Does the dark cloud of "I'm not good enough" raining on your parade? Is a lack of Self-Confidence preventing you from getting to that "silver lining" of your goals? If so, you're not alone. Many people walk around with their protective umbrellas of caution opened to prevent them from getting drenched by all those raindrops of self-doubt.

As the song goes, "Raindrops keep falling on my head." So "Nothing ventured, nothing lost" seems to be their motto.

Low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence often prevent people from basking in the sunshine of success. To start building your self-esteem you need to discover what prevents you from having enough self-confidence in the first place.

How Low Can It Go?

In our work, we've found that many people who suffer from low self esteem do so in large part by having been brought up in a society that uses punishment and reward to make us "behave."

This system leads us to believe that other people's opinions are more important than our own. And the criticism and punishment we experience can result in a negative self-image and poor self-esteem.

It's no wonder we learn to avoid criticism. It tends to reinforce the negative ways we see ourselves and that can further impact our self-confidence.

This leads many of us to create a kind of inner-umbrella we use to protect ourselves from the shower of negative self-talk and judgments unleashed when our self-doubt and limiting beliefs are stimulated by criticism or punishment.

You Only See What You Want to See

This negative self-image creates habits or patterns in the way we focus our attention on ourselves and our life situations. And the reality is that we become more and more aware of whatever it is we focus our attention on in our lives--for better or worse.

As an example, say you decide you want to purchase a certain style of coat, pants or, shoes. As soon as you pick just the right style for you, you start noticing that style everywhere.

This occurs because our brains are hardwired for pattern recognition. As soon as we start to recognize a particular pattern is important to us, we start seeing that pattern everywhere.

What We Focus Our Attention on Grows

This not only works for external things, such as what we purchase, but also on where we focus our attention inside, such as our beliefs about ourselves. If you believe you're not good enough to achieve your goals and dreams, then you'll hear "not good enough" in every conversation and see it in every situation in your life.

This pattern recognition shuts down our ability to see our circumstances any other way. Take our inner-umbrella for example. If we created the umbrella to guard us from the shower of negative self-talk that occurs when our limiting beliefs are stimulated, then will only see it as a tool to hide behind when it looks like we'll be showered on.

We won't be able to see any other possible uses, such as a walking stick, a pointer, or a "dancing in the rain" prop.

Or to be more specific: a way to deflect our own negative self talk as we forge ahead through criticism; or a tool we can use to point out the direction we want to go whenever we're beset by self-doubt; or as a rain-catcher to collect our self-critical statements so we can re-examine the underlying beliefs that cause them.

These limiting beliefs are the foundation of low self-esteem. They inhibit us from doing what's important and impact the choices that are available to us about how we see ourselves and the world. And just as importantly, how we believe others see us.

The First Step on the Path to Higher Self-Esteem and Loving Your Umbrella

The first step in building your self esteem is to use your self-critical statements to uncover these limiting beliefs. The next thing to do is choose where you would rather focus your attention. Learning to choose how to focus your attention will bring you one step closer to creating what you want in life.

"If you think you can, or if you think you can't, you're right." Henry Ford

How do you put this into practice in your life? Well, if you're not enjoying what's happening in a situation, pay attention to what you are thinking. Take a moment and ask yourself these questions:

  • "Can I simply deflect this negative self talk and move ahead with what I want to accomplish?"
  • "If this situation isn't headed in the direction I like, can I simply pick a new direction and steer the situation toward that?"
  • "Do I have a limiting belief here that keeps me from feeling more confident and hopeful right now, and what can I choose to focus on instead?"
  • Or can you use your umbrella in some other more helpful way?
  • If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then look for one thing you enjoy about yourself or how you might respond to what is happening, and focus your attention on that. Then imagine your umbrella covering you in this positive intention.

    What you focus your attention on will grow, and your umbrella can make a great self-confidence building fashion statement too! You get to choose.

    Remember, the shortest path to a happy life is found through conscious choice.

    Author's Bio: 

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