All of us want to feel worthy, that we are valued for who we are. We want to be feel valued and appreciated by our families, our loved ones, our employers, our friends. No one wants to be thought of as worthless or unvalued.

Self-Regard is the Emotional Intelligence skill of respecting and accepting yourself as basically a good person. No matter what others may think or say about you, you know that you’re a good person. You know that you have invaluable strengths and talents. And even though you have your flaws (who doesn’t?!), you accept them as being a part of the unique person that you are.

We often sit in judgment of ourselves as judge and jury. We are often our own worst critics and punish ourselves with harsh verdicts. We tell ourselves that we are “Stupid,” “Clumsy,” or “Fat.” We tell ourselves things that we would never dare tell another person.

This is our self-esteem, or “self-estimate” of our value.

Maybe we have a good rationale for our verdict. We “know” that we’re fat because we don’t look like the models in the glossy magazines. We “know” that we’re stupid because we make mistakes and, as we learned in school, mistakes are bad.

But the truth is our rationale is often faulty. We base our judgments of ourselves on outside morals or messages that are outdated or manipulative. For example, the moral that it’s bad to make mistakes is completely wrong. By making mistakes we learn from experience. Learning by doing is the most potent way to remember how to do something.

The message that we should be runway model skinny is perpetuated by companies that want to sell us designer clothes and diet pills. True, there is a healthy weight that we could attain by eating healthy foods in moderate amounts, but the healthy ideal is hardly portrayed in the media.

What happens when we pass these judgments on ourselves is that we become that verdict. If we tell ourselves that we’re fat, then we become depressed and eat more. When we tell ourselves that we’re stupid, then we become anxious and nervous so that we are less attentive to the task at hand and thus more mistake-prone.  This is called “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.” What we prophesize or predict (“I’m fat and always will be”) comes true.

In Buddhism there is a saying: “There are not two lands, pure or impure in themselves. The difference lies solely in the good or evil of our minds.” Shakespeare said it another way in Hamlet: “for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” In other words, we are not inherently good or bad, fat or stupid—it is our minds that make it so.

Our thinking, our judgment of ourselves is a habit. Maybe this habit was influenced by the habits of our parents or teachers who instilled certain morals in us. Maybe, as mentioned before, our habits were influenced by the media who wants us to feel bad about ourselves so that we’ll buy their products so that we’ll feel good.

To change these habitual judgments of ourselves we must first become aware of our thinking. Our thinking has become so ingrained that we no longer hear what we are telling ourselves. Tune in to yourself; listen carefully to what you are telling yourself. This simple exercise of awareness will help you to change your thinking.

Next you must see how irrational and faulty your thinking is. Use the ABCDE Process (explained here) to defeat your defective judgments and replace them with effective, positive beliefs.

By developing a habit of judging yourself rationally and positively you will build your Self-Regard and self-esteem. You will begin to feel better about yourself and thus you will become a better, more capable person. It all starts with how you think about yourself.

To change your self-esteem of yourself, remember these points:

  • Be aware of your judgments of yourself.
  • Using the ABCDE Process, explore how these judgments are irrational and faulty.
  • Still using the ABCDE Process, find new effective beliefs to have about yourself.
  • Continue to catch yourself when you’re in judgment of yourself; each time judge yourself positively and kindly. Eventually these positive judgments will become a habit.


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