We Love Others to the Degree We Love Ourselves

By Suzanne E. Harrill

February makes me think of Valentineís Day with its theme of love. What better time to remind yourself of all it takes to build your own foundation of love so you can truly love others. If you value loving and giving to others, take time to nurture your own self-esteem, build your reserves so you can give from the overflow. If building your own self-esteem is new, begin by taking the Self-Esteem Awareness Inventory, at the end of this article. If you are a seasoned traveler, review the inventory to enjoy your progress. Let us first define self-esteem, look at seven concepts to build self-esteem, and end with the Acorn Analogy to summarize.

Self-esteem very simply is how you feel about yourself. It is how worthy and deserving of love you believe you are. It is your feelings of value, love, and respect for yourself when you are alone and no one else is around. Self-esteem is based on what you tell yourself about yourself and the pictures you have of yourself. Some of what you tell yourself, with your self-talk, is true and some is false. Many of your thoughts and images of yourself are unconscious and operate without you knowing about them.

What is sound self-esteem? It is a feeling of total acceptance and love for yourself as you are. It is a quiet comfortable place of enjoying being who you really are: your true Self. When you live being who you really are, you feel good and want to actualize your life. Here is a partial list of what high self-esteem includes:

  • Having an internal locus of control, getting okayness from within.

  • Ability to balance extremes within self.

  • Learning from mistakes and being able to say, "I made a mistake, Iím sorry."

  • Taking responsibility for own perceptions, reactions and not projecting onto others.

  • Ability to listen to inner self and act on this guidance.

  • Having self-respect, self-confidence, and self-acceptance.

  • Having awareness of strengths and weaknesses.

  • Knowing areas of self to be improved, what needs to be accepted.

  • Growing in awareness and taking positive risks.

The journey of self-discovery allows you to slowly know yourself so you can update any faulty beliefs and images that hurt your self-esteem. Again, the statements in the Self-Esteem Awareness Inventory, is a place to start sorting out what you think and feel about yourself. Each statement is also a positive affirmation to help override and update faulty beliefs you have. Repeat the ones that are not totally true for you daily, say them out loud, write them ten times a day. Make up some of your own affirmations.

Let us look at seven concepts that build self-esteem and move it in a positive direction.

Accept yourself, now, as you are, even if there are things about yourself that you criticize, donít like, and want to change. Today is your place of power to accept where you are today on your life journey. It never stops.

Look within to feel good. Positive events and people outside of yourself cannot be counted upon to be there for you when you need them. By all means enjoy it when your outer world loves and supports you, just donít depend on them.

Stop value-judging yourself with "shoulds" and "oughts." It is not important want you should do, or should have done, only what you are willing to do and not do, and the consequences you are willing to live with after each choice.

Separate yourself from your true Self. You are not your behavior and accomplishments. You are good whether your behavior is wise or unwise. The more you discover and accept who you truly are the easier it is to think and act in ways that honor and value yourself and others.

Stop comparing yourself with others. You are incomparable. There is only one of you on the planet. Enjoy your uniqueness and stop copying and trying to be what you are not.

Take responsibility for yourself and your own life. If you do not like something, it is up to you alone to make changes. Stop blaming yourself for unwise choices. Practice forgiveness and learning from your mistakes.

You are worthy of unconditional love without earning it. You are worthy simply because you have been created and you exist.

Now to summarize let us look at The Acorn Analogy I wrote many years ago. Then there is a copy of, The Self-Esteem Awareness Inventory taken from my latest book, Seed Thoughts for Loving Yourself.


The Acorn Analogy

Deep inside you know how to be you, as
     an acorn knows how to be a mighty oak.

The acorn does the best it can do
     at each stage of growth along its life path.

Even if the early start was less than perfect,
     the eager oak accelerates its desire to grow
     every time that it has nurturing from nature:
     sunlight, rainwater, and soil nutrients.

YOU are like the acorn doing your best under
     the conditions in which you are growing.

Nurture yourself with awareness, acceptance,
     love, self-respect, and self-esteem,
     then watch you grow towards
     your full-potential Self!


Self-Esteem Awareness Inventory

Rate yourself on each with a scale of 0 to 4 based upon your current thoughts, feelings, and behaviors: 0 = I never think, feel, or behave this way. 1 = I do less than half the time. 2 = I do 50% of the time. 3 = I do more than half the time. 4 = I always think, feel, or behave this way.

Score Self-Esteem Statements

_____1. I like and accept myself as I am right now, today, even as I grow and evolve.

_____2. I am worthy simply for who I am, not what I do. I do not have to earn my worthiness.

_____3. I get my needs met before meeting the wants of others. I balance my needs with those of my partner and family.

_____4. I easily release negative feelings from otherís judgments and focus instead on living my life with integrity and to the best of my abilities.

_____5. I always tell myself the truth about what I am feeling.

_____6. I am incomparable and stop comparing myself with other people.

_____7. I feel of equal value to other people, regardless of my performance, looks, IQ, achievements, or possessions.

_____8. I am my own authority. I make decisions with the intention of furthering my own and othersí best interests.

_____9. I learn and grow from my mistakes rather than deny them or use them to confirm my unworthiness.

____10. I stop my critical self-talk and replace it with a nurturing, kind, encouraging voice.

____11. I love, respect, and honor myself.

____12. I am not responsible for anyone elseís actions, needs, choices, thoughts, moods, or feelings, only for my own.

____13. I do not dominate others or allow others to dominate me.

____14. I have good physical and emotional boundaries with others.

____15. I feel my own feelings and think my own thoughts, even when those around me think or feel differently.

____16. I stop using "shoulds" and "oughts," which are value judgments that put me or another down. (It is irrelevant what I should have done or should do. It is more important to know what I am willing to do and not do.)

____17. I am responsible for changing what I do not like in my life. I face my problems, fears, and insecurities and take appropriate steps to heal and grow.

____18. I am a person of my word and follow through on the things I commit to do.

____19. I forgive myself and others for making mistakes and being unaware.

____20. I believe my life counts. I find meaning and have purpose in my life.

____21. I deserve love and happiness even when others blame or criticize me, for I cannot control what others think about me.

____22. I take care of myself on all levels: physical, social, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

____23. I spend quality time with myself on a regular basis.

____24. I release unreal expectations for myself and others.

____25. I choose to love and respect all human beings regardless of their beliefs and actions, whether or not I have a personal relationship with them.

This is not a test or a precise measure of self-esteem. It identifies beliefs, feelings, and behaviors that contribute to your self-esteem. The 25 statements can be used to update beliefs that have limited your self-esteem. Use the statements as affirmations to change old, outdated beliefs that keep you stuck in low self-esteem. Repeat the statements to yourself often, emphasizing your low scoring answers.






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