JohnMello is a writer, composer, musician and the author of books for children and adults.
Definition of Self Esteem
Self esteem is a realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself. It can also be thought of as self-respect. According to Merriam-Webster.com, self esteem is a:
"Sense of personal worth and ability that is fundamental to an individual's identity. Family relationships during childhood are believed to play a crucial role in its development. Parents may foster self-esteem by expressing affection and support for the child as well as by helping the child set realistic goals for achievement instead of imposing unreachably high standards."
Self esteem describes a person's overall sense of their own worth or value as an individual, which includes their beliefs, emotions and behaviors.
Understanding Self Esteem
Self esteem is a term used to describe one’s respect for oneself and one’s ability to evaluate his or her self worth. It’s the product of how we think about ourselves, how we feel about ourselves, and how those thoughts and feelings make us behave.
People with low self esteem don’t think they’re worthy. They don’t feel valued or significant, and they behave as if nothing they do is going to change that. They focus on the negative rather than the positive and fail to trust or value their own opinion. They worry about what other people think of them and are reluctant to put themselves first.
Their behavior patterns highlight their self esteem issues as well, through a lack of social skills, an inability to take on new challenges and their failure to look after themselves. But worst of all, this low self esteem evokes feelings that make it almost impossible to rise above it, such as:
- Feeling withdrawn and unhappy
- Feeling they don’t get enough attention
- Feeling their life has no meaning or purpose
- Feeling like they’re not in control
- Feeling alone and isolated
- Feeling they never get the recognition they deserve
- Feeling their life is fragile and insecure
Check out my hub entitled 10 Easy Self Esteem Boosting Tips when you get a chance.
Self Esteem Building Blocks
Low self esteem isn’t a disease; it’s simply a learned behavior. It happens when your self belief takes a battering by what other people say or do. Perhaps you failed a test or were unable to get a promotion. Maybe your team lost a big match and they blamed it on you. Or it might be that a teacher or authority figure didn’t give you the attention you deserved at a crucial time in your life.
Once you start believing you aren’t good enough or aren’t worthy, it’s hard to shake those feelings off. The more you think about it, the worse you feel, so that you end up conditioning yourself to be disappointed, to expect nothing from life, and to believe that you have little to offer.
People with healthy self esteem don’t work that way. They simply think about what they want to do, knowing how that will make them feel, and take action to bring about the result. If things don’t go completely the way they want, they simply alter their expectations for next time.
To rebuild your self esteem and start getting more out of your life, follow these three basic steps:
- Change the way you think
- Change the way you feel
- Change the way you behave
We’ll look at how to address each of these issues in the following sections.
Self Esteem Building Thoughts
You need to focus on the positive and give yourself credit for any accomplishments, no matter how small. Turn your thinking around so that instead of saying “I can’t do it” you might say “I’ll give it my best shot.” Instead of constantly thinking “I never do anything right” you should try reminding yourself that no one gets it right all the time.
Think about the little things you do well in your life. Can you drive a car? Can you cook? Can you read a map? Everybody has certain things they’re good at, whether that’s being a whiz with numbers, having a way with words, able to build things or to organize people and events.
Next time someone offers you the chance to do something different, try changing your thinking. Instead of telling yourself you can’t do it, have a go and see what happens. Even if nothing monumental comes of it, you’ll be stretching yourself a little, moving out of your comfort zone, opening yourself up to new experiences and growing as an individual. And that can’t be bad.
Self Esteem Building Through Emotions
How do you feel about yourself? Are you a loner, someone no one else has time for? Or deep down inside do you really feel that you’re special?
Emotions have been described as the “engine” of life. Without feelings we wouldn’t be living, we’d just be going through the motions. Imagine a life in which you weren’t able to feel pride, joy, elation, confidence, fear, respect or wonder, if the sight of a beautiful sunset or a glorious rainbow didn’t stir you at all.
Fortunately that’s not usually the case. Most of us are capable of feeling an enormous range of emotions from both ends of the “feeling” spectrum, and we can use that ability to help pump up our self esteem.
Here’s the trick – suppose you think about the smell of baked bread. Chances are that brings certain feelings to your mind. But you don’t have to actually smell the bread as it comes out of the oven; you simply have to imagine what it smells like.
Same goes for winning a competition, or doing a good job at work, or helping a friend in need. You don’t have to actually be in any of those situations to activate the feelings they produce. You can do that by just thinking about them. That’s the kind of power you have inside you.
Next time you’re feeling under par, try imagining something that makes you happy, something that brings a smile to your face, or something that makes you feel proud. Let the feeling take over for a few moments just to remind you what a unique and valuable person you truly are.
Self Esteem Building Behaviors
When was the last time you tried something new? Took a risk? Acted on an impulse?
It might sound simple, but any action you take will help to shake up the way you feel about yourself as a human being. You can have the greatest ideas in the world, but unless you act on them they’ll never come to fruition. You can imagine writing a book, or composing a song, or competing in the Olympics, but none of these things will be realized unless you actually do something about it.
You don’t have to change your whole life around to give your self esteem a boost. Start small, and remember that every journey begins with a single step. Take a risk, knowing that no matter what happens your life won’t fall apart. Go ahead and act on whatever comes to mind, asking yourself these two simple questions:
- What’s the worst thing that can happen?
- What’s the best thing that can happen?
For instance, suppose you decide to start going out more. You’re tired of spending time on your own every day and every night, so you choose not to. You go out to a club or a movie or a restaurant. You know it won’t be easy, but you also know it will be short-lived and that soon you’ll be back home anyway. So, put it in realistic terms:
- The worst thing that can happen is – you don’t meet anyone and end up alone. But you were alone when you started out, so you haven’t lost anything.
- The best thing that can happen is – you meet someone and start up a conversation, which could lead anywhere.
Build your self esteem by deciding to think in a different way, using your emotions to help you feel good about yourself, and taking action – any action – to get yourself out of the rut you’re in. It’s not easy, but it’s better. Take the first step and learn to enjoy the journey.
Got any tips for people struggling to see their true value? Leave them in the comments box below... and thanks for reading!
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More Self Esteem Hubs
- Body Image and Self Esteem
Your body image can seriously affect your levels of self esteem. But is it different for men and women? When do the problems really begin? And what can you do to balance the scales?
JohnMello (author) from England on March 19, 2018:
Thanks ruth kiplagat :)
ruth kiplagat on March 19, 2018:
from the bottom of my heart it has been an eye opener in this journey of building my self esteem issues
JohnMello (author) from England on January 18, 2016:
Hi Cecilia. I'm not a trained counselor, but all the experts say you need to try and leave the past behind you. Look forward, or find something to look forward to. Maybe this article will help:
Thanks for reading :)
Cecilia on January 17, 2016:
thanks i feel relieve after i read this article although,not totally healed..Damn that past life that always flashing back to my mind.I thought i am already ok but why this hurt feelings i am feeling again..