Self esteem, as human beings have gone to the moon, split the atom, unraveled the genetic code, probed the birth of the universe and achieved technological triumphs with impressive, blinding brilliance. Yet I wonder if achieving inner triumphs within ourselves is just as important. Isn’t it strange that we can spit the atom and go to the moon, but we cant feed the physical emotional, self esteem, and spiritual starvation of others and our selves? But isn’t the pursuit of knowledge the key to advancing our evolution? We see this today with the technology of the internet and how it can supply almost any bit of information we want. However, don’t we have generations of people stressed, depressed with low self esteem on Prozac, lonely, confused leading meaningless lives, and addicted to everything from food and television to drugs and alcohol? The fastest growing addiction today is the computer and the internet. Perhaps the focus should not be so centered outside of our selves but rather within.

Is it so painful to spend some time each day silently going inside our inner mind and conducting an “inner ritual” to access knowledge, insight, and direction like you would the internet? Self esteem. One might say, “but, I don’t have the time!” the average person fills most gaps of silent space with a barrage of stimulation. For example, he/she may get into the car and listen to the radio on the way to work. On their lunch hour, he/she may read a paper. Self esteem. When arriving at home this same person turns on the television for up t four hours. When it is time for bed, the stimulated mind is still online, making it difficult to go to sleep. This may go on for the next 40 years. Yet we say we are looking for more purpose, meaning, excitement and balance in our lives even though we stuff our selves with a multimedia smorgasbord on a daily basis. Self esteem.

The Meaning of Self Esteem

Self esteem is a way of thinking, feeling and acting that implies that you accept, respect, trust and believe in yourself. When you accept yourself, you can live comfortably with both your personal strengths and weaknesses without undue self criticism. When you respect yourself, you acknowledge your own dignity and value as a unique human being. You treat yourself well in much the same way you would treat someone you respect. Self trust means that your behaviors and feelings are consistent enough to give you an inner sense of continuity and coherence despite changes and challenges in your external circumstances. To believe in yourself means that you feel you deserve to have the good things in life. It also means that you have confidence that you can fulfill your deepest personal needs, aspirations, and goals. To get a sense about your own level of self esteem, think of someone (or imagine what it would be like to know someone) whom you fully accept, respect, trust, and believe in. now ask yourself to what extent you hold these attitudes toward yourself.

Bringing Out Your Inner Child Part I

Self Esteem Inner Child PicSelf esteem improvement is imperative on learning to overcome negative patterns internalized from your parents. During this process, you may wish to begin bringing out your inner child. It’s useful to begin this even before you work through all of the limitations you’ve imposed on your child within. There are several ways to go about doing this, including 1) real-life activities which give your inner child expression 2) using photos as a reminder, 3) writing a letter to your inner child, and 4) visualization. You may be surprised to find that caring for your own inner child is a lot less time and energy consuming than bringing up a real one!

Real Life Activities

A number of real-life activities can foster increased awareness of and closeness to your inner child. Spending ten minutes daily doing any of the following may help you not only get in touch with your inner child but also put you on the right track to improving your self esteem.

Hugging a teddy bear or stuffed animal

Going to a children’s playground and using the swings or other playground equipment

Playing with your own child as if you were a peer rather than an adult

Having an ice-cream cone

Going to the zoo

Climbing a tree

Engaging in any other activity you enjoyed as a child

Try to get into the spirit of being a child as you do any of the above. Your feelings in doing so will tell you a lot about your attitude toward your inner child.


Carry a photo of yourself as a child in your purse or wallet and take it out periodically as a reminder of your child within. Reflect on what was going on and how much you felt in your life around the time the photo was taken. After a week or so with one photo, pick another one from another age and repeat the process.

Bringing Out Your Inner Child Part II
Bringing Out Your Inner Child Part III

Overcoming negative attitudes toward your inner child

Self esteem: A basic truth is that you tend to treat your own inner child in much the same way that your parents treated you as a child. For better or worse, you internalize your parents attitudes and behaviors. If they were overly critical toward you, you likely grew up overly self critical, especially of your “childish” or less rational, impulsive side. If they neglected you, you likely grew up tending to ignore or neglect the needs of your own inner child. If they were too busy for you as a child, you’re likely to be too busy for your inner child as an adult. If they abused you, you may have become self destructive as an adult or else many be abusive of other. If your parents placed a taboo on acknowledging and expressing your feelings and impulses, you may have grown up denying your feelings. The list goes on. To cultivate a healing, caring relationship with your own inner child – to become a good parent to yourself – you need to overcome any internalized parental attitudes that cause you to criticize, abuse, neglect or deny the needs and feelings of your child within.

This can affect your self esteem greatly resulting in further damage to personal and family relationships.

Cultivating a relationship with your inner child

Self esteem: The concept of the inner child – the child like part of yourself – it has been around for many decades. The psychologist Carl Jung referred to it as the “divine child,” while the religious thinker Emmet Fox called it the “wonder child.” But what is it? How would you recognize your own child within? Some characteristics of the inner child include:

  • The part of you which feels like a little girl or boy
  • That part of your which feels and expresses your deepest emotional needs for security, trust, nurturing, affection, touching and so on.
  • That part of you which is alive, energetic, creative and playful (much as real children are when left free to play and be themselves).
  • Finally, that part of you that shill carries the pain and emotional trauma of your childhood. Strong feelings of insecurity, loneliness, fear, anger, shame or guild.
  • Even if triggered by present circumstances – belonging to the inner child. Actually there are very few new feelings. Especially when they are strong , most of our feelings reflect ways we reacted or failed to react a long time ago as a child.
  • Self Esteem

    How do you fell about the little child within you? If you are willing to allow the little girl or boy inside some freedom of expression, you’ll find it easier to be more playful, fun loving, spontaneous and creative. You’ll find a natural to give and receive affection, to be vulnerable, and to trust. You’ll be in touch with your feelings and free to grow. On the other hand, to the extent that you suppress and deny your inner child, you will likely find it difficult to be playful or have fun. You may tend to be conventional and conforming and act out painful patterns repeatedly. You may feel constricted and inhibited., unable to let go and expand. It will be hard to be vulnerable or trusting, hard to give and receive affection. Finally , you will likely be out of touch with your feelings, inclined to be overly logical or overly in need of keeping everything under tight control.

    The Basic Needs

    relax21Self esteem : Basic human needs conjures an association with shelter, clothing, food, water, sleep, oxygen, and so on – in other words, what human beings require for their physical survival. It was not until the last few decades that higher-order psychological needs were identified. While not necessary for survival, meeting these needs is essential to your emotional well being and a satisfying adjustment to life. The psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed five levels of human needs, with three levels beyond primary concerns for survival and security. He arranged these levels into a hierarchy as follows:

    1. Self actualization needs (fulfillment of your potential in life)
    2. Esteem needs (self respect, mastery, a sense of accomplishment)
    3. Belongingness and love needs (support and affection from others, intimacy, a sense of belonging)
    4. Safety needs (shelter, stable environment)
    5. Physiological needs (food, water, sleep, oxygen)

    In Maslow’s scheme, taking care of higher level needs is dependent on having satisfied lower level needs. Its difficult to satisfy belongingness and self esteem needs if you’re starving. On a subtler level, its difficult to fulfill your full potential if you’re feeling isolated and alienated for lack of having met needs for love and belongingness. Writing in the sixties, Maslow estimated that the average American satisfied perhaps 90% of physiological needs, 70% of safety needs 50% of love needs, 40% of esteem needs and 10% of the needs for self actualization.

    Although Maslow defined self esteem narrowly in terms of a sense of accomplishment and mastery, I believe that self esteem is dependent on recognizing and taking care of all of your needs.

    Taking Care of Yourself

    Self Esteem RelaxationTaking care of yourself is the foundation on which all other pathways to self esteem rest. Without a basic willingness and ability to care for, love, and nurture yourself , it is difficult to achieve a deep or lasting experience of self worth.
    Perhaps you had the good fortune to receive the love, acceptance and nurturing from your parents that could provide you with a solid foundation for self esteem as an adult. Presently you are a free of any deep seated feelings of insecurity and your path to self esteem is likely to be simple and short, involving certain changes in attitude habits, and beliefs. For those who have carried a lifelong sense of insecurity, through, the way to self worth involves developing the ability to give yourself what your parents couldn’t. its possible to overcome deficits from your past only by becoming a good parent yourself.

    Some Causes of Low Self Esteem

    What are some of the childhood circumstances that can lead you to grow up with feelings of insecurity or inadequacy?

    1. Overly critical parents: parents who were constantly critical or set impossible high standards of behavior many have left you feelings of guilt; that somehow you could “never be good enough.” As an adult, you will continue to strive for perfection to overcome a long standing sense of inferiority. You may also have a strong tendency toward self criticism.

    2. Significant childhood loss: if you were separated from a parent as a result of death or divorce, you may have been left feeling abandoned. You may have grown up with a sense of emptiness and insecurity inside that can be very intensely by losses of significant people in your adult life.

    3. Parental abuses: physical and sexual abuse is extreme forms of deprivation. They may leave you with a complex mix of feelings, including inadequacy, insecurity, lack of trust, guild and or rage. Adults who were physically abused as children may become perpetual victims or may themselves develop a hostile posture toward life, victimizing others.

    4. Parental alcoholism or drug abuse: much has been written in recent years on the effects of parental alcoholism on children. Chronic drinking or substance abuse creates a chaotic, unreliable family atmosphere in which it is difficult for a child to develop a basic sense of trust or security.

    5. Parental neglect: some parents, because they are preoccupied with themselves, their work, or other concerns, simply fail to give their children adequate attention and nurturing. Children left to their own devices often grow up feelings of insecurity, worthless, and lonely. As adults they may have a tendency to discount or neglect their own needs.

    6. Parental rejection: even without physical, sexual, or verbal abuse some parents impart a feeling to their children that they are unwanted. This profoundly damaging attitude teaches a child to grow up doubting his or her very right to exist. Such a person has a tendency toward self rejection or self sabotage. It remains possible for adults with such a past to overcome what their parents didn’t give them through learning to love and care for themselves.

    7. Parental over protectiveness: the child who is over protected may never learn to trust the world outside of the immediate family and risk independence. As an adult, such a person may feel very insecure and afraid to venture far from a safe person or place.

    8. Parental overindulgence: a spoiled child of overindulgent parents is given insufficient exposure to deferred gratification or appropriate limits. As adults such people tend to be bored lack persistence or have difficulty initiating and sustaining individual effort. They tend to expect the world to come to them rather than taking responsibility for creating their own lives.

    Self Esteem Builders

    There are many pathways to self esteem. it is not something that develops overnight or as a result of any single insight, decision, or modification in your behavior. Self esteem is built gradually through a willingness to work on a number of areas in your life. This post considers – in three parts – a variety of ways to build self esteem.

  • taking care of yourself
  • developing support and intimacy
  • other pathways to self esteem
  • Most important to your self esteem is your willingness and ability to take care of yourself. This means first that you can recognize your basic needs as a human being and then do something about meeting them. Taking care of yourself also involves cultivating a relationship with that part of yourself known as the “inner child.” your inner child is a place inside that is the origin of your needs. it is a playful, spontaneous and creative side of you – yet it also carries any emotional pain, fear or sense of vulnerability you acquired from your childhood. By becoming a good parent to your own inner child now, you can overcome the limitations and deficiencies of your upbringing years ago. a popular saying these days, “it’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”

    The post taking care of yourself focuses on this theme of taking care of yourself. It begins by enumerating a variety of dysfunctional family situations that can cause low self esteem following this is a discussion of basic human needs to help you identify those needs which are most important to address in your life right now. finally a variety of methods for cultivating a relationship with your inner child are offered. learning to meet your needs – to care for and nurture yourself – is the most fundamental and important thing you can do to build your self esteem.

    the following post is an extension of the previous post. finding support and intimacy in your life is obviously a major part of taking care of yourself. Other people cant give you self esteem, but their support, acceptance, validation, and love can go along way toward reinforcing and strengthening your own self affirmation. This part is divided into four sections. The first addresses the importance of developing a support system. The second presents ten conditions that I feel are critical to genuine intimacy. The third section offers a discussion of interpersonal boundaries. Having boundaries in your relationships is essential both to intimacy and to self esteem. A final section underscores the relevance of assertiveness to self esteem.
    Part 3 presents four additional aspects of self esteem:

  • personal wellness and body image
  • emotional self expression
  • self talk and affirmation for self esteem
  • personal goals and a sense of accomplishment
  • Although these pathways to self esteem are diverse among themselves, they can all be viewed as an extension of the basic idea of taking care of yourself.

    Self Esteem Exercises

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