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How well do you know your self?

When we take on a new role or enter a new environment for the first time we can find ourselves acting out perceived expectations of how we should be. This is a trap and we can find ourselves unconsciously creating discomfort and awkwardness. The problem is that we are not behaving like ourselves and instead we are acting like we think others want us to be. The end result is that we can end up playing a role we are not familiar with hoping that it will fit what others want from us. The end result is confusion and incongruence.

If you read any recent book on leadership or entrepreneurship that takes a case study approach you will find that they all essentially reach the same conclusion. The bottom line is that anyone who is successful is very self-aware and extremely conscious of their own strengths and weaknesses. Another way of putting it is that they have an accurate and resilient self-concept which is open to feedback and very firmly connected to the reality of what is happening around them. This is not new. The eastern philosophy of ‘start from where you are’ expressed in Buddhism has been around for a long time.

Here’s a simple model for considering self-concept and how this relates to self-esteem.

High self-esteem occurs when your actions, values and self-concept are in alignment

Self-esteem is the result of the evaluation of your self-concept in comparison with your actual behaviour and your values. If you think you are a certain type of person, act in that way and also value how you behave then you can be said to have high self-esteem. However if your actions, in your own evaluation, suggest otherwise and/or you don’t value your way of being then you have low self-esteem.

For example, take the quality of being a determined person. If you value being ‘determined’ and your actions match this value then this will tend to lead to high self-esteem (of course ‘determined’ is a generalisation and will mean something different to everyone). If you find yourself being determined, but not actually valuing this quality, i.e., you might be living up to someone else’s expectations, then this will lead to frustration and lower self-esteem. Conversely if you find yourself not being determined, but truly value this quality, then this will also lead to low self-esteem.

So in summary high self-esteem occurs when your actions, values and self-concept are in alignment.

What about people who have too much self-esteem? People who appear to be over-confident or arrogant actually may be suffering from a rather insecure self-concept, i.e., they need reassurance from others or need to dominate in order to feel valued. A person whose actions are in line with their values and self-concept has little need to mention to others how great they are. They just ‘are’ and happy about it.

The first step to any personal change should always be self-awareness. This is the core frame for all our training and coaching work at Field & Field. In our NLP Diploma course, for example, the underlying theme is ‘relationships’, the most important relationship being the relationship you have with yourself. If you are up for greater self-awareness leading to more success and greater personal happiness then take a look at our fully-residential NLP Diploma course in The Cotswolds.

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