This weekend I was having a conversation with one of our coaching clients and he told me his wife worked for a weight loss center. He told me about a conversation his wife had with a potential client that she was talking to.
She asked her client, “Why do you want to lose weight?” And the client responded, “because I hate myself”.
How do we get to that point of such low self-esteem that you begin to hate yourself and what can you do to fix it?
The answer is self-respect.
Self-respect is the gateway to self-esteem.
Stated simply, we like ourselves the more we respect ourselves… but how do we gain “self-respect”?
Since my early adult years I have lived by three simple success rules: “Do my best”, “Work hard”, and “Do the right thing”.
That last one is the key to healthy self-esteem.
Here’s why: We increase our self-respect when we choose to do the right thing versus what makes us look good or what is easy.
Take our weight loss client for example. She obviously, repeatedly, didn’t choose what she knew was right when it came to food. And for that reason she lost respect for herself to the point that she couldn’t stand the person she had become.
Within us there are 3 forces battling each other: The mind, the body and soul.
You have probably heard these terms many times and I’m going to attempt to explain how they work together (or against each other).
The mind (ego) is the critical thinker, it wants the world to make sense and to have control. The body wants just the opposite, it wants to have distraction, fun and sleep – and anything that ‘feels good’. And the soul just wants to do what’s right.
Staying in your comfort zone and taking the easy way out is the body’s force at work. It’s the one that tells you to hit the snooze button, that it’s ok to procrastinate on the tasks you know you should be doing. It tells you to go to the gym (or not) based on how it believes it will make you feel.
The mind (or ego) makes decisions based on how we think it will make us “appear” to others. It is what causes us to crack jokes at others expense or to be an “attention hog”.
It can be the cause of purchasing items that are out of our means. The ego is more concerned about “image”, prestige and power. Understanding this powerful force has made many, many salespeople rich! Decisions made by the mind only consider the ends not the means, therefore our choices are made on the premise of what will make us ‘look good’ versus what is good.
When this happens we are not truly in control of ourselves.
When we stop making decisions based on what is right, and start making them base on ego, we begin to like ourselves less and less.
However, when we make choices based on what is right (based on our values) we feel good about ourselves. [side note: this is why delusional people can do horrific things and truly feel good about it because their values are not the same as a “normal” person]
And only when we can control these choices and consistently choose what is “right” do we get self-respect and in turn self-esteem. This is how self-respect and self-esteem relate.
When people are not in “control” of their choices they become a servant to society’s standards and to their compulsions.
This is how we get “control freaks”. When they don’t get the ‘respect’ that the mind so desires, they go crazy and get angry. Because to them anger is the illusion of control. They mistake this anger for power.
Which, if you have ever dealt with a person like this, you know is also an illusion.
When these people lose control over their own choices and lives, they attempt to control and influence the lives of those around them. Most of this is done unconsciously and with good intentions. But what they don’t realize is that this will only satisfy the mind if you conform to their demands, which they have no control over.
So what can we do to increase our self-esteem?
Motion: we as human beings are built to move. Tony Robbins has a great saying, “motion creates emotion.” Science has proven that the act of exercise releases chemicals in our body that cause us to feel better. I commend our example at the beginning of this essay for taking the first step. But it is not enough to just join!! I used to work in the health club field and while tons of people joined each month we never had to buy a bigger building…. why? Because for some joining satisfies the souls need to do the right thing, but the body kicks in and says, “let’s procrastinate, let’s take the easy way out”. So the first and easiest thing you can do is get out there and actually MOVE!
Progress: Creating progress is also one of the fastest ways to develop self-esteem. When you can see progress it is self-validation that you are doing some things right. This is why, in our coaching programs, we ‘chunk down’ larger goals into small objectives so you can see hard evidence that you are progressing towards where you want to go. Even slow progress is a step towards better self-resect. Start today by setting your alarm just 5 minutes earlier this week. Prove to yourself that you can do it.
Meaning: In nature EVERYTHING has a purpose. Doing work or deeds that have meaning, gives meaning to our lives – it let’s us know that we are part of something. The easiest way to fulfill this need is to do things that benefit someone other than yourself. In short, help others.
If you want to develop a greater self-esteem you must feel that you are capable (in control) of doing the right thing and that you are effectively making those choices. This will become evident by consistently exercising, accomplishing smaller goals that move you closer to bigger goals and by helping others.
You can do it. I believe in you!
Loving, Living, Giving Large: