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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

The Role of Self-Esteem in Health and Happiness

The word “healthy” means to many having a body that is free of disease, at a healthy weight and functioning well. True health is much broader and deeper than that. It includes relationships (spousal abuse is not healthy), stress responses (constant anxiety is not healthy) and the ability to live with integrity (guilt and shame are not healthy). This last aspect is not usually included in a typical health definition, but it should be.

When it comes to making decisions about our health, most of us have an innate sense of what is good for us and what is bad for us, whether we are talking about toxic relationships or toxic chili dogs. It seems to that we constantly have a still, small voice guiding us toward our best selves, and to the degree that we follow or ignore that guidance determines a lot.

There might be, for instance, someone learning how to live a healthier lifestyle that thinks in all earnestness that the blueberry pie they had eaten for breakfast was really healthy just because it contained blueberries. Many of us need some re-education on the basics, but we are trying.

Living with integrity (following that guidance) is what builds and strengthens our self-esteem; creating internal conflict (overruling that guidance with a decision that inevitably produces an undesired outcome) is what keeps us stuck in the unhealthy cycles that lead to deep dissatisfaction and physical disease.

When we constantly violate our own sense of what is correct for us, we develop a bad reputation with ourselves. This sets up a negative self-esteem cycle of making bad decisions, feeling badly about them, and then deciding we are not worthy of experiencing the good life as a result. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and a difficult cycle to break.

In this cycle there are two aspects: one is in the realm of the psyche (thoughts, beliefs and feelings) and one is in the realm of action. To break out of the cycle in the most powerful way involves a two-fold approach. One aspect is that we actively transform the psychological components through self-inquiry (investigating thoughts and beliefs about reality and how that is affecting our choices), meditative practices (to create a deeper sense of center and awareness of these negative thoughts not being true) and affirmations (to reinforce our positive self-image).

Healing the psychological aspects will do wonders for the actions we take to be easily chosen and in alignment with what we really want. Then, the aligned actions reinforce the positive self-esteem. The cycle becomes a beautiful and healthy one, because the self-esteem is real; it is based in reality and in action.

When someone says, “I struggle with my weight,” they aren’t literally struggling with it; they are struggling with an internal conflict. The struggle is between the higher self (that wants to be healthy and happy) and the negative voices that say, “You don’t deserve it! You can’t do it!” There is not enough willpower in the world to overcome this sort of struggle. But when we are operating as a person of integrity, the struggle melts away; as a result, our self-esteem, our happiness and our satisfaction with our body and our life blossom.

Amy Allen is The Self-Esteem Guru, conducting private healing sessions and teaching Lit from Within workshops that utilize wisdom and success methods for health, happiness and positive self-esteem and body image. She is the author of Lit from Within: The Sacred Path of Healthy Self-Esteem and Permanent Weight Loss. Contact her at 404-326-9565, [email protected] or LitFromWithin.net.

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