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“Success or failure in business is caused more by the mental attitude even than by mental capacities.” – Walter Dill Scott

When you acknowledge your worth, a wonderful thing happens. Your self-esteem starts to flourish. And even more crucial: you must reinforce the positive if you want to maintain it.

We all know that tough times happen. Jobs terminate; relationships end; money is tight. No matter what happens that is beyond your control, you still are in charge of what happens inside yourself. So, if you start to lie to yourself, and state as K. Bradford Brown PhD and W. Roy Whitten, MDiv warn, “I know how things should be,” you are wrong for a simple reason. As they point out, “No one knows how anything is supposed to be.”

And, if you dwell on the “fact” that you are flawed think about this: You always have another chance. This, as Brown and Whitten say, is a continuing gift to yourself. Open it as many times as you need it.

Ultimately, you must forgive yourself as many times as it takes to bolster, and maintain, your self-esteem. And there is something else that is imperative for you to remember: Self-esteem should not be linked to accomplishment.

Yes, that is a tough one to accept but unless you acknowledge yourself for who you are, your self-esteem cannot grow for a simple reason. Self-esteem grows from the inside out, not the outside in.

“Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” – Charles Swindoll

Self-image—not expectations—determines how we live, content or miserable, how we raise our kids, and how we interact with others. It determines if we are going to be successful or not. Improving self-image involves three important steps. They are recognizing that you want to:

  1. Be loved and to love others
  2. Feel worthwhile to yourself and others
  3. Succeed at what you are doing

Time for Mind Control

If you crave healthy, steady self-esteem, you must control your mind. Even if you manage to overcome some negative self-talk, it is essential to always be on guard against it. Trash talking is so easy to do, especially when you disappoint yourself. There are lots of names you can call yourself when you mess up. But it’s crucial that you don’t do this, even in jest. The reason is that your mind is a powerful generator that fuels feelings. Tell yourself that you don’t count, and the result can be feelings of pity, guilt, fear, anxiety, bitterness, frustration, and depression, a toxic assortment that can take root and be difficult to disregard. To prevent that from happening, there is a quick sequence I put together that can help.

  1. Think about an unpleasant event.
  2. Recall the undesirable feelings it created.
  3. Ask yourself: Do I still want to judge myself the same way?
  4. Then ask yourself the big question: Do I want to keep doing this to myself?

Unless you are a masochist, beating yourself up repeatedly is not something you enjoy. For one thing, doing so serves no purpose. For another, this exercise forces you to remain stuck and prevents you from moving towards a goal. You must be honest with yourself and label whether the upsetting emotions are based on the truth or a falsehood, is it accurate to say that you are an unkind person? And even if you can pinpoint an occasion when you were cruel, does that define an entire life? If not, let it go.

The choice to forgive yourself – and others – is always yours to make. Refusing to hold resentments will set you free.

The preceding is adapted from The Winning Advantage: Tap into Your Richest Resources by Raymond Houser ©2018 Raymond D. Houser and published with permission of the author.