The Immune System of the Mind: Self Esteem
What goes on inside your mind, where no one else can know for sure what you’re really thinking?
Our self esteem has a lot to do with our perceived and achieved levels of success in life. Self esteem is not static and it varies across different areas of our life and will generally correspond to our performance or success level. For example, a person may have a high level of self esteem as a public speaker and their performance will correspond accordingly. That same individual may have a low self esteem when it comes to tracking business expenditures. Their effectiveness level will be correspondingly low, or will feel “shaky” internally. When we have high self esteem, we feel good about ourselves and how we are operating in the world. This is precisely why self esteem is the immune system of the mind.
Genuine self esteem is how we feel about ourselves when things are not going right.
So how do we do this? Self compassion is a great place to start, and the longer I practice self-compassion I consider it to be the best place to start. It involves 3 components as identified by researcher Kristen Neff:
Self kindness vs self judgement
Recognizing a common humanity vs isolation
Mindfulness vs over-identification with the problem
When we have genuine self esteem through practicing self compassion, we also automatically cultivate good boundaries. These people choose when to say yes and when to say no, so they take the power over their lives firmly into their own hands. They wholeheartedly define their own needs, beliefs, and goals.
People with genuinely high self esteem also automatically stop judging others. They use their discernment, of course. All judgments are self-judgments, so when we judge others we are judging a part of ourselves we don’t approve of. Learning to love ourselves and learning to love others go hand in hand, so people with high self esteem start learning to accept themselves and others in all their different manifestations.
People with genuinely high self esteem also change their internal dialogue. Since all thoughts are treated as a prayer by our subconscious - meaning that our subconscious doesn’t judge and aims to bring about what we are thinking about - our inner dialogue is immensely important in our life.
The last quality I’ll touch on today about high self esteem people is that they feel worthy of both giving and receiving. They understand that giving and receiving are two sides to the same coin. Generally people with a low self esteem will be overly accommodating and pleasing so that they don’t risk being rejected by expressing their needs. For some people, the only time they feel worthy of receiving is when they are sick or injured in some way.
Fortunately, all of the above can be controlled and amplified consciously by practicing self compassion and giving from the heart. It’s a beautiful life, and it’s even more beautiful when we sprinkle compassion, love, and worthiness all over it to ourselves and to others.