Hello, my name is Brooke Hender from Sort YourSelf Out.
Why did I choose sort yourself out? Well, I thought it was catchy to start with sort your self out. Obviously, the play on words sort your self-esteem out because my main focus is on self-esteem – on our relationship to ourselves because I know from personal experience and from working with clients that how we feel about ourself, underpins everything.
If it’s not everything then it’s certainly is a major influence. And so it would be very easy to conclude that self-esteem is something you have or something you don’t, and that if you don’t have it, then you need to have it, or that your level of self-esteem isn’t high enough and therefore you need to improve it.
And that’s logical. If you don’t think you’re good enough, if you don’t believe you’re worthy enough, that you don’t deserve love or to be loved then that is going to impact the choices you make, the actions you take, and whether you’re going to work to get your needs met for example.
So it is important.
But the more I work with people and the more I read and study, the more I discovered that it’s really not clear. I mean, a lot of people don’t even know how to describe self-esteem. What is self-esteem? And is it loving yourself? Is it? Liking yourself or accepting yourself.
Now there’s a definition by Nathaniel Branden, who has written a lot of books on self-esteem. A very good one is the Six Pillars of Self-Esteem. It’s a very interesting and useful book for discovering what supports self-esteem and in it, he says that,
“self-esteem, fully realised, is the experience that we are appropriate to life and to the requirements of life, more specifically self-esteem is one, confidence in our ability to think, confidence in our ability to cope with the basic challenges of life. It’s important to remember that life is going to present challenges because that’s what life is and two, confidence in our right to be successful and happy, the feeling of being worthy, deserving, entitled to assert our needs and wants, achieve our values and enjoy the fruits of our efforts.”
That’s a great definition, I think it covers a lot. It doesn’t pretend that we’re not going to have challenges in our life because life is about challenge. It’s how I deal with challenges. There’s always going to be something, whether it’s something we feel about ourselves that we need to overcome perhaps or find reconciliation with, or death, disease, jobs, relationships – basically, life. And so that definition really encapsulates everything, as far as I’m aware, and it’s certainly a neater description than I can come up with, so far.
So it is about how we meet challenges. It’s also about recognising that we are, and should, be able to have our needs met – to be happy, to allow ourselves to be happy. Now, this is all well and good. You know, I talk about this a lot. I share that quote, a lot of people go, yeah, that’s great. Yeah, I really get that. But how does that help me? That’s not how I feel. And so it’s great talking about self-esteem, and it might be useful, it might be helpful, but for a lot of people, it doesn’t change anything and people want change.
I certainly want to change, you know, I still struggle with aspects of self-esteem. It’s not that I have amazing self-esteem, and again, I don’t even know what that means. I don’t want to stop being a human being. I still have doubts, challenges, fears, vulnerabilities. I’m a human being but I know that I’ve improved how I feel about myself and that I now, to a greater degree, realise that I deserve to be happy, I deserve to be loved and that I’m worthy of being loved and in turn loving somebody else with mutual respect and so on.
So how do we get there? How do we make that shift? Now, there are a couple of positions I work with and I’m just want to sort of share them. I hear from people and they say that they basically believe that they’re not good enough, that they’re not worthy enough and that they don’t deserve to be loved and that impacts on their life because they say yes, instead of no, they put up with relationships they don’t feel they should put up with, they don’t assert themselves, they don’t have their needs met and that’s not good, and it impacts on their professional life, or it can do, or in many ways.
There is no one set of effects of course – it’s an individual thing. And when I talk about how we can deal with that, with people in my Meetup group or with clients, it’s obviously going to be a very individual thing because there is dealing with that belief and there is also dealing with what can they can do that’s practical. What practical steps can they take?
I recently wrote and published, and you may well have read, a very short ebook called ‘The Seven Steps to Better Self-Esteem’. In that book I don’t talk about not feeling worthy, not feeling good enough, nothing about those basic beliefs and some people have come back to me and said, “Yeah, that’s all great, but what about those core issues?”. And it’s a fair point. What about those core issues? The reason I wrote that book with its more direct steps – and they are the seven very distinct and direct steps – that are about taking action, accepting responsibility, taking ownership, doing something different, they’re all about you taking responsibility, you taking action and none of it deals with the belief you have.
And as I said, some people have picked me up on that. The reason why I wrote it is because it’s something you can do. It is action you can take because if what you’re doing isn’t working do something else because you know what you were doing, doesn’t work. These are my thoughts about self-esteem generally. So I’m not saying that only doing those things will improve your self-esteem, but I know that they will have a positive impact.
Why? Because the actions you take impact how you feel about yourself and how you feel about yourself will impact the actions you take. So there is that relationship between those two things. If you improve your self-esteem, you are more likely to take more helpful, better (completely subjective word), but you know, more useful, more helpful actions. And if you take better, more helpful, more useful actions, that will impact how you feel about yourself, because it does. Because of the results you get, because of overcoming the fears you have, of overcoming the vulnerabilities that are mentioned in that very famous book by Susan Jeffers, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.
It’s not about having no fear. It’s about acknowledging that we have fears or a specific fear and still doing it, whether it’s going up to somebody and talking to them, whether it’s publishing adverts on Facebook, whether it’s doing a blog like this, whether it’s running a meeting, writing something, anything.
For most of us, not all of us, but for most of us, there are greater or lesser degrees of fear and vulnerability surrounding these activities, especially if they involve putting our work and our thoughts out there in the public for criticism. And we know that it’s very powerful, that consideration, that worry, for a lot of people about what other people will think about us. I don’t know who’s going to read this blog or watch the original video. I don’t know where in the world it will be seen. I don’t know what people are going to think about it. I know that some people will like it. I know that some people will not like it. And I know that most people actually won’t care, so that’s okay. I sort of know that already. So, I’m not worried about it because I know that’s the truth for me. That’s my experience. Some people like things, some people don’t like things, some people will actively hate things, but for most people, it doesn’t really impact them.
The people who tend to acknowledge the work I’ve done are the people that really liked the work I’ve done, or really don’t like the work I’ve done. Most people, between those two, I’d say the majority of people, are between those two positions and they don’t comment, they don’t share, they don’t like, they don’t dislike. It hasn’t really stirred anything in them, or they don’t feel moved enough to actually get in contact or to state their position about how they feel about my work. That’s okay.
And that’s the same in my experience for everything I’ve done. There are people who don’t like my meetup groups, don’t come to my meetup groups, or who have experienced it and didn’t enjoy it and so don’t come again. Those who’ve got something out of it and have got value, come back or they have a conversation with me about doing more work, more specific work, the work to deal with the belief, for example, about not being good enough. And when I do talk about self-esteem, I always give the elevator pitch, because of course, we have to have an elevator pitch, it’s a business thing, isn’t it? How do you describe what you do?
“I help women and men to get more confidence, more intimacy and happiness in their lives, through improving their most important relationship, the one with themselves” and that is what I do. Now that doesn’t actually address what problems that you might have, for example, I don’t say, if you have a problem with anxiety, let’s have a conversation, or if you find that your eating habits are unhealthy or your drinking patterns are unhealthy, let’s have a conversation.
Perhaps I should. Of course, marketing experience says you have to address the problem that the client has, and it could be a confidence problem as well. The thing about self-esteem is that it’s quite often, one of the core, if not the core issue of what the symptom is. And the symptom is obviously what a lot of people identify as the problem – whether it’s not feeling able to do public speaking or speaking in meetings, feeling unable or uncomfortable on Zoom to express their opinion for fear of ridicule, or it could be drinking in a way that’s unhelpful leading to unhelpful behaviour.
The outcome is unhelpful – the same with eating, but it could be with relationships. And so, those are quite often the flag, the thing that sticks out and that we identify as the problem. When I ask what the problem is I often get, “This is my problem, I have a problem with relationships. I always choose men/women or partners who are not helpful, not good for me, who don’t treat me with respect.” That’s going to be on some level about how you feel about yourself, your ability to acknowledge that this isn’t the right person for you. And just because they’ve expressed some interest in you doesn’t mean that you should have a relationship with them, but that may not be how you feel at the moment. And so if everything is about something else, then our problems are actually just symptoms of our real problem, which is how we feel about ourselves.
Now that is simplistic, and there’s a lot that goes into that, and I’m not claiming that everything is all about just self-esteem, but I know it’s a major factor. And so I want you to think about your situation. I want you to think about those areas of your life that aren’t ideal, that aren’t helpful perhaps. Perhaps behaviours aren’t helpful. Now, this isn’t just personal, this could be professional because self-esteem isn’t something you have or something you don’t, it’s not black and white, it’s not binary. “Oh, I’ve got no self-esteem, I’ve got excellent self-esteem” – it’s not one or the other.
I often think about it and again, I don’t know if this is an original thought or whether I read it somewhere. But if I read it somewhere, which I probably did, I can’t remember where it came from, but feeling about it being similar to your immune system. We all have an immune system and we can improve our immune system by looking after ourselves, exercising regularly, keeping ourselves healthy and in turn we keep our immune system healthy.
So having a good immune system doesn’t mean that we’ll never get sick and we’ll never get ill. What it means when those things come along, which they will, we are in a position to be able to deal with them in a more useful, effective way than if we hadn’t taken all the measures such as exercise and eating healthily and looking after ourselves. So that we’re in a position to deal with them better, more effectively. And I think about self-esteem like that. It’s not about I’ve got great self-esteem all the time – it’s something I have to work on. It’s something I’m always aware of, and by building up your self-esteem immune system, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to deal with life’s events, in a way that’s as helpful as it can be. It doesn’t mean you won’t get upset. It doesn’t mean you won’t respond unhelpfully, it doesn’t mean you will stop being a human being. Death is still going to affect you, illness is still going to affect you, but your response to it may be a more helpful response, a more desirable response than if you hadn’t done the work on how you feel about yourself. You may not take it as a very personal judgment because the truth is these things happen, unfortunately, to us all to a greater or lesser degree.
So when you think about what’s going on for you, personally or professionally, or both, then look at what the problem is, and then have a think about how you feel about yourself in relation to that problem, start seeing the links between those things and taking different actions, making different choices and seeing what works for you and what doesn’t work for you is a good first step – just recognising that something isn’t working. Recognising there’s a pattern of behaviour that’s unhelpful for you, then why not start the work? Why not start to look at what’s going on? There are so many good books out there. There’s so much content on YouTube. And I’m not saying that it will sort out what’s going on for you, but it’s a good place to start. As I said, there are so many good books, you know, I’ve got a whole bookshelf here of various approaches and there is no one right approach. What I do isn’t necessarily going to be right for you. And so it’s not saying by working with me, I guarantee that we’ll deal with all your self-esteem issues. I am not the right therapist for some people. The people I attract are the people that I resonate with – you may read this and say, “No, I wouldn’t work with him”, and that’s fine.
So the aim of this blog is just to get you thinking about what self-esteem is, and perhaps what it’s not. There are lots of opportunities to explore this further. You know, if this blog has resonated with you in some way you can join my meetup group that takes place every two weeks on a Tuesday evening at 7:00 PM UK time. And people dial in from all over the UK and actually across the world and we explore different areas and aspects of self-esteem and how we can improve it.
You can obviously work with a therapist. There are lots of different approaches out there. Find someone that you like or trust. Trust is a big thing. You’ve got to believe that that person can help you, and if you’re not used to talking to somebody, then make a few calls to people, get some recommendations from friends and see what their experiences have been and then try them out and see whether they work for you. There are no guarantees, but that’s okay. It’s an investment of time and money, but it’s rare that you’re not going to get something out of the process. You’re going to learn more about yourself and about how you think and how that leads to unhelpful behaviour.
Maybe you’re not used to sharing with others and that’s a great thing to be able to do in itself – to open yourself up, to know you’re in a place where you can, and where you can talk and sometimes that’s just a great first step.
I hope it was thought-provoking because actually that’s just what I want to do is to provoke new thoughts or to get you to think about things in a slightly different way. If you’d like to find out more, there are lots of ways to contact me and if you have any questions, ask me questions. I’m happy to help in whatever way I can. And if you find this useful, please feel free to share it. Please feel free to let me know how you found this blog for you.
Look, I would love to be able to give you the secret self-esteem. It would be wonderful just to go, you know what, I’ve got the secret of self-esteem. This is all you have to do. And actually, there are some things you can do. All you got to do is realise that who you are is good enough. Okay. How does that work? How do I make that happen because I don’t believe I’m good enough. And that’s the area of work. That’s where the work takes place. There is no secret. There is work to be done to start the process of change in your life. And if you haven’t already downloaded my ‘Seven Steps to Better Self-Esteem’, download it or listen to the audiobook. It’s less than 10 minutes. That’s how short it is. It is literally seven steps and they’re actions, new ways to think. And because if you actually take the action on these things, you will improve your self-esteem. And it’s a bold claim, but you will because if you have useful actions, it will impact your self-esteem and as your self-esteem improves, it will drive you to better actions as well.