Working on my perfectionism created many beautiful ripple effects in many other areas of my life too. I’m happier overall, able to express more gratitude, more in love with my work, which means I’m much better to be around.
So, I suggest you find your one big bad habit and work on that. Everyone usually has one or two bad habits – that reveal an aspect of low self esteem or as I prefer to call it a Bad Relationship to Self.
For me, as I said before, my undermining habit/way of thinking was perfectionist thinking. I really loved making good things and being great at whatever I did. But I took it too far. My projects started out as a labor of love but would inevitably turn into something stressful and unpleasant. I’d nitpick and find things wrong. I put so much pressure on others and myself.
Now, I’m much kinder to myself. As a result, I love working on my projects and able to relax and laugh. I can access that flow state, which means I’m more creative. Which means my projects end up being better. Also, I can see the big picture and not get lost in the detail.
So, let’s look at the 8 Top Habits that Create a Bad Relationship to Self (aka Self Esteem) ….
1. Perfectionist thinking
If you think you should be perfect, perfectly good all the time or always successful then the smallest failure (as perceived in your eyes) will hurt you. When you do not live up to your ideal you beat yourself up. Is this good for your Relationship to Self?
When you see a big oak tree what do you notice? How beautiful it is? How much shade it provides? Or do you notice the one dead branch?
When you want something to be perfect you scrutinize to see all that is wrong with it. So you can fix it. But you are looking for all the wrong and not the right. You can become a negative person without even realizing it. It’s like a record set on a faulty loop. Doing the same thing everyday, always scrutinizing, never happy, finding fault. The only difference is the object of scrutiny changes.
Are you seeing where I’m going with this? It’s a deluded way of thinking. You can’t even see what is really happening in your life because you’re focused on tiny microscopic details that are supposedly “wrong”. Let’s be clear. All of life is imperfectly perfect. A better way to think about it is you are a project in creation, one of God’s creatures and you are here to learn and grow. ‘Perfect’ is a human construct.
2. Overachieve to prove you are worthy
There is nothing wrong with achieving greatness. It is the motivation behind it that matters. If you are trying to prove you’re not bad, or you’re special, or you’ll be loved when you are successful then you are pursuing a path for the wrong reasons. And this false belief is sneaky. It sneaks up on you, making you do things for all the wrong reasons, when you think you are doing them for all the right reasons! As a result you may be unhappy with your career or who you are. Do things for the right reasons.
Nb. If this is you it doesn’t mean you have to change careers, although you may. It does mean you have to change your reasons for why you are doing it.
We all have the ability to be destructive towards our self. Does directing this powerful negative force at yourself ultimately help you? What is a better way to live?
3. Comparing yourself to others
Comparing is a recipe for failure. It only serves to show you what you haven’t got. You’re also putting a value on your worth by comparing. If you’re valuing yourself compared to others then you don’t believe in your inherent worthiness and pathway. Also, you’re in danger of feeling worthless if you think others are better than you. They are not. Your soul and life force is not measurable. It just IS.
4. Super sensitive to criticism
If you feel worthless and inadequate underneath then any kind of criticism really hurts as it is hitting a sore point – or a wound in your body. Constructive criticism helps you grow. It shouldn’t upset you so much. It is fine if you are upset in a way that is proportional to the criticism. But you should be able to move on easily. And you should be able to ignore unfounded criticism. And remember it is only one person’s opinion. If you constantly think about criticism in an unhealthy way then you need to work on this area.
5. People pleaser- doing things for others
Deep down you think people won’t like the real you. You feel that if they got to know you they wouldn’t like you. So you do anything to avoid being rejected. It is a terrible feeling and to be avoided at all costs. So, you ingratiate yourself with others, which is going over and beyond to be liked. You ignore personal boundaries in an effort to be loved and liked. You may also hide the real you and present a façade that you think is likeable. You may lie to make yourself more pleasing to others. The mind is designed to protect you and keep you safe. If your underlying belief is of unworthiness or hopelessness then your mind will do all it can to keep you safe from harm and isolated. It will go to great lengths, beyond what you should, to make sure you have friends. It will harm you to protect you.
6. Focus on the negative
You magnify what went wrong. Discard what went right. One bad exam leaves you feeling hopeless even though you have passed many exams before. You fixate on the failure. As a result you become unaware of your strengths and underestimate yourself. You may also believe how you feel. Not realizing it is just the mood of a few hours.
7. You believe your thoughts and feelings
What happens when your favorite upbeat song comes on the radio? You get real happy real fast – in a matter of seconds. Those bad thoughts are gone! The mind moves from positive thoughts to bad thoughts many times during the day. Which ones do you believe? Whatever you believe will guide you in how you act in the future.
8. You think you are bad at ….
You have an idea about yourself like, for example, you’re bad at relationships. You may be unskilled in a particular area but we were all born unskilled. Our upbringing and environment has led to the development of some skills and not others. This has nothing to do with how good or worthy you are. Skills can be acquired. Remember a time in your life when you had a steep learning curve in an area and became good at it. This is proof that you can become good at what you set your mind to. Your belief system about yourself in this area is what is stopping you from trying and learning.
An important note …
A low Relationship to Self can flare up at any time. For example, a rejection letter sends you into a negative spin. Or you start going on dates and the first few don’t work out so you get upset and stop trying. We’ve all had this experience. The trick is not to believe it. Catch yourself when the negative talk happens and stop it. Acknowledge the delusion.
Acknowledging failure is a perquisite for success. Come back to what kind of life you want. The life you love. Get back on that horse. The problem happens when you believe those thoughts and ruminate on them.
And another …
The human mind has a powerful desire to protect you, nurture you and keep you safe. Things get out of kilter when deep down you feel bad about yourself. Then on an unconscious and conscious level your mind will lead you to do all kinds of things to make you feel loved, safe, protected in this world.
Now, of course we all want those things.
What is wrong is, when you pursue them in unhealthy and extreme ways because deep down you feel unsafe, unloved or bad about yourself. A bad Relationship with Self is a disconnect. It is not who we are and not who we are born to be in this world. You are a force of life on this planet just like all living things.
What is your one big habit or belief that creates a Bad Relationship to Self?
The biggest one holding you back?
What would your life look when if this were gone?
What would change in your life?
Action Item –
What habit will you change to create a Great Relationship to Self?
Pick your one biggest bad habit.
Do some soul searching to understand why you do that. Look at the beliefs you have around that. Write them down. Think about a better way to be. Decide to action that everyday. Keep on eye on your pattern, so you can stop yourself from doing it when it happens. The brain loves old habits and will want to go back there. Therefore, it is necessary to replace it with a positive action everytime. The aim is to create a new neural network that works better for you. Keep your goal on developing a Great Relationship to Self.
Please make sure you read Change Your Story To Change You Life. It’s important stuff. Your internal narrative can either life you up or tear you down.