Everybody tells you that you should have a positive attitude. We even kinda' sorta' know what that looks like, but what do you do if you struggle with negative programming and "stinkin' thinkin'"?

First of all, do whatever is necessary to boost your self esteem. That seems easier said, than done. It doesn't happen overnight, and tes a lot of courage to do things you don't believe you are capable of doing.

Many, many years ago when I was in my early twenties and my self esteem was really in the toilet, I decided it was time to make a change. I wasn't sure where to start, but I set my intention to change my life.

I had grown up believing so many false things about myself. My dad was a "dirt poor" farmer. In college I joked that "my daddy was a farmer, but all he ever raised was girls". My parents, my seven sisters, and I all lived in a two bedroom home, sleeping three to a bed, then later when the three older sisters moved away, two to a bed. There were just too many of us to get a lot of attention from a parent, especially since my mother, bless her heart, cared for my sister who was totally disabled, and ran the farm while my dad picked up contract work wherever he could find it on road-building crews to make ends meet.

I felt that "people like us" had no value. I believed I had no value. I thought I was ugly and unlovable. I really felt that I was the lowest of the low. My father was somewhat abusive by today's standards, and didn't believe in "sparing the rod or the curse words" in disciplining us. Because I was the only one of the girls with blonde hair, I was always referred to jokingly as "a stray we picked up along the side of the road." While my parents were joking, to a three or four year old, those words cut to the core of who I thought I was. In my mind, I was a stray, a castaway, with no value to anyone.

Even after successfully completing high school in the top 10 in my graduating class, I believed I had nothing to offer and my career ambitions were very low. Fortunately a high school counselor saw something in me I had not seen myself. He completed all the paperwork for financial aid, spoke with my parents, and set me on a course to complete a Bachelor's Degree. I still recall that upon signing each paper I would say, "now I can still change my mind, right?" I just didn't think I had what it took to succeed at anything.

I majored in home economics because my dad said "well if you think you have to go to college, you should at least major in something where you can learn to be a good wife." Obviously his career ambitions for me were very low too. He also said, "it is too bad you are not good enough to major in art," which was my first love and secret dream career (that I never thought I could achieve).

After finishing my degree I still felt I was a failure. I never gave myself credit for the things I achieved - somehow I always found a way to discount them, because they didn't fit with my picture of who I was. I married an abuser and tried to be a "good wife" as my dad suggested, but that didn't work for me. Miraculously, I was able to feel enough value to know I didn't deserved to be abused any longer and mustered the courage to walk away, leaving behind everything buy my clothes. I even left a car that I had paid for with my extra earnings.

So in my late twenties, after a failed marriage, and after taking a class in assertiveness, I decided to tackle my self esteem. I began reading books about how to do that. I started by listing my accomplishments and my strengths. Boy was that hard for someone who thought so poorly of oneself! I forced myself to do it though, and to celebrate those accomplishments.

I read about "affirmations" - positive self talk to reprogram your mind. I started writing affirmations by the dozens every day and posting them all over the house. I started telling myself that I WAS good enough, that I DID have value and that I WAS lovable. (a la Stewart Smiley). I wrote and read these statements in first person and third person. For example, "I am loveable; Beth, you are lovable".

Next I began doing things I had previously been afraid to do because I thought I would fail. I started small, like taking an assertiveness class, joining and acting as President of a local civic club. Then I worked my way up to the bigger challenges like starting a community non-profit day care center and applying for and accepting the position of a Manager of a non-profit organization at age 27.

I continued the affirmations. I continued to celebrate my accomplishments, and I continued to amaze myself, because somewhere inside I was still this little "country bumpkin" imposter. But I pressed on. In my late twenties, when I could afford one, I bought a cassette tape player and earphones. I recorded my affirmations and listened to them daily as I did my household chores. Of course, my young children laughed at me, but that never stopped me. I was determined to change my programming. I read motivational books and studied Sylva Mind Control.

As I started to feel better about myself, I began to achieve bigger tings. Each success built on the last and my self esteem grew with each one. I finally went back in my late 30's and completed a 60 hour Masters Degree in Counseling and Professional Psychology.

Now, some 25 years later I can honestly say I do love myself. I honestly believe that I am lovable. I believe that I am capable and have tremendous value to others. I still struggle with those negative childhood messages that often rear their ugly heads, but I am pressing on. I have built a very respectable career for myself as a manager of training and organizational development and adjunct professor.

I still have more negativity challenges to tackle, like my negative programming about money, but I am getting there. It has been a lifelong battle, but I am winning. I feel better about myself than ever before. I am accomplishing things I never would have believed I could accomplish when I was that scared, intimidated, negative child.

If you struggle with negative programming, let this be your inspiration. Begin today to start reprogramming your "stinkin' thinkin'". It is a lot of work, but the rewards are definitely worth it. Interestingly, when your self esteem improves, you become a more positive person overall.

Author's Bio: 

Beth Mollenkamp is a human resources professional with a specialty in performance management, organizational development, training, and employee relations. Her previous experience was in non-profit management, working with people with disabilities and their families. Personally, she is interested in health and wellness, nutrition and health foods, spirituality, mental conditioning, and metaphysics. She is also an internet marketer and proud member of
Wealth Creations Network.