Let’s explore self-esteem and look at how we feel about ourselves. The vast majority of people in the Western world are driven by the need to be perfect, believing that it is selfish, egotistical, or even prideful to acknowledge or celebrate one’s own goodness. But it’s really just the opposite. The most selfish thing you can do is be consumed with your own fear or self-doubt, then move into self-criticism. We are all concerned about our own inadequacies. When we are so preoccupied with these things, we rob ourselves and everybody else of our greatest talents.
When you focus on what’s wrong with you and all the things you do wrong, when you compare yourself to somebody else, when you have a pity party, when you focus on your fears, it’s one of the most selfish things you can do.
The objective is to be you. Real, genuine and authentic. Without any need to impress, feel ashamed, pretend or fear. Dr. Hartman says to simply be real and genuine is the hardest and most important task in our lives. It is the highest level of maturity. What holds us back from experiencing this level of maturity, having peace of mind and being comfortable with ourselves? There are a number of different factors we will explore.
Let’s explore what is holding us back from being real. When you’re faking or performing in any way, when you’re not genuine, people pick up on that very quickly. They can sense that something is going on. Their mirror neurons send messages to the brain saying “something is not quite right here.” This feels uncomfortable, and then walls go up and people don’t trust as much. There are certain behaviors that show we are not real. The first one is that we try to impress in order to overcompensate for how we feel about ourselves. People try and impress with what? With clothes, jewelry, award winning performances. They try to impress with what they say, with what they do. Does it work? Rarely.
The second this is that we pretend. When we pretend, a lot of times the expectations that we’ve created in our minds and the actual realities are very different. So, the gap is painful. And when this happens, our self esteem thinks we are not enough. The next thing we do is overcompensate by exaggerating. And so, the circle begins with this maximum attempt to make up the difference. People act like they have more than they actually do. To overcompensate for our shaky self esteem, for not feeling good about ourselves, we’ll do anything – buy certain things, go into debt, and create all sorts of trouble. All of this because we are trying to live our dreams at any cost.
The third way we overcompensate for our self esteem is that we feel shame. We focus on past mistakes where we missed the mark and fell short of our expectations. So, we feel shame.
The fourth item is fear. This is a fear that isn’t created by actual danger; it’s a fear that only exists in our minds. Again, expectations that are created by us. And they really do appear to be real. So real, in fact, that we can actually feel them. As a result of feeling them, at a psychological level, we get anxious, stressed, frustrated and depressed. Which make is very easy to misread these emotions as the real threat; that there is real pending doom. If we give up our power, we don’t feel good about who we are. Here’s the platinum rule: Treat yourself the way you want others to treat you.
Finally, embrace your goodness. What’s great about you? Make a list of all of the things that are great about you. Go to some of the common things. “I’m kind, I’m nice, I’m warm, I have good intuition.” Be specific and give examples. Why and how you are this way; “I’m loving and caring.” How? What do you do that is loving and caring? Embrace you goodness.
In the past we have thought about this as being boastful or prideful, but it’s not. Embracing our goodness is one of the most incredible things we can do. It’s the most powerful way we that regain our power. Don’t say, “I think that I am.” It must be, “I am” statements. I am what? In the greater sense, it’s one thing Og Mandino says, “Since the beginning of time, never has there been another with my mind, my heart, my eyes, my ears, my hands, my hair, my mouth. None that came before me, none that lived today, and none that will come tomorrow can walk and talk and move and think exactly like me. All men are my brothers, yet I am different from each. I am a unique creature. I am nature’s greatest miracle.”