C.S. Lewis once wrote: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” Many of us often seem to get humility confused with bad self-esteem as a way to justify our dwelling place within self discouragement. But it’s not good or healthy for us to stay there.
We’re more or less taught this by society unfortunately, and learning bad self-esteem at a young age is pretty common. Since so many of us are programed to think lowly ourselves, how can we turn that around, no matter where we are in age or life experience? We all have different challenges that work against our own self respect and self image, but they can be manageable and do not have to break us down.
Trust, Trust, Trust
Did you know that including a child and talking to them like your peer rather than down to them will help their self esteem? This should be of no surprise to you, as the same goes for adults, teenagers, and seniors.
It’s not a hard concept to grasp. Do you like being talked down to? No. Do you like feeling like your opinion is invalid? Of course not. So why would you want to treat another human being that way?
Let’s say you’re at work, for instance, and your co-worker comes up with a tentative plan that’s supposed to make things more productive for you, but is really just a waste of time. In that case, use what you can to help them generate good ideas. It will help them feel validated as people and better at their jobs. It’s about empowering people, not dethroning them.
Performance Doesn’t Decide Your Worth
You are valuable because you’re a human being. Sometimes we try in life and we fail, and you cannot let those failures define your future or your present. As the British band Chumbawumba once said, “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you are never gonna keep me down.”
It’s been proven actually that people underestimate persistence as it has to do with performance. Amy Moroin once wrote in a a Forbes article: “When your entire self-worth depends on your achievements, you’ll avoid doing things where you could fail.” Well said, Amy, well said.
With that in mind, as adults we need to know that failure is okay, even after gaining plenty of experience on this earth. In our senior years we will need to be aware that our value of life isn’t determined by what we still can and cannot do. And while raising children, we need to be sure they know as well that failure is a normal part of life and they should not be ashamed of themselves just because they are not perfect.
Social Status is just Peer Pressure Grown Up
It is very hard to convince a child or a teenager that what their peers think of them isn’t the be-all and end-all. It gets easier for some people as they get older, but that focus on peer pressure and social status never quite goes away.
There’s a value in learning to be independent, and there’s a value in learning to prioritize. As adults, knowing what makes you feel fulfilled and keeps you healthy should be first in the priority chain, and that often goes beyond social status. In fact, sometimes you have to trade aspects of social status for ultimate fulfillment, and that can be hard to learn. But it’s important, and when you are able to swallow your pride and step away from your insecurities, you’ll find yourself to be more confident.
Handling Your Emotions is More Important than Erasing Them
Fact: your emotions will not go away. You will always struggle with pain, mood swings, sadness, feeling defeated, and the like. What most of us learn as we get older is that our feelings don’t own us, nor are they an accurate representation of reality. They are simply something we experience personally that has no bars on the world outside of us, apart from how we respond to them.
However, because you literally experience your feelings – you can’t get away from them – this is understandably difficult to grasp and it will be for the rest of your life. Keeping your perspective on feelings is important, and emotional intelligence is becoming recognized as a fundamental building block for a successful life. In fact, it’s a sought after business skill!
Whether you’re a child or an adult, combat feelings of defeat by counting your successes, asking yourself what you’re good at, and focusing on how you can contribute to the world. Encourage your children and your friends of all ages alike to do this. There’s no such thing as a person who can’t contribute – everyone is useful in some way or another.
Let’s Normalize Conversations About Mental Health and Pain
Growing up, my father always told me he loved me before bed, before leaving for trips, and before getting off the phone while he was away. And sometimes he would include the addendum “some dads never tell their kids that.”
While not directly correlated, I bring that up to encourage you to talk about struggles and emotions with your children. It’s important to normalize talking about such things. In the past there have been a lot of social restrictions around sharing your emotions. Men were considered weak, and women were considered crazy, for doing so. These stereotypes still exist but they are becoming less and less prevalent, thankfully.
After that, we need to normalize discussions about struggles we’re going through. Making it acceptable to ask for help and normalize tools like therapy that is – it’s a profession because people actually need it. Imagine if your car had problems and you were told you’re weak for needing to take it to a mechanic. The same goes for when your brain or your emotions aren’t functioning how you’d like them to. So never be ashamed to ask for help!
How have you found it difficult to maintain happy with yourself in the stage of life you reside? Let me know via the comment section below!