Many people are not aware that they might have low self-esteem which could be hampering their desires and progress, because they lack awareness of the root causes of their mental and emotional health. But low self-esteem manifests itself in many ways, some of which are often suppressed by other aspects. However, the most significant ones are the following, in order of importance, and their ability to cause blockages, recurring unease, and even emotional damage:
Guilt. The other side of this emotion is shame, which is usually associated with less confident people. Guilt tends to emerge from a feeling of impotence, especially regarding the inability to change a particular situation; and of not living up to the expectations of those who matter to us most. Extremes of guilt often show themselves as self-torture, seeing personal actions as unforgivable, imperfections as permanent, and believing improvement is impossible. Guilt is especially pronounced when there is hurt and betrayal in relationships, and in grieving for loved ones.
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Once when I was dating and had a break-up I wrote about it on a dating site and got an interesting email from a guy wanting to know how I can seem so confident and cool in the face of it. As he said, if he “had been with someone for four months, and then had to walk away” he would be “devastated”. I thought I would expand on my response and share it publicly, because it is a very important question, in view of all the recurrent heartbreaks.
This was part of my response:
“I wouldn’t be devastated, because the main reason people get hurt, especially after short relationships, is because they don’t love themselves enough. They expect the other person to love them instead, and end up putting that person above themselves. Sadly, when the person walks away they are even more hurt, because, having no internal source of love, the only source would have left them alone, confirming the low unworthy feelings they already have about themselves.”
I am human, too, and do feel naturally upset after any break-up. However, it doesn’t last for long. As I tend to be very expressive, I am also very trusting. I fall deeply and I love equally passionately, which make me even more vulnerable to being hurt. Yet break-ups hardly affect me emotionally, no matter how much I love the person. It got me thinking why I don’t suffer the usual angst of people who are really hurt by it, and I gradually worked it out.
What most people probably don’t realise is that every relationship has three crucial elements at the heart of it:
1. Self Love
2. The capacity to love another
3. The desire to be loved
Most people go into relationships armed with just the desire to be loved. That’s the easy bit. But what is even more important is to have the other two elements, which are often missing. In fact, the most important aspect of a relationship is SELF-LOVE (which acts as a protective barrier to pain). But loving the self unconditionally, without expecting perfection, is not an easy thing to do after a history of not being valued or affirmed by the people who matter in our lives, like parents and past lovers.
Yet self-love is like having money or riches. If we have no love for ourselves, we cannot give away any either. That date will never be able to do enough for us simply because we will always feel inadequate. The irony is that a love of the self frees us to be more loving and understanding towards another. For example, though I did miss him very much – because we had grown pretty close very quickly, my self love made me smile and remember our awesome moments together, whenever he comes to mind, rather than any anger, recrimination or blame; to also give thanks for what we shared rather than what we might have lost.
Sadly, most relationships consist of two people without any self-love or capacity to love. In effect, there are two TAKERS instead of givers in the relationship, wanting to be loved, and looking after their own corner, while being unable to truly love themselves or each other. It means when the relationship breaks down it would be doubly painful for one person because he/she would have been emotionally dependent on the one who took that love away. That partner would have been living in constant fear of the relationship not working, and would then be pretty shaken when it does break and the love stops.
Loving the self reminds us that we matter the most in any relationship. We are the cake, the other person is the icing, and icing is never mandatory. Icing might go beautifully well with a cake but it is a CHOICE, just like having a date is a choice. It means that once the icing goes, we would have enjoyed it, enhanced that icing with our presence, but, in the end, we stand independently of it, because we are all on our individual journey of life. With that knowledge, we can appreciate ourselves more, and will also have more to GIVE a partner than merely expecting them to give us what we seek. We can take them or leave them, as they are, and, best of all, if they should leave us, our self-love will keep us intact – more aware, confident, positive, much wiser – and better prepared for the next encounter.
BEFORE YOU GO…..
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Teenagers are seldom disrespectful without a reason, because every teen wants to be loved and valued. They would not risk their feeling of security and inclusion for the sake of it. However, it is natural that, during the teenage years, many teens begin to detach from their parents, perhaps to rebel and assert their personality, as a prelude to being their own person. But, depending on their personality, and childhood treatment, some teens are better at doing that than others.
In brief, teens tend to be disrespectful especially when:
1. They feel unloved, unwanted and misunderstood
This is the main reason why teens go off the rails and behave badly. It is their way of getting back and hurting the parent for the lack of worth they feel. They do not have a strong sense of value, and so the respect goes as well to compensate for that. Their behaviour is more like retaliation and revenge for not feeling loved and appreciated. Kids need to be shown love and affection daily. A simple hug, a kind word, and positive reinforcement are essential to show value and appreciation, and to increase the teen’s feeling of security and self-worth.
2. They are not affirmed or reinforced, but mainly criticised
Their views and feelings are not respected. This often happens in strict homes where there is too much discipline, too little slack, and too many expectations that the teen might find difficult to fulfil. They have no way of thriving as an individual, and the frustration is evident in disrespectful, thoughtless actions.
Many parents are so keen for the child to develop in their own image and likeness, they often forget that there is an independent person waiting to emerge and unwittingly stifle their growth. This, of course, causes resentment, anger, and lack of respect. The main tip here is NOT to criticise before you praise. Always begin with praise when you have to be corrective and, where possible, don’t criticise at all, simply affirm every desired or acceptable thing they do and downplay or ignore the rest. In this way, you will bring desired behaviour to the fore, and reduce the undesirable ones. ALWAYS try to compromise with the teen’s need, and not just insist on your own. It shows respect for their feelings and aspirations, and teaches them to respect yours, too.
For example, when my children were growing up and started dating, they were requested to bring every new friend home. They could have them in their room, but the door had to be always open and the friend had to leave by 11 pm. It meant that we did not have to worry where my teens were in the evenings. In this way, I did not try to control their lives and they had a chance to meet their friends openly, instead of being furtive. It also showed the friends the standard of behaviour expected in our home.
3. They are emotionally hurting and in pain
Many children hurt for lots of reasons that their parents are not even aware of. Often the parents get the stick simply for being there, because there is no one else to blame. The child could be bullied, or being abused in some way, or has fallen out with peers, and disrespect to a parent makes up for the lack of support and good feeling the teen may perceive are missing. The best way to deal with this aspect is to talk to them often about their day, show concern for their life and activities, without being too intrusive. Be sensitive to when they might be unusually quiet or pre-occupied, and be there for them when you sense they need your comfort.
4. They have been indulged and spoilt
Disrespect is rife in homes where parents have been permissive in bringing up their children, and where there are few firm rules for appropriate behaviour. In these homes, teens have not been taught how to disagree in an assertive manner. It is easy for the teen to push the boundaries and act in a disrespectful way, because they know no different, and genuinely believe that kind of behaviour would be appropriate and accepted. In these permissive homes, the teens are often confused by the inconsistency in their treatment, and bad behaviour is their way of rebelling against this.
The best tips here are to be firm, but fair, with the teen from as early as possible in their life; to be consistent, but flexible, with rules, and to ensure that the boundaries for good behaviour are kept in place, and with some discretion. Every step along the way, make sure that teens are taught appropriate ways of asking for what they desire, disagreeing with decisions made, acknowledging when they are wrong, and being able to deal with rejection. Those coping skills will gradually become routine in their behaviour as they get older, and help to make them more confident in interacting with others.
5. They are copying parental behaviour
Children in homes where the parents do not treat each other with any respect, and where language is abusive, critical or inappropriate, tend to use those examples as their guidelines and behave accordingly. Parents teach their children not only through what they say, but, most importantly, through what they DO. Children will pick up inappropriate and ambiguous behaviour when they have been set the wrong examples. The parents might not want that to happen, but that is the only outcome where there is no other model to copy. The best tip in this instance is to behave in a manner that you wish your teen to adopt. Set the desired tone and behaviour consistently, and they are likely to follow it, because they will be able to make the right decision when they are faced with conflicting behaviours and have to choose for themselves.
If parents practise respect, trust, sensitivity, flexibility and consistency with their teens, they are likely to stave of conflicting , anxious and inappropriate behaviour, while also ensuring respect for themselves, and a more satisfying relationship.
If you have such fears, it could be both a need for approval and the need to be perfect, because of your low self-esteem and lack of confidence in yourself. Needs that keep you firmly in your tracks, dogged by fear, until the significant others tells you it is okay. But we cannot stop people from being disappointed in us because each person has a different expectation of us, a different aim for us and a different perception of whom we should be. Only self-belief and the realisation that no one is better than anyone else should guide your actions. While we all seek approval when we are younger, which is natural to bond with our parents, a sign of maturity and independence is the desire to seek personal approval only through self-belief and self-appreciation.
Your fear of disapproval perhaps helps you to project your thoughts of feeling inadequate on to the people you are trying to please or impress, in fact, deciding how they are going to regard you, making up their mind for them, judging yourself harshly for them, and having expectations on their behalf in your desire to control their reactions favourably. The only advice is: Lay it down, and start being you. Perfection has control and conformity at its centre, and it does not allow for mistakes, risk taking, innovation or genuine self-realisation, either. Worst of all, it causes much stress – and stress ages you and shortens your life!
Perhaps it is time to keep asking yourself what is the worst that can happen when someone is upset with you? Keep asking it of everyone you fear and see how you would deal with the perceived consequences. That is how you build your confidence and self-worth, by facing the worst scenarios and dealing with them, either physically or mentally. Not from shying away from life and dreading the experiences. You will then gradually discover what you really fear about a lack of approval and be able to do something about it.
Perhaps you could start by acknowledging that there is no such thing as perfection. It is an unreachable state. We are made as fallible people so that we can forever GROW and develop into wonderful beings. When we focus on perfection, and fulfilling exactly what other people want, we rob our lives of the little imperfect things which make it magical. We forget that whatever we do someone else is likely to better it, or to take it to new heights of excellence. We also forget that, if we were granted our wish to be perfect, there would be nothing left to do in life, except to stagnate in a huge void of meaningless existence.
I always ask myself which I would rather be: Green and growing, and ready to learn, or ripe and rotting and knowing it all? because perfection is the end state, not the beginning. We are so afraid to upset others, or vice versa, we stay in the same habitual rut, doing he same actions and getting the same results without even knowing why.
You start to fix perfection by living a little, letting your hair down sometimes, and not trying too hard to please. By just being YOU. That’s the only sure way to appreciate yourself more. You will gradually lose the intense desire to impress others because you will be at peace with you, and their expectations will come second or lower in the scheme of your life.
Please remember, that you might try to please people as often as you can, but the day you cannot genuinely please them, they really won’t understand it, and you will be mud in their eyes, anyway! Best to please yourself because those who like you as you are will flock to you, and those who don’t will give you a wide berth, and good riddance to them, anyway, if all they will do is drag you down or be negative to you.
BEFORE YOU GO…..
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There is no harm in using stereotypes to make sense of an unfamiliar situation, especially if we accept that there is always an exception to any rule or obvious pattern. The brain tends to work from the panoramic to the microscopic picture. Stereotypes become discriminatory and unacceptable when we still choose to use them, even when we have the knowledge and information that disputes them.
BEFORE YOU GO…..
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No doubt, tons of people ask themselves this question when they are passionate about an activity and can see its potential, but they also fear losing what they have to pursue that nebulous dream, even if the job is boring and unfulfilling. It is not an easy question to answer, especially when one has to be practical on financial matters. After all, the current climate is not good for new creations. if we take the UK as an example. In the first quarter of this year, according to the Office for National Statistics, over 137,000 businesses closed – that’s a whopping 23% up on the same period in 2021. During that time, the same number of new businesses were created as the year before, showing clearly the effect of the pandemic on existing businesses.
However, despite the grim figures, quitting your job depends on one main factor: theself-belief in your own success. We so badly want to succeed in our dream and vision, but that little self-belief, and any obvious obstacles to making it work, set up the doubts. This makes us hang on to the mundane job because we need something to pay the bills, not fully committing to it, yet not fully believing in our dream either.
In the end, neither of them is likely to work because neither is getting the full attention each deserves. We only keep getting more frustrated with the job, while the road to our goal keeps faltering, and nothing much is achieved in the end. If we truly believe in our dream, we should give up our mundane job and pursue it fully, so that it gets a real chance of coming alive.
This post reminds me of when I was in teaching and wanted to leave it to write. But teaching paid my bills, and I did enjoy it, too. I just loved writing more. I started off as a freelance writer but that did not satisfy me after a while, neither did it give much money. One day I worked out how long the savings I had would last me before I needed another job (4 months!) and then gave up my teaching position, decided to open my own magazine in Britain, and made history doing it as the first Back woman to ow a national education publication.
It was no easy task, by any means. But despite some hardships along the way, I have never regretted my decision because it led to many other unforeseen achievements and accolades – like pioneering a national awards in people management that influenced thousands of businesses in the UK. Above all, it made me extremely happy and contented! The important thing is that I believed in myself and what I wanted to do, and felt that it would be successful financially. In fact, 10 years after I closed it I was amazed to still get a sizeable cheque for royalties from the magazine that was still being photocopied by educational establishments in other parts f the world!
The interesting fact is that becoming a writer has never made me a lot of money, but it developed my skills as a public speaker (which gave me the money!), motivator and empowerment expert which affected the lives of thousands; it led me to be a pioneer in my expertise in the UK, hence the national awards, and showed me my purpose in life. I haven’t looked back since.
If you BELIEVE In what you are doing, and can visualise its outcome, you will make it happen. You just need to take that first steps which will show you the next steps to follow, and trust you own judgement and ability.
If you don’t feel confident about yourself, achieving your dreams or having great relationships, and could do with a boost in your self-esteem, The Fitness Booster Newsletter is just for you! It complements this blog, and covers a wide range of mental health and emotional health issues, giving useful tips on what to say in tricky circumstances and how to execute routine actions in a confident, winning way.
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A reader asked this recently, and my answer was short, and unequivocal: No, I haven’t, because we only fear rejection for the following reasons:
When we put others above us so that whatever they do determines our reaction, and how we live our lives.
When we see people as clones of each other, instead of individuals. If one person doesn’t like us we then attribute that behaviour to everyone else and believe that no one else is ever going to like us again!
When we are low in self-esteem and confidence, believing that we are not worthy, not as good as anyone else, and not capable of being loved once we are rejected.
When we do not love ourselves and expect other people to love us instead to compensate for the self-love we lack. Naturally, when they reject us we feel even worse because it confirms why we are not worthy of being loved.
When we believe there is only one person who’ll be our ‘true love’, so when they reject us, we believe we are finished, and no one else will want us.
Falling in and out of love is a natural part of life. However, just as we can easily fall in love, we can fall out, too, but many people want the good bit without the bad part, which is not possible because that’s how Nature gives us balance. Furthermore, every experience in life, whether good or bad, teaches us something useful and prepares us to handle the next stage of our lives. If you live in fear of rejection, instead of letting life take its course, you might never be rejected, but you would never experience the joy of love either, because love and happiness ALWAYS come before hurt and rejection. When you live in fear of anything instead of taking life in your stride, fear is all you have because you are not focusing on something positive, but on negative things that only destroy your happiness. They don’t build anything.
Accept rejection as a natural part of your existence simply because each of us is entitled to our likes and dislikes, you included. Enjoy the moment and give thanks for it. If you meet someone who rejects you, accept it, and move on to someone better, because that one person does not represent everyone on earth who may like you, too. It doesn’t mean the there is anything wrong with you. It simply means they do not feel you are compatible together. Moreover, that rejection could be the best thing that ever happened to you, because you never know what you could have been saved from in the longer term with them!
(Excerpt from: THE PLEASURES AND PITFALLS OF ONLINE DATING!
As mentioned before, men appear to complain a lot on dating sites out of sheer frustration caused mainly by a mismatch of the reality with their optimistic expectations: such as frustration in finding dates, having women respond to them, having undeveloped communication, being constantly blocked, and not finding someone to match them.
However, one thing many guys are forgetting is this: If you are walking down the street and 500 people are heading towards you, chances are that you will fancy probably ONE of that whole group, or perhaps none. This is no different with the Internet. Just because a lot of people gather in one place doesn’t mean one will instantly find a partner. It takes an awful lot of patient searching and talking to others to finally reach someone who might fit the bill. In bygone days, when travel was not so common, and networking didn’t exist, people were limited to their towns and villages and had to take what they could find, hence the many failed and unhappy marriages of yesteryear because people were mismatched. Today, everyone has to do their own work in finding that partner as all the usual community avenues are closed.
However, forgetting that aspect, the main reason why many men are not getting much back is because they don’t know what they want! Thus they wouldn’t recognise it if it got up and whacked them across the cheeks. Many men (and women) approach dating sites with what I call the ‘candy shop’ syndrome. “There are LOTS of sweets, so which one shall I choose?” Being so excited, they forget that some sweets can make them ill, but they still choose randomly without a thought, because many have this IDEAL in their heads that does not match the reality of who they are and what they want. They are foiled every time because the women they seek cannot align with the guys they see, so the ideal cannot become reality.
The first law of getting to know someone else is to know who we are. When we live in denial about our bodies (like our height or weight), what we like, or what makes us tick and when we are willing to compromise what we value for expediency, it is difficult to attract someone who is honest. We will just keep attracting others in denial, too. Not surprisingly, things do not get off the ground, or they go pear-shaped soon afterwards.
For example, when I was dating, the number of men who didn’t bother to read my profile, simply went by my pictures and then raced towards me was pretty sad. They then became annoyed if I didn’t respond favourably. I guess that is what was happening to many other women: unsuitable men believing that just because they fancy a woman, she must fancy them in return!
The Law of Attraction
Dating sites work by the Law of Attraction. You will attract who you are, whether honest or lying, well-meaning or superficial. If you are attracting a certain type, YOUR persona and actions are drawing them to you, perhaps because you are not being transparent, you have not made your expectations clear, perhaps settling for anything, being possibly in denial about who you are, or behaving like they do.
I know that women perhaps have it easier on dating sites, but I had the reverse problem to the men: too much attention and offers of dates! And I really didn’t think it was just because I was a woman. I know I am good looking too (and was also in my 50s, which should have stopped a lot of ageist men!). But, my secret of success was that I knew what made me happy (like my dancing), and didn’t go there if I didn’t see any mention of it. If I have any doubts at all, I didn’t let a round peg fit a square hole! I swiftly moved on to someone else.
It meant I had mainly pleasurable contacts, I was always courteous with a reply, I tried not to whinge about anything and, if one approach wasn’t working, I quickly tried something else to widen my search pool and the number of potential contacts. As they say, only an insane person keeps doing things exactly the same way and expects different results, so I regularly reviewed my situation! Make sure your profile and actions are clear. Will you settle for anything, in your need for attention, or do you know who you are, or the main things you want? If you don’t, sadly, someone else will always set the agenda for you, and leave you feeling disappointed, frustrated and unhappy.
This is a very common question because our greatest wish is to be ACCEPTED, especially for who we are, and our greatest fear is tone REJECTED and excluded because our innate feeling of belonging, and wanting to be included, is very powerful. Some people do have genuine difficulty getting others to like them, while others find it almost effortless. If you are worried about whether people like you or not, or whether you are lovable or not, you have low self-esteem and place people’s approval of you above your own self-value. Not appreciating yourself, you hope people will like you to compensate for your own lack of self-love. But the best way to get people to like you is to start with loving YOU.
How do you feel about yourself at this moment? Do you really like what you see in the mirror?
We all have the potential to be well liked right there within ourselves. It is just a matter of finding it and acting upon it, which is not that easy to do, because there is no magic way to make them like us. When you love yourself, that self-comfort is obvious to everyone else, which is likely to make them feel more comfortable around you, too. You are able to take people or leave them. You also do not depend on them for your approval, because you feel confident in who you are, regardless of who likes you.
In fact, there are four sure ways of getting others to like and appreciate us more, and they start with the key one, self-love.
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Most of us secretly hope for that moment of ecstasy when we fall in love, when the heart races faster just at the thought of that chosen person, and we feel we are on cloud nine. Sadly, many people are not likely to experience the bells and whistles attached to falling in love because they lack the key elements that make it possible.
So, what could some folks be missing which prevents them from reaching that highly-desired goal at any time in their lives? It seems to be four crucial factors, which will be explained in priority order:
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How do you feel about difference? Comfortable? Welcoming? Accepting? Fearful? Anxious?
Often when we fear difference we forget that we too are different to others who are not like us! It seems that our level of confidence determines how we treat others, so that the worse we feel about ourselves, and he lower our self-esteem, the more we are likely to feel vulnerable and afraid, fearing anything unfamiliar or unlike us.
BEFORE YOU GO…..
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