You need to sanction your own beliefs and build belief through self talk. No one else can build a belief within you unless you sanction it. I could tell you that you’re the most delightful, wonderful person I’ve met. But you might think, “What’s he up to? What’s he want?” You can deny or reject my statement, thinking, “No. I don’t believe him.”

Who’s an authority in your world? Remember when you were nine? The authorities were the kids who were 12. When you’re vulnerable in school and you want the grade, you try to please the teacher. “Please tell me coach, could I make the team?” So you’re very vulnerable; you need the approval of people you see as authorities. But these people may have ulterior motives or low self-esteem.

Low self-esteem leaders and teachers are the most sarcastic, belittling people to be with. They’re always trying to put you in your place, and your place is below them, so they can control you. And if you fall for it, you’re caught in a low self-esteem marriage, and you’ll never do anything right.

Whatever you choose to accept becomes part of your reality. Nobody can build a belief in you until you sanction it first. So be careful whom you listen to. You need not be a victim of what is said to you and around you. Only when you sanction it does it become a part of your image of reality. People can devalue you, call you stupid or incompetent, but you can say, “Who are you to tell me that? You aren’t so bright yourself.”

challenge your beliefs

But how many people don’t know this when they are in school? How many abused spouses haven’t got the slightest idea that the husband is a jerk? When he tells her, “Who are you to think you can get a job? You can’t even organize the house. Get down where you belong,”

why do you suppose she falls for that? Because she loves him, or cares for him, or thinks he’s an authority.

When children are raised by parents who are negative, sarcastic, and belittling, the kids suffer from poor self-images. I’ve raised adopted kids, some of whom had self-images so low they could enter a room without even opening the door. They could slide right under it. They know they’re of no value, and they behave like it.

On the other hand, when children are raised with very affirming beliefs about themselves, they tend to have high self-esteem and expectations. For example, some of our kids were raised when Diane and I were school teachers, during the vow of poverty. But our daughter, Nancy, came along a couple of years after we started our business and started staying at nice resorts. We constantly affirmed Nancy, and her self-esteem skyrocketed. Once when Nancy was about six years old, we flew to Phoenix and took all the kids. As our other kids were at baggage claim looking for their bags, Nancy was looking for a porter! She didn’t think she needed to carry her own bags.

Another time, we went to a beautiful resort in Canada, where we had stayed many times before. We usually had a suite so we could entertain. Nancy was about nine then, and she had invited some friends along. I arrived and checked in early, but our suite wasn’t ready, so they put me temporarily in a nice cabin. When Diane and the kids arrived, they received the keys to put their things away. When Nancy got to the cabin, she said, “Dad, we’ve got the wrong room. They’ve made a mistake. I would never stay in a place like this.” The room was okay for me, but not for Nancy. She knew that she was something special, and she behaved like it.

You build your own self-image with your own thoughts, but when you’re little you don’t know who to listen to. So it just happens to be the circumstance, the lot you happen to be dropped into, or the environment in which you’re raised. And so here you are creating a self-image, and you just think it’s you, and so off you go for the rest of your life if you don’t change it by behaving like the person you know yourself to be.

Suppose a 10-year-old goes out for football. He gets hit and his nose starts to bleed, so he comes to the sidelines to rest. But his coach says, “You little wimp! Get back out there! We don’t want any cowards here.”

Now, even that won’t make an imprint until the kid starts thinking, “I don’t have what it takes.” That night, the kid can’t sleep for thinking about what happened at practice; he reviews it 100 times in his mind. The next morning, he wakes up thinking about it, still feeling the same way. So, within 24 hours, that one event could have happened 200 times in his mind. That’s enough to make a deep imprint in his self-image.

Language alone is an empty vehicle. It has to carry the spirit of intent. Even then, you must sanction it before it records as “the truth.” The power is in the receiver, not the words or the sender of the words. The power is in you. So the real truth is that you’re not the victim of your teacher, your coach, your spouse, your brother, sister, mom, or dad. When you sanction somebody else as an “expert,” you become a victim of you. As you talk to yourself in your mind, you build your self-image, and you start to self-regulate around it.