Once while being interviewed for a radio program, the interviewer asked me, in light of all the adversity I’ve faced in life, what, if anything, am I afraid of? Without the slightest bit of hesitancy, I responded, “My only fear in life is that I won’t continue to like myself enough to keep doing the things that allow me to be successful, happy and fulfilled.” In fact, sometimes this fear has been overwhelming, because I come from a place where not only did I not like myself very much, I hated myself. Because of this self-hate I did things to myself that assured me of being underachieved and unhappy. I did not want to go back to this place.
One of my long-term clients, Mrs. Beverly Rubenstein, upon hearing this comment on the radio, was shocked. She felt that certainly I had no problems with self-esteem or self-liking. No, not me! Well, yes, me. It seems to me that self-esteem, or how much we like ourselves, is the very core of human personality. High self-esteem is a basic need. To have high self-esteem is to feel confidently appropriate to life. To have low self-liking is to feel inappropriate to life; wrong, not about this issue or that, but wrong as person. To have average self-esteem is to fluctuate between appropriate and inappropriate, right and wrong as a person, and to demonstrate these inconsistencies in behavior, sometimes acting wisely and sometimes acting foolishly…and thereby reinforcing the uncertainty about who you are and whether you can trust yourself.
My good friend, Brian Tracy says that there are two rules for self-esteem and self-liking: Rule number one is that you can never like or love anyone else more than you like or love yourself. In other words, you can’t give away something you don’t have. Rule number two is that you can’t expect anyone else to like or love you more than you like, love or respect yourself. Your own level of self-liking is like a control valve on the quality of all our human relationships. It is the problem or the solution in every human situation. Everything you do to build and reinforce your level of self-liking increases the amount happiness, fulfillment and success you enjoy in all areas of your life, especially you interactions with other people.
But, for me, learning to say “I like myself”, “I like myself”, over and over until I actually began to believe it has changed my life. It has changed me from someone I couldn’t trust into someone I look up to, someone I admire, someone I respect, and, most of all, someone I trust.
Copyright Mack Newton. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the expressed written consent of the author.