When one comes across something that grows into the ground and has a big trunk, there is only going to be one word to describe what it is – and that is a tree. And the same can be said when it comes to describing other things on this planet.
However, when it comes to how one sees themselves, many different descriptions exist and they all relate to the same thing. Some of these are: self-confidence, self-belief, self- esteem and self-worth.
Not everyone is going to use the same word and this is to be expected; what feels right or what works for one person is not necessarily going to apply to another. The description that often takes centre stage is self-esteem and this was also included in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
The view that one has of themselves it not going to be something that one can simply put to one side. Even if they don’t want to think about how they see themselves, it is still going to have an impact on their life.
How they feel, what they achieve and how other people treat them is going to be influenced by what is taking place within them. When one is out of touch with their inner world, what takes palace externally and how they feel about themselves could appear to be something that is out of their hands.
To say that human beings have complete control over their life would be an illusion, but to say they have no control would be just as inaccurate. If the outlook one has of themselves is that they are worthless, it is highly unlikely that they will achieve what they want to achieve or attract people who respect them.
Whereas, when one believes they are valuable, it is going to be a lot easier for them to achieve their goals and to attract people who value them. This doesn’t mean that life will just ‘fall into place’, what it means is that one’s behaviour will change.
Their behaviour will then be the difference, but if one believes they have no value, they are going to behave differently. They might not even take action and could end up doing nothing.
If one was just to observe their behaviour, they might say that it simply comes down to their behaviour. But if it wasn’t for what was taking place within them and how certain people respond to them, their behaviour wouldn’t be the same.
However, just because someone doesn’t value themselves it doesn’t mean that others will always realise this. Success could be something that one uses to cover up how they really feel about themselves.
Yet as ‘success’ is often seen as an expression of one’s self-worth, they could come across as having it all together. What could give it all away is how healthy their relationships are - as this is where the truth (about how they feel) often comes out.
When one feels good about themselves they are going to expect good things, as opposed to being caught up in what could go wrong or what is not possible. This inner outlook is then going to be mirrored in their external world and each side supports the other.
If one is focused on what could go wrong or what is not possible, they are not going to get very far. This is not to say that one will lives in denial and only focuses on the ‘positive’, as this would be dangerous.
It means that they are able to accept both sides and at the same time, not allow what could happen to stop them from moving forward. The belief they have in themselves will propel them forward; without this, they might give up or not even take the first step.
So when one values themselves and therefore feels good about who they are, their life is going to be far more fulfilling that it would be if this wasn’t the case. The alternative is for one to see themselves as being worthless, and it is then going to be a challenge for them to feel good and to live a fulfilling life.
This could be how one has always experienced life and it is therefore normal. But while it might be what is normal, there is going to be a reason that one feels as they do. And one thing that can cause low self-esteem is toxic shame.
Healthy shame is an important part of having a conscience; however, toxic shame has no benefit to one’s life. In this case, one doesn’t just feel bad when they do something wrong, they will always feel bad.
They are going to feel as though they are inherently flawed and there is nothing they can do about it. One is then less-than human and so it is to be expected that they will feel worthless and as though they don’t deserve to exist.
To experience healthy shame is normal and part of being human, toxic shame on the other hand, is not normal and it is likely to be a sign that one experienced some kind of abuse during their childhood years. This could have been verbal, physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse.
And as toxic shame is so painful to experience, there is the chance that one disconnected from how they felt during these years. So even though one might be out of touch with their shame, it is still in control of their life.
Although one’s childhood is in the past, how one felt all those years ago has remained trapped in their body. And what is taking place there will also affect what happens in their mind. So if one releases the emotional build up in their body, their mind will also change.
One approach is for one to change their beliefs or to ‘think positive’ and through this; they might feel better about themselves. Another approach would be for one to face and release the toxic shame within them (and the emotions associated with it), and then they will develop self-esteem.
It is then not about adding or changing anything, it is about letting go. This can be done with the assistance of a therapist or a healer.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.