I’ve been doing spiritual stuff for years. Meditation, affirmations, yoga. You name it, I’ve done it. It’s definitely helped me, but I still have this issue. It’s my self-esteem. Even with all the years of spiritual work, I still feel insecure. I still don’t feel good about myself. Sometimes I do, but a lot of times I don’t. Especially around people I don’t know. In terms of spiritual teachings, I’ve been told that this is my ego, and my ego doesn’t matter anyway. But it doesn’t feel good to feel bad about myself. Any ideas?
The more we know the Truth about ourselves, the more contrast the voice of our inner critic creates. As we fully understand that Life Itself is who we are, the more those human insecurities can bump up against this Truth, creating a feeling of being “off.”
I have found four practices especially helpful:
1) As I consciously strengthen my relationship with my Inner Guide (an aspect of me that is wise and loving at all times), I am more easily able to turn to her when the inner critic is being unkind. I am more easily able to embody the loving truths she tells me as I nurture that relationship (in meditation).
2) This is an old Louise Hay practice that can be difficult at first but is very simple.
Every morning upon awakening, look in the mirror and say, “I love you!” Practice believing it. Imagine feeling this way, as you say it, until it’s true. Eventually you’ll notice you actually believe it!
3) Make an agreement with yourself that you are going to be nice to you.
Notice when you are being mean to yourself. Imagine you are listening to someone (the mean voice in your head) talk about someone else you care about deeply (you!). Suggest they give them a break. Which leads me to the fourth (and my personal favorite) practice.
4) Engage in an adult conversation with your inner critic (aptly known in the Toltec circles as The Parasite). Ask it directly,”Is that true?” And, “What do you mean, exactly?”
My favorite personal experience of this fourth practice follows:
I was on my way to my mother’s house for a party. There was a miscommunication and I had the wrong arrival time in mind, so I wasn’t going to be arriving there when she expected me. She called as I was leaving the house, wondering where I was. (She was not unkind or upset at all, by the way. She just wanted to know about timing the food.)
After finishing my conversation with her, I noticed an incredibly mean voice in my head, berating me. “You’ll never get it right!” it said. I started to feel really bad. So I noticed what was going on in my head. (The trick is to be aware enough to notice when this is happening, as opposed to simply going along with it. The ability to do THIS, I think, is strengthened most successfully with meditation.)
So I did this practice in that moment. I turned to that voice and asked, “What do you mean exactly? What would it look like to finally get it right?”
In response to this question, I heard, “Never making another mistake for the rest of your life.” I burst out laughing.
Seriously? There’s a part of me that thinks I suck if I ever make a mistake of any kind? Isn’t that a bit insane? Or at the least, too much to expect?! (Yup.)
It broke the cycle then and there. I had felt myself sliding into despair, and this practice put me right back in joy. And now it’s just a funny story I tell as an example, as opposed to a month of struggling after a traumatic experience of getting it wrong yet again.
So may you go forth, and as a dear friend says, “Be nice to her/him!”
Blessings and Love in all you do,
How have you dealt with low self-esteem? Share your comments below!
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