Thursday, October 7, 2010

How do you build your own self-esteem?

The simple answer is you control your environment. No matter where you are on the self-esteem continuum, low, medium or high, you build your self-steam by controlling the situations around you.

Who do you spend most of your time with? Are they good for you? Do you feed yourself a consistent diet of healthful thought? Do you read good uplifting books? Do you listen to uplifting music? Do you treat others well? Are you kind? Are you respectful?

What materials are in your world for you to build your self-esteem with? You have choices, are you making them? Who are you letting influence you?

Over the years, many amazing individuals have influenced me in a positive way. As an example, let me tell you about one such person, Dr. Jeffrey Smith. I was fortunate to take a course in graduate school from Jeffrey Smith, a celebrated psychologist and long time professor at Stanford University. When I showed up to my first class I had no idea who the instructor was. He arrived a few minutes before class was scheduled to begin and very slowly walked to a chair at the front of the room. He sat slowly. He spoke softly. He explained that he was an old man. He had a terminal disease and he hoped to be alive long enough to teach this 18 week course. He apologized for his frailty. He explained that he would understand if anyone would like to transfer to another instructor. He spoke about looking forward to meeting all of us young people. (Most were in their thirties.)

Dr. Smith captivated the class. It was obvious to us that he wanted to die as he lived, a teacher. He let us know that we were special to him, that his world had greater meaning because we were a part of it.

Dr. Smith allowed us to experience his love. Soon after the course ended, Dr. Smith died. His wife mailed us our final exams. Until the end, Dr. Smith taught. He took the time to write a note on each final exam. My note was hard to read. The hand that penned it was weak. He wrote, “I like to think of you, by contrast, with your strong, positive spirit, working with children, Jeffrey”

I tucked Dr. Smith’s belief in me into to my self-esteem nest. I have often thought about how honored I felt being in his class, and when I teach, I wish to emulate Dr. Smith’s love and respect for his students.

Excerpted from my book: Change: How to Bring Real Change to Your Life

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