A Blog about Sensory Processing Sensitivity from the Worldview of a High Sensing Male
Self-esteem is the bridge to the world of self-confidence. Conversely, some may argue that high self-esteem is the predicate for arrogance or narcissism. There seem to be many interlocking or interlacing terms for what a healthy self-regard might be – self-love and self-confidence come to mind. And yes, there could be an argument for unhealthy self-esteem leading to narcissistic tendencies, but I believe self-esteem is simply how you see yourself in the world.
I believe that, especially for HSPs, it is the ability for self-love. Most of us have heard negative feedback about our trait throughout our lives. This is largely due to a misunderstanding of the attribute. Wherein sensitivity is seen as a weak, frail personality downfall that often drives us to overwhelmed reactions and emotional overload. This pejorative feedback can fuel the negative thought patterns that lead to our low self-esteem. It is in our nature to be more contemplative, and we continually evaluate ourselves in lieu of how others see us. Unfortunately, we are also prone to internalizing this negativity and converting it into negative self-talk.
Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet to increasing our self-esteem or self-valuation. It requires work and reframing our self-image, but it is doable. Consider some of these tips to help you get started in building up your self-esteem. And remember, nothing will change unless you act.
It all starts from within. One way you can take a baseline of where you are in life is to consider your personal values. These values can be your guideposts for evaluating how you are doing in life and will be the basis for your ongoing self-evaluation and integrity. The values important to you can be measured against how you are presently living your life. If there is a large degree of congruency, then you can consider yourself in alignment with what you value. Sometimes, we can compare others' expectations to our situation and devalue our life or lifestyle, notching down our self-esteem. Get clear on your value system and measure your life against what is important to you.
This would be a good time to start questioning your internal negative dialogue. Some of the inner chatter will have origins in others' opinions, but some will come from you. The external inputs can be put aside, often from family, peers, or friends. These inputs may not be useful in the long term. Consider the source and rate how valid it seems to your present situation. It is often baggage dumped on you by others.
The internal inputs are yours to own. You can change them at any time, with focus, awareness, and changing the script. Automated behaviors require a present minded focus to identify them. Once identified, they can be analyzed and revised. Your attention to them puts light on them, which gives you the power to reframe or delete them.
Your comfort zone can be a safety net or a limiting prison. Examine if it's time to expand your C.Z. and push the boundaries of your experience. Creating more free-range life experiences may help build greater confidence as you tackle more of life. Sure, you will fall sometimes, but self-esteem will make you bouncier and more resilient, making it easier to take on life's challenges.
Healing your soul of past wounds is important in moving on and growing. Tend to your garden, get rid of the deadwood and weeds, nourish what you want and need and discard the rest. Let yourself flourish; the bounty is within you.
Define your boundaries clearly. You may need to defend them when necessary. Do not blindly accept attacks as facts from others. In the end, they are often conjecture and do not reflect you. Discard those that don't support you.
See your failures as pathways to growth. Don't internalize the failure as a lack on your part. In learning, failure is not the point; the correction is. Learn to tell the distinction. People who accomplish much fail often. What makes them successful is they don't quit at failure.
Face fears bravely. Each fear you conquer adds new mail to your armor. However, your confidence will grow, as will your self-esteem by slaying your dragons.
I highly recommend reading inspirational material. Find authors that you admire and inspire you to action. By doing so, you feed your mind with positivity and hope.
This suggestion may sound superficial, but I would also evaluate your outward appearance. It reflects your internal state. Does it suggest low self-esteem? Be honest with yourself; sometimes, we justify not taking care of our appearance to present a bohemian view of ourselves that masks low self-esteem. This is not about beauty or superficiality but rather about letting the internal out to be displayed in your external appearance. When you look into a mirror, ask yourself, who do I see? You may need to adjust to reflect the new you.
It's important to continue to learn new things. Continue to grow, and don't worry about the learning curve. It will take care of itself. Armed with new knowledge, your self-esteem can flourish.
Take inventory of what you've done and accomplished. It's a bigger list than you realize. Even if the accomplishments seem small, they are still worthy of respect. Keep adding to your list, knowing that you can do great things.
Now, this may seem radical but rid yourself of negative people and influences. Anything that doesn't edify you or make you feel better about yourself should be examined for discarding. What you take from others often becomes what you are. So, protect that border with vigilance.
Reach out and help others. Doing benevolent acts of kindness will feed your soul and bolster your self-esteem. Exploit your skills and talents and put them to good use. As a result, your confidence will grow, and you will feel better about your situation in life.
Speaking of your talents, do something creative and share it with the world. Then, let your darlings go and find their place in the external world. It is your gift to share and may be a blessing to someone you don't even know.
Finally, don't worry about what others think. I mean this generally because it's almost impossible to be entirely oblivious to others' feedback. Pick and choose what you receive, especially from those in your inner circle. Be able to take constructive criticism with good intent and block the negative feedback that will demean you. You must filter this and get good at deciphering where the help is and where the malintent lives.
In the end, self-growth will add naturally to your self-esteem and worth. Confidence comes with experience, learning, and life. Building a pyramid of self-appreciation sometimes takes a lifetime of work. Appreciate and celebrate your successes, knowing that life is full of ups and downs. Do the best you can – you need to find out what that is. You are a complete person, and a whole person is both good and bad at times, both successful and likely to fail. You will fail and rise again – your self-esteem can be your fuel. Good luck.
Please comment with your thoughts.
Bill Allen currently lives in Lutz, Florida. He previously lived in Bend, Oregon. He is a certified hypnotist and brain training coach at BrainPilots.com. He believes that male sensitivity is not so rare, but it can be confounding for most males living in a culture of masculine insensitivity which teaches boys and men to disconnect from their feelings and emotions. His intent is to use this blog to chronicle his personal journey and share with others.