Most of us know what a lack of self-esteem feels like. How we can be at a party and ten people say how good we look and one person says we look weird, and all we can think about is the latter one.
The Dalai Lama met with a group of western psychotherapists and he asked them what was the most common issue that their patients came to see them about. We were told they were unified in their response: a lack of self-esteem. Apparently he found this quite hard to believe, as self-esteem was not a known problem in Tibet. Later, we talked to one of his translators, now living with his wife and child in London. Tashi told us that children growing up in Tibet would be welcomed and loved by the whole village, which he found very different to the way children are raised in our more nuclear-oriented family culture.
Perhaps it is this that has contributed to lack of confidence issues, as it can be difficult to develop a good feeling about ourselves if our home life is conflicted or limited. Ed’s family of five lived in a three-bedroom apartment in the old Bronx, at a time when children were told that they are to be seen but not heard. This inevitably influences our sense of worth or self-respect.
We watched as an eager young television reporter from CNN asked the Dalai Lama what was the first thing he thought of when he awoke in the morning. We thought that the world’s most famous meditator would say something deeply profound or insightful, something along the lines of vowing to save the world from its own ignorance. Instead, the Dalai Lama simply replied, “Shaping motivation.”
He said that we all, including himself, have to be vigilant so that our intentions are focused in the right direction, and how shaping his motivation on a daily basis reminds him to extend loving kindness and compassion to all others. Such motivation takes us beyond ourselves so that we are not limited by a lack of confidence or self-esteem.
When we met privately with the Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamsala, India, he held our hands tightly as if we were dear friends. It felt as if he was filling us up with that kindness and compassion, so that we were re-invigorated with self-belief and certainty.
Next: How meditation can boost self-esteem
Meditation can enable us to transform a lack of self-esteem into inner confidence and self-belief. Join us and astronaut Edgar Mitchell to learn more at our workshop, at the Institute of Noetic Science in California, June 18-20.
There are two very specific ways it can do this. First, it enables us to meet, greet, and make friends with ourselves. We get to know who we really are, and to accept and embrace every part. As we begin to connect with a deeper place of trust, dignity, and self-worth we find that our doubts, insecurities, or fears are really only superficial.
Second, it awakens us to the inter-connection between every one of us, that we are not alone here. Rather, we are each a part of this wondrous planet together and the more we extend ourselves with kindness, the less we will be focused on our own limitations. Discovering our inter-connection takes us from a place of self-centeredness to other-centeredness.
As we bring acceptance and loving kindness to ourselves, we may uncover the deeper belief that we do not deserve to be happy, that we do not believe we are good enough–a sort of built-in self-destruction clause. So we invite kindness into that self-negation and lack of self-esteem, until such uncertainty dissolves in love.
Loving Self Meditation
Find a comfortable and upright place to sit. Take a few deep breaths and watch the flow of your breath as it enters and leaves.
Bring your focus to your heart, and as you breathe in feel as if your heart is opening and softening; as you breathe out, release any tension or resistance.
Now bring into your heart either an image of yourself or repeat your name, and hold yourself in your heart, tenderly and gently. Silently repeat, “May I be freed from self-doubt, may I be happy, may all things go well for me.”
Keep breathing into your heart, holding yourself with love, and repeating the words. This will generate a deep loving kindness and appreciation for yourself.
When you are ready, take a deep breath and let it go. Then go about your day with a caring heart and a smile on your lips.
How do you feel about yourself? Do you find it difficult to accept yourself? Do comment below.