Many people come to my public speaking courses and talk about the power of their inner critic. The harsh voice inside their heads. Lots of people think its a fundamental fixed part of themselves. The inner voice that says "I'm crap, but everyone else is ok".
Tara Brach, the Buddhist teacher calls this lack of self-esteem "the trance of unworthiness". Many of us are in this trance - we carry a belief that there is something deeply flawed in us. That there is a part of us that should not be seen.
I'm not _______ enough
(in that space put thin, tall, rich, fluent, clever, good, perfect etc.). The inner critic seems to rule with ease. If we are not careful it seems that we have a basic sense of badness. We are ashamed of who we are. And we are incredibly harsh on ourselves. I'm not sure who said this but I know the following to be true "If we treated our friends like we treat ourselves we would have no friends"
One of the biggest gifts we can do for ourselves is to end this war with ourselves and start having compassion for who we are. That takes a practice of noticing the inner critic and radically changing our relationship to it. Saying thanks but no thanks to that thought.
It might mean we develop other voices such as the inner ally (a voice of a really good friend/ your best teacher at school) and perhaps an inner expedition leader (the wisest, most loving part of ourselves and the one that sees the bigger picture for our own good). These voices would be encouraging and supportive rather than always spouting poison. You can still aim to do well but by support rather than criticism
We need to get a bigger sense of our being and we need to cherish ourselves more. Can we, perhaps, get close to liking ourselves sometime before we die? Be at peace with who we are.
The work of Tara Brach and Brené Brown are worth looking for if you want to follow this up.