How Do You Build Self-Esteem?

Do you ever find yourself trapped in thoughts like, “Everyone else has already achieved success, but I’m stuck with nothing”? Well, you’re not alone in this struggle.

Your subconscious operates on ancient behavioral programs, indifferent to modern achievements. It doesn’t grasp the concept of living in the 21st century.

The Subconscious View of Failure

In ancient times, failure was synonymous with hunger, injury, or losing valuable tribe members, situations that often led to death. Therefore, when you label something as a failure, your subconscious reacts as if it’s a life-or-death scenario. In reality, nothing might have changed in your life; it’s the subconscious that interprets it as a catastrophe.

For instance, you didn’t get the job you wanted. In reality, your life remains unchanged, but your subconscious perceives it as a failed hunt, triggering a “We’re going to starve!” response. Your subconscious believes you’re running low on food and energy, so it releases stress hormones to prevent you from wasting effort on fruitless endeavors. This leads to feelings of fear, confusion, and a strong desire to escape this perceived danger.

Self-doubt is a defense mechanism designed to save you from exhaustion rather than depriving you of success.

You can’t simply switch off these outdated subconscious programs, but you can learn to adapt to them.

Current vs. Accumulated Self-Doubt

It’s vital to differentiate between current self-doubt, which relates to specific situations, and accumulated self-doubt.

Current self-doubt can often be overcome with willpower. For instance, if you’re hesitant to speak in a foreign language because you fear looking foolish, you can push through with effort.

Accumulated self-doubt, however, depends on the life story you’ve been narrating to your subconscious.

This story is constructed from facts and interpretations. You experience events, and then you tell yourself what those events mean. For instance, “I got married and devoted myself to my family. How wonderful!” or “I got married and sacrificed my career. This is terrible!”

The key is to recognize that you’re only picking a few facts out of millions and forming opinions about yourself and your situation based on these fragments.

Boosting Your Self-Esteem with an Exercise

Step 1: Create a table with three columns: “My Successes,” “Neutral Memories,” and “My Failures.”

Step 2: In each column, jot down 10 bullet points. Don’t overthink it; just focus on memorable facts.

Step 3: In the third column, underline anything that no longer holds relevance in your life today. For example, childhood bullying experiences or mistakes from years ago. These are ghosts from the past that serve no purpose but to make your subconscious uneasy because you keep replaying old stories.

Step 4: Now, from the remaining facts, craft two stories, one with a positive spin and the other with a negative one. Your purpose is to make sure that the events in your life are open to interpretation, allowing you to choose the self-assessment that empowers you.

Let me illustrate with my own example:

Negative Story

I was born and raised in a poor provincial city in the dying years of the USSR. The quality of education suffered, and I struggled through an outdated law school curriculum with poorly informed teachers. During this economic turmoil, I survived on just $100 a month.

The reality was so hopeless that I sought solace in writing novels. But it didn’t bring in much income. I couldn’t even find myself a local boyfriend, so I turned to online dating, which eventually led me to America. I arrived with no knowledge of the language, no friends, and no connections.

Over the next two decades, I wrote books and built a business, only to see it crumble due to the war in Ukraine. I failed to target the English-speaking market in time, and learning the language was challenging. I took the path of least resistance.

Now, in my forties, I’m starting over. It might seem foolish, doesn’t it?

Positive Story

I was born into a family that cherished books, intellectual conversations, and outdoor activities. My childhood was filled with reading and stimulating discussions with my parents, who tried to give me the best education available.

Despite the economic challenges, I pursued a legal career and landed a job that allowed me to fulfill my dream of writing books.

I found love online and relocated to America, where new opportunities blossomed. I’ve authored 17 books, established a thriving online business, and educated thousands of grateful students.

Even in the face of war, I didn’t give up. After losing everything, I rebuilt my life, not just in Russian but also in English.

Both versions hold truths and reflect reality. However, I chose the second story because it bolsters my self-esteem and inspires me to achieve more.

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