This is article 2 in the NLP TimeLine & Self-Esteem 3-part series

(If you haven’t read the first article, which is called “NLP and How Poor Self-Esteem Gets Created,”you can read it at: )

Having poor self-esteem is the result of having made unconscious decisions in early childhood that are some form of deciding there is something inherently wrong with you, such as “I am valueless,” “a failure,” “not good enough;” “bad,” or “not worthy of love.”   (These are called “limiting decisions.”)

The way people maintain an identity of poor self-esteem is by constantly reinforcing that negative experience of themselves.  (Although, they are generally not consciously aware they are doing it.) For instance you might frequently deprive yourself of enjoyable experiences, or you might cause yourself to fail in whatever you attempt to do, or you might do things in a way that other people find unacceptable.  Or, you might frequently interpret other people’s responses to you in ways that reinforce your negative beliefs about yourself.  And then, most likely, you would project the pain of feeling this way about yourself onto someone or something outside of yourself, believing it is being caused by them.

I’ll give you four little scenes to demonstrate the difference between the experience of reality people have, depending on if they have good or poor self-esteem:

The first two are from the perspective of good self-esteem:

Imagine a scene in which a woman, Janet, sees a man she knows and says “hi” to him.  And he walks by her with barely a glance at her.  She might say in her mind:  “Oh he ignored me. I wonder what that means.  Maybe he has something on his mind.  It could be just any number of things.  We’ll see what happens next time.”

Next imagine the same scene, but this time when Janet says “hi,” he comes over and says, “Hi, Janet.  You sure look pretty today.”  And Janet says, “Oh thanks,” and smiles.  That was Janet being in the here-and-now and actually responding to what is happening.

Next I’ll describe the same scenes, but with Suzie, who has low-self-esteem:

In the first scene, Suzie sees a man she knows and says “hi” to him.  He walks by her with barely a glance, and Suzie says to herself, “Oh I knew it.  He hates me.  He thinks I’m ugly.  All men think I’m ugly.  Why do I even bother?  I’m going to go home and eat some ice cream.”

In scene two, Suzie sees the man she knows and says “hi” to him, and he comes over and says, “Hi, Suzie.  You sure look pretty today.”  And Suzie responds, “Yeah, right! Sure!” (sneer)  (and under her breath) “Drop dead!” “God, what a liar.”

Poor guy, no matter what he does, she’d respond the same negative way.

In the scenes in which Janet was reflecting good self-esteem, she wasn’t dealing with a deep, negative decision about herself that she was avoiding, so she wasn’t afraid to be in the here-and-now.  She could be open to finding out what was true, be responsive, and flexible.  And she was also able to take in and enjoy the compliment and interaction.

But Suzie, who had poor self-esteem, and was being dysfunctional as a result of it, was really just relating in reaction to the limiting decision she had made.  She interpreted what was happening in reality in a distorted way that conformed to what she believed to be true.  She was not able to respond to what was actually happening in the here-and-now, be open to what was true, and take in the emotional nourishment that was available.  Instead, she blamed the man for the pain she was feeling. As a result, she was not open to finding out that her limiting decision wasn’t true (which they never are).

By blaming her pain on someone outside herself, Suzie was keeping herself in a vicious circle.  When we do that, we are cut off from the incredible possibilities that abound everywhere.

(See article 3 in the NLP TimeLine Process & Self-esteem series where I discuss the solution. You can read it at:

Author’s Bio: Jane Ilene Cohen, Ph.D. is an Intuitive & Transformational NLP Counselor, and an NLP & TimeLine Master Practitioner and Hypnotherapist, with a private practice in San Diego North County (Encinitas). She does individual counseling with children and adults (includes the NLP TimeLine Process and hypnosis), works with couples, families and other relationships, and facilitates groups and workshops. She is also the Founder of the “Life is Designed to Work” thought system.

For more about Dr. Cohen’s counseling services, go to: . For a free phone consultation to decide if this is right for you, or to make an appointment, call Dr. Cohen at (760) 753-0733.

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