by Eugene Yiga
“I have an everyday religion that works for me. Love yourself first, and everything else falls into line.” – Lucile Ball
It’s been said that most people fear public speaking more than death. I always found that a little strange but it’s starting to make sense. That’s because it’s also been said the number one fear we all have is the fear of rejection. We’re afraid the world will somehow look down on us as inadequate.
That fear drives us to all sorts of negative behaviour. It forces us to acquire things we don’t need simply to prove to others we’re worth more than they may think. But filling ourselves up from the outside will never work. It has to come from within. That’s the message in The Everything Self-Esteem Book. It’s about treating yourself well, learning to be comfortable on your own, and living your life.
1. Treat yourself well.
“Delusions of grandeur make me feel a lot better about myself.” – Jane Wagner
There are many ways to look after yourself. Personally, I take a holistic approach by focusing on body, mind, heart, and soul. It’s about ignoring things that don’t matter and focusing on things that do. It’s about good food, good books, and filling my life with things that make me happy.
Ultimately, only you can know what it is you should be doing. But whatever you choose, make time for it on a regular basis. Learn to find joy in the little things. Don’t wait for others to treat you well and don’t wait for “special occasions” either. Why not have them everyday?
2. Be comfortable on your own.
“We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The people we spend our time with have a tremendous impact on our lives. Like I write about in Work in Progress, they tend to make us more like they already are. Whiney people create more whiney people. Interesting people create more interesting people. That’s why it’s important to spend time with the right people and not the wrong ones.
Before we can actually connect with the right people, we need to learn to connect with ourselves. That means learning to be comfortable on our own. It’s really hard to go against the flow especially when so much emphasis is placed on relationships. But this really is an important first step. It’s like Confucius said: “Do not accept as friend anyone who is not as good as you.”
Learn to be independent by taking time off to be alone. I often go to the movies on weekend afternoons as a way to escape from all the noise. Yes, it’s uncomfortable at first, but eventually you adjust as you become more comfortable in your own space. Knowing you can make it on your own prevents you from desperately clinging to people who will only bring you harm.
3. Live your life.
“A slovenly dress betokens a careless mind.” – Don Quixote
You’ve got to understand you deserve good things in life. Take pride in what you wear and how you look, not to impress others but to feel good about you. Walk tall like you deserve to be noticed. Speak with confidence like you deserve to be listened to. And smile like you have a reason to, probably because you do!
You also need to understand that good things include healthy relationships and the chance to be who you’re meant to be. Life can be tough so make sure the person by your side is one you can trust and respect. It has to be you.
I started a journal at fourteen and published a semi-autobiographical account of my life at 21 in August 2007. That spurred the creation of a personal development blog, the best entries of which have been collated for my second book. Varsity Blah (which has received over 180 000 hits from 90 countries) also opened the door to several opportunities, including writing for GQ, publishing a poem dedicated to my late sister in an anthology of African works, and ‘Thinking Aloud’ in WPP’s The Wire, voted the world’s number one publication in its field.