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Post Info TOPIC: Down and out

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Down and out

Just dropping in to wish you all a good day.

Low Self-Esteem
In simple terms low self-esteem means harboring low opinion about oneself, treating oneself disdainfully, or having a poor image of oneself. People who dislike themselves rarely establish healthy relationships or communicate with others successfully. They feel uncomfortable with others and more so when they draw attention to themselves in a group. Since they entertain such poor opinion of themselves, they keep themselves aloof for fear of exposing themselves to others. In the process, they develop attitudes that go against their own interests.

Many factors contribute to low self-esteem. A child who is repeatedly criticized or treated unfairly, not allowed to think or act independently, denied love and attention, compared unfavorably with others, humiliated repeatedly in front of others or made to feel worthless and unwanted, very likely will develop low self esteem while growing up and suffers from feelings of inadequacy. Children who feel their parents or peers were unfair to them or prejudiced against them or that their families were somehow ill disposed towards them also develop similar attitude as they grow up.

Repeated failures also lead to loss of self-esteem. In some cases it may lead to acute depression and loss of complete faith in oneself. A person who suddenly loses his power and position and finds himself lonely and unwanted by others, may also suffer from low self-esteem. The problem is further aggravated if the family members do not support a person when he is passing through a difficult phase. In today's world where each man is unto himself, a person may find little comfort in the company of others. In heterogeneous societies, where people are discriminated on the basis of color, caste, religion or gender, a person who is a victim of such discrimination may also suffer from an acute sense of alienation and low self-esteem.

Most of us suffer from some form of inadequacy. This is natural because as human beings we are aware of our imperfections and the fact that however hard we may try we cannot be what we want to be and we cannot achieve what we really want to achieve in our lives. Since our minds continuously keep comparing our personalities and achievements with those of others, and with so much of information now available to us through so many sources, we cannot escape from the dissatisfaction that arises from the fact that we are not like those ideals we choose to follow.

This is however a common problem and there is no reason why we should worry ourselves excessively about it unless it interferes with our normal lives and leads to unusual misery. What we are talking here is the problem of low self-esteem that prevents some people from leading normal lives and expressing themselves truthfully. People with low self-esteem suffer from a peculiar thought pattern that is not difficult to recognize. Following are some of the symptoms with which we are familiar.

1. Negative thinking

2. Feelings of inadequacy

3. Excessive reliance upon others for approval and appreciation

4. Submissiveness and fear of rejection

5. Lack of initiative

6. Lack of assertiveness

7. Introversion and inability to communicate easily

People with these symptoms lead mediocre and unhappy lives because they act mostly out of fear and anxiety and miss many opportunities to deal with their life situations in a successful and satisfactory manner. They take decisions mostly in order to protect themselves or please others and in the process make themselves more miserable.

It is possible to deal with the problem of low self-esteem in a positive way. A serious situation may require medical help. But for people who are normal otherwise and seriously determined to overcome their self-defeating attitude, the following suggestions may help.

1. Examine your thoughts and actions carefully to know what motivates you. If you are acting mostly out of some compulsion to please others or win their approval, very likely you have allowed yourself to be controlled by forces external to you. You have become extra sensitive to others opinion about you and what others might be thinking about you. It is possible that you might be gnawed by the feeling that you are constantly being watched and talked about in your absence. It is possible if some one is laughing in the background, you may think it is about you. It is time you examine your irrational thinking and make a sincere effort to take control of your life. Start doing things you like most and take independent decisions which in your opinion are appropriate and in your interest. You can always seek others opinion or help, even their approval if that is necessary, for a specific purpose. But you should learn to be yourself and take decisions that are appropriate to your situation.

2. Learn to appreciate yourself. Probably over the years you have discounted yourself so much that you have lost sight of your true worth as an important part of your family, some group or institution to which you belong. Take a fresh look at yourself today to know what makes you truly unique in this world. In how many ways you are contributing to the success, comfort and happiness of others. You may be a simple housewife or doing an insignificant job. But that should not effect your feelings of self worth. You are still making valuable contribution and adding value to someone's life somewhere. This realization is important because people with low self-esteem make themselves responsible for their failures while attributing their successes to others or some fortuitous circumstances. Even if they are highly successful, they are dogged by a nagging feeling that they do not really deserve the success.

3. Forgive yourself unconditionally. If your past is bothering you, if you are suffering from a sense of guilt, you need to forgive yourself and come to terms with your past. The only way you can forgive yourself truly is by loving yourself unconditionally. Love yourself the way you would love your dearest child. Connect yourself with your heart and let all the good feelings flow from there unconditionally into your consciousness. If you love yourself unconditionally, if you accept yourself wholeheartedly and if you stop judging yourself for whatever you are, you will no more feel uncomfortable with yourself. You will not live behind those walls of self defense all the time and feel the urge to defend yourself against others. You will learn to take risks and be vulnerable to failure and rejection if necessary, in order to explore an opportunity to achieve success. The secret is you should stop looking at yourself negatively and running that internal tape that keeps you nagging with self-doubt, harsh judgments and constant criticism. If you can do that, you will accept yourself and become comfortable with your past and present. You will appreciate your strengths and weaknesses alike and accept them as a part of your spiritual evolution. You will grow out of your sense of dependency to seek approval and appreciation from elsewhere. You will take decisions according to your best judgment and accept responsibility for all your actions, your relationships and your life. This is the hardest part but the best way to gain control over your life and yourself.

4. Deal with your fears and sense of insecurity. Fear and anxiety are the worms that interfere with your ability to think clearly and take rationale decisions. They are the habitual responses to which you normally succumb whenever you sense some imminent trouble. If you look at yourself carefully, you will realize that most of your fears are imaginary and exaggerated. You might have inherited them from your childhood or acquired them over a period of time through your irrational and untested beliefs. Face your irrational fears with reason. Test them against present day reality. Challenge them with facts and evidence so that you can slowly understand and overcome your irrational beliefs that nourish these fears and keep them alive. There is no guarantee that you may be able to do it easily. But if you are persistent and if you take shelter in reason, you will learn to discriminate between your genuine concerns and unfounded fears and develop a better strategy to deal with them.

5. Do the things you fear. Make a list of the things you have been procrastinating for fear of failure or rejection. Start with the thing you fear most and reason with yourself why you can't you do it. Is there one particular thing that you have set aside for long due to your irrational fears or possible disapproval from others? Develop an imaginary action plan to bring it to fruition and visualize how you would like to see it going. As long as you are not breaking the law, nor infringing upon other's rights, nor hurting others, nor hurting yourself physically or spiritually, there is no reason why you should not take risks to implement any action that leads to your success and happiness. Make a list of the things that lead to your success and happiness and take up each as a challenge to test your limits.

7. Learn to deal with failure as you would deal with a machine that failed. Failure is an integral part of human endeavor. When we are in the process of accomplishing something, we rarely succeed in our first attempt. Failure is a reminder of the fact that as human beings we cannot achieve true success unless we are willing to learn and be persistent. We need to accept failure in order to embrace success. The way to success is through a process of testing and experimenting in which failure acts as a true measure. Accept failure as a learning tool, probably a statement against your methods and approach, not against yourself or your abilities and limits.

8. Accept criticism with an open mind. Accept what others say and think about you as an opportunity to know about yourself and improve yourself, with the understanding that your own opinions about you are far more reliable than those of others. Others see but a minuscule part of your personality, only that much which you allow them to see. The rest of you is hidden from the public, known but to yourself. Even you are not fully aware of yourself, since a lot of you is hidden in your subconscious mind, unknown to your own conscious mind. Since you are a mystery to yourself and others, use all the information you can have about yourself from other sources as an important means to expand your awareness and understanding.

9. Practice assertiveness. Learn to stand for yourself, your thoughts and beliefs and your actions. Without being rude and aggressive, you can assert your rights and defend your values and interests. The world finds it easier to deal with an aggressive person, but finds it truly difficult to deal with an assertive mind that is sure of its purpose. Use assertiveness to protect yourself from the selfishness and self-centered attitude of others. If you have to negotiate with others, aim for a win-win situation acting fairly, without losing your ground out of fear or anxiety. If necessary, be prepared to prolong your negotiations till you reach your goals.

10. Reward yourself with positive affirmations. Reaffirm your faith in yourself with positive words and words of appreciation. During the day, practice using positive affirmations from time to time to remind yourself of the goals you want to achieve and the person you want to become. Remember that you are what you think to be and you can be what you truly want to be and that by changing your thoughts and beliefs you can change your life forever. The greatest gift that you can give to yourself is a positive mental attitude that can nourish your faith and bring you richer rewards of success and accomplishment.

11. Compare but with a positive mind. Use comparison to know where you stand in the race, but not to run yourself down. If others are doing better, it does not mean you are incompetent. It only means that you need to work harder to catch up with them. Find out where lies the problem and workout a suitable solution. If necessary seek advice from those who are doing better than you. Make them your partners in progress and benefit from their wisdom and success.

12.Practice visualization. Use imagination and the power of your subconscious mind to change your self defeating attitude and behavior. Imagine situations that make you feel uncomfortable or inferior or provoke your worst fears and imagine how you would deal with them in real life situations. If you practice visualization successfully, you will find it easier to deal with similar situations in real life.

13. Do what you like most. Follow your dreams. Review your goals to see whether they are influenced by your fears and lack of confidence. It is very likely that you might have selected some of your goals or a particular profession due to lack of clarity or conviction on your part or due to some irrational thinking or an urge to impress others. Your self esteem will increase tremendously if you choose a path or a vocation that brings out the best in you and gives your true satisfaction.

14. Learn to deal with your anger positively. A person with low self esteem prefers to be more likeable and in the process usually suppresses his or her anger. While this temporarily safeguards the person from external attacks, over a period of time it leads to more frustration and unhappiness. Anger is a natural human emotion. It is certainly harmful if it is let out frequently or uncontrollably. But suppression is equally harmful. The best alternative is to let anger go out of your system in a manner that is neither harmful to you nor to others. If you are not happy with some one, you can discuss the problem frankly and thrash out your differences with that person. You can express your anger and your concerns in positive and socially acceptable way and provide a safe and convenient outlet to your negative emotions in a dignified and mature manner.

15. Keep good health. Take care of your health and your body. If you are in a good shape it will definitely help you to feel good about yourself. It will also help you keep fit. While we cannot do away with the features we got from nature, with some extra care and attention, we can certainly improve the way we look and behave.

With determination, perseverance, we can always surmount any obstacle and accomplish our goals. In case of this particular problem, it is quite possible that even after we take all precautions, we may still feel inadequate in some areas of our consciousness. It is indeed nearly impossible to completely erase our past recordings from our consciousness. Old habits do raise their hoods from time to time just to remind us that after all we are human beings born with several limitations. But to be aware of the problem in an objective and problem solving way by itself is a blessing. Using such situations as problem solving opportunities to deal with your deficiencies, you can live with the residue of your past with greater awareness and deeper understanding. We may not be able to solve every problem in our lives to our complete satisfaction. But we can learn to live with them, understand them and deal with them positively to cope with our limitations and come to terms with ourselves.

Easy Does it..Keep It Simple..Let Go and Let God..
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