Today I’m looking at self-esteem and how we can improve it for greater success in our personal and business lives.
Let’s start by looking at what self-esteem is.
When I think of self-esteem, I think about what my view of myself is. What I am worth. It’s much more than how I view myself physically but how I view myself personality-wise. It covers emotional states, too, like triumph, despair, pride and shame.
When I was starting out in business, one of the key pieces of advice I received from various coaches and mentors was to fake it until I made it. It seemed like good advice at the time, but I don’t agree with it anymore because it turns out that it’s actually tough to fake it!
Of course, you want to show up looking the part and sounding the part as best you can, but in my mind, it’s less about faking it and more about being sure of yourself, and for me, that comes down to your self-esteem.
I believe that we come into this world with an innate sense of self-esteem, and how much we have differs from person to person. My eldest son, for example, has oodles of self-esteem! He’s very confident and sure of himself. My youngest son, on the other hand, has much less confidence and lower self-esteem.
The family environment that we grow up in has a massive influence on us too. My mum, for instance, was a huge supporter and believer in me from the get-go, and that made an enormous difference to my self-esteem. She believed in me in so many ways that I learned to believe in myself as well.
I think there’s a common misconception that people can’t change their level of self-esteem. I absolutely believe that you can. Indeed, our self-esteem changes daily. Some days we feel great like we can take on the world, and other days we’re full of doubt and question ourselves.
I know for sure that self-esteem is one of the most important things that affect your business success. If you have very low self-esteem, it is unlikely that you will do very well in business. Because, even if you dress up and present yourself in the best way, low self-esteem leaks out in all sorts of different ways:
You don’t believe that you’re valuable enough to turn up and talk about your knowledge, experience and opinions.
You don’t believe that you’re valuable enough to attract good clients.
You don’t believe that you’re good enough to ask for money for the services you’re providing.
Do you see how important a strong sense of self-esteem is in business?
So, if the traditional advice of fake it until you make it is no good for your self-esteem, what is?
How do you improve your self-esteem?
Psychotherapist and author Nathaniel Branden has identified six pillars of self-esteem. I believe that you can absolutely improve yours and achieve success in every area of your life if you work on these six areas.
1. Living consciously
This is where you work to become aware of the power of your thoughts and how your behaviour affects yourself and others. It’s all about managing your thoughts, releasing the negative ones and choosing to think of other, better thoughts instead.
For me, work on my thoughts is a daily job and the first thing I do each morning. I either journal about my thoughts to make sense of them or do a tapping (EFT) meditation. I also follow the Sedona Method and the works of Eckhart Tolle.
Try exploring your own ways to become aware of your thoughts, for example, by taking a regular long walk in nature or gentle, meditative exercise like yoga or tai chi.
This one is a lifelong journey. You need to know that you are bound to experience lapses and setbacks along with successes and leaps forward. You have to know that your personal and business lives just aren’t going to be packed with success after success. You have to be able to roll with the punches and pick yourself up when things are hard or go wrong, knowing that it will get better in time.
As Nathaniel says
The real basic power of an individual isn’t what he or she knows; it’s the ability to think and learn and face new challengesNathaniel Branden
That is so important!
Your long-term success in every area of life depends on how flexible and how able you are to cope with the challenges you face from time to time.
This pillar relates to us accepting accountability for everything that we do. I see many people in all walks of life who blame their unhappiness and lack of success on other people. In reality, the sole responsibility for your success and happiness rests in your own hands. You can’t spend years blaming your husband if you’re unhappy in your relationship, for example. If you’ve tried to make it work, at some point, you’re going to have to accept that it’s over, end it and move on so you can find happiness again. You only have one go at life, don’t you?!
This is all about knowing your needs and expressing them clearly, directly and calmly to others. What do you really want? You have to be clear on what you need and go out there and get it! No one is coming to rescue you: not your husband, your coach or your friend. Sure, all of these support systems are invaluable, but YOU have to decide what you want out of life and make it happen.
5. Living purposefully
This pillar is about finding work or activities that give you a sense of purpose. You have to find what is meaningful for you. Many of us image consultants have taken a leap of faith to train. Many of us have previously had very different careers and chose image consultancy as a way of finding a stronger purpose.
It took me a while to find my purpose in image consulting, though. At first, I felt that helping people with their physical appearance seemed somewhat frivolous. In the end, I realised that it went so much deeper than that. Women came to me for my help to improve their self-esteem, not just their appearance. Of course, the two are closely related, but as they worked more on their self-esteem, my clients spent more time and care on their physical appearance.
An additional, excellent book on purpose is The Power of Significance: How Purpose Changes Your Life by John C. Maxwell.
6. Personal integrity
The final pillar is all about knowing your values and always aiming to live up to them. Ask yourself what your values are and what you stand for.
A big one of me is a sense of fairness. I really believe that everyone should be treated fairly. I also passionately believe that everyone has a full right to be themselves, and they shouldn’t be bullied for who they are.
Knowing your values and working within them make you feel better about yourself, and so your self-esteem improves.
You can learn more about the six pillars of self-esteem by listening to a free audio recording of Nathaniel’s book on YouTube at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfFUVnwCNVY.
What do you think of these six pillars? Which do you need to work on most? Leave a comment and let me know!