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A Better You
by Jo Ann Fore

Editor's Note: Online Dating Magazine welcomes Jo Ann Fore as a new team member. Her weekly column explores self improvement methods to create "A Better You".

Healthy Competition

“I met 16,000 men in one month,” touts the cover of a national women’s magazine.

It takes only one look at this headline about one woman’s ‘cyber story’ to discover online dating can be competitive. Sixteen-thousand men apparently responded to this woman’s online profile, in one month. Wow!

So how do we, the average, modern-day-romantic, set ourselves apart from the competition as we log online daily in search of the ideal mate?

 

A Healthy Self-Esteem
The most important thing we can do is have a reasonable sense of self-esteem. A healthy self-worth, when we accept and value ourselves unconditionally, increases our appeal. A confident individual draws respect and attention, both in person and online.

“Self-esteem is the reputation we acquire with ourselves,” explains Nathaniel Branden, a psychotherapist and author of many books on the psychology of self-esteem. Branden shares how it’s important to understand that self-esteem is, “What I think of me, not what anyone else thinks of me.” (www.nathanielbranden.com).

Unfortunately, there are many who don’t think very highly of themselves. Battling a sense of low self-worth, most sabotage their efforts to develop a satisfying relationship. An inadequate self-esteem impairs their ability to believe they deserve good things. Often these individuals don’t inherently believe a good relationship is possible.

Yet, the innate longing to connect with someone is still there.

So, the search goes on.

But what happens when we find someone who’s interested? We can’t reciprocate in a healthy manner if don’t believe in ourselves. Afraid that people won’t like us if they knew what we were ‘really like’; we often don a mask. And we begin a dance of deception that wastes time and hurts people.


The Beginning of Low Self-Worth
Commonly, we received messages as a child from our parents, peers, and friends that helped form us into an adult. Unconditional love, respect and praise fostered confidence, while unjust criticism, verbal abuse, neglect or ridicule fostered insecurity.

Yes, there are incidents where individuals come from a healthy home and still develop a low self-esteem. But I believe the majority can be traced to genetic conditioning.

“Parents need to fill a child's bucket of self-esteem so high that the rest of the world can't poke enough holes in it to drain it dry,” shares Alvin Price, in his book 101 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Self-Esteem.


Filling the ‘Dry Bucket’

But what if the world has gotten to you and your bucket of self-esteem is dry?

If you want to change – you must consider the possibility of change. You first have to believe that you can be different. You can learn to value yourself. You can learn to be confident and satisfied.

Rethink the things you believe about yourself. Accept yourself for who you are and who God made you to be. You are a unique individual. Go ahead - risk ridicule and say it out loud, “By the grace of God, I am what I am!”

Acknowledge your strengths. Then, admit your weaknesses. But don’t revel in your weaknesses. Find new ways to overcome them – change them.

A healthy self-esteem isn’t a magic wand for the perfect life (or relationship). Bad things will still happen. We will have days we feel good about things and days we feel bad. Yet, in spite of fluctuating feelings, with a healthy self-esteem we learn to press forward. Our confidence isn’t shaken to the core and we aren’t destroyed by everyday occurrences.

A plethora of articles and books on improving our self-esteem is available. I’ve listed some steps that are consistently mentioned in many resources. An individual who suffers with a low self-worth can see quick improvement by following these suggestions:

» Distance yourself from unjust criticism
» Act confident (even if you have to fake it at first)
» Find joy in everyday life
» Don’t be so hard on yourself
» Reduce stress
» Exercise and eat right
» Focus on the positive and not the negative
» Find a support group

You do have control over your situation, but you must change the way you think about it. You can change your self-esteem, but you have to believe that you can. Once you believe, and you start thinking differently about your situation, you will learn to value yourself appropriately.

An acceptance of yourself inspires bold living – you find an ability to defend yourself from unjust criticism, you believe that you are worth it, you understand you do deserve good things, and you don’t worry so much about being 1 in 16,000 - you know you have a lot of offer the right person.



Jo Ann Fore welcomes your comments about this article or suggestions for material you would like to see in future articles. Email her at: JoAnnFore@msn.com. A Better You is published every Saturday.

 


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