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ABC's of Self Esteem : Acceptance

Self esteem is SO much more than how you "feel" about yourself,

"think" about yourself or how you "see" yourself. Our thoughts and feelings go up and down, up and down like a roller coaster.

Our feelings are all over the place like a bowl of spaghetti dropped off a toddler's high chair. Feelings can create quite the splatter in our lives, the same way marinara sauce will make it across the room when flung by a two year old.

There are times when the happy and comfortable feelings have us "walking on sunshine" and other times when we are just plain "down in the dumps". If our self esteem is based on the highs and lows of our emotions, it is as slippery as jello to hold on to.

I propose that the true meaning of self esteem goes beyond thoughts and feelings into the territory of what I "believe" and "value" about myself. I believe that BELIEVING in my own value is where it begins. That sense of believing begins early in life and is based on how others treat us. Even as infants, we watch the faces of those who care for us and we learn very quickly if we matter... or not.

As we build connections to others, our self esteem has the capacity to grow, IF we have quality and responsive people in our lives. Building and protecting our self esteem is a life long process. From the womb to the tomb we are constantly testing our value in this world. Much of our perspective on our value comes from whether people who matter to us really accept us.

Acceptance is the first component of building self esteem. True acceptance is "just the way you are", not "99 things I want to change about you". Our children are just beginning to learn who they are and they are testing us every single minute of every single day: looking deeply into our eyes to see if they matter, if they have value in our hearts.

"ABC's of Self Esteem" is a topic I learned about from Dr. Kevin Leman, in his book, "Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours". He outlines 3 steps to building self esteem and Acceptance is the foundation. Check back in next week to read my reflection on the 2nd step, Belonging.

In the meantime, practice accepting yourself and those who matter to you. Take a deep breath instead of criticizing yourself or others. I bet your blood pressure and stress will go down when you quit being so hard on yourself. Give it a try....

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