You’re on a plane, getting ready to jet off on a long-awaited vacation. You sit back in your seat and sigh, imagining the adventures to come. Then, the inevitable happens: the bored, droning voice of a flight attendant begins to walk you through the safety speech.
Yeah, yeah, you think. I’ve heard this a thousand times. Look for the exit closest to me, my seat cushion can act as a flotation device, blah, blah, blah.
But let’s focus on one piece of advice: the part about the air masks that drop down from overhead to provide precious oxygen in the event the cabin loses pressure. Remember what they tell you to do?
Put your mask on first before trying to help anyone else do the same. Because if you pass out from lack of air, you’re no help to anyone around you.
What can you learn from this tidbit of airline wisdom that applies to your daily life?
Before you can help anyone else you care about in life, you need to take care of yourself.
Don’t tell me I’m stating the obvious here. Because you know there’s something in your life you’re beating yourself up about.
There’s something about you that you’re not happy with, and it’s demoralizing you.
Everyone does it at some point. Everyone has self-defeating thoughts and limiting beliefs about themselves. These thoughts can make it hard to connect with other people.
But like your mom probably told you, just because everyone’s doing it, doesn’t mean you should too.
The High Cost of Low Self-Esteem, and Vice Versa
Whether you’re crippled with self-doubt to the point you can’t relate, or you have that one deep self-criticism that comes out automatically in your body language and puts people off, the result is the same: you’re cutting your connection with the outside world.
Ironically, the reverse can also be true: thinking too highly of yourself can also separate you from others. But I think it’s more common to have a low opinion about yourself
So, if you have people you want or need to take care of, what do you do?
Find a middle ground between high and low self-esteem. It’s going to take practice, but you can use mindfulness to find this balance. It’s all about establishing a new habit, no matter how long it takes.
So, don’t give yourself a personal deadline. No behavior changes overnight. Once you accept that no new self was built in a day, follow these steps:
- Start with monitoring your emotions, especially when you’re feeling bad about yourself. Instead of ignoring the emotion, explore it. Try to dig down into the origins of the feeling. Chances are you’ll discover there’s no good reason to feel the way you do.
- Dump the recurring thought pattern that’s bringing you down, because it’s not doing you any good.
- Replace the old thought with one that builds you up. Repeat as many times as needed to kill the old thought pattern (because that bad emotional habit will definitely try to make more comebacks than the cast of Seinfeld).
I know you’re going to tell me this is all easier said than done. And I don’t disagree with you.
That’s why I’m going to tell you to keep doing lots of repetitions in your new self-esteem routine.Try it out, and check back in with me to let me know how you’re doing (either by commenting on this post or emailing me).
Whether you think I’m on to something here, or if you think I’m dead wrong, I want to hear from you!