I wrote her off for the tenth time today
And practiced all the things I would say
But she came over
I lost my nerve
I took her back and made her dessert
— The Offspring
I find this song by the Offspring hilarious, but also close to the truth more often than I’d like to admit. I’ve seen estimates that over 85% percent of people suffer from low self esteem at different points in our lives. Self esteem is one of the fundamental building blocks of living an emotionally anti-fragile life. If you have no belief in yourself, no respect for yourself, no ability to stand up for yourself, then how can you expect to make decisions — tough decisions — that will enable you to live a fulfilling life?
I’ve found it difficult to find good advice regarding self-esteem that’s not long-winded or hard to actually put into practice. I came across this YouTube video by The Journey which itself is a quick summary of a book by Nathaniel Branden called the Six Pillars of Self Esteem. I haven’t read the book. I might at some point, but I like the video. It’s pithy and concise. If you can’t watch the video, here are the six pillars:
- Practice of Living Consciously. Have to be willing to act on what you perceive to be the right thing to do at any given moment. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t waste hours a day on social media when you know you should be doing something else. Ask yourself where is this leading me? Am I dong the best thing for myself right now?
- Practice of self acceptance. Stop toruring yourself because you don’t compare to someone else. There are millions of others with the same “defects” you have that are millionaires, artists, in fulfilling relationsihps, executives, and generally successful at life. So your extra pounds, your big nose, your disability… none of it matters. It doesn’t hold others back, so don’t let it hold you back.
- Practice of Self Responsibility. No one else is thinking about how to help you or make you succeed or feel happy. If you leave it up to someone else, they will fail miserably. Take care of yourself, because no one else will. Make sure you’re saving enough money. Make sure you are treating your body right. Make sure you are not burning yourself out at work.
- Practice of Self Assertiveness. Stop repressing your thoughts and ideas. You will never, ever find the perfect thing or coolest thing to say. So go out here and say “hey, I have the right to exist”! Let other’s be touched by your contribution to the world. Not everyone will love what you have to say. But if you never express yourself, it’s guaranteed that no one will like your ideas, because they’ll never know. You’ll grow old with regrets and boredom.
- Practice of Living Purposefully. Take action on improving the things you want to improve. Don’t live life like a zombie sheep… eat bad food, complain about your job, watch mindless videos or TV, sleep. Repeat. Identify what would make your life great and then take steps to achieve it.
- Practice of Personal Integrity. Thoughts and actions need to be in alignment. If you say you going to do something, you do it. You need “congruence” between thoughts and actions. Self esteem is a reputation we acquire toward ourselves and if we keep doing things we know we shouldn’t be doing, that reputation suffers.