What you need to learn about personal growth and self-esteem

It is generally agreed that positive self-esteem is an essential component for good physical and emotional health and well-being.

Feelings of self-deprecation contribute to anxiety, stress, depression, and irritability. They also can lead to unhealthy or abusive relationships and physical illness such as gastrointestinal problems, headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, and other diseases.  Low self-worth also contributes to decreased life performance, poorer social relationships, reduced academic achievement, dependency in relationships, inadequate communication skills (ie-aggressive, passive, defensiveness), and general negative thinking.

Some basic starting points

As you think about your daily functioning and how your activity impacts how you feel about yourself, consider exercise, sleep, and eating habits.

We tend to feel better when we exercise and feel more lethargic when we are sedentary.   Many exercise programs recommend starting with 20 minutes of walking each day, then gradually increasing this time or adding more vigorous activity.  Strength training is also recommended as this tends to help with fat loss.  Finding an exercise activity that you enjoy is critical. It increases the chances you will continue with your exercise regimen.

Most of us need at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Sometimes we even perform better with a little more than this.  Having a regular pattern of sleeping and waking can help keep us on a regimented schedule. It fends off bouts of sleepiness or exhaustion.

A third component of primary physical self-care is a healthy pattern of nutrition and eating.  Fruits and vegetables comprise an essential part of a healthy eating regimen.  Meats that are lean, low in cholesterol, or lower in saturated fats are most often recommended.  Dry beans, peas, and soybeans are healthy alternatives for providing the protein obtained from meat. Fish is another healthy protein alternative.

Limiting unhealthy fats, sugar, salt, caffeine, and processed foods are also recommended.  Limiting daily alcohol to one drink for women and two for men is smart.  Increasing your daily intake of water cannot be emphasized enough.  Take in “8 glasses of water each day” as a general rule of thumb.

Positive thinking

An essential concept of developing a healthier sense of self-esteem is eliminating negative thinking.  Visualizing a stop sign in your mind can be helpful as a reminder in eliminating that particular thought.  Then, work to replace that thought with an opposite or more positive thought.  You often cannot control the thoughts that pop into your mind. But you can control how long they stay there.  Take control of negative thoughts and give them the boot from your consciousness.

In The Self-Esteem Workbook by Glenn Schiraldi, Ph.D, unconditional human worth is described as “unique, precious, infinite, eternal, of unchanging value, and worth”.

Claudia Howard in her Individual Potential Seminars (1992) describes us as having unlimited and unconditional worth as persons, equal value as people, unchanging and infinite worth (not dependent on external concepts such as achievement, attractiveness, or financial earnings).  Our worth is considered to be stable and “never in jeopardy”, even in the face of rejection.  It is not something we earn or need to prove.  It simply is and we can learn to recognize, accept and have gratitude for this.

Practice, practice, practice

As you reflect on the concept of self-esteem, ask yourself the following question. What do I like about myself?  What particular traits, skills, characteristics do you appreciate or value in yourself?  Make a list of these attributes. Then add to them, observations of others who truly see the value and worth in your being.  Practice reading this list to yourself several times each day. These traits will become second nature and an integrated part of your self-worth.

While we recognize (and sometimes place undue emphasis on) our negative traits, you can begin to accept them and work to diminish their impact.

Final thoughts

Growth is an unending process and never actually ends.

Growth equals love….it begins with a “secure inner base of worth and love”-Glenn Schiraldi, Ph.D

Ascent is difficult….it requires hard work.-Glenn Schiraldi, Ph.D.

Growth is neither competitive nor comparative…..it is also NOT about the destination, but the journey (and staying on track and moving forward).

Elevating the Self

“As we see what we can do, we more fully appreciate who we are.”-Anonymous

“Think of what you have rather than what you lack.  Of the things you have, select the best and the reflect how eagerly you would have sought them if you did not have them.”- Marcus Aurelius

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among those are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”- The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

“We are all basically the same human beings who seek happiness and try to avoid suffering.  Everybody is my peer group.  Your feeling “I am of no value” is wrong.  Absolutely wrong.”- The Dalai Lama

“I see the glass as 3/4 full when it is only 1/4 full.”- Anonymous

Hope you are enjoying your summer.  Be kind to yourself today (and everyday).

Linda Cook

Big bowl of self-esteem photo courtesy of Jamie under Creative Commons license.