Practice Forgiveness to Build Self-Esteem
Instead of apologizing all the time for the shortcomings you believe make you less worthy, try practicing forgiveness as a method to build your self-esteem. How will practicing forgiveness help your self-esteem grow?
Think about all the people negatively affecting your self-esteem. The first step toward forgiving them is to accept that it is okay for you and them to differ. You can have different opinions, different goals, different attitudes about life. This important step is the basis for healthy self-esteem.
It’s more than okay to be different from other people, it’s necessary for our world to have all the skills it needs to survive. Imagine if everyone was the same. Where would our artists, our leaders, our philosophers, our craftspeople, our teachers find the spark that ignites in them to play a role that gives them joy and satisfaction?
How Do You Start Forgiving?
If you’re ready to accept that you are permitted to be different from the people in your life, next think about who you need to forgive to allow your self-esteem to grow. Here are a few thoughts to help you get started.
- Parents and other family members — Poor self-esteem often begins in your childhood. You may have been teased for a difference in appearance or thought, or your efforts to achieve may have been overlooked. I think the family can be the hardest people to practice forgiveness with. It takes a lot of work to accept that it’s okay to not agree with the people you love most, then to move past the anger you might feel, and finally to offer forgiveness. Your parents did the best they could with the knowledge that was available at the time, and that knowledge was tempered by their own upbringing and experiences. Find the place in your heart to give them what you want from them and the world — acceptance and unconditional love.
- Friends — Your self-esteem can affect the way you choose the people you spend your time with, and as you grow you may find that you need to reevaluate their presence in your life. I used to have trouble talking to people I just met at a party or gathering because I was sure they would not be interested in me. On the other hand, I accepted behavior that made me feel bad about myself from those I considered my friends and always thought carefully before speaking to make sure I wasn’t leaving myself open to ridicule or meanness. The good news here is that you get to pick your friends, and if they do not react well to the better boundaries you try to set, realize that not everyone is in your life for the whole journey. You get to decide if someone is important to who you are today, but forgiveness is still freeing even if you let them go.
- Employers — This can be tough. You can’t always walk away from a job when you come to realize that your boss or coworkers are disrespecting you. You may be the best employee they have, and that can result in them overloading you or feeling threatened about their own job security. If you’re not an expert yet in your job, they may bully you or demean you in private or in front of others. I find that forgiving comes easier for me when I reflect on the other person’s happiness. People who browbeat others are often unhappy with their life, and understanding that makes it seem less like an attack than defense when they act disrespectfully. If you need to stay at your job, remember that they hired you and that means they think you are the best option they have, regardless of what they say now. you don’t need your boss’ love to earn your salary, but you deserve respect from everyone, period. Sometimes forgiving is as simple as doing your best every day while looking for another job or taking classes towards a whole new career.
Make Forgiveness Your Superpower
Your journey to building strong self-esteem will have many opportunities to work on practicing forgiveness. You will not be at the same place with every person who affects your self-esteem, and you can decide which obstacles to healthy self-esteem you want to address first. One of the things that show us our self-esteem needs work is our inability to share honestly with the people in our life. Practice sharing, practice accepting diversity in yourself and others, and then practice forgiveness. If you think you can’t, you can’t. If you decide you will try, you will win.
Do you think forgiving those who helped create or sustain your poor self-esteem will be helpful to you? Who do you want to forgive? Do you think you can practice forgiveness and unconditional love with the people in your life? Share your stories in the comments about your own journey to strong self-esteem.