The Power in the way we Think

Posts tagged ‘self esteem’

Stress and Mental Wellness

stress cartoon

I’ve had thoughts running through my head about what I wanted to talk about for this post. I think the message I want to get across to you all is about how you can either support your mental wellness, or allow stress to overwhelm you and ultimately reduce your sense of wellness.

I think the first thing we need to do though, is to understand what we’re aiming for when we use the word “wellness”.

What does “mental wellness” mean to you? Is it the same as what it means for other people in your life?

As much as I’d like it to be as simple as referring to the dictionary, as we have for other definitions in this series, I’m not convinced it’s that easy. I think the definition of mental wellness is different for everyone.

For me, I think it overlaps and is impacted by our physical wellness. I certainly feel better if I don’t have any physical illnesses or injuries! And I know that my mental and emotional states are linked, for better or worse! I actually describe my mental wellness using my emotions. How can they not be linked, right?!

The first words that come into my mind to describe mental wellness are centred, calm & peace.

When my mind is chaotic, when I have a lot of stuff to get through, when I don’t know how I’ll manage it, and when I feel pressured, isolated and alone, it is much harder for me to call myself mentally well.

When my mind is well, I function well. I’m able to get up in the morning and I’ll want to face the day. I’ll be excited to go into work and do the job I love. I’ll look forward to interacting with clients, colleagues, friends and family. I’ll be motivated to do the things I need to do, even if they aren’t things I’m particularly excited about. I mean, who really gets excited about doing the dishes or doing paperwork? Not me!

And I’ll have the energy to do them. Energy is important, and if you don’t have it, it’s a sure sign that you’re probably stressed. I mean, there’s being tired at the end of a busy day, but when it’s that deep, bone weary fatigue that persists day after day and doesn’t lift, you may need to look deeper. And one of the first places to look is at your stress.

Back to wellness … My mind will be clear. I’ll be able to access my creativity. I’ll be able to solve problems. And I won’t feel particularly anxious or stressed. I’ll feel cheerful, will be able to appreciate and laugh at jokes and I’ll feel grateful and blessed to have my life, even if it’s not always smooth sailing.

So how do I get this feeling? Even though I’m not always good at it, and I’m a work in progress (aren’t we all), I get it by looking after myself. By recognising and acknowledging the signs of stress my body gives me (check back next week for a post on that).

These are some of the things I use:

  • Eating healthily
  • Regular movement (I don’t always go hard – look out for a post on this too)
  • Regular time out (me time) doing things I love away from work
  • Mindfulness
  • Time with friends
  • Journaling
  • Plenty of rest
  • “switch-off” time
  • Pampering time (getting my hair done etc)
  • Regular therapy appointments (while debriefing with someone objective is awesome for clearing my head and getting really clear on what’s important to me, I’m also including medical therapies here. For me these are with my General Practitioner, kinesiologist, acupuncturist, massage therapist etc.

I find that when I do these practices regularly and make my wellness a priority above everyone else in my life (including family and clients), I maintain my mental wellness. Which results in so much more to give to the important people in my life.

Do you make regular time to take care of yourself? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

worth taking care of

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Heal a fragile self-esteem through Spirit

Our next post in our focus month on Self-esteem is from Sal Jade, a clairvoyant and spiritual healer who teaches clients to develop their psychic ability. She works with her spirit guides to support clients and today she shares her wisdom on how you can work with your guides to enhance your self-esteem. It takes a little practice to hear and interpret the directions they impart, but if you quiet your mind and listen, you’ll be sure to hear the answers to your questions. Check out Sal’s post below. Have you had any empowering experiences with your guides? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

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When I was 19, I went to a psychic who told me I needed to learn to love myself.

Over the past 20 years the journey to self- love has been fraught with difficulty.

Sometimes I ignore it, and focus on material goals and relationship problems.

But, when I can give some love to myself- all of those goals and problems fade into manageable chunks that I can navigate.

When I tune into the energy of most of my clients, I clairvoyantly see splinters and sometimes even ice over their hearts because they are protecting themselves from painful trauma from their childhoods, or unresolved wounds from past relationships.

And I always tell them the same thing that psychic told me- you need to learn to love yourself.

Unfortunately, telling someone with a shattered self-esteem they just need to love themselves can make them think- ‘oh great, yet something else I do wrong! Something else I have failed at!’

 I am a huge fan of the Law of Attraction and positive thinking, but these ideas can be limiting if you already experience a low self-esteem.

I’ve seen clients try to think positively and when nothing happens- they think ‘oh I can’t even get that right! – or ‘well it worked for all those other people, why isn’t it working for me!’

Because everyone’s journey is different.

If you are someone who experiences low self-esteem because you were physically abused as a child, you will have a very different journey with positive thinking than someone who has a low self- esteem because their father was absent during your childhood.

You will need to undergo different levels of soul healing. You may even have different past life issues that are affecting your ability to experience a positive self-worth.

One powerful step I teach my clients to heal their soul of any trauma that is preventing them from loving themselves is calling in their angels for help.

spirit guides know what you needYour angels love you unconditionally. They don’t judge you or criticise you. They are in awe of how brave you are because they know you are doing the best you can with the journey you’ve been given.

Whenever I have made a mistake, instead of letting my inner critic attack me, I call my angels in. I ask for the strength and courage to forgive myself, and I pray for the guidance I need to learn from this error without beating myself up.

Even if you are not religious, or find it hard to believe there are angels, you can still ask for help.

Angelic energy is soft and soothing and angels can help you take deep breaths and release old painful habits.

I have seen clients go from critising themselves for not being good to experiencing peace about their life journey- knowing the angels are blessing them and watching over them, ready to offer spiritual guidance.

When I first started working with angels, the knowledge that I wasn’t alone, and someone loved me unconditionally was enough to heal my childhood traumas, and allowed me to eventually grow to love and accept myself.

I started to like myself more. I started laughing at my mistakes. I even embraced my dark side and personality flaws because they were part of me.

I have seen clients burst into tears when they start calling in the angels because their soul opens up and they realise how cruel they have been to themselves by constantly criticising themselves.

And asking them for help is easy. Find a quiet spot, take a breath, close your eyes and just ask for help. Ask for faith that they can help you.

Even taking this small step will open up a world of possibilities.

Small signs will start to show up in your life. You might be drawn to a book or a course that will change your life. People will enter your life that will help you on your journey, opportunities will suddenly appear.

Most importantly, you start to feel more empowered because you will feel like you are in the driver’s seat, instead of being knocked around by your journey.

So the next time you start to criticise yourself for not being good enough ask the angels to help you learn to love yourself more.

And watch the miracles unfold!

Blessings and Love,
Sal Jade

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Sal Jade Angel HuggerSal Jade is a Clairvoyant Healer who loves to assist her clients in healing blockages to happiness. She teaches psychic development and healing workshops and delights in empowering her students to tap into their psychic abilities and discover their own magic so they can learn to heal themselves.

For free angel courses and inspirational tips to heal your life sign up for Sal’s AngelHugger blog.

Boosting self-esteem through physical activity

As the next in our series of guest posts on self-esteem I’d like to introduce you to Glenda. As a clinical nutritionist, neuroscientist, Personal Trainer and Positive Wellbeing Coach, she knows a little something about healthy living. She has joined us today to talk about how you can boost your self-esteem by moving your body. And I think most of you will be pleased to know that you don’t have to smash yourself at the gym to get the benefits! Most of the time it’s the simplest things that make the biggest differences. So check out what Glenda has to say and visit her site. 

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Self-esteem is quite an interesting concept that many people misunderstand. You see, most people think of self-esteem as an all or none thing, where you either have it or you don’t. But really, it works on a sliding scale that can be nudged one way or the other depending firstly on what life throws at you, but also on how you perceive and react to those events.

 Sometimes it’s something massive that either boosts or decimates your self-esteem, for instance receiving an award or commendation for doing an excellent job, or on the negative side it could be caused by a failure or loss. Yet your self-esteem can also be affected by many little things over and over that push you a bit one way and then another, so that it’s the overall balance of these little pushes that decides where it finally settles.

 Another thing that’s often misunderstood about self-esteem is that it’s possible to have a lot in some parts of your life while having very little in other areas. As an example, you could be very confident in what you do for a living and have no issues in your professional life, yet you may have low self-esteem on a personal level because you haven’t yet had a ‘successful’ relationship and are being constantly hounded by your family on when you’re going to settle down.

 Regardless of how much self-esteem you have, or in which parts of your life that it exists, there are ways to boost it. But before we talk about how you can do this, let’s make sure we’re on the same page as to what self-esteem is. There are a number of definitions, but here we’ll consider self-esteem in terms of the Oxford Dictionary definition: “confidence in one’s own worth or abilities”.

 If you’re able to directly pinpoint where your issues exist, it may be possible to work on boosting your self-esteem directly by improving your abilities, or your confidence in those abilities, that relate to that particular issue. For instance, if you had low self-esteem about your cooking abilities and your confidence to cook meals that your family would enjoy, you could directly work on this by taking cooking classes, reading cookbooks, and practicing tried and true recipes until you could cook a number of meals with confidence. In this example, boosting self-esteem for a particular activity is relatively easy because you can readily define the activity that’s of concern.

 But what if your self-esteem issue is a bit harder to pin down? What can you do then to improve it?

 It may seem a little bit counterintuitive at first, but you can boost your self-esteem by practicing and mastering activities that create an overall sense of confidence, strength and powerfulness within you. While there are many types of activities that can do this, I’ve personally found that exercise, fitness and other physical activities are excellent ways to create these feelings within you and to boost your self-esteem.

physical activity boosts self-esteem glenda bishop

 Alright, so how does physical activity help self-esteem?

 Firstly it teaches you to listen to your body, creating a mind-body connection that keeps you centred during the activity. This helps to strengthen your understanding of what you’re achieving at that time, bolstering your knowledge of your abilities and thus your confidence in performing them. It also helps to stop your mind from wandering away and getting stuck in any negative thoughts that might otherwise have you questioning your abilities – and when you don’t question your capabilities, you more naturally learn to respect and acknowledge them for what they really are.

 The next really important part about physical activity and exercise is that it strengthens your body. This physical strength creates a feeling of power and capability that lets you move through the world with more ease and grace. Knowing that you can trust your body to do what’s needed is incredibly powerful. It helps you to stand tall and move with purpose. There’s also something special that comes with the confidence of physical capability that can’t be taken away from you. It helps to create an “I don’t care” attitude within you – not so much in the sense that nothing is important to you, but more in the sense that the little things just don’t bother you as much as they used to.

 A huge bonus that comes from physical activity is that it decreases the amount of stress hormones in your body, i.e. adrenaline and cortisol. When you exercise and get your body moving, your stress hormones get chewed up during the activity, so that when you’ve finished moving, your overall stress levels are considerably less than when you started. If you do physical activity on a regular basis (daily or every second day), this can go a long way to modulating stress. This is also one of the reasons why regular physical activity also helps to manage depression and anxiety. When you’re less stressed, you’re more resilient to the unexpected things that life throws at you. Not getting stressed out every time something little goes wrong means that there’s less of that constant battering to your self-esteem.

 If the physical activity that you choose to do is something new, then this allows you to learn new skills. Even if the skills seem unrelated to anything else you do in your life, there’s an incredible amount of confidence boosting that comes from simply being able to say “I did that!”. It could be finally being able to run 5km, hiking up to the top of a mountain, being able to shoot a basketball from the 3-point line, being able to hit a baseball for a home run, learning how to punch or kick correctly in a martial art, learning how to stand up on a surf board, or even learning a new dance routine. It really doesn’t matter what it is (or whether it matters to anyone else), it’s knowing that you did it and that you were able to master a new skill that counts. Reminding yourself that you can learn new things can give you the confidence you need to try out something else in another part of your life.

 There’s an important caveat though about learning new skills to boost self-esteem. It’s really critical that when you set out on a new activity that you keep your goals very manageable and that you restrain them to a beginner level for that activity. So this means that it’s best not to attach time limits or standards to the goal. For instance, if your goal was to run 5km, then make that the goal – simply to be able to run a distance of 5km. Don’t put any additional criteria as to how fast you have to be able to run that distance. Only after you’ve achieved the distance should you consider trying to improve your time – but even then, you should only do that if you want to. It’s perfectly okay to be able to say “I did that” and then switch onto another activity to gain a new skill. Maybe running is something that you will choose to enjoy occasionally but never want to run a race, and that is perfectly fine!

 So as you can see, there are many reasons why physical activity is so valuable for boosting self-esteem. It’s also one of the reasons why I recommend that everyone tries out a new type of physical activity that pushes their body just a bit further than they normally would push it. It strengthens the body, but also strengthens the mind at the same time, creating a mental resilience and confidence that boosts self-esteem which can transfer across other areas of your life. The trick is to find an activity that you will enjoy and then to set yourself a small and achievable goal. Not only will you boost your self-esteem, you’ll boost your physical and mental health too.

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Glenda Bishop healthy stories 2Author Bio:

Glenda Bishop is a neuroscientist, Registered Nutritionist, personal trainer and positive wellbeing coach. She helps women to reconnect their mind and body by creating a strong foundation of physical health that supports and strengthens their mental health. Glenda’s Mind & Body Reconnect Program creates a gentle strength and confidence from the inside out, leading to positive mental wellbeing that promotes joy and happiness. Click here to find out her 7 Little Secrets for a Healthy Mind and Body.

Finding the Time

Natalie is a mum of 3 from Melbourne and spends most of her time taking care of her family. In her spare time she shares her experiences of discovering the benefits of slowing down the busy-ness that is life and learning more about the things that are most important. You might like to read more about her experiences on her blog and you can find the link below her article.

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Somebody said to me the other day that they wished they could be 20 years younger but know what they knew today.

I, on the other hand, love being the age that I am but wish that I could have the same energy, confidence and self-esteem that I had when I was 15. Sure, I was naïve, idealistic and a bit more self-obsessed than I am nowadays, but the dreams, ideas and passion that I once had before the “real world” took over is what I long for today.

As a society, we are more consumed with living life at full speed and meeting unrealistic expectations of what our lives should look like that we forget who we really are, and we forget the dreams and ambitions we once held during the prime of our youth.

Our busyness means we don’t have the time to look within ourselves to find the love and gratitude that we already have that’s now hiding behind a veil of stress, anxiety and low self-esteem perpetuated by the external world. Those everyday distractions, routines, to-do lists, schedules, appointments, calendars and obligations are blockages that prevent us from attracting a life that we so desire.

What would our lives look like if we stripped away all the busyness, the distractions and comparisons we cling onto?

Prior to becoming “unbusy” over a year ago, I was living up to society’s expectations of what a mother and a wife should be that I lost the confidence, passion and determination I once had. What was important to me was hosting the most fun and coolest kids birthday parties, ticking off all the tasks on my daily to-do lists, going to gym classes and watching my diet and keeping up with what everyone else was doing.

I was looking to the external world to help boost my happiness, my self-esteem, my self-worth.

But over time, something about my life did not feel right. I had everything to be grateful for but why was I still unhappy? Why did I feel like crawling into a hole? Why did I feel like a shadow of my former self?

Because I was too busy to realise that all I had ever wanted was already within me, I just had to take the time to find it.

So I decided to unbusy myself!

busy life Natalie

I began my unbusy journey by decluttering my home over a 6 month period, room by room, and in doing so created more time that I previously wasted on household chores. My kids also started to learn to appreciate having fewer toys and clothes, and learnt about the importance of donating to charities and trying to reduce the environmental impact of having too much stuff.

My focus then moved onto analysing where I was spending and wasting time, so I did a “time stocktake”; I spent a week keeping a diary of all the activities and tasks I spent my time on. This allowed me to see exactly what was creating my busyness: spending too much time on social media, wasting time engaging in gossip and meaningless conversations with others, thinking and planning too far ahead into the future and not focusing on the present moment.

Here are some key things I have discovered about myself during my unbusy journey:

  1. By removing stuff and people from my life that did not serve me well, I was able to move the focus from the external world into my internal world, and I discovered that my confidence and self-worth is dictated by ME.
  2. I have more time to enjoy new pursuits in life, including things I have never tried before- this gives me a sense of satisfaction and pride.
  3. I have more time to serve others who need help, and by doing so I feel a sense of gratitude and humbleness.

We have the ability to control the way we feel about ourselves and how we live our lives by focusing on what’s most important and removing the blocks to our happiness. To be able to do this, we need to live at a slower pace, which will give us the time to look within ourselves to find the confidence and strength we need to create the best versions of our lives.

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Natalie Alleblas created Unbusy Me to offer a different perspective on living, and to give inspiration and tips to those who want to become unbusy but don’t know where to begin, or are unsure how it will help them live a more meaningful and satisfying life. She writes tips and inspirational ideas, and shares stories about how she lives an unbusy life along with her husband and 3 kids in suburban Melbourne, Australia. You can find her blog at www.unbusyme.com and her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/unbusyme.

Boundary Setting

I’d like to welcome Ellen back with her second guest post for us! If you remember, in her previous article she talked about boundaries and how they can impact on our sense of SELF. She discussed the signs that tell you how to know when your boundaries are being violated. You can find her previous article here if you’d like to refresh your memory. If you endlessly to give (or take from) others, feel guilty, don’t speak up for yourself or rescue others, chances are that you’ll find this new article helpful.

In it, Ellen talks about how you can set healthy boundaries. This promotes feelings of self-esteem and shows yourself and others that you are worthy of respect, appreciation and love.

Sometimes though, implementing boundaries can be tough. Emotions such as guilt and fear can show up, and others can try to blame you or behave badly, providing you with some difficult challenges and often sending you into hiding. However if you start small you can ease into the groove of boundary setting. Try practising what you want to say, and set boundaries with the little things that really don’t matter much. Once you feel a little more comfortable, move on to some of the bigger things. And as Ellen suggests below, talking with a professional counsellor or psychologist can help.

Check it out …

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Hi again.  Nice to see you.

Last time we talked about personal boundaries – what they are, how they help us and how, if they’re not firmly in place, they can have a negative impact on our relationships and our self-esteem.  Today I’ve got some tips on how to establish strong personal boundaries.

boundaries 2

There are three areas of life in which strong personal boundaries are important.  These are:

  1. Your time.  If you are clear about what you will and won’t do to help other people you will be able to make good decisions about how to use your time.  Your time is yours and while it’s always lovely – and good – to be able to help others, your time is also finite.  There is only so much of it you can give away.  When we bend over backwards to always help others, whether it’s family, friends or colleagues at work, we give away our time and that leaves less for ourselves.  And you and I know that there’s precious little of that to begin with.

So what do we do?

Think about where others might be crossing your boundaries in terms of your time.  Do you have people in your life who are always asking you to help them out? Is there someone at work who requests your assistance to do things you know they are capable of doing themselves? Do you have family members who regularly drop in when it’s not convenient?  Identify where your time boundaries are a bit loose and tell people that things need to change.  Be firm but respectful. Don’t feel afraid to tell others that you’re sorry but you can’t help them this time.  They might be a little put out at first but you will feel better for asserting yourself and they will come to respect your time as yours.  Encourage them to find solutions on their own, and in the case of inconvenient visitors, make a plan to catch up at a time that’s better for both of you.

  1. Your emotions. Your emotions are precious, and they’re  Positive and negative emotions keep us balanced and healthy but you need to protect them with good boundaries.  If you let others say hurtful things to you your ability to manage your emotions lessens and, long term, this can lead to anxiety and depression.

What to do?

Be alert to hurt caused by other people in your life (sometimes we get so used to this behaviour that we stop noticing it – we just feel the hurt) and be ready to say something.  People can say hurtful things without realising the impact that it has.  At other times they might know exactly what they’re saying and they’re trying to push your buttons.  Be clear on what you will and won’t accept from others and tell them when they’ve crossed the line.  Try phrasing it as, ‘When you said…., I felt…. Please don’t speak to me that way.’  This can be hard, it takes practise and it won’t always work out as well as you might hope but if you’re firm and consistent you’ll feel better about you and other people will eventually get the message and their respect for you will grow.

  1. Your values. Have you ever been upset by someone’s behaviour but you weren’t sure why it affected you the way that it did?  You might have been agitated about a partner’s drinking, or a child’s friends or a friend’s partner!  At times we experience what psychologists’ call ‘dissonance’ between the actions of others (and ourselves) and our values.  Our values are our personal standards of behaviour or our beliefs about what is important in life.  If you have strong beliefs – or values – around what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour in relation to alcohol use, for example, and someone close to you is drinking up a storm on a regular basis, this can be really upsetting.

So what can we do? 

This is a tricky one because ultimately we can do very little do change other people and the way that they act.  You might find that just being aware that your emotions are stemming from dissonance between your values and the other person’s behaviour can be very empowering.  You can then decide how you’re going to respond.  You might alert them to the issue and ask them to not behave in that way around you.  Or you might chose to remove yourself from upsetting situations.  Talking it through with a counsellor or psychologist can be really helpful too, particularly if the situation is complex.  A bit of brainstorming with a professional can really help you to clarify your boundaries and to come up with ideas about how to handle certain situations.

Above all else, having good personal boundaries starts with knowing who you are and what’s important to you.  Spend some time in self-reflection and feel confident that you have the power to make boundaries work for you.

Onwards and upwards,

Ellen.

If you’d like to read more, here are some great articles.

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/03/10/7-tips-for-setting-boundaries-at-work/

http://happinessweekly.org/2014/03/02/personal-boundaries-why-we-need-them-and-how-to-set-them/

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ellen jackson

Ellen is a Psychologist, author, mum.  Melbourne-born, she spent most of her 20s and 30s in Sydney and now lives in beautiful Ballarat, in the Victorian Goldfields. Ellen writes stuff to inspire and sometimes to challenge.  She knows a lot of stuff about how people work at work, how people are different and unique and how people make the most out of life.  Ellen writes at www.potential.com.au or if you’d like ask a question or share a story she’d love to hear from you! You can email her at psych@potential.com.au.

Influencing Boundaries

I’d like to introduce you to Ellen, a Psychologist from Victoria. She is a blogger, author and mum and loves to inspire others. Here she shares her take on boundaries and how they impact on us and our sense of SELF. I really hope you come and join us again later in the week, as Ellen will be back to help us learn how to establish healthy boundaries and increase our self-esteem. I’d love for you to go visit her website after you listen to what she has to say.

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Recently a friend of mine, apologising for being a bit out of sorts, explained that she was upset about her 20-something daughter.  She and her daughter had always been close but recently there had been trouble; arguments and disagreements, tension.  According to my friend, the boyfriend was the problem.  Well … not the boyfriend exactly.  She had quite liked him and had certainly made him welcome as the two of them stayed with her during the weekends while working away from home during the week.  It was not him exactly.  Rather it was his influence on her daughter.

Apparently he had a lot to say about who she should be friends with and how much time she should spend with her friends and her family.  Apparently little things that upset him became big things to her and if friends and family were part of his issue then she went in to bat for him, causing tension in her own relationships.

Her mother, my friend, was quite distressed.  She sensed a wedge being driven between her and her daughter and she was quite sure that it was not of her daughter’s doing.  She could see the influence that this man was having.  She didn’t like it but she was at a loss as to what to do as any mention of it to her daughter was met solely with defensiveness.

At the time I expressed empathy for my friend, tried to console her and we brainstormed a few ideas and options.  I related my own experience of being in my 20s with a much-loved partner whom, on reflection, I also went in to bat for perhaps more often than was warranted. I tried to solve his problems and appease his worries when really that was his job.

I was pondering this later when I realised that this was perhaps an issue of blurred personal boundaries.  Personal boundaries, in psychology-speak, are the limits – physical, mental and emotional – that we establish around ourselves to differentiate ourselves from others.  They allow us to separate who we are and what we think and feel from the thoughts and feelings of the people around us.

Givers have to set limites ellen jackson

Personal boundaries are critical to healthy relationships but it can be very easy to let them blur, particularly when we’re young, inexperienced, or perhaps haven’t had clear boundaries and healthy relationships modelled to us in the past.

Signs of unhealthy boundaries include:

  • Feeling guilty for saying no
  • Doing things for others that we really don’t want to do
  • Allowing unwanted physical contact
  • Not speaking up when others treat us badly
  • Giving endlessly to others in order to please them
  • Taking endlessly from others because we can
  • Rescuing others or allowing ourselves to be rescued instead of solving our own problems and encouraging others to solve theirs.

Personal boundaries are critical to our self-esteem.  If we forget that we are each unique individuals with our own feelings, need, interests and values – or we were never clear about these things to begin with – it is so easy to take on board the needs, feelings and desires of our partners, children, friends and even the boss.  It is so easy to forget your importance as a special, unique person and to start to feel and behave as though everyone else is more important.  Do that for too long and your self-esteem – your confidence and belief in yourself – can easily disappear.

My friend’s daughter is still young and she has a strong mum.  With time I think – I hope – she will come to realise that she needs to look after her needs and her relationships and let her boyfriend fight his own battles.  If not, her mum and I agreed that a session or two with a good counsellor or psychologist will be the next course of action.

Stay tuned for my next post to learn how we establish healthy personal boundaries …

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ellen jackson

Ellen is a Psychologist, author, mum.  Melbourne-born, she spent most of her 20’s and 30’s in Sydney and now lives in beautiful Ballarat, in the Victorian Goldfields. Ellen writes stuff to inspire and sometimes to challenge.  She knows a lot of stuff about how people work at work, how people are different and unique and how people make the most out of life.  Ellen writes at www.potential.com.au or if you’d like ask a question or share a story she’d love to hear from you! You can email her at psych@potential.com.au.

What does it mean to have self-esteem?

Hi everyone! I’d like to introduce you all to Sharon, who is an interior designer and Life Coach. She has had some pretty intense experiences in her life and her self-esteem has been impacted as a result. She has made big changes in her life and now she does what she loves in a beautiful part of the country she now calls home.

Sometimes the biggest, most traumatic events can affect your life for a long time. And it’s often a series of small, seemingly insignificant events that can help you turn things into a completely different life.

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It’s a tricky question to answer as the answers will be as individual as people themselves.  For me, having self-esteem means that I live to my own set of values and not those imposed upon me by others – by religion, by the government, by my family or friends.  It means that I am confident enough in my own skin to know that my opinions count, that my voice deserves to be heard and that I am worthy of happiness, just as I am.  Yes I could be 10 (okay 20) kilos lighter, I could exercise more and eat more healthily.  I could spend more quality time with my children and husband and less time on Facebook.  I could read more educational books and less young adult fiction.  BUT, would any of those things make me happier?  Maybe, but maybe not and if I did any or all of these things, for whom would I be doing them?  For myself or for the acceptance of others? 

Blog Chicks sharon chisolmFor many years, as the result of a violent upbringing, I felt like a fraud as a child, feelings that continued as I grew into adulthood and even after I had children.   I had spent years growing up trying to hide the truth about who I was – a scared young girl who felt isolated and worthless and a big part of who I was as an adult was still led by that scared young girl.  I sought attention in the wrong places and from the wrong people and it took me roughly twenty years to realise that it didn’t matter how highly anyone else thought of me, I still felt worthless.  

Back in 2010 I won a coaching award from a prestigious organisation – Best Newcomer Coach of the Year – the judges were all renowned Life Coaches in Australia and New Zealand.  However, for a long time I felt as though I had cheated somehow and persuaded the judges that I was far better than I actually was.  I thought that perhaps they had given me the award out of pity or because they had no-one else to give it to.  I didn’t put my award up on my wall because I felt as though I didn’t deserve the recognition.  It didn’t matter how many people told me that I had helped them because I thought they were just being nice. 

A year or so later I had a big “a-ha” moment and realised that most of my feelings of self-worth, or lack of it, stemmed from my childhood.  I realised that I had grown up feeling like a fraud and fearing people finding out the truth about who I was and what my life was like.  In that moment I realised that I had had no power as a child – it was not my fault that my upbringing was the way that it was and that I did not need to feel shame or guilt because of it.  I was able to let go of those feelings and know in my heart that I had done what I needed to, to protect myself.  So I started to be real about who I was, about my feelings, about my depression following the birth of my children.  I started to speak out honestly about what I had been through and it was incredibly liberating.  I discovered that my voice deserves to be heard and that by sharing my experiences, I am able to help others to free themselves of their own limiting beliefs and feelings of worthlessness. 

sharon chisolm robin williams

Understanding why we behave and think the way that we do is, in my opinion, the first step to gaining control of those feelings of self-doubt and self-loathing.  If we are able to understand why that little voice inside us speaks to us the way that it does, then we can manage those thoughts and find our path to self worth and greater self-esteem.  Having high self-esteem does not mean that you are arrogant or narcissistic, it does not mean that you think you are better than everyone else, it simply means that you recognise the value you bring to the world and to the lives of those around you.  It means that you understand you deserve to be treated with respect  and love and that you have abilities and gifts that can impact the world in a positive way. 

I now display my award with pride on my office wall, because I know that I do make a difference to the lives of others – fellow business people, my clients, my friends and family and most importantly, to myself. 

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Sharon Chisholm The Restful Nest Profile Photo (1)Sharon Chisholm is the founder of The Restful Nest, an Interior Design business and The Organisation Coach, a Professional Organising business specialising in working with women business owners.  An award winning Life Coach, Sharon’s passion is assisting women to achieve business success through effective time management and organised living.  Sharon moved to Australia in 2002 from the UK and now lives on the mid-north coast of NSW with her husband and two children.

Sharon’s business and blog can be found at www.therestfulnest.com.au, which focuses on Interior Design and Professional Organising. Her Facebook page can be found at www.facebook.com/therestfulnest.

She has recently begun another page called The Organisation Coach https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Organisation-Coach/372596746224720?ref=hl.  This new page is a focus for women business owners who struggle with organising their homes, businesses and lives, and tackles self-esteem issues around these things.

I’m sure Sharon would love it if you took some time to visit her pages and sent her some love.

Love your body

So often we are bombarded by images and words about ugliness. We are lead to believe that we are inadequate and unworthy because of our appearance. We got (or get) bullied at school for wearing glasses or for having a few extra folds of skin and fat, or for having a birthmark on our face or for stuttering or for having stretch marks or … for a whole range of other things. We get bombarded by messages that say we MUST buy certain things in order to change who we are to be acceptable. Skin-care and makeup and surgery and clothing and accessories and whatever else you can think of.

We learn to hide ourselves from others and to fear being who we truly are. We become afraid of being judged and work hard to prevent it by buying into the messages we hear. We buy all the things we can to cover and mask ourselves. We cover up the small scar above our eye that told the story of when we fell off our bike at the age of 9. We get liposuction to rid ourselves of the fat that remains on thighs that have carried us through the hardest moments in our lives. We get our tummies tucked. Tummies that have carried precious children inside and allowed them to grow and to be nourished. Or tummies that tell the stories of how we have overcome years of abuse to be the healthiest we have ever been in our lives. We buy gym memberships to punish our bodies for being 5 kg larger than the person next to us. We buy gym memberships and hire personal trainers to smash us into the ground to rid our bodies of those extra 5kg. 5kg that protected us from the bullies or 5 kg that protected our babies or 5kg that enjoyed a little extra cake as we celebrated a major milestone in the lives of the people we love the most. Or 5kg that marks the journey of us mourning the loss of the person most important to us.

We do these things over and over and over again for years and expect to feel better about ourselves and the person we are becoming. We disconnect ourselves from the world. We disconnect ourselves from ourselves. Our mind becomes separated from our bodies and they operate independently. While we are busy cleaning or walking or whatever, our mind is busy thinking about how ugly we are or how inadequate we are or how we need the next best thing to repair the hole that was created 20 or more years ago.

The hole that nothing can repair. It seems that no matter what we try to do, no matter what we buy, no matter which gimmick we get sucked into, it doesn’t work.

You’re right. It won’t work. Because you don’t need a gimmick.

You cannot repair a hole, a disconnection between mind and body, with the next quick fix. You’re looking for a solution full of hate. A solution that is, in itself, flawed.

The idea of a quick fix (marketed to keep you buying products and designed to keep you feeling inadequate) repairing an emotional injury is ludicrous.

An injury of hate and inadequacy and unworthiness requires a solution of love, worth, and meaning. You need to feed the injury the emotions that it is missing.

There are no quick fixes that will ever work.

The only way to repair a disconnection is to reconnect. To get your mind and body talking to each other. To get them doing the same thing at the same time. Here are some key things I have learned about reconnection in my life.

  • Acknowledge the story. Each “inadequacy” on your body tells a story about who you are. Those 5kg (or 10 or even 70kg) served a purposestory to tell at one point in your life. They may have protected your heart from the impact of abuse or they may have nourished and helped your children grow. Or maybe they supported you through years of grief. Your scars tell a story. Whether physical or emotional, the stories behind those scars have made you the person you are today. They got you through. They strengthened you. They supported you. To deny them is to minimize your spirit. To deny them is to say they mean nothing. And that is the furthest thing from the truth, when without them, you wouldn’t be who you are. So acknowledge the scars, whatever they look like. Send them love and gratitude for helping you get to today.
  • Years of disconnect, abuse and hating yourself cannot be undone overnight. It takes patience and practice to reprogram your mind with messages of love, self-respect and support. So be patient with you. You deserve it.
  • Surround yourself with a support team of people who believe in and practice unconditional acceptance. You deserve it. Include a team of professionals you can trust, to help you heal from the hurts. It’s worth it.
  • Wean yourself (at your pace) from the quick fixes.
  • Let go of any guilt you may have about needing the quick fixes. Even they serve their purpose. Sometimes they start you on your path back to connection and self-love. Mine have, and I am grateful that I had those tools at the time I needed them. It’s ok to need them; it’s ok to use them. When you no longer need them you’ll begin looking for new tools that will serve you moving forward.
  • Send love to your body. Spend time regularly exploring it. Get to know it. The bumps, the bruises, the cellulite, the scars, the stretch marks, the bony bits. Run your fingers over your skin, observing the imperfections. Try to remain mindful of the experience. Remember the stories behind each imperfection. Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Pamper yourself. You deserve it.
  • Use physical exercise to help you reconnect. When you’re walking, observe and feel the way your legs move. Feel the aches of being on your feet. Feel your arms swinging by your side. Observe the things around you. Notice the ground under your feet. Notice the path. Notice the flowers or the grass or the water or whatever it is you see. Observe your body as it navigates the terrain.
  • Learn to listen to your body and what it needs. Learn the difference between the signals that say “I need to rest” and “I know you want to stop but that is your mind giving you false signals. Your body can do more and you’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment if you can learn that you can do more than your mind thinks it can”.

One thing is certain in all this. You, and your body, are worthy. Worthy without conditions. You deserve unconditional love and acceptance, simply because you were born.

This video by Mary Lambert sums up this core message nicely.

Self Comparisons

I’ve had this song on my iphone for a while but rarely listen to it as I am generally too busy. Today I was playing some music and it came on. I’ve always loved it so I searched for it on youtube and when I watched the lyrics cross the screen they got me thinking …

For a long time I’ve been one to compare myself to other people. Their appearance, their accomplishments, their size, their friends. Their everything really.

I’d make judgements and usually it would be me that came up short. I’d always be lacking in some way. Worse. Not good enough. And I’d consequently feel bad about myself and who I was.

The thing is, I knew that everyone was different. People told me again and again. We all looked different. We all had different personalities. We all had different likes and dislikes, we all thought differently.

But I still made comparisons between them and myself. Continuously. With everything, especially the things I found difficult. Academic work, sports, cooking, cleaning, and so on.

In more recent years as my self-esteem has improved those comparisons happen less often. I don’t feel the need to compare myself with others because I feel much more content and in control of who I am. I know I am worthy and I don’t need to compete with others in my head to prove it.

With the education I now have in psychology I understand that we are all programed with a neurological need for self-esteem. It’s a survival mechanism that goes back to the origin of human life. By nature we are a social species and we depended on others for protection against things like attacks from animals and other tribes who wanted our resources. We needed our tribe to survive and if we didn’t have skills in specific areas we were at risk of being banished, which opened us up to a higher likelihood of death. So, this neurological program compared ourselves to other tribe members to enable us to continually adjust our behaviour and improve our skills so that we were acceptable to the tribe.

These days in reality we generally no longer need to justify ourselves and our existence. In our modern society we aren’t threatened by packs of animals in the same way we were so long ago, so we don’t need to rely on our tribe for our physical existence. But our brains haven’t yet caught up and the neurological programs are still there. So we continue the pattern of comparing our worth to that of others.

And this can bring on some seriously destructive patterns of thinking and behaviour that keep our self-esteem low and us wondering why we aren’t “as good as” other people. The more we compare ourselves, the more likely it is that we feel badly about the person we are.

self comparisons

Understand this …

  • Our tendency to compare comes from neurological programming that has been inside the human brain for many many years, which means that we do it naturally and usually without any conscious thought.
  • Every person has a unique journey. We all have a unique mind, body and spirit. We all have unique neurological programming that is wired in a unique way. At each moment in time we are each in a different place. We think differently, we have had different experiences. We have different beliefs. Our brains are wired differently. So when you compare yourself to someone else, you are comparing a vacuum cleaner to potatoes. Each is a different beast. You use them for different purposes. You may prefer one over the other, or you may love (or hate) them both. But comparing them to each other is pointless and serves no purpose other than to mess with your head.
  • The best thing you can do to support the development of your self-esteem is to compare yourself with yourself. Examine where you are in your own life and journey, and if you aren’t satisfied with what you see, consider making some changes. Seek new information and support. Do things differently. Learn new ways to change the way your brain is wired.

hero own story

It IS possible. I know, because I’ve done it. And my future has completely opened up as a result.

How people treat us

One of the key points I made in my last post was that there are no conditions on our worthiness for being on this earth.

We have value and worth simply because we were born.

worthy because you were born

Note the full stop at the end of that sentence. The event of our birth gave us the right to be worthy. We need no other reason to believe in ourselves.

And yet, as described in the last post, every day we place conditions on ourselves. Our upbringing, our environment, the things other people say and do, all influence the way we feel about who we are.

When we feel like we don’t deserve the worth we were born with, we treat ourselves abysmally. We put ourselves down, we call ourselves names, we hate ourselves and we judge ourselves.

And in this, we inadvertently teach and allow others to treat us the same way. Whenever we voice our inner hate or call ourselves an idiot or mumble under our breath about how much of a failure we are, we reinforce the belief that we are unworthy.

Have you ever had the experience where someone you love has used you for their own gratification? Maybe your kids refuse to help out around the house. Maybe your brother repeatedly borrows money without paying it back. Maybe your best friend invites herself over all the time, talks about her problems, dumps all her stuff on you, and walks away, leaving you feeling wrung out. Or maybe your sister criticises everything you do.

In any of these situations you may end up feeling unappreciated, taken advantage of and used up and spat out. You may feel resentful and angry, and wonder why anyone would do these things when all you’ve done is given from the depths of your heart to help the people you love. You may have things churning in your mind about what would make these people treat you in such a way. And you could very well feel hurt that your generosity and the heart of your spirit has been abused. You would feel like every thought and emotion you’ve ever had about how unworthy you are has been confirmed.

Which, of course, keeps you in the cycle of allowing others to treat you horribly.

Think about this though …

If you believe that you are worthless, how do you think you’d feel if people treated you with respect, kindness and consideration? Would you believe it? How would you respond?

It’s very likely that you’d minimise it, reject it, dismiss it and walk away from it. You may even attack the person providing it.

But what if you did believe it?

If you believed you deserved love, consideration, respect and gratitude, how would you respond?

As someone who has believed both sides of this coin, I can tell you that your response would be worlds apart. You’d expect that people would show you gratitude and respect. You’d likely appreciate their compliments, accept them gracefully and feel pleased when you hear them.

priceless treatment

One thing is certain. You’d never accept it when people treated you disrespectfully.

When you believe in yourself and your worth, you also believe that you deserve to be treated well. And when someone in your life doesn’t do that, you will naturally protect that sense of worth by placing boundaries around yourself that you don’t allow people to cross. Especially the people who say they love you.

So, if you feel like you’re being used, abused and taken advantage of, rather than looking to others for blame and justification for the way you feel, try looking internally to how you feel about yourself. If you can improve that, the way forward will become clearer.

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