Ask the Expert: Raise Your Self Esteem

By: Tamara Dodgson

If we desire to change or improve our lives and self-esteem, we must first change the standards we hold for ourselves and raise the standards of what we tolerate from ourselves


The relationship between things (the context) is the reality, not the things themselves.” – Benjamin P. Hardy, How to Reach the Next Stage of Your Personal Evolution, Thrive Global.

Let me ask you a question. How aware are you of the relationship you have with yourself? Seriously. If you think about it for a moment or two, if you were dating someone who treats you the way you treat yourself, would you keep dating them?

How do you treat you?

I would like for you to consider for a moment who you would love to have as a partner, and why? What is it about that person that attracts you to them? How do you imagine they would treat you if you were in relationship with them? 

How would you like for them to treat you? If you are already in a relationship, what would you like to change about your partner in terms of the way they treat you?

For the vast majority, these questions are usually pretty easy to answer. Most of us never seem to have any problem expressing our opinions about all the ways we wish other people would treat us better. 

I’d actually be willing to bet it would take less than two minutes to create a long list of expectations that we feel have yet to be met by our past, current or potential partners. I’d also be willing to bet it would be much more difficult to determine where we, ourselves, have a tendency to fall short of those expectations.

Own worst enemy

When we suffer from low self-esteem, we have a tendency to be our own worst enemy. We say things to ourselves we would never likely say to someone else, especially someone we care about, yet we seem to have no trouble demeaning and degrading ourselves all the time. Our internal language, if we ever really paid attention to it, can often sound an awful lot like verbal or emotional abuse.

Could it be that the reason why we stay in abusive relationships or continue to tolerate abuse in any way, is because the abuse actually mirrors our own treatment of ourselves? 

According to Tony Robbins, one of the world’s top life and business strategists, we will never outgrow the identity we hold for ourselves. If this is true, then we have to consider what that identity is, where it came from and what we need to do in order to change it.

One of the most effective ways to learn more about how your identity was shaped, is to think about the person whose love you craved the most as you were growing up. Was it your mother’s, your father’s, or someone else’s? 

Think about what you felt you had to do or who you had to be in order to get the love you craved from that person. Think about what that person expected of you and the rules you felt you had to live by in order to meet their approval. Once you begin to discover these connections, you will develop a much greater understanding about how you came to possess the identity you currently hold.

The reason why so many of us have become addicted to our self-destructive patterns is because those patterns have been a part of us for so long that they have become unconscious. If we want to raise our own level of self-esteem, we have to become aware of what those patterns are so that we can take the steps we need to take to change them.

Building a filter 

Every standard you hold for yourself has been influenced by the people who raised you. The truth is you learned those standards as a means to ensure your own protection, and those standards remain as a filter through which you still view everything in your life today. 

If you have a desire to improve your life, then chances are you are going to have to change those standards. Perfection, by the way, is not the standard you should be going for here. Raising your self-esteem requires only that you raise the standards of what you are willing to tolerate from yourself or other people. 

When you change the way you treat yourself, then the way other people treat you will begin to change.

Tamara Dodgson is a Certified Strategic Intervention Coach and Life Strategist, trained by Robbins Madanes. 

If you have a question for Tamara Dodgson, she can be reached by emailing: [email protected]

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