The start of the year is a tough time for most people’s self esteem. Traditionally it is a time for self-reflection and vowing to change ourselves for the better. We may resolve to go to bed earlier, work harder, get slimmer, exercise more or spend less.
But keeping to resolutions is hard. Bad habits don’t break that easily and by the end of January most people’s resolve has weakened. And, of course, then the failure dents our self-esteem even further.
Instead of focusing on our own weaknesses we might be better focusing on how to reinforce the strengths of others. Undoubtedly, one of the quickest ways to feel good about ourselves is to boost someone else’s self-esteem. But so many of us do this very badly, especially if our own self-esteem is at a low ebb.
The way most people try to boost other’s self esteem is by giving out compliments. The trouble is that people with flagging self-belief often reject them. You must have heard this type of response many times. ‘Well I may have got that one right but that was a fluke‘ or, ‘Yes, but you (and the rest of the world!) are much more skilled than ever I will be.‘
Commonly you have most likely heard people giving a compliment and then ruining its positive effect by tagging on a self-deprecatory remark: ‘I do admire the way you make up your mind and go for it. I’m such a ditherer and can never make a decision.‘
The negative tag leaves the other person feeling obliged (sometimes resentfully) to cheer up their ‘admirer’, instead of enjoying and savouring their compliment.
Building each others self-esteem
There are indeed much better ways to build others’ self esteem. We can aim to become the kind of person who appears to magically makes others feel OK and empowered just by being in their presence. I am sure you must know at least one.
It is not magic that makes these people special. Read their commonly shared characteristics in the list below. Look out for them and then find a way to hang out around them as much as you can. Doing this will effortlessly boost your self-esteem. And there’s a bonus to be had. By observing and modelling their attitudes and behaviour, you too will become a great self-esteem builder and increase your respect for yourself a hundred fold.
People who consistently help others feel good about themselves:
1. Are proud of their own high level of self-esteem but do not pretend to be perfect beings. They are continuing to try and improve themselves.
2. Are happy, successful and optimistic about the future but haven’t forgotten the pain of their past, and use it to openly empathise with (and not judge) the current suffering and depression of others.
3. Are open-minded and obviously genuinely interested in hearing new ideas and meeting and understanding people but clearly demand their right to maintain a firm ethical framework for themselves and any groups for which they have responsibility
4. Believe passionately in the ability of people and organisations to change but remain respectful of others’ fears and anxieties and do not abuse their power to pressurise people aggressively unless they perceive the status quo to be grossly unjust
5. Take immense pleasure in getting to know and nurture the individual character and potential of each person in any group or organisation but do not lose sight of the power and needs of everyone as a whole.
6. Are highly generous, not just with their money but also with their resources, time and wisdom but firmly reserve their right to keep ample reserves of each for their own self-sustenance and protection.
7. Are generally calm, controlled, patient and trustful in their relationships but make it clear that they will never knowingly allow themselves (or those they want to protect) to be abused or ‘taken for a ride’.
Welcome to the self-esteem revolution!
Overall, I find the picture extremely encouraging. I know for certain that the interest in personal development is growing fast and furiously. So cynics and pessimists beware! The world has now amassed a formidable army of skilled and knowledgeable self-esteem builders who are peacefully but with determination bringing about some staggering psychological changes.
From Self-Esteem by Gael Lindenfield © 2014, published in the UK by Harpercollins.
Cygnus Code: 240222
by Gael Lindenfield
Poor self-esteem sabotages relationships and careers, causes self-destructive behaviour and always hold us back from achieving our full potential. Gael Lindenfield helps you to recover from the deep-seated hurts, the negative programming and the cumulative knocks to your confidence that lie at the root of low self-esteem.Click here to buy.