Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Taking Back Your Self-Esteem
Self-Esteem and healthy assertion go hand in hand...
How you define yourself, positively or negatively, depends on the messages you’ve heard from others throughout your life. We internalize the things we’ve heard about ourselves from other people, and this becomes the basis of our self-esteem, which can be either mostly positive or mostly negative.
If we see ourselves in a negative light, we may feel that we are not worthy of speaking up for what we want – and this can lead to nonassertion as a lifestyle, and contribute to anxiety and depression. People who work on their assertiveness skills have to look deeply within to assess their self-esteem and see what they can do to create a more positive definition of themselves. They can find things about themselves that they like. They might practice saying affirmations to themselves (affirmations are sayings such as “I like myself more and more each day”) until they become a reality and replace the old negative messages they may have heard throughout their lives. They may have conversations with people in which they talk about their positive qualities and maintain a positive tone throughout the conversation.
Turning an old legacy of negativity into a present sense of positive feelings takes some work, persistence, and motivation, but the rewards are enormous. One day you realize that you really do like yourself, you like who you are, and you are willing to let the world know this. (This does not imply that you are working toward conceit or a superior, condescending attitude – you are simply working to repair old negative messages that have held you back in the past. You are working toward balance.) Assertion requires positive self-esteem. Once you feel good about yourself, you can then go out into the world with a healthy sense of pride and assertively deal with the many experiences and people who come your way.