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You are greater than you think You are!

The kindergarten teacher informed the students in her classroom one day that they could draw a picture of anything they wanted.  As the teacher walked around the classroom curious as to what each student would choose to draw, she came across Sally. “What are you drawing Sally?” she asked. “I am drawing a picture of God,” she proudly answered.  The teacher said “But Sally, nobody really knows what God looks like,” to which Sally responded, “Well they will in a few minutes!”

That very healthy sense of self or healthy self-esteem is the one we were all born with.  We were all born as “Amazing” human beings believing there wasn’t anything we could not do.  We had a very healthy sense of who we were and we didn’t need anybody’s approval or confirmation of that fact.

A “healthy sense of self” is not the same as having a big ego.

Here’s the difference.

Healthy self-esteem is feeling good about who we are without requiring anybody else’s agreement or approval.  It is a balanced and unexaggerated self-respect.  It combines a healthy respect for the self with a healthy respect for others.

Ego, on the other hand, always believes in its own self-importance above the importance of others. Ego requires outside approval, validation and constant attention and gratification.  Ego believes in its own superiority above others.

High self-esteem is so visible in children.  It seems that they have the attitude that they can do just about anything.  They are filled with an adventurous attitude and say what’s on their mind.  They are risk takers. They are typically excited about getting up in the morning and seeing the world each day with “fresh eyes”. As we go through life and become exposed to other people’s critique and criticism, like parents, teachers, and peers, we often take it to heart and we lose our strong sense of liking who we are.  If the criticism is harsh and prolonged it can eventually lead to a low self-esteem.

We can also add to the depletion of our self-esteem by emotionally beating ourselves up over things we have done, or by feeling guilty about things and eventually non-deserving of having good things happen to us.

Grade 4 Math class.  The teacher asks the class a math related question.  Billy eagerly and enthusiastically raises his hand to answer.  The teacher acknowledges Billy and invites his answer.  Billy rises to his feet, gives his answer and the answer is…wrong. Many of the kids in the class…laugh at Billy. So how soon after that do you think Billy would be eager and excited about offering his enthusiasm to give another answer in front of the class?

This is a classic example of how innocent little experiences of daily living, can erode our self-esteem.  Think of a whole lifetime of such experiences and its possible accumulative impact on how we feel about ourselves, and how we see ourselves.

Note:  Just because we are criticized, does not mean we lose our self-esteem. It is how we respond to that criticism that does that.  If a child has a lot of encouragement and reinforcement for their good behaviours and accomplishments, that can serve to keep a healthy deposit of esteem builders which in turn creates an insulation from criticisms they may experience.

I believe that high self-esteem is not a place that people arrive at one day. It is a way of life.  It is just like anything else we value in life.  We need to work at it all the time.

I can tell you this:  When you Choose “Extraordinary” and decide to create your life the way you think it should be, you take a huge step in elevating and reinforcing your own self-esteem.  Every new accomplishment in living your life in a better way, helps you to reinforce a healthy perspective about the fact that you are a capable and worthy person.

Bob Koehler.

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