When I was a child my self-esteem was really low. My little sister was cute, smart, easy-going and funny, and everybody loved her. I probably resented the fact that she came along when I was two and “stole” my parent’s attention. In response, I decided there must be something wrong with me and that I was un-loveable. I then became angry and inadvertently drove people away.
My parents were loving and fair. However, my perception was that because they spent more time and attention on my sister (as is necessary with small children) I wasn’t as important or valuable as she was.
This began 25 years of feeling “less than” others. I perceived that I wasn’t as loveable, valuable, capable or competent as everyone else, and this perception became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I didn’t know how to make friends, so my grade school years were mostly lonely. High school was slightly better, but I still didn’t feel I had much to offer others, so didn’t have many friends.
My early adult years were also painful. But after several experiences in which I was successful, I began to look at myself and realize that there might be more to me than I’d given myself credit for.
I paid attention to myself, and started to become clear about who I was, separate from my early childhood experiences. I realized that I’m OK, and actually have much to offer. By the time I was in my 30s I also understood that the opinions of others do not define who I am. Only I can define myself and decide if I’m loveable and valuable.
Once I understood it’s up to me, I took stock and decided that I’m just as loveable, valuable, capable and competent as everyone else. I’m different (as we all are) in the ways that make me unique, which is good. I also noticed that I’m a good person and am OK as I am.
This doesn’t mean that I’m ‘perfect’, since there really is no such thing. I think that the definition of ‘perfect’ is up to each of us, and I’ve come to understand that I’m the ‘perfect’ me. This doesn’t mean there isn’t room for growth. It means that even with my challenges and imperfections, I can love and appreciate myself. I’m also worthy of that from others. If for some reason they don’t feel that way about me, it’s their problem, not mine.
I still remember how painful life was when I didn’t value myself. My goal now is to support and empower others so they will never have to feel that pain.
I’ve learned that people who have positive self-esteem have an easier time dealing with whatever life brings them. When you feel you have value you are better able to cope with life’s challenges and traumas and move ahead. For those who don’t love and accept themselves, everything seems to be a struggle.
I hope if you have doubts about yourself, you will take some time to re-evaluate your old beliefs, and rediscover the amazing person you’ve always been.
It will change your life!
Sandra Abell, MS, LPC, ACC
Sandra Abell is a best selling author, speaker, Licensed Counselor, and life and business coach. She specializes in working with professionals, entrepreneurs and people dealing with life transitions, is the author of Feeling Good About You and Moving Up To Management for New Supervisors (available on Amazon.com) and is the creator of the amazing Feeling Good About You Breakthrough program.
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