What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do you remember the excitement and nervousness that accompanied going into the next grade in school, especially the first day of high school? High school! Would you cut the mustard? Would your old group of friends still be together? What would the teachers be like? So many questions…so many unknowns.
And yet, as the first few days of classes got underway, you realized the same thing as every other year: You already had all the tools necessary for success. The next grade was the next step in your learning journey.
Outside of school, the steps of achievement are a bit less clear—you don’t have grade levels to measure your progress—but one thing remains the same: Life only presents you with what you can handle. The path before you offers the very next step in the journey.
There are times, however, when you feel like you can’t handle it. You can’t deal with the stress. The feelings of burnout are just too much. You don’t want to get out of bed. You can’t seem to get anything right.
Of course you have bad days, but you can bounce back from them more quickly, and increase your chances of having more and more good days by enhancing your level of self-esteem. Those with high self-esteem are more likely to feel that they have control over their happiness and that they can succeed.
Self-esteem and anxiety are closely related. If you have low self-esteem, you will perceive a greater number of situations as threatening, and respond accordingly (fight or flight). If you have high self-esteem, you will rarely feel threatened by your circumstances and get involved in a larger range of activities.
One of the keys to reducing your stress levels is to raise your level of self-esteem. With greater self-esteem you can also count on feeling less anxious.
A powerful way to boost self-esteem is to get into the practice of reflecting on the things you’ve accomplished in life. Even if you’re someone who likes to say, “I haven’t accomplished anything worth mentioning,” there are notable experiences that you’ve overlooked. I guarantee it.
Self-esteem is as important to our well-being as legs are to a table. It is essential for physical and mental health and for happiness. ~ Louise Hart
A friend of mine said that very thing to me. “I’ve lived such a boring life, I haven’t done anything!” she lamented. Yet she’s raised two of the kindest, gentlest, most attentive, and caring kids I know.
While it may seem to some like a stretch for her to tout raising wonderful children as a major accomplishment, this road was dotted with specific moments where she chose to honor her high value for parenthood. Being available every day after school is a huge accomplishment!
Looking back at your life, what experiences of perseverance, determination, love, or generosity are you proud of? Write down these accomplishments on a blank sheet of paper. Make the list long enough that you feel the warm fuzzies of achievement in your chest, stomach, or wherever they swell up for you.
This is the feeling of confidence, of high self-esteem. Return to it often. Make a practice of drawing strength from your past accomplishments, and more confidence will come of it.
If you were to dwell in this state of confidence each day, how would your life be different?
Take a moment to share below some of the achievements you’re proud of!
About the Author:
Adam Timm is the author of the #1 bestselling book, Stress Is Optional! How to Kick the Habit, and the cofounder of The Healthy Dispatcher, a law enforcement training company that offers stress resilience, communication and leadership classes designed for Emergency Dispatchers.
A 9-1-1 telecommunicator for over a decade, he brings his stories from the frontline into his writings and classes. His second book, Dispatcher Stress: 50 Lessons on Beating the Burnout, is out now.