Self-Esteem: The Immune System of the Mind

May 5th, 2013

By: Dr. Anoosha Avni
Registered Psychologist

Dr. Lee Pulos, a Vancouver-based Psychologist, has graciously given me permission to share his article on self-esteem:

Regardless of one’s background, educational level, income, or occupation – the hub of the wheel of life and success has to do with one’s self-estimate or self-esteem. Our self-esteem will vary and co-vary in different areas of our life and our effectiveness level, performance, or success will correspond to one’s self-estimate on that particular level. For example, one may have a high self-esteem as a manager or communicator of ideas and their performance will correspond accordingly. Whereas, the same individual may have a low estimate when it comes to working with numbers or keeping track of business expenditures. Their effectiveness level correspondingly will be low or on “shaky stilts” in this area. Thus, self-esteem can be considered to be the immune system of the mind and genuine self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves when things are not going right.

What can we do on a conscious level without years of psychotherapy or psychological excavation to strengthen our self-estimate?

People with high self-esteem possess the following four attributes:

1)High self-esteem people have good boundaries. They can draw that line in the sand and say ‘no’ to what doesn’t fit or seem right to them. In other words, they choose to define themselves, their needs, and beliefs rather than giving their power away and allowing others to define them.

2)High self-esteem people avoid all judgments of themselves or others. Discernment, yes – but whenever you judge someone else, you are judging a part of yourself in them that you don’t approve of in yourself. Thus, all judgments implicitly are self-judgments. Learning to love yourself and learning to love others go hand in hand.

3)High self-esteem people have positive self-talk. Our self-talk (or inner dialogue) carries on throughout our waking hours at 150 to 300 words per minute or 45,000 to 51,000 thoughts a day! Since all thoughts are treated like “prayers” by the subconscious (it does not judge), high self-esteem people carefully monitor their inner dialogue as to whether they’re “drugging” their minds all day long with good or bad thoughts. Are we planting weeds or flowers in the garden of our subconscious?

4)High self-esteem people feel worthy of both receiving from and giving to others. Generally, people with a low self-estimate will be over accommodating and pleasing so as to not risk being rejected by expressing their needs. In some instances, the only way pleasers can justify receiving is to subconsciously get “sick” or have an accident which makes it acceptable to be nurtured or taken care of.

What if you have low-esteem? Can you change your underlying beliefs? Of course! All of the above can be controlled consciously – with mindfulness, giving from the heart, and embracing one’s self without judgment.

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