Author Archives: Daniel Kim

Self-Esteem (Part 3)

For the last few posts, I’ve been talking about self-esteem. Today, I’m going to finish off this topic with “how to think about yourself.”


First thing you have to do is break any habit of thinking negatively about yourself. Trying to work on your self-esteem without doing this necessary step, is like trying to get 6-pack abs through vigorous exercise without cutting out your consumption of junk food. The big difference is, even a little taste of negative thinking will not add any happiness to your life. This first step is not easy to do because many of us are addicted and we keep on relapsing. Cut negativity out of your life cold-turkey and rewire your brain to think positively about yourself in all circumstances.

When you notice that you are different, believe and meditate on the thoughts “I am wholly acceptable,” “I am beautiful just the way I am.”

Next, when you notice the gap between where you are now and where you would like to be, believe and meditate on the thoughts “I have incredible intrinsic worth now,” “I am good enough as a person now,” “Maybe not so immediately, but I will reach my goals.” And meditate on the same thoughts when you face rejection, failure, and others just straight-up put you down.

“Yeah that’s a nice, fluffy concept, Daniel. But how am I supposed to believe that I have incredible worth if everything around me tells me that I don’t?”

This is where perspective comes in. You have to ask yourself, “why do the things around me that tell me that I don’t have value” matter? “Why is it easier to not take it so seriously when I am put down by a toddler who doesn’t know me at all VS when I am put down by an adult who knows me very well?” It is because we think the adult knows more, that the adult is more intelligent, that the adult has more experience and understanding to judge more accurately. Now, as long as you believe that adults, including yourself, have the greatest ability to judge accurately, your view of yourself will always be vulnerable to the judgment of humans.

But what if you were able to really stretch your imagination. What if you were to believe that there possibly might be an entity that has an even greater ability to judge accurately than humankind… that this entity, being omniscient, knows everything about you, even all the things you try to hide from everyone else. And still, this higher being finds so much value in you, regardless of your performance. A good human parent may love his or her child whether or not the child colours within the lines. What if this higher power loves you and finds great value in you even when you don’t “colour within the lines” in life.

This is what I choose to believe in and it has given me so much freedom in my life.

What you choose to believe about yourself, whether it is based on measurable evidence or not, will affect your self-esteem.


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Self-Esteem (Part 2)

In my last post, I talked about some events that we all go through in life: (1) when we notice that we are different, (2) when we notice the gap between where we are now and where we would like to be, (3) when we face rejection and failure, (4) and when others put us down. These are all normal parts of life. Whatever thoughts you meditate on about yourself, though, can shape your self-esteem. In this post, I’ll discuss some of the common unhealthy ways we might think about ourselves.

When we notice we are different, negativity may sound like this: “The way I am is unacceptable,” “I need to be like them in order to be acceptable.” These beliefs will cause you to try to make changes to yourself when change is not necessary. If you are rewarded with a feeling of acceptance after giving into this lie, that’s not good. The act of changing then becomes your defense mechanism and you can become dependent on this unnecessary activity. Your personal sense of acceptance from doing this will only last a short time before your core belief about your differences resurfaces and you go back to thinking “the way I am is unacceptable.”

When we notice the gap between where we are now and where we would like to be, negativity may sound like this: “I am not good enough the way I am,” “I need to reach this point in my life to be good enough.” Although self-improvement is a good thing, these unforgiving beliefs will cause you to overexert yourself, possibly to the point of workaholism, and for most of the time, you won’t feel good about yourself.

Next, rejection and failure. Yes, a lot of times, not always, we experience rejection and failure because we may not be good enough in our abilities. But a lot of people, in the face of rejection and failure, think “I’m not good enough… as a person.” Thinking like this is unhealthy. With this kind of thinking, you develop a dependence on acceptance and success to give you a sense of worth. Perfectionism also results from not learning how to be ok with rejection and failure.

And finally, there are times when others just straight-up put you down. Who are they to sum you up and judge your value as a person? But if you believe the negative judgments about yourself, it will break down your self-esteem.

In my previous post, I mentioned that habitually thinking negatively about yourself could lead to low self-esteem, social anxiety, and perfectionism. There’s a lot more. You’ll be dependent on your different control mechanisms to regulate your sense of worth. You’ll think you deserve less or more in life by how your performance fluctuates. You won’t be able to help but judge the value of others in the same twisted way you judge your own value. And you’ll be less happy. It sucks.

So how do we turn this around? You’ll have to wait for my next post.

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We are all different from one another. We look different from one another. Our body metabolizes food differently. Our brain works differently. We experience the outside world and our emotions differently. We both outrun and lag a little behind the average population in different areas. These are just differences we all have.


Every one of us also has a vision of what it might look like to be the best version of ourselves. It’s very similar to the vision of utopia I talked about in my last post. Because of this vision, we may notice a gap between where we are now and where we would like to be.

No matter how great you are, no matter how hard you try, you may get many doors slammed in your face, experience many failures, and be put down by others

These four things, (1) our differences, (2) this gap, (3) rejection and failures, and (4) being put down by others are all normal parts of life. No matter how normal they are, though, sometimes they make us feel bad emotionally. And when we feel bad, we are more vulnerable to thinking bad.

These are some negative thoughts that might follow: “I’m not good enough (worth),” “I need to create my worth like they did,” “I’m not beautiful,” “I need to look like them,” “Something is wrong with me,” “The way I am right now is unacceptable.”

Like I mentioned already in my post about the addiction to negativity, if you keep on meditating on these negative thoughts again and again, you can become addicted to thinking in that way about yourself. When you get to this point like I did at one point in my life, you become increasingly imprisoned by your low self-esteem, social anxiety, and perfectionism. And this is NOT where you want your thoughts to take you.

In my next post, I’ll talk about some of the common ways so many of us try to ineffectively fix this problem. To finish off this series, I’ll probably end off with explaining how to think positively about yourself.

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Psychology of Utopia

All of us have a different vision of utopia. Why are they different? Well, I like the story of the blind men examining an elephant. Our understanding may be limited to the parts of the “elephant” that we’ve touched.

Let’s say one of those blind men is Ned flanders. Ned Flanders is a Christian. His utopia is called “heaven.” Heaven is all about abundance and freedom from missing the bulls-eye. Let’s bring Lisa Simpson in. She’s a feminist and a vegan. Her utopia is one of gender equality and the ethical treatment of animals. Let’s bring Brian Griffin in. He’s an atheist whose utopian world has no religion or unscientific thinking. And finally, Stewie Griffin. His utopia is one of world domination, where he is the ruler over all people.

When these characters look at the world that they live in, they notice that the actual state of the world falls pretty far below their vision of utopia. They see all the laws, systems, and all kinds of obstacles that hinder the world from reaching their own vision of utopia. No matter who you are, this gap causes an unpleasant feeling. It can even bring up emotions of anger.

So let’s say all these characters are a bit disgruntled because of the gap that they sense. Naturally, you want to get rid of this bad feeling as soon as you can, right? So what many people do, which is actually not the healthiest thing for you to do in the long-run, is to try to immediately close this gap. As I have already explained in my post on perfectionism, this is a mechanism of escape. And the more you escape again and again from this emotion that is a normal part of life, you will forego the opportunity to build up your tolerance for this difficult feeling.

Another thing that you might be doing in attempt to close your own gap is mocking, shaming, and criticizing others who are going against your vision of utopia. While this might work, I assure you that this strategy is not very effective. As a professional motivational speaker, I can say that positivity motivates people much more effectively. Mocking, shaming, and criticizing others only isolates you and hurts others.

So what do you do instead?

Think positively and defer your gratification. Believe that everything will be ok. Let go of control and stop thinking that it’s all on you to make the world a better place.

I do have something to say to some Christians, though. Don’t think so negatively about our values being opposed and redefined. It was never these values on their own that made the biggest change in people’s hearts anyway. It was Jesus’ extravagant love. So give more of that extravagant love instead. And right now is not the time for you to give your input. Ask yourself, “where was I when the gay community felt rejected?” “Was I there to show them love?” If not, and if the gay community is not asking for your input, it’s definitely not the time to share your values in their time of celebration.

Whether you’re a theist or an atheist, whether you’re a feminist or vegan or whatever, don’t be a jerk. Think positively and be nice to others.

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Thinking Positively About Others

When you keep on getting let down by others again and again, your mind will want to find a reason why this keeps on happening. As mentioned in my last post, the practice of coming up with a reason to settle one’s anxiety in this area of uncertainty is called rationalization. There are many reasons one can come up with, all of which are impossible to prove, but here’s one that works well:

“All of us are imperfect and in the process of becoming better people. I notice this area of imperfection more because my excellence in this area causes me to have higher standards. I understand that others may have excellence in other areas. There is no better or worse, just different. Rather than expecting others to be like me, I will simply be true to myself and continue to meet my high standards in my own unique area of excellence.”

This kind of rationalization is good for you because it not only gives you a reason, but it is also hopeful for the future, it celebrates our individual differences, it gives others and yourself grace, and it encourages you to continue to do the “right” thing. So that’s positive rationalization.

Next, when we get hurt by others, we are more vulnerable to making negative judgments about others and this can become a dangerous pattern. The challenge is to think positively about others, even when you get hurt. Again, there are many judgments one can come up with, all of which are impossible to prove, but here’s one that works well:

Choose to believe that your wrongdoers have incredible value and worth. Choose to look at them as masterpieces who just don’t happen to be everyone’s cup of tea, like Jackson Pollock’s paintings. Let me go even more extreme. What is the most common thing that people value so much that they would give up everything for it, that they would even die for it? It’s your own child. When you think about someone who’s wronged you, try to think about them as a beloved child of someone very important.

“But Daniel, I know their parents and they’re not very important people.”

And as long as you think like this, you will limit your positivity.

But what if you chose to stretch your imagination as far as thinking that they are beloved children of a living spiritual entity of utmost importance. And that this higher power values them so much that He died for them. Sounds a bit crazy because it’s way too ridiculously positive, right? But that is what I choose to believe. And though it’s not easy, it’s been amazing!

What you choose to believe about others, whether it is based on measurable evidence or not, will affect your love, respect, grace, and openness toward others.

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