Self-Esteem For Dummies
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How many times after you’ve missed an opportunity, made a mistake, or gotten exactly what you wanted have you said, “I knew that was going to happen?" Sometimes you listen and respond, and sometimes you don’t. Imagine for a moment what your life could be like if you discovered how to listen and respond more frequently to your voice, gut, instinct, feeling, intuition, or God.

What you call that inner knowing doesn’t matter. The gift of knowing allows you to more confidently express your preferences and live in your own power. Because you’re unique, how you become aware, receive a message, is exclusive to your personality.

You can receive a message anywhere and at any time. The ways are countless. Some include sitting silently, reading a book, talking to another person, listening to a song, watching television, clicking a link on the internet to read an article, or walking in a park.

You’re bombarded with messages and voices daily. They never stop. Even while you’re asleep, you’re receiving messages in your dreams. Living in a complex, distracted society that’s always telling you what you want, what your options are, and how you should feel, it’s difficult to know what you like, think, or want to do in a situation. Despite the chaos, you can learn how to know, hear, listen to, and respond to your own voice.

Tuning in to your own wisdom

  • Know how you receive messages. You can receive messages in different ways at different times. You’re likely more in tune with one way of receiving messages than others. You may hear a voice, have a feeling, see an image, dream a dream, or have a “this is common sense” moment.

  • Know what you’re asking for. It’s important to slow down and become aware of the question you’re asking. By being aware of the question, you’ll recognized the answer when it shows up.

  • Be on the lookout for the answer. You’ll get internal promptings when you see, hear, or feel the answer that’s right for you. It may be a sensation in the belly, goose bumps on the arms, a warm feeling in your body, or an “Ah! That’s it” moment.

  • Listen to what’s right. Some things are obvious. You already know right from wrong. Your voice is always trying to tell you to do the right thing.

  • Consider past experiences. Life has taught you many lessons. Take them into consideration, but never let a past experience override a gut feeling telling you should try something again.

    For example, say you’re looking for a job. You’ve called once and the person told you not to call again. You feel an impulse to call. Don’t let the past dictate your choice — make the call. However, if your child is running in the house, use past lessons, yours or others’, as guidance for your current choice. Tell your child to stop running.

  • Use common sense. You know the answer, but you want easier, faster results. Don’t let being lazy override getting the task at hand done the right way.

  • Trust when you’re getting the same message. There are times when you have to make a decision that’ll change the course of your life. Trust what you’re repeatedly saying to yourself and don’t turn around because you don’t get immediate results.

  • Realize that you’re still right even if things go wrong. Success according to society’s standards doesn’t mean you took the wrong path. Through your decisions, you’re creating what you need for your journey. You can psych yourself out by convincing yourself that the other option would’ve been better, but you’ll never know that. When you follow your gut, you’re on the right track.

Trusting yourself with your own life

Any hesitation you have to trust yourself stems from your track record of making bad decisions. The more bad decisions you’ve made, the harder it is to trust yourself. You don’t feel equipped to make decisions to move your life forward.

It’s likely you were never taught how to make good decisions. By learning how to make good decisions and establishing the habit of doing so now, you’ll gradually build credibility with yourself as a trusted resource

You have dreams that, if you trust yourself and pursue them, will move you beyond where you are today. Give yourself a chance and trust that you’re serious about changing how you make decisions.

Doing so requires a new level of commitment to yourself — a promise to love yourself regardless of what state you may find yourself in, whether you’re rich or poor, moving straight ahead or being pushed four steps back, healthy or sick, happy or sad, on point or out of alignment.

No matter what you learn about yourself that may shock or alarm you, be patient and kind toward yourself, trusting that you’ll figure out what you need to know.

Seven questions to ask yourself before you decide

Considering these questions honestly will help you trust yourself to make good decisions:
  • Am I clear on the decision being made?

  • Have I considered all available choices?

  • Do I need to seek wise counsel?

  • Who else besides me will feel the direct impact of my decision?

  • How will it impact them?

  • Based on my decision, what will my life look like on the other side?

  • Is the decision in alignment with integrity?

Shifting from criticism to self-care

Criticism comes from a place within yourself of unacknowledged shame, guilt, and anger. It causes senseless pain and often creates negative relationships. To begin understanding why you criticize and how to give yourself the care you need — to stop being overly critical — ask yourself the following questions:
  • Who am I criticizing? The same eyes I use to look at others, I use to look at myself. Why is this person or group of people the target of my criticism? What did they do or not do to me? Was the error deliberately directed at me?

  • What am I criticizing them for? Whatever bothers me about them likely bothers me about myself. What’s at the core of my frustration? What feelings are associated with my frustration? Why is the behavior offensive?

  • What do I need that I’m not getting? Criticism is an action that results from hunger. Perhaps I need attention, acceptance, recognition, or an understanding of where I fit within my community.

About This Article

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About the book authors:

S. Renee Smith is a renowned self-esteem and branding expert, speaker, author, and resource to the media. Her expertise in personal and professional development and ability to inspire others to make positive, permanent changes has made her a sought-after consultant and speaker to Fortune 500 corporations, universities, government and nonprofit agencies, and churches. Vivian Harte has taught assertiveness skills online to over 10,000 students worldwide. She has 14 years of experience teaching in the classroom at Pima Community College and the University of Phoenix. She also hosted her own radio and television shows for many years in Colorado Springs, Minneapolis, and Tucson.

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