One of the questions that often comes up with coaching clients is, How can I become who I want to be when I don't believe I am that person? For example, they may be affirming, "I am a strong and powerful person," but in "real life," they're wimping out about standing up to a bullying coworker. They may know that that strong, powerful person is lurking inside them, but they don't know how to let it out.

In the world of personal development, when we learn a new idea, we learn it conceptually at first. We understand it intellectually, but we don't really "get" it. An inspiring teacher may tell us that we're lovable and deserve success and abundance, but our past experiences and our feelings about ourselves may tell us otherwise. How do we bridge that gap?

In order to live the new concept, it has to seep down into our gut, so that it becomes real for us. In some cases, that happens instantly, in an "aha" moment. But most often, it takes time living with the new concept and applying it, tentatively at first and then with greater confidence. After awhile, it becomes a natural part of us.

One way to do internalize a new concept is to take a stand that that's who you are, and then act "as if." For example, a number of years ago, I had a woman friend and a boyfriend, both of whom I cared about, who treated me indifferently. They would accept my calls, but wouldn't initiate a call or call me back. After awhile, I got the message and ended both relationships, but it left my self-esteem in tatters. I made a promise to myself that I would never again get into a relationship, no matter how much I cared about the person, where there wasn't a balance of give and take. That promise has been tested many times over, but I now have people in my life who value my friendship and are happy to reciprocate. And my self-esteem is intact.

Spiritual teacher Caroline Myss reminds us that no one is going to go out of their way to empower you. It's something you have to do for yourself. We may feel that we need to wait for others to tell us who we are, but in truth, who we are comes from inside. Outside validation is merely a reflection of that and the icing on the cake.

So, when you're faced with a dilemma, ask yourself, What choice would I make if I really valued myself? If I deserved the best? What would the person I most admire do? And then make that choice. Take a stand that you *are* that valued person and act on it.

Reinforce your new stand with new self-talk. The voice in our head is like running an affirmation tape 24/7. Would you play a tape that told you that you were weak, incompetent, stupid and worthless? Would you say that to someone you valued? I think not. But that's exactly what you're doing when you keep saying those things to yourself. Work with affirmations and thought-stopping to put your mind-tape on a more positive track.

This may be scary at first. You may be afraid of losing people – and in truth, you may. But do you *want* the kind of friends who would shatter your self-esteem? Don't you know in your heart that you deserve better, even if you find it hard to believe or reinforce just yet?

Your worth is a given. It's one of your human gifts, and there's nothing you have to do to earn it. Take a stand for that, and then allow your self-esteem and self-image to rise up to meet it. As you take a stand for who you know in your heart you are, the universe will begin to shift around you, and your new truth will be validated. My only warning: don't be discouraged if it doesn't happen right away. Stick with it unflinchingly, and eventually, you will see results.

Author's Bio: 

Sharon Good is a life and creativity coach and author who has worked as an actor, photographer, publisher and is the author of "Managing With A Heart: 222 Ways to Make Your Employees Feel Appreciated". She is a strong supporter of individuals at all levels of creativity and is especially passionate about those participating in artistic endeavors. For more information or to contact the author, visit