If you had a talking mirror, what would it say when you looked upon it?
In Snow White, the evil queen would look in the mirror and ask “who is the fairest one of all?” One day, the mirror replies: “there is another a thousand time more fair”.
WAIT: Why read on from here? As a professional, how you show up impacts not only your work, it impacts the work of the people around you. If you want to be a better leader, a better team member or even a better person in whatever environment you are in, you need to consider your own self-esteem. Okay back to the blog…
What does your mirror, self-talk, say about you? Self-esteem is grounded in perception of your own value. After all, the definition of self-esteem is “confidence in one's own worth or abilities; self-respect”.
Do you have an inner critic saying you are not enough? Such beliefs will manifest themselves subconsciously. To start your journey to self-confidence, your inner critic first needs to be understood. What you hear is designed to protect you from the unknown. To keep you safe by staying in your habits, which you formed early in your life. They served you well at one time. Perhaps they are now getting in your way.
What steps do you take to change the dialog?
- Become aware of your habits and patterns of behavior
- Determine how these habits show up; emotionally, physically and mentally
- Get clear on what you value
- Find out who you want to be
- Take small actions to change your habits
- Practice, fail, and continue to practice until the dialog changes
Become aware of your habits and patterns of behavior
The first rule is to remember you are human. No one can be the perfect person we see in the media. Do not be afraid of your humanness. Okay, now you are ready to look in the mirror. What do you see? Are you able to let go of the expectations of what should be?
Take a few moments each day to look at what went well, what didn’t go so well and what was your best, that day. Over a few days, you may recognize patterns. This is a time to check in with a trusted friend or family member. Or in a business setting a mentor or trusted colleague. Ask what they notice about you in these areas. Feedback helps you see yourself through another’s eyes. A different perspective is critical to becoming aware of your own behavior.
Determine how these habits show up; emotionally, physically and mentally
You now have some idea of what is happening, congratulations! To help give some context to this next step, let’s look at the evil queen. What makes her look into the mirror for validation? Is there an emotional trigger? She hears someone say something that creates the trigger of insecurity. Perhaps she gets up in the morning feeling sluggish. She is physically feeling the need to know if she is going to be okay. Or she has a thought pop-up in her mind, out of nowhere, that says she better take a look in the mirror to ensure she is the fairest of them all.
Our bodies are capable of telling us so much more than just our minds. Science has proven we have receptors all over our body. We can actually feel our automatic responses, or habits, before our mind is aware. If you can tap into your body, you can actually stop your habit and move into choosing how you wish to be. This is a crucial part of understanding how change can take place, given the nature of habit.
Get clear on what you value
Now you know more about your habits and how they manifest. What do you do with this new understanding? The question can only be answered by you. Each of us has unique talents and even unique values. Yes society gives us a set of values, which you can choose to live by or reject. The key here is choice. You cannot choose anything if you don’t know what the choices are for you!
The work begins here. Your self-esteem is based on what you value. It is never valued on what others expect of you. If you are not clear about your values and you live by others, you cannot build your confidence to sustain true self-esteem.
Find out who you want to be
What is required to know yourself? When you are young your parents provide you with the rules to live by based on their own experiences. They do so to protect you as you developed. Once you are on your own, you still carry much of what you learned as a child. The question is; are you being served by these habits? Are you really what you want to be?
Once you gain a better understanding of your values, you develop a sense of what is most important to you. You now have to compare who you are today and who is the person that aligns with this new found knowledge. The result is who you are meant to be.
Take small actions to change your habits
Great you have all this new knowledge, how do you take action? You know what you want, however you are not a switch. Off for the old you and on for the new you. Change happens in small, even tiny, increments. Think of a dimmer switch, change is gradual.
The good news is taking multiple small positive changes has a physical effect. Science has confirmed that even a small positive change gives you a dose of dopamine. That is the good brain chemical that is linked with motivation. When you develop a pattern of small positive changes you get a constant supply of dopamine. Think about that for a second. You actually trigger a physical response to help you continue to take more actions, hence moving you towards the person you want to be.
Warning, I am taking about real changes, not generic positive affirmations. Affirmations work when they are unique to you. I recommend more of a conscious action that you take along with affirmation, or positive self-talk. Combining the way you behave with a more positive self-talk can build forward momentum.
Practice, fail, and continue to practice until the dialog changes
Here is the hard part. This takes time and practice. You have likely been living with this self-talk for a long time. If you try to swing the pendulum too far in the other direction, the result can be a sense of entitlement and an inability to learn from failures.
Failure is an opportunity to learn and refine the person you become. Don’t be afraid if you fall into an automatic habitual behavior. Remember you are human. Forgive yourself and learn from it. Start again to continue to build new behaviors.
It is also very important that you enjoy the accomplishments. Recognize when you choose to do something differently. Talk positive feedback from others as true. Practice self-affirming your new behaviors as you develop them into habits.
If you can do the above, I know your self-esteem will rise. You will look in the mirror and see the true self. The critic will still be there, however will no longer have the magic to pull you away from your self-respect and confidence.
If you need support, I am here. I would be honored in supporting you on your journey to raise your self-esteem. I will be your trusted champion to give you a new perspective. I will hold you accountable to staying the course you have chosen.
Remember when you rise, you raise those around you to be a better version of themselves. Your actions are contagious. Give the gift of your true self to the world.