A couple of days before writing this piece, I had the privilege of counselling a young woman in her mid twenties over the phone. When the phone rang, I heard a young lady’s voice. I responded by saying, ‘Hello, this is blah! Blah!! Blah!!! How may I help you?’ The voice went, ‘There’s something bothering my mind and I need someone to talk to’. ‘Well’ I said, ‘That’s why I’m sitting here’. ‘Excellent’, she responded. Then the story began, ‘Two days ago, I was on my way home from work. While sitting at the back of the bus, I saw a £5 note at the other end of the seat. After a while of resisting, I was tempted to take the money. When I got home, I felt convicted for doing something wrong; rather than spend the money, I decided to give it to a friend that was in need. Despite that, I still feel guilty that I’ve done something wrong. What should I do?’ My response was, ‘You were wrong for picking the money. You should have handed it over to the Driver. Since you decided to take it, another option should have been to donate it to charity. In conclusion, I would advice that you give the equivalence of the amount to charity; forgive yourself, forget about it and do the right thing next time’. My advice was appreciated by the caller, and I thought it was mission accomplished. I was about to say goodbye when she abruptly said, ‘Hold on please, I’ve got something else to say’. ‘Go ahead’, I responded. The next statement she made was, ‘People are always looking at me. I don’t know why they keep looking at me? I prefer having male friends because ladies always envy me, maybe because I’m beautiful’. I was shocked by her statement, and for a while, I thought, ‘Is she okay?’ My response was, ‘What gave you the impression that ladies always envy you, and why did you conclude that people always look at you?’ I tried all I could to find out what the real problem was. After over half an hour of engaging me in a ‘looking at me’ discussion, I realised that her main problem was a long term untreated self esteem issues.
Whether in the past, present or future, self esteem issues will continue to be issues. Academic qualifications, money, fame or talent cannot eradicate this problem. There are two extremes of self esteem problems; the people are either hypoactive or hyperactive. I have met people that use aggression to cover up the weaknesses of self esteem issues; I have also met those that withdraw from people because of self induced incapability. Self esteem issues bury true talents; it also maims true relationships. It is the quickest avenue to missed opportunities. Lots of people that would have excelled in life, careers and callings have relegated themselves to the background because they couldn’t deal with this pest.
Self esteem problems are self image problems. Like the word goes, image is an isomer of imagination. Imaginations are pictorial; pictures are products of conceptions. The picture a man paints inside him is the life he lives outside him. Self image problems begin from childhood, and if parents are not sensitive to spot the issue in their children on time, they grow with it, live with it, and if care is not taken; die with it. There are lots of people that have died with the problems of self esteem; there are also people that self esteem issues have killed. When my daughter was 4, I discovered that issue in her; I responded immediately to deal with it because I know how much it stole from me; I also know how much damage it can inflict on someone if purposeful actions are not taken.
There are adults who can’t look straight into the eyes of people to make statements; they keep looking down even when they’re speaking to their subordinates. If some of these people don’t look down, they sometimes become aggressive. There are leaders who can’t stand to deliver lectures in conferences, in spite of their immense level of intelligence. I once mentored someone who was top personnel in the oil industry about the significance of having a good self esteem. Some of the questions he asked gave me insight into reiterating that a person can be educated but uninformed. In a nutshell, how can you deal with self esteem issues?
Read good books that deal with the problem: The first thing I did in order to deal with self esteem problem was to read good books that major on the subject. I read them over and over again to make sure that I become conversant with the principles recommended. Reading good books will help you counter the challenges of self esteem.
Make a conscious effort to practice what you read: I made a conscious effort to practice the things I read. I would deliberately make a contribution during discussions even if I had nothing too important to say. At first, I felt nervous, but gradually, my confidence began to grow.
Love the crowd: Some people fear crowds; don’t be part of them; develop the habit of loving the presence of many people. I’m not saying it will be easy, but bit by bit, you’ll get used to it.
Get involved in good relationships: Some relationships can help you combat self esteem issues. Moving with bold people can make you bold because habit is contagious.
Don’t be a man-pleaser: one daredevil that dangerously affects a man’s ego and self esteem is man-pleasing. Be bold to air your opinion even if it will make your folks unhappy. Be known for who you are and what you want. Don’t take actions that you don’t feel comfortable with, simply because you want to make another person happy. If your heart says no, let your mouth also say the same thing.
Paint a new picture on your mind: I believe that one major way that creativity can become reality is through the process of imagination. I advice anyone with self esteem issues to keep beholding on their minds the picture of standing before a multitude of people, and speaking to them. See yourself in conferences delivering lectures, speeches, or mentoring people. The more you picture it, the more you achieve it. Everyone ends up becoming his picture; everyone ends up becoming what he sees in the inner recesses of his mind. Take positive and deliberate steps to start a discussion even when you feel uncomfortable. The more you do it, the more you become it. Everyone can get out of the infections of self esteem issues if they really want to. Boldness is a deliberate action, not a gift. Paint the picture of a bold and confident person on your mind, and that is who you will end up becoming!