How to Get Self Esteem & Self Acceptance (While Being Yourself)

Submitted by on Wednesday, March 6, 2013No Comments

How to get Self Esteem while being Yourself

how to get self esteemSelf esteem comes after self acceptance. And how to get self esteem is easy if you already have a sense of love, belonging and acceptance. Having love, acceptance and belonging; Feeling like we fit in this world is a sane motivation. It’s a healthy part of the human experience. But for the one who lacks feeling accepted, there can be no worthwhile self-esteem. How to get self esteem when one is currently lacking a sense of belonging, love or acceptance is what I will be addressing.

I’m going to talk about the following:

  1. What self hatred looks like.
  2. The importance of a sense of belonging.
  3. How children can grow up feeling rejected or not accepted.
  4. When not having it can lead to codependency or life dysfunction.
  5. Some of the actuated and metaphysical benefits of self-acceptance.
  6. How to get self esteem and that sense of acceptance despite not currently having it.

Gangaji on Self Hatred

My personal teenage self hatred held hands with the temporary & fleeting feelings of the ego absorption of ‘my’ body. I was either rejecting my body [and the personality that came with it] or I was infatuated with my body [and the personality that came with it]. And this is the truth. I was black or I was white; I was left or I was right; I was up or I was down. I was never ‘just is.’

Until one day – I cannot remember what day – the hate and rejection took completely over. No longer did I even have the help of an inflated ego to cover for my feelings of deep inadequacy. So yes, there I was, naked.

How Important is Love & Acceptance?

The collective human experience cannot teach its individuals how to get self esteem or how to have self esteem while generational experience is one based in non-acceptance. And the individual who lacks this foundation of love and belonging will not understand how to get self esteem or how to have self esteem unless someone (who has escaped the culture of rejection) teaches them. I am never going to know how to get self esteem from a person who is operating from a self-rejecting paradigm. I am not going to know how to get self esteem from someone who has none. And who is going to learn how to get self esteem from someone who tells you that you are unacceptable?

“Condemnation does not liberate. It oppresses.” ~ Carl Jung

Abraham Maslow & the Hierarchy of Human Needs

From Wikipedia: “Abraham Harold Maslow was an American psychologist who was best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization.

abraham maslow hierarchy of human needsPsychologist Abraham Maslow ranks Belonging (acceptance, fitting in, love, relationships) as so important it comes right after only our physical and safety needs are met; Yet before our independence, self-esteem, and status are of any concern. According to Abraham Maslow, before we can GROW into having self-esteem (and then self actualization) we must have a sense of belonging first.

Natural Desire for Acceptance

For some people their entire lives are spent covering up, hiding, or otherwise dissembling who they really are in order to have this acceptance. And of course this can lead to negative or low self esteem or what I call, “Pride in reverse.”

“Excessive pride.” They may boast their achievements, status or education. They may bully other people. They may adopt such a bravado it would never occur to them (anywhere but perhaps subconsciously) they lack any feeling of acceptance, love, and belonging. In fact others might think they have an ‘inflated’ sense of self esteem.

“Pit dwelling Low Self Esteem.” Or it might turn the other way; They might be a genuine walking sign of pride in reverse, painfully aware of the feeling they don’t fit in and “What is wrong with me anyway?” or “If so many others find me unacceptable, something is really wrong with me.”

Children Not Getting or Not Feeling Acceptance

Small children don’t know what self esteem is and they don’t need to know how to get self esteem because they’re not at the age of understanding who they are as they relate to this world. But some of us may learn at an early age what feeling rejected is like and that can present self esteem issues…

  1. Parents [or first ‘family units’ of origin] withholding affection from a child as a disciplinary measure sends cues to the child that her acceptance as a human being is contingent upon her doing what people [she views as above her] want her to do. If she goes on to suffer self esteem issues, this is especially problematic because she will view nearly everyone as ‘above her.’
  2. Parents [or family members the child trusts] who physically or sexually abuse their children have put the child in a secret world of fear and pain that she may intuitively know she must not talk about. When she grows up she may subconsciously equate sex or physical abuse as love while subconsciously seeking out people to replay the patterns and simultaneously rejecting herself in the process.
  3. Children born with characteristics that already put them outside the sphere of ‘normalcy;’ They might get bullied or chastised by their peers, subconsciously taught by their parents that they need to ‘pretend to be normal’ to be accepted, or just from societal context clues might not feel acceptable or otherwise accepted.

Codependent Behaviors

Kids May Grow into Adults Feeling Rejected

May lead to codependent patterns or self-harm. So kids learning how to get self esteem – even if not knowing it – garnering for acceptance from their parents or peers is not what one would classify as codependent. Children who grow up feeling somehow unacceptable or unaccepted without ever reconciling that need with anything tangible or stable may begin putting this acceptance need above all others. Patterns of codependence may develop as they grow into adulthood subconsciously engaging in behaviors that consistently put ‘getting accepted by others’ into primary focus above their desire to be themselves.

It can take some or all of the following forms depending upon personality, peer group, or the extent of feeling unacceptable. But please do not use this criteria as a way to label another person; Any one of these criteria may LOOK like one thing to you, but may be entirely something else.

A person – who does feel accepted and is completely self-aware – may look to you as if s/he is ‘people-pleasing’ and whether s/he is or not, her motivations could be entirely unknown to you. A person who looks to you as if she is ‘suffering from debilitating shyness’ may simply be very not much interested in her surroundings or may even realize anything she has to say might be casting pearls before swine OR she is an HSP personality and is trying to discern what’s going on in her energy field. A person looks to you as if he lacks security or acceptance because every time you see him, he is boasting when the truth could be he lacks any attachment to ego and is being straightforward OR he is a large storytelling entertainer and does it for his own amusement OR you could be the one suffering from insecurity and this guy is just your own reflection.

  1. People-pleasing above our ability to be ourselves. [Saying or doing what we think or know others expect of us.]
  2. Debilitating Shyness / Painful Self-Consciousness – Feeling so strongly we are going to be judged, ridiculed or looked down upon.
  3. Boasting / One-upmanship – Trying to get others to see that we *are* worthy of acceptance, of being accepted.
  4. Perfectionism – If I make no mistakes others will see I have no faults and will accept me.
  5. Bullying – I don’t feel accepted, loved or a sense of belonging so I’ll bully some people into admiring/accepting me.
  6. Pride in Reverse / Low Self-Esteem – Really think so little of themselves and find it difficult to think they are worthwhile.
  7. Excessive Pride / Superego / Inflated Ego – Wearing a mask for protection, these guys just KNOW they are the cat’s pajamas.
  8. Chameleonizing – These are the ‘yes people’ who will turn into a chameleon depending on situation.
  9. Self Hatred – Self-esteem in reverse. Active and pointed self-rejection. Self-mutilation, calling ourselves names. Suicidal thoughts.
  10. Alcohol / Drugs (Escapism) – Alcohol is a ‘social lubricant’, giving us a sense of acceptance or belonging in situations we may normally feel rejected – or not wholly accepted – in. (This is exactly how alcohol became my first love as a teenager. Sure, I was accepted just fine by my peers but I rarely felt accepted so alcohol helped with that. And if I weren’t an alky, you can bet that I’d never had given it up.)

Having Acceptance or Love But Not Feeling it

Certain personalities may even be quite aware that they have acceptance, but they don’t feel accepted. And they don’t feel accepted because they subconsciously see or sense that they are not accepted and loved; Their persona is accepted and loved; Their role is accepted and loved; Their mask is accepted and loved. Low Self-Esteem - Self Rejection in Favor of Getting AcceptanceAnd so of course, their sense of loneliness and isolation from the human race increases. It doesn’t matter if they really are accepted and loved if they are not feeling it. So as the person continually scrambles for how to get self esteem, their self rejection increases.

When we abandon ourselves – that stuff that allows us our own expression of individuality and personality – we have become our own best rejector. We have become our first rejector; Our primary rejector. So if we really do get rejected by our peers or really do lack any feeling of acceptance from others in our world, how can it not be natural?

Metaphysically or HSP speaking, “If I do not have acceptance of my own self, how can others accept me? For all I know they do accept me but I’m not with my ‘me’ to know that I have this acceptance and love; I’m off playing some character and maybe the ‘real me’ is getting all the acceptance and love in the world.”

Passive Ego/Innocent/Unaware –  If your ‘real personality’ is not worthy of being accepted by the one who owns it, how in the name of Isis can you expect others to see it, much less accept it into the state where you feel okay about yourself? In this scenario, you may simply be hiding your personality [via shyness, low self-esteem, etc.] but the feeling of non-acceptance remains even if outward manifestations look as if you are accepted just fine.

Active Ego/Knowing/Aware –  If your ‘real personality’ is actively rejected by you – the one who owns it – metaphysically [HSP] speaking, your Spirit is sending a message: “I reject myself and so should you.” In this scenario, you are actively seeking rejection [via bullying, boasting]. And the universe will give you what you want, and the feeling of non-acceptance remains even if outward manifestations look as if you are accepted just fine.

So on the very real sense of being, it doesn’t matter if we look like we fit in just fine and have love and acceptance, if we’re not feeling it, does it? I am not sure if this is an HSP quality but I am very sensitive to my own self-rejection. I can see instances in my life – even in current day to day – where I passively OR actively seek to reject qualities of my personality I may not have made friends with yet. Oh at this point it’s relegated to the dusty corners of my mind that most other people may not give a thought to; But below the esoteric shallows, I do remain in awareness that at my core level, I completely accept myself and I feel that acceptance.

“What People Think of Me is None of My Business”

My 2008 article, What People Think of Me is None of My Business, is not discounted in the face of desiring acceptance. In fact, it’s within the backdrop of having/feeling acceptance and thus moving further up in the hierarchy that this awareness would come about. Samsaras Tootsies from What People Think of Me is None of My BusinessIt would be ridiculous and false to worship the belief “What People Think of Me is None of My Business” when, in truth, I’m feeling outcast and rejected.

  1. My Physiological needs were met; I had oxygen so I could think; I had food that gave me energy.
  2. My Safety/Security needs were met. I wrote it from a place/sense of safety; My life was not in peril.
  3. My Belonging/Social/Love needs were met; Feeling acceptance was my emotional foundation.
  4. My Self-Esteem/Confidence was doing fine; Included a photo of my feet to flaunt it.
  5. Self-Actualization is the basic message that the article itself reflects.
  6. Transcendence is not something Maslow included but I include it because once the previous 5 are accomplished by a certain incarnate/personality (the HSP, the Bodhisattva, the Satguru, etc.) compassion for the suffering of others and the heartfelt desire to alleviate that suffering seems to come into primary focus.

Solution: Self Acceptance

Accepting yourself leads to self esteem

Up until now maybe you did not know, were not aware, or it never occurred to you…

  • How important a sense of belonging (love/affection)  is.
  • That as a child maybe you felt rejected and it carried into adulthood.
  • That your mental isolation / loneliness could be based in non self-acceptance.
  • That you held a belief that says, “Others must accept me and then I can accept myself.”
  • That a self-perceived walking mess of a personality could STILL accept herself/himself.

That last one is important in successfully learning how to get self-esteem.

Self Acceptance & Self Esteem Benefits

To the one operating from ego [low self-esteem OR pride], self acceptance may look like ego. Partly, in my opinion, because they are coming from a place of ego and so can only ‘see’ ego. “We judge others to the extent we judge ourselves.” The other part is coming from the acute and painful condition of no self-awareness and lacking self-awareness is because we may not have our ‘Self’ with us in order to be aware. We may be in complete rejection of our Self. But because I did operate from ego – vacillating between low self-esteem or pride – and because I do have self-awareness, I have experienced the difference. And you can too.

Benefits of Self Acceptance…

  • Self Esteem. Your ego is right sized and not inverted on yourself.
  • No longer abandoning your Self leads to nurturing yourself.
  • Self Awareness begins this process of Emotional and Spiritual Maturity.
  • Repudiation of shame, self-abuse, self-condemnation.
  • Self-Esteem is not affected by others’ attempted infliction of shame.
  • Compassion for yourself and (by natural extension) others.
  • Acute awareness of those who self-reject (because you’ve been there).
  • Acceptance of other ‘Selfs’ who may be in current self-rejection.
  • Desire to assist those who reject themselves.
  • Not taking your ego so seriously. Maybe even playing with it. ;)

Relationship Benefits of Self-Acceptance

One metaphysically responsive benefit I was able to notice after I began accepting myself is that other people REALLY started accepting me. I am not going to say all people ‘liked’ me because that’s probably not true. BUT, I hardly noticed and that’s what is true. I was so self-accepting that others who knew who they were, accepted and liked me or others drawn to wanting to know how to ‘live in their skin’ accepted and liked me. I did, however, notice I was energetically repelling [HSP magic maybe] those who were content on operating from the Prideful pendulum of the Ego swing. This is a truth of metaphysics; People we no longer need to ‘learn lessons from’ will drop out of our sight or we’ll otherwise no longer ‘see’ them.

So with that in mind, can you see how perhaps you have been drawing into your awareness or experience people who do not accept you or people you do not feel acceptance from? If not, that is okay. :) [This is not to say it is your fault! Did you see Gangaji’s video up there? We have parents, and they have parents, and on it goes. We cannot teach what we do not have, SO… Once more, it is not your fault; It just is. But if you want to, check out the below ideas.]

How to Get Self Esteem via Self Acceptance

How to get Self Esteem? Begin with Self Acceptance.

Hurtful LabelsLike anything in life, there are many paths. I am going to list a few that I engaged in that propelled me forward in my most leaps and boundingness.

If you think I’ve always been accepting of myself and have never experienced the bitter morass of self-loathing that accompanies chronic alcohol dependence, a teenage-into-adult Sensitive Personality who couldn’t fit anywhere (without drinking), a secret self-hater who neglected, hurt and starved this body trying to make it fade away, a people-pleaser who was so used to either chameleonizing for acceptance and for people to like me or pretending it didn’t bother me so I’d have to get drunk to cover my low self-esteem, hurt feelings and insecurities again…well I must have really made progress and thank you! (But I assure you, I was not always like this. It took a tiny bit of work. Just a little. See also my “Accept Yourself” article.)

1.] Start today with this phrase: “I accept myself today.” Make it a goal to say it 500 times a day for two weeks. Repeat as necessary. I did not find it necessary to repeat this activity since I growth-spurted into self-acceptance during the first week… I was replacing old self-talk and old internal dialogue that used to say, “You’re stupid!” or “Can’t you do anything right?” 

2.] Surround yourself with supportive people. If you have anyone in your life who inspires you, start watching them. Ask them how to get self esteem especially if they were formerly lacking self-acceptance. You might notice that they can make a mistake and not care so much. You might notice they laugh a lot or make fun of themselves. The Four AgreementsYou may notice they don’t take things so personally. [I had my original A.A. Sponsor to look toward.]

3.] Read these books: The Four Agreements & You Can Heal Your Life (or You Can Heal Your Life Companion Book) were two books that began my – unknowing at the time – journey to self-acceptance. It had been right after I quit drinking and had started exploring a new tool-set for being okay in my own skin. It was my Sponsor, as a matter of fact, who told me she gave the Four Agreements out for gift sets. So, wanting to gain the You Can Heal Your Life Companion Bookself-acceptance she had, I went right out and picked it up. You Can Heal Your Life was one I picked up after hearing my Sponsor speak of the amazing life of Louise Hay and how she was able to heal from cancer after she learned forgiveness – which was based in self acceptance.

4.] Learn about The Work. In fact, I have a blog where I present The Work of Byron Katie with examples of my life. The beauty of The Work is that it is only a 4 step process and is freely available; Katie makes even the worksheets freely available for anyone who wants it and if you’re on the fast track to acceptance, I highly recommend it. [The only reason this is #4 as opposed to #1 is because #1 – #3 is the order I did things in 2003.] Getting more into REAL life and REAL trauma I’d grow conscious of but had yet to overcome (a few years later) was the time I needed to go deeper.

Byron Katie The Work

See Loving What Is on Amazon Four Questions

Although I wish to highly recommend The Work to everyone, I cannot help but think there are some people in certain areas of their progress – as much as they would love to get to that self-acceptance – that may not be ready for all it has to offer. As I think about myself when I first came into contact with it and hated what Byron Katie had to offer. I threw the book across the room, said, “Fuck her,” and went on as if I’d never picked it up; UNTIL I was ready to pick it back up. And for me that meant willingness that only the desperate can be.

The reason Byron Katie’s The Work feels so harsh is something we cannot help but we all have or acquire as we go about this world; Beliefs. And some are SO strong that we would often rather suffer with them as they continue to define us than question and release them in order to secure our sense of peace. But if you are eager to learn how to get self esteem, Katie will re-arrange your neurons.

5.) Spiritual Solutions – Gangaji

Gangaji Book Hidden TreasureIf you saw the above video then you do understand, hopefully, that Gangaji – although a Spiritual Teacher – also understands the feelings of self-hatred. But she supports and assists those on their journey who seek the silent awareness of their ‘more than the personality.’ Because, in truth, we are.

I love Gangaji because she excludes nothing. She’ll talk about addictions, pain, hell, samsara, relationships, states of mind, beliefs…She’ll point to what comes before all of this; What is before this state of mind?

In this way, for the seeker of the Truth, maybe our personality doesn’t need to be taken so seriously. Maybe we can release even the ego’s insistence that we need to ‘have’ a particular personality or the ego’s hold of judgment over us that we’re somehow unacceptable.

She has videos of her satsangs on youtube; Some graciously made available by her as well as others. In these videos we get to enjoy her truthfully reflecting and loving wisdom and insight into the REAL “Who are we?”

Now if you watch her satsangs you may not feel inclined to pick up the books I picked up [ Diamond in Your Pocket & Hidden Treasure] but I did out of gratitude for the support I felt from her. Her satsangs were just exactly what I needed.

Of course, I was already in acceptance of myself when I began this non-dualistic path via Gangaji [via her teacher Papaji, via Indian sage/guru Ramana Maharshi] but what was important for me was the continued acceptance of myself as I embarked on my Spiritual path; In other words, it made no sense to follow a teacher or guru who might use old beliefs divisive toward myself to ‘should me’ back onto a path I had already lost acquaintance with. That might sound confusing so let me phrase it like this:

Spiritual leaders or teachers who encourage you to feel shame or insecurity in order that you do what they want you to do are not enlightened. They may have knowledge, yes, of certain scripture or religious texts. {But even the devil knows the bible and knowledge is limited.} So if you want acceptance of the who you are – no matter where you are or who you think you are – follow the one who has what you want.


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