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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Albin PsyS. LMFT

Understanding how our self-esteem is created, is helpful in learning how to change it.

Updated: May 27, 2023

Our self-esteem is influenced by what we heard in our environment about ourselves from our parents, siblings, peers, and teachers. It's not the accuracy of what we hear, it's the number of times we hear it. #changinglowselfesteem

Our unconscious or subconscious mind is like the hard drive of a computer because it saves and stores our information. Our conscious mind is the part of our mind when we are aware.

What we hear, after 21 times, is recorded in our unconscious mind. Our unconscious mind is hardwired to only count the number of times we hear a comment before it's recorded.

Secondly, our unconscious mind also records what we hear about our same-sex parents, including what they say out loud about themselves.

Then, once it's recorded, our unconscious mind looks for an opportunity to throw out that comment to our conscious mind, the part of our mind that is aware. If we continue to think about the comment, it reinforces that thought in our unconscious mind. It will then look for more opportunities to throw the thought out again. If we continue to think about it, it reinforces it. On the other hand, if we dismiss the thought, after 21 times in a row, it erases it.

Another influence comes into play in creating your self-esteem. What we choose to focus on, from what we hear in our environment. If in our early development in our family, our parent's focused on the negative, we develop, what I call the "one-eyed view". Our focus becomes narrowed in on negative feedback. Positive comments are barely heard once and dismissed. While negative feedback is focused on, thought about, and then recorded in our unconscious mind. It's not balanced out with a positive view.

What we choose to say to ourselves from what we hear, after 21 times, is recorded in our unconscious mind. Our unconscious mind is hardwired to only count the number of times we think about something before it's recorded. So we could hear it once, and if we continue to ruminate about it in our minds, it will be recorded.

The thoughts, then that are recorded in your unconscious mind, you heard from others in your environment, you heard about your same-sex parent and thoughts that you have learned to focus on, that becomes your negative "self-talk" or your self-esteem.

The "one-eyed view" is learned so it can be changed. Because the "one-eyed view" sees the negative in your day, in your life, and the world, it also leads to depression.

To Change Your Self-Esteem

  1. First make a list of what you consider to be your gifts, strengths, and talents. Everyone has gifts they were born with or talents they developed to make the world a better place. We all have different gifts, strengths and talents from each other and when we put ours together with others, we can make the world a better place.

  2. Then have as many people as you are, and make a list of what they believe are your gifts, strengths, and talents. Have them give you the list after you have made your own. The more people you ask, the more you will get out of the exercise. Try to do 7-10 people.

  3. Read all the lists you gather together. Notice how some gifts are repeated by different people. You will be shocked at the number of gifts, strengths, and talents others have noticed about you.

  4. Make a combined list of your gifts, strengths, and talents.

  5. Then, take notice when your unconscious mind throws out negative self-talk. Make a list of the negative thoughts that come to your mind.

  6. Take your list of gifts, strengths, and talents and come up with an affirmation to counter your negative thought. For example "I am so stupid" instead might become something you are good at like "I am intuitive".

  7. Listen for the negative self-thought, as soon as it comes "thought stop it" (see a stop sign or see the thought going up and away in a balloon; something that represents stops to you.) and counter it with the accurate, positive thought "I am intuitive". Do that successfully 21 times in a row, after your unconscious mind throws it into your conscious mind, and your brain will erase the negative thought and change it to the positive one.

  8. Follow that procedure, for each negative thought. We generally carry 7 different negative thoughts that we say to ourselves over and over.

  9. Watch what you are thinking, and what you focus on, because you can record new negative self-talk.

  10. Surround yourself with others who speak about your gifts, strengths, and talents. Avoid people who make negative comments.

The "one-eyed" view is a negative view of ourselves, our day, our future, and of our world which leads to depression and low self-esteem. It is learned when we grow up in our families. Because it is learned, it can be changed. The negative view is a narrow view that leaves out the positive. The "one-eyed view" is only one of the 7 causes of depression.

Changing your negative view to include the positive one

Take a moment several times a day to notice something to be grateful for in your life and the world. Use the driving time, waiting in line at the grocery, any time when you can catch a moment, and time at the end of the day. Do it out loud with your children in the car and have them do it, do it at the dinner table, and always do it at the end of the day and before you go to sleep. You will incorporate this practice into your daily routine always from now on.

You will become more adept at noticing things throughout your day as your mind makes this a new habit. As you begin to balance out your view with the positive, it changes your perspective and offers hope. The more you focus on feeling grateful, the more things happen to be grateful for. Thinking about it attracts more things to be grateful for in your life. Universal laws exist that affect us every day. The Law of Attraction "We attract to our lives, what we focus on". (See the Blog on Feeling Grateful.)

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