when they make mistakes, and know they are worthy regardless of their life experiences. They have self-respect, self-regard, faith in oneself, self-assurance and more.

On the other hand, those with low self-esteem tend to compare and judge themselves, believe the voice of fear and doubt, worry about the future, seek approval, become easy prey, lack inner trust, tend to be fear driven, are limited by false beliefs, avoid or hide, not love themselves, lack healthy boundaries, etc.

Notice, insecurity comes from the mind. This is why it’s essential to understand that these issues are created in the mind and can be overcome. By acknowledging and addressing our insecurities, we can take the necessary steps towards personal growth and greater self-awareness.

Remember, all problems are created in the mind where they live. They’re imagined. Therefore, we can learn to overcome fear and doubt by overcoming the ego mind. This means we must close our doors to the inner critic and its narrative. Yes, we can learn to love ourselves instead. 

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.”

Likewise, we can’t feel rejected unless we first reject ourselves. It takes practice to not live in our head and not believe the voice of fear & doubt. We must expose the ego to step out. The inner critic wins when we don’t know what’s going on. Once we begin to watch what the mind is up to, we can decide to not go along, not engage, nor believe our thoughts. This is where meditation practice, listening to teachings, and individual or group support are helpful. We learn to take back our rightful authority. 

Healthy self-esteem is inherent worthiness. It’s innate because we’re born worthy. Your superpower is you; thus, it’s “knowing” you are good enough. In this place, we can give ourselves grace to drop the ego mind and come to a place of inner rest.

Now let’s look at how we can get to this place of rest. This place we’re talking about involves learning to challenge our thoughts, quiet the ego mind, end judgments, drop all comparisons, while also allowing self-acceptance and self-compassion to lead. 

When we recognize we’re living in a psychological world that doesn’t exist in reality, we discover our true nature. We begin to wake up out of our mind. It starts with us recognizing our thoughts and questioning them rather than believing and engaging with them. Instead of living in the mind, we can learn to redirect our attention to the presence in our body and breath. With practice, the thoughts slowly disappear.

Let’s go deeper. To overcome this negative self-talk, we can use meditation as a tool to recognize what’s going on in the mind and not be trickable. Again, the solution is inside, so we must quiet our mind. The key is to practice redirecting our attention away from thoughts. This takes us beyond the mind, to be here now and not stuck in a psychological place. As we practice, we become more aware, accepting, and compassionate. It gives us the authority and trust needed for a permanent foundation inside. Again, we’ve spent our lives looking in the wrong place. We must go inward to heal. The world will never satisfy our lack; it only adds to it.

We’ve been conditioned to look outside rather than going inward. Yet, this outside path is conditional and based on the world’s approval rather than our own. Most try to earn it from the outside by using outcomes and achievements, but it doesn’t work because it can’t. You won’t find relief outside nor in any “thing”, object, or person. It’s only a temporary fix. Nothing from the outside lasts.

So, what’s the bottom line? Boosting self-esteem begins with mindfulness, i.e., quieting the mind, because low self-esteem happens in the mind. The core issue has to do with our identification with the ego mind, its thoughts, and believing them. This is why we go along, and this habit blocks the development of healthy self-esteem.

Here’s how we can cultivate unconditional self-esteem with mindfulness. We must be willing to accept “what is” or even the unacceptable rather than spending a lifetime trying to control what we resist or want. Unfortunately, we want things to be different from the way they are. This behavior pattern keeps us stuck. However, there are steps we can take to overcome it.

Self-inquiry is an effective strategy to identify and challenge negative self-talk. It helps us to identify and challenge our thoughts. As we do this inner work, we not only recognize the negative self-talk, but we also learn to not believe it. When we question our thoughts and beliefs, we stop contributing to low self-esteem. This is how we neutralize our thoughts, and thus boost our self-esteem. So, if we want to improve our self-esteem, we must start by turning inward to cultivate a positive relationship with ourselves.

Let’s apply what we’ve learned so far. Change only happens when we can fully accept ourselves, and accepting “what is” is the first step in breaking free from our suffering. Realize when we resist, judge, expect, attach, or want things to be different, it will only hold us back from what we want most. We must change the relationship we have with ourselves to be free.

Next time you’re tempted to personalize a situation or thought, know it’s not a threat and it’s certainly not personal. Neutralize your thoughts by redirecting your attention before they take you over. Don’t take them seriously. Instead, question them. Then turn your attention back to yourself and stay rooted there.

Notice, when you direct your attention to your breath, it breaks the stream of thoughts and the unconsciousness you’re experiencing when you’re lost in your head. Once you notice the thought, it creates distance by observing it as a life situation and not your life. It’s a thing…a field of negative energy on the surface with life situations where the ego resides. It’s like the clouds in the sky. Know this for sure; it’s not you. You’re the foundation beyond the challenges you face. You can take your rightful authority over them by allowing it to be what it is while not resisting. Experience what you’re feeling in your body, open your heart, relax, and release it. As you do, you will rise above each challenging thought to see the truth.

Remember, all situations are neutral until thoughts get involved. Thoughts cause our suffering because we believe them and take them personally. As you redirect and focus your attention in conscious presence, the mind will naturally quiet. Remember, don’t close; stay open. Question all thoughts so you can understand them. Writing them down and investigating them will reveal what is true.

This practice will help you become familiar with what you’re feeling so you can make friends with it rather than resisting. Next time you will be able to recognize and neutralize the negative self-talk easier and quicker. Commit daily to doing your inner inquiry work and meditation practice.

Your self-esteem will grow as you regularly check in with yourself by building a true inner sense of yourself, i.e., personal stability, freedom, and inner peace. Don’t forget to apply this practice by being kind and patient with yourself as you grow.

Also consider reading Chapter 5-Recognizing and Knowing the True Self, Chapter 7-Resisting Reality, and Chapter 11-Loving Yourself in my book “Breaking Free from the Ego: A Course in Finding and Freeing Yourself”. book is available on most online retail sites such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or BookBaby Bookshop.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog. Be patient with yourself as you grow and be proud of how far you’ve come. Please share this blog with a friend. It may be exactly what they need to hear. Don’t forget to return to read my upcoming blogs.

Checkout my new online course to “Find and Free Yourself”:

Online Course Overview: The key to end suffering and unhappiness is to break free from the busy mind. This course focuses on how you can gain authority over your life by learning how to quiet your mind. You will learn how to recognize, neutralize, and move beyond the voice of fear and doubt. The purpose here is to teach you how to live in freedom and inner peace all the time.

For more insight, consider reading Chapter 9 “The Busy Mind” in my book: “Breaking Free from the Ego: A Course in Finding and Freeing Yourself”.

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About the Author – Trina Carroll-Houk is a spiritual teacher, counselor, and founder of Breaking Free Boundaries, LLC who specializes in self-awareness, mindfulness, and the spiritual dimension of being. Her goal is to help people improve their quality of life so they can experience inner peace, meaningful purpose, and greater fulfillment. Trina represents a movement focused on helping people release what limits them from living in a higher dimension of spiritual consciousness.