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How Do You Conquer Low Self-Esteem?

photo: Marc Dalmulder on flickr

photo: Marc Dalmulder on flickr

Dear Meli,

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?

Craving Confidence

Dear Craving,

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,

Meli

How have you dealt with low self-esteem? Share your comments below!

Have a question for Meli? Interested in a private session (in person or Skype)? Contact her at meli@ohmygodlife.com

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4 Responses to How Do You Conquer Low Self-Esteem?

  1. Becka August 25, 2015 at 7:46 am #

    I really appreciate this question. I’ve been growing in my ability with self-love and self-confidence and I’m still insecure sometimes too. Listening to and befriending my inner critic and my shame like you mentioned has helped. Now when I feel insecure I trust that the discomfort has something to share with me to help me somehow. Then it helps guide me.

    • Melissa Phillippe August 27, 2015 at 11:15 am #

      Beautiful, Becka! I love the wisdom that my inner critic can bring, when I can listen with love and reality….and not go for that ride down the spiral staircase from it. Love this. Thanks!

  2. River August 25, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

    This may be old hat, but affirmative prayer is the thing that works every single time for me. Now I just do the recognition and unification steps and viola..back to being Who I Really Am. As you said, the big trick is just being aware enough in the MOMENT to stop, breath, look and pray.
    Love,
    River
    PS Here is a url for those who don’t know affirmative prayers. http://tinyurl.com/q5buvhp

    • Melissa Phillippe August 27, 2015 at 11:13 am #

      Hi River,

      I don’t think affirmative prayer ever gets old! :-) Thanks for the note, the reminder, and the link, too! <3

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