If you could change one thing you do not like about yourself, what would you choose?

No doubt, you have begun your silent list of things to change and your mind possibly now holds more than just one thing that you do not like about yourself. STOP! STOP RIGHT NOW! Make this the last time you ever do this. You are worth much more than this kind of self treatment. You have always been worth more than that.

Our sense of self is a fragile thing. The beginning of this article is proof of that. I asked you what you didn’t like about you and voi la, a whole list springs to mind. It is that easy. We have grown up learning how to compare and label everything about ourselves and our life. Magazines display air-brushed, perfected photo images of people that we compare ourselves to, schools compartmentalise children based on learning ability, and clever advertising with the help of companies like The Marketing Heaven makes us believe we need to be better than we currently are. Society functions by placing individuals into social boxes and then offers a new label if you fail to comply – the loner, left of centre, odd.

The one constant message we give ourselves is that we are not good enough. Our biggest danger is in not realising our value exactly as we are. People do actually love us despite what we think of ourselves – they accept us for who we are much better than we do. If someone can love us does this not mean we are worth being loved?

Our self-esteem comes from what we think of us, not what others think. It is our need for love and our disbelief in feeling worthy that creates a self-esteem issue. Once we realise and accept that we do not need to rely upon the approval of others, we become our own person. We understand we are strong, capable, successful and loving individuals. Balancing our internal beliefs and our self talk is paramount.

We all need to feel acknowledged and valued but the image we hold of ourselves is not dependant upon the judgements of others. Wayne Dyer states that ‘self worth comes from one thing – thinking that you are worthy.’ The only things that can change our self-image (be it negatively or positively) are the things we tell ourselves and the things we believe.

Here is my self-esteem challenge… it comes in two parts.

Firstly, negative self talk is a habit just like ‘beer o’clock’ after work. Denis Waitley said that ‘relentless, repetitive self-talk is what changes our self- image’ so, that is what we will try. What you tell yourself over and over again becomes what you believe… it becomes a part of you.

Choose one thing that you like about you (smile, sensitivity, how kind you are etc) and turn it into an affirmation. An affirmation is a positive statement asserted as confirmation of something existing. If we chose our smile, we might say ‘each time I smile I feel my inner happiness and joy and so do others’ and this affirms that we feel great when we smile and others feel this too. If you choose patience as your quality, you might affirm this by saying ‘I have an endless source of patience. I am always calm’ and this tells you that you already have this wonderful ability. Whatever you choose, make it as positive as you can. Then, repeat this affirmation to yourself all day, every day. Keep repeating it until you believe it. Then, choose another aspect and just keep going.

A compliment is a gift of love. It is unfortunate that we are more comfortable giving and receiving insults and hurtful words than sharing in an act of love. I believe accepting and paying genuine compliments is hard to do. When negative feedback or disapproval from others is internalised and believed by us, we lower our self-esteem and worth by accepting it.

The second challenge is in learning to accept a compliment graciously and to give them sincerely, too. It is really important to know that whenever someone compliments you genuinely, they mean it. You are being given heart-felt confirmation that you are a good and valued person. And, you are! Saying thankyou shows you appreciate their gesture by accepting it. People become very offended when they think you do not believe them and are hurt when honest compliments are thrown away with comments like, ‘I am not’, ‘Don’t be silly’ and ‘I don’t think so’. If someone takes the time to appreciate you, be grateful for their acknowledgement. The same applies when complimenting others; be sincere and this will be received as such. Watch how relationships change then!

What you think of you determines how you feel about you and this affects everything you do.