Personal self-esteem isn’t something that a lot of people feel comfortable talking about. When we do discuss it, we generally use terms like healthy or low to describe the condition of our self-esteem. But what is the foundation of self-esteem? If we want to make some improvements in this area, where do we start?
Our beliefs form the basis for our self-esteem. Specifically, our beliefs about our value as a person and what we feel we are or are not capable of.
The way we view ourselves according to those beliefs is either empowering or limiting. We form these beliefs based on the conclusions we draw about our own experiences, especially our estimation of our ability to produce the results we want. Even though our value as a person has little to do with productivity, on an emotional level the two can seem almost inseparable.
How effort influences self-esteem
When our efforts do not produce the results we want it can cause us to doubt our own abilities. If this happens repeatedly, it will likely affect our overall sense of self-worth.
When our efforts in the past have led to pain and disappointment instead of pleasure, it is easy to conclude that further efforts will unavoidably lead to more pain and disappointment. This type of mindset creates a negative reinforcement loop that feeds on itself.
With each painful experience, fear increases and self-esteem decreases. Consequently, fear of failure brings with it a lack of commitment. And of course, lack of commitment will lead to disappointing results that reinforce the limiting belief.
Connecting the dots
Every single experience you have provides information to your nervous system through some or all of your five senses. This information is recorded as a memory. When you experience similar events over and over again, it forms an established neurological pathway. In turn, that pathway becomes an established emotional response pattern.
These patterns are outside of our normal thought process and therefore easily overrideour logical reasoning. Once we establish a belief about ourselves we no longer question it. Instead we simply accept it as part of our identity.
Self esteem is always susceptible
This can happen at any point in life. Our self-esteem is often a carryover from experiences in childhood. But don’t conclude that this is always the case. A series of disappointing events, at any point in life, can batter our perception of who we are and what we are capable of. When our efforts repeatedly lead to pain and disappointment it can have a devastating effect on our confidence and self-esteem.
Whenever something happens in your life, your brain will ask two questions:
1) Is this going to bring me pain or pleasure?
2) What must I do now to avoid the pain and or gain the pleasure?
How you interpret the situation will determine your answers. It will also form the foundation for your future expectations.
We always try to avoid pain
When effort seems to equal pain our mind searches for a reason. All too often, the reasons we come up with are, “I’m not worthy, I’m worthless or I guess I don’t deserve anything good.” Remember, this is not about logic. It’s an emotionally charged response fueled by a natural desire to avoid more pain.
To rebuild our self-esteem requires that we dismantle our limiting beliefs about ourselves and find a way to change how we link pain and pleasure to our life experiences.
There are many ways to accomplish this and I will touch on some of them in future articles, but you don’t need to wait. If you want to dismantle your limiting beliefs and replace them with empowering ones, I highly recommend that you read the reviews of my book, TRUE SELF. This book is designed to walk you through the process. Short of personal coaching, it is the fastest way I know to get your beliefs moving in a positive direction.
Do these connections make sense to you?
Have you ever struggled with the effect of limiting beliefs?
The lines are open!