The Root of the Self is Self-Esteem

Tips to improve self esteem.

Have you ever wondered how the Japanese Bonsai tree stays so perfectly small? Does the botanist clip the new sprouts every day with a tiny pair of scissors? Guess again. The secret lies in trimming the roots of the Bonsai tree. The crown of the tree matches the root system. Long roots give you a wide crown of branches. Short roots lead to short branches.

Just as roots are the foundation of a tree’s growth, the root of the self is your self-esteem. If you see yourself as a person of value and worth, then this will be reflected in your mindset and attitude. You will be able to approach any challenge with a positive “yes, I can” attitude.

How do you acquire a positive self-image if you have carried a negative self image for years? You were never quite “good enough” in the eyes of your parents, you never achieved that “potential” that your teachers wrote about in your school report cards, your friends really never included you in the “with it” or “in” crowd. How are you going to transform many years of knocks and blows to your self-concept into a self-respecting one?

Let’s delve deeper into your spiritual center to see if we can activate your self-esteem. Get into regression mode. Write down on a piece of paper the ways which, during your childhood and teenage years people “put you down.”

Now, let’s do a relaxation exercise. Sitting in a comfortable chair or lying on a bed, relax by sending your mind into your toes—now relax the muscles in your neck by massaging your neck from the “inside” with your mind. You do this by breathing in deeply through your nose and holding that breath for 3 seconds. As your breathe in, tense up the muscles in your neck. As you exhale let go of the muscle tension in your neck. Breathe out through your mouth for seven seconds. This is called body breathing. Your neck should feel open, released and relaxed. Your neck should begin to feel light and tingle. This should take about twenty to thirty seconds.

Now move your mind into your back, breathe in, tense up your back muscles and then exhale and release them. Now do the same for the rest of the muscle groups in your body-legs, abdomen, stomach, shoulders, face and even your mind! Tense up your brain and then let go…of your thoughts. Let them float away. Feel a sense of release and relief and relaxation. This should take a further three minutes.

Now, while in this state of relaxation, take yourself back to the age you were when a particular person “put you down” and imagine that person standing in front of you. Go to that place, the age you were then…be “there.” Now, tell that person what you always wanted to say but never had the opportunity. Try to do it in a calm and even tone. Go on—have a conversation. Say what you always wanted to say but never did. Speak to the individual and set the situation straight. What would he say in response to you? Say it out loud. Respond to him or her again. By engaging in this “conversation” you will be reliving the experience and you will be able to fix up the emotional pain, retroactively.

This is a gestalt therapy technique where you can relive the past and release the emotional pain that has remained locked in your soul. Now, on the count of five, slowly come back to the present. Open your eyes. You have now initiated the process of healing.

Let me share with you a self-esteem exercise which is outlined in detail by Dr. Nathaniel Branden in his book, How to Improve Your Self-Esteem (Bantam Books, New York, 1987). While you are in this “earlier age consciousness,” become aware that those “put down” experiences may have become incorporated into your developing identity and self-concept. By doing so you can get in touch with those negative feelings. You feel the vulnerable child within you. It is called the “inner child”.

Now, come back to your adult self and reach out and give that inner child or teenager—which is you—only younger, a warm hug. Tell the child or teenager within you that it will be okay. Make friends with the child or teenager in yourself. Embrace the child or teenager as you would care for your own child. Begin to accept that child or teenager as being an earlier version of you.

Accepting or coming to terms with your “self”, and realizing that you have intrinsic worth and value, are prerequisites for reprogramming yourself with basic self-esteem. You are valuable just by “being”, as opposed to “doing”. Now, your root system can once again extend into the soil or foundation of your psyche and begin to anchor your identity and self-concept with positive feelings and energy. This state of being is the opposite of anxiety. Practice it for 5 minutes every day. You will soon gain a greater sense of calm and serenity.

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