What is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is the set of beliefs that you have about yourself. It is how good (or bad) you feel about yourself.
Example self-beliefs that constitute self-esteem:
- I’m an excellent writer
- I’m a good human being
- I’m great at explaining concepts to others
- I feel I’m ugly
- I’m too fat
- I’m not good with people
- I’m a bad person
As you see above, self-esteem can be both broad (I’m a good human being) or specific to a certain field (I’m an excellent writer) Also self-esteem is known by many other synonyms such as self-worth, self-respect, self-confidence etc.
Why is self-esteem important?
Success in anything we take up in our life is directly linked to the amount of confidence we have in ourselves. Lack of confidence in oneself or low self-esteem prevents us from achieving our full potential in life. A low self-esteem also prevents us from enjoying life fully. By law of attraction, what we believe about ourselves is what the universe shows to us, and thus in order to attract positive things in our life, it is important that our beliefs about ourselves be positive. Self-esteem is an important Level 4 need in the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. For more details about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, see article here: According to Maslow, human beings have different types of needs.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs showing self-esteem as a level 4 need.
Where does self-esteem come from?
- Childhood: A large part of self-esteem comes from our childhood. The quality of relationships we have had with our parents, and the amount of praise you got from them have an effect on self-esteem. It is thus important that we positively acknowledge children for their achievements.
- Our own thoughts: Some people are naturally more positive than others. The kind of self-talk we do to ourselves is thus a big contributor to our self-esteem.
- Achievements: Success in anything we take up increases our self-esteem. Failures tend to decrease it.
- Peers: What people around us say to us affects our self-esteem. This can be people from work, family or those we have romantic relationships with.
How can I find out if my self-esteem is high or low?
Here are some general traits of people who have high and low self-esteem. Make a unbiased judgement and find out for yourself.
People with high self-esteem tend to:
- Feel confident in their abilities. They do not fear failure and are willing to ask for help when needed.
- Consider themselves equal to other, regardless of specific talents or outward differences they have. They neither have a superiority complex not inferiority complex.
- Standup for what they believe, do not feel attacked when they face opposition, and are open to change their beliefs and grow.
- Trust their own judgement and do not feel guilty when other people do not like the choices they make.
- They learn from the past and plan for the future. They do not worry too much about the past.
- Believe that others accept them, love them or at least find them interesting.
- Are sensitive to the feelings and needs of others.
- Enjoy their life.
Refer to the above as P1 to P8 in order to talk about it. Example – I found myself having P2, P4, and P8
People with low self-esteem tend to:
- Be pessimistic about their life, future, and themselves.
- Feel bad about many things and thus tend to be hostile and ready to explode.
- Are very sensitive to criticism. They feel easily attacked and experience obstinate resentment against critics.
- Criticize themselves often and are generally dissatisfied with themselves.
- Be fearful of making mistakes, which leads to a state of chronic indecision.
- Are unable to say “no” to others and consequently have an excessive will to please others.
- Tend to be perfectionistic thanks to their fear of making mistakes.
- Condem the behaviours of others, exaggerates the magnitude of mistakes and find it difficult to forgive others.
- Have a general lack of will to enjoy life.
Refer to the above as N1 to N9 in order to talk about it. Example – I found myself having N1, N2 and N7
How can I improve my self-esteem?
- Be positive. Focus on achievements and talents, rather than shortcomings.
- Stretch yourself beyond what you do now.
- Do not be hard on yourself. Let go of any mistakes made in the past.
- Surround yourself with positive people who encourage you in whatever you take up.
- Monitor and celebrate your success. Reward yourself when you achieve milestones.
- Take good care of yourself – body, mind, heart and spirit.
- Regularly practice self-love. Look into the mirror each day and say ” Wow – How wonderful you are – I Love you !”
- Work with a professional coach who can quickly point areas of improvement.