Imagine that you’re dating a guy or girl who is abusive. You’re miserable and ground down because he/she thinks that instead of making your dreams for your life come true, you need to settle for second best and just go with what’s practical – because that’s all you’re worth.

They tell you that you must put yourself LAST on your list and bend over backwards to meet the needs of everyone else. They also tell you quietly to shut up when you have something to say because everyone will laugh at you and think you’re dumb. He/she tells you a story about yourself which inhibits or limits you – such as, people don’t like you, and think X, Y, and Z nasty thoughts about you. He/she is always angry with you that you didn’t do it well enough – his/her standards are so high, you can never be good enough.

What a jerk!

You feel like crap when you’re with this person and your friends and family wonder why on earth you let them treat you so badly.

If you found yourself in a relationship with such a person, would you dump him or her? In theory, most people would say yes, definitely.

But the truth is, I sometimes see clients who have this kind of abusive relationship with themselves. If they aren’t as hard on themselves as in the example, they certainly have one or a few or several of the tendencies mentioned that make them unhappy some of the time. Many people have at least one of those negative ‘programs’ running in the background which pops up from time to time, undermining their confidence.

My point is: if you wouldn’t tolerate any of the above in a partner, family member or friend (and some people do), why do you tolerate it in yourself?

People who have this kind of relationship with themselves sometimes tell me it’s because they’ve been diagnosed with low self-esteem.

Self-Esteem and the Heart Chakra

Self-esteem is the cumulative result of how much love, care and acceptance you have given yourself (or failed to give yourself) up until now.

If you don’t give enough to yourself or honour yourself, then it creates a deficit, which hurts. When I’m doing a reading for someone who doesn’t value or accept themselves, this shows up as damage to their heart chakra. (The heart chakra is considered to be the love centre of the human energy system, where the energies of love, acceptance, care, nurturing and kindness reside, just above the breastbone.)

I always think of the heart as being like a cup or a fountain. You’ve got to fill it up yourself with love, care, nurture and kindness TOWARDS YOURSELF before you have any to share with others otherwise you’re running on empty. People with low self-esteem are people who are not in the habit of giving love, acceptance and nurturing to themselves. Maybe at some point they were taught that they were not important; that their wellbeing and fulfillment does not matter. It can also be as a result of conditions placed on them when they were kids. For example, if you do well at school, you’ll be rewarded. If you don’t, you’ll be punished. Some people have learned those patterns from their childhood and they’re still running in the background, making them miserable.

So instead, they may try to give their care, love and acceptance to others while neglecting themselves. Or sometimes they’re so lacking in these energies that they have nothing left to give and they’re slightly resentful and angry.

These people sometimes feel an emptiness, sadness or something wrong in their heart.

How to Change Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem is partly the result of an accumulation of habits that don’t serve you – and habits can always be changed. So, intend to resolve and heal the deficit in your heart chakra on an ongoing basis by filling it with love and care.

Here are some ways to take a review of your life as it is now and love yourself more:

1. Are you self-sacrificing for another person? Are you giving a great deal to someone without getting anything back? Do you feel drained? The heart chakra demands that you be selfish and put yourself first. Just like you need to put your own oxygen mask on before you can help others, you must fill up your own heart with love, self-nurturing and care before you can have anything to share with others. Self-sacrificing and self-neglect leads to a depleted heart chakra – it’s never fulfilling and is never in the highest good of all. In fact, it creates a deficit that you must fill later on in order to heal the heart chakra.

2. The heart chakra also demands that you listen to your own spirit and heart – that you honour yourself as the expert of your life and trust your inner wisdom. The heart chakra also asks you to listen to your true desires in life. Real, heart-felt desires are sacred because they point the way on the path of your life.

3. To be accepting of yourself, you must tolerate what you consider to be your own shortcomings and failures. Perfection is just a perception that someone imposes on you anyway. Who can say what is and what is not perfect?

4. A healthy heart chakra also means treating yourself well in a practical sense. For example, by taking time out for self-nurture. Do you take time off to give to yourself? To do your favourite hobbies and the activities which restore your soul? Do you value your own time and energy? Do you feed and clothe yourself as well as you can? How you feed yourself and how you clothe yourself sends out messages to you about how you feel about yourself. Watch what you put into your body – is it junk or is it nourishing? Is your food prepared with love and care?

There are many more human needs than these, but the underlying principle is this: the more you yourself take care of your own needs on an ongoing basis (including the need for love, acceptance and nurture) the better you feel (and the more you have to give).

For more on how to balance the heart chakra and achieve health self-esteem, click here.