Monday, 15 April 2013

Self Esteem: Choosing between Chronic and Healthy Beliefs.

Self esteem is a choice we make for ourselves..... we can choose to feel good or to feel bad about ourselves. Remember the 90/10 secret.... 10% of our experience in life is because of what happens to us, whereas 90% is because of how we respond to what happens.

Feelings like sadness, fear, or anger are not the cause for low self esteem. It is our beliefs about them that account for self-esteem.  Some of the chronic beliefs are I am not good, not good enough, not deserving, not capable, not emotionally stable, not successful, etc. 

These are all negative beliefs ingrained into our heads right through childhood by our parents or which we have chosen as a defence against circumstances. The beliefs that we subscribed to formed a model to describe our world of childhood and make sense of our experiences. The model were based on limited knowledge and crossed connections.  These beliefs helped us to tide over helplessness and limitations of childhood. 

However, these childhood beliefs get out-dated as we grow up to become adults. As adults, we have better knowledge and clear thinking. We have better models and better ways to deal with our world. Unfortunately, in times of stress, we habitually tend to revert to our default models and re-experience childhood feelings, thoughts and behaviours.

What we require is to consciously unsubscribe from these childhood beliefs that are no longer paying us dividends. It is time we subscribe instead to healthy beliefs that will help us manage the present effectively and lead us to a better future. We need to remind ourselves to say "pass" to outdated models and feelings, and to say "welcome" to healthy models and beliefs.

Some of the healthy beliefs are – I am OK You are OK World is OK; we can trust people as long as we are not blind;  as human beings we deserve better; we are resourceful human beings, we can learn technical and people skills; we can face our fears and overcome; we can trust ourselves manage failures and mistakes; we can take independent decisions; we can move on from unhappy past; we can correct or compensate for past hurts and losses; we can visualize and create a better life of happiness, love, prosperity, health, and adventure; the universe is with us and says “Tathaastu” (So Be It)  to all our wishes; etc.

At times, we feel depressed and hopeless. These times are testing what we learn about as adults. We fall back into childhood patterns of feeling, thinking and behaviours because of overwhelming stress. It is here that we have to choose faith over desperation. It is ok to say – Red, Yellow, Green : Stop, Think, Find a Better Response. We need to reaffirm our belief in our adult capacities to problem-solve our way to freedom. 

Remember, it is OK to feel unhappy or desperate, and it is also OK to resolve them and enjoy the freedom to be fully ourselves. Let feelings motivate us to confront issues and resolve or minimize them. As adults we can be emotionally intelligent – postpone gratification of reacting to situations, and face unpleasantness or working out our issues in life.

It is difficult to change overnight…. It has to start from baby steps. Visualization will help in moving from a victim image to a master image. As adults, we have the power to make decisions that will lead us to a happier future. Visualization helps us to make believe in the powers that we have even when we doubt these powers. 

Choosing to believe (i.e. make believe) is as good as actually believing … our subconscious mind does not know the difference. Over a period of time, we see the results that reinforce the positive beliefs. What we believe is what we see, and what we see in turn becomes the basis for what we believe. Beliefs tend to be self fulfilling. “Yad Bhaavam Tad Bhavati” – Upanishad. “Whether you think you can or can’t, you are right – Henry Ford.

Uday Acharya