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Strengthening Your Self Esteem

Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Women have come a long way over the past several decades: more parity in salaries, more options in career, more freedom in lifestyle choices. But how far have we come in our underlying self-esteem?

It’s amazing that so many of us still have areas in which we feel inadequate, maybe even powerless. We can be CEO’s, doctors, US Senators – but we still might cringe at trying (and being initially klutzy at) a new sport, showing our imperfect legs in shorts, or asking for a long-overdue raise. We can negotiate fiercely in the Board room – but put up with lousy haircuts for months before we get up the nerve to “fire” our hairdresser. We sit “small” in our airplane seats, not wanting to take up too much space.

Self-esteem is not the same as assertiveness. Assertiveness is a behavior; self-esteem is the underlying feeling of worthiness, value, even self-love. Many of us in business or sports or other competitive arenas have learned to be assertive – but as a survival mechanism, not necessarily from an underlying sense of healthy self-esteem.

That gap between how we are acting – assertively – and how we are feeling – undeserving or unworthy – causes an internal tension, a feeling of incongruence, and definitely less effectiveness in our performance and in our lives. By trying to “fake it until we make it,” we set ourselves up to never make it at all!

And though our lack of self-esteem as women may be rooted in past signals from our family, underlying messages in our culture, etc, etc, etc – the power to improve our self image is in the present moment. Past conditioning can be corrected by re-conditioning in the present.
How can we do this? The first steps are awareness and acknowledgement. Do you feel like you are “in the way” on the golf course? Do you feel timid telling your doctor that you want a second opinion? Or when you do gird yourself up to confront a situation at the office, does it take an incredible toll on your body and emotions?

Once you’ve identified the areas where your self-esteem is lagging, try this practice:
With eyes closed, sit quietly and bring to mind the situation where you’ve felt unworthy.
Allow yourself to feel into the picture in your mind. How does it feel in your body? Where exactly is the feeling located in your body?

After a few minutes, turn your attention to your breathing, your deep inhales and complete exhales.

As you allow your body to relax into your breathing, imagine yourself in that same situation but as a new, truly self-confidant and empowered you.

Sit with this new picture of yourself for a few minutes, breathing deeply.

While doing this practice, if your new picture is not perfect, don’t despair! You will have already caused a shift in your sense of self simply by acknowledging and breathing through your old discomfort. Play with the technique, and you’ll notice how much more vibrant the self-confidant images of yourself become – and how powerfully this simple practice will impact your life!

With an open heart,

Adrianne Ahern, Ph.D.
Performance Consultant, Keynote Speaker, and author of Snap Out Of It Now!
P.S. Self-esteem issues affect everyone. These steps can be used by men, too!
See Dr. Adrianne in Action!
Dr. A has appeared on numerous television and radio programs providing insight, tips, and advice on how to become a peak performer. Click here to view media appearances and see Dr. A in action!
Pass it on…
Just about everyone could use some work on one or two areas of their lives. You can support your friends and family in becoming the very best they can be by forwarding this eNewsletter and introducing them to ways to strengthen their self-esteem. And if you are serious about improving your confidence and becoming a peak performer, let Dr. A show you how to get off the treadmill of mental mediocrity in her newly released book, Snap Out of it NOW!
Snap Out of it Now! is currently available in a bookstore near you!
It is also available on and on

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