Be Who You Were Meant To Be
When I was in the twelfth grade, my English teacher asked us to raise our hands if we liked ourselves. No one dared to because we knew we'd be harassed by our classmates for thinking too highly of ourselves. When no one responded, she then berated us by saying, "That just shows that you have low self-esteem."
If any of us did like ourselves, we caved into the fear of our fellow classmates' persecution. We wanted to be accepted and fit in, but we sacrificed our courage and authenticity to do so.
Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence, even as we become adults and go through life. We avoid being genuine to gain others' approval. Watch how a co-worker or friend accepts a compliment. Do they graciously say "Thank you" or do they brush it off? Whichever way they accept it shows how high or low their self-esteem is.
There can be a purpose for holding onto low self-esteem. In the case of my twelfth grade class, it was to avoid being hassled. The intent was to protect ourselves. Before we can raise our self-concept, we have to address the reasons around why we resist being authentic.
Some of the reasons we hang onto low self-worth include:
1. Fear of responsibility. If we have greater self-worth, we have higher expectations of ourselves. This can develop into more responsibility that, right now, we're not certain we could handle. We'd have to make decisions and take actions that we're uncomfortable with. It's so much easier to stay in our comfort zone and let others make choices for us.
2. Old programming. As children, we were told over and over again that we weren't worthwhile. This conditioning is still operative and keeps us in its grip. We learned to be helpless and keep our abilities hidden. It's become a habit that is so engrained that we don't even notice it anymore. And we reinforce it every time we choose to avoid our power.
3. Conflicts with programming. When we start to break out of old beliefs, we start to feel uncomfortable. This is simply the subconscious mind trying to keep us in our comfort zone. The subconscious wants to keep us safe, and will resist efforts to change if its not convinced that it's okay now.
4. Fear of the ego. So many people fear that their ego will get too big if they think well of themselves. Oddly enough, the ego is already involved if we're trying to play small. We're too worried about how we appear to others. The ego only gets out of hand when we falsely believe that we're the center of the universe. That's exactly the opposite of what happens when we're being authentic.
5. Afraid of offending others. Having self-worth can only displease those who want to control us. They want us to live our life their way. We can't please everyone. Pleasing ourselves doesn't mean that we step on anyone else's rights. But we are entitled to our choices, opinions and to fulfilling our talents.
6. Fear of others' jealousy. If others are envious of us, it's because they have low self-esteem. They're fearful that they can't do as well as we can. People who want others to feel as inadequate as they do will do anything to discourage our positive outlook. We can't do anything about them. Our purpose is to be the best person we can be. Letting them hold us back encourages them to inhibit everyone's progress.
It all comes down to fear. Both fear of what will happen when we step out of our comfort zone and fear of what other people will think. Restricting our potential doesn't serve anyone, least of all ourselves. It keeps us helpless and permits others to control our feelings and behaviors.
We tend to fear our own greatness. Marianne Williamson, spiritual leader and author said, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us." We hide in our mental caves to avoid our power, abilities and effectiveness.
Our authenticity is shoved into a closet so that we avoid undo attention or making anyone uncomfortable. But that means we can't fulfill our innate potential. We're living in fear and staying safe. But doing so has consequences.
1. It limits our effectiveness. If we're worried about what other people think, we can't make objective decisions that are best for us and the situation. We don't have the courage to step out and do what is necessary to benefit ourselves and others.
2. It restricts our abilities. We can't express our talents to their fullest with fear of others' reactions riding on our shoulder. We hold ourselves back. This adversely affects us in our personal and our professional lives. Too much energy is wasted on second-guessing ourselves.
3. It eliminates any ability to positively affect others. When we fear others' opinions, we allow them to control what we do and say. We're fitting in and conforming to keep them comfortable. There's no opportunity for us to reach out and help others because we fear that might upset those in charge. Also, we have no credibility to do so because we're letting fear rule us.
4. Success. When we allow others to define us by living according to the way they want, we can't achieve our dreams. We're too wrapped up in avoiding their displeasure to devote attention to what we want. Only by having the courage to live our life the way we want to can we cultivate. By being authentic, we let others live their lives and claim the right to live ours.
We have to decide which is more important: to stay safe and continue to feel inadequate, or recognize our worth and be empowered. Marianne Williamson, author and spiritual leader, says, "Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure about you."
The only way to fulfill our potential and make a difference in the world is to quit hiding from ourselves. Being authentic and accepting our greatness not only benefits us, it allows us to be a role model for others.
Copyright © 2009-2022 Linda Ann Stewart
As a vision strategist, hypnotherapist, and speaker, Linda-Ann Stewart helps women entrepreneurs who feel stuck, immobilized and overwhelmed to gain clarity, focus, and get back in control so they're able to accelerate to the next level of their business. Watch her FREE training video on Set Your Course to Success: 4 steps to strategically achieve your goals with confidence and ease. Register for the video and accompanying action planning guide at www.SetYourCourseGuide.com. You can contact her at LAS@Linda-AnnStewart.com or 928-600-0452.
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