Tell me how a person judges his or her self-esteem and I will tell you how that person operates at work, in love, in sex, in parenting, in every important aspect of existence and how high he or she is likely to rise. The reputation you have with yourself, your self-esteem, is the single most important factor for a fulfilling life." Nathaniel Branden
What is self-esteem and where does it come from? Self-esteem really has two elements self-efficacy and self-respect. Self-efficacy refers to confidence in our ability to make decisions and judgments, and meet the challenges of life. Self-respect refers to our perception of ourselves as being worthy of happiness, success, and love. Both of these elements are essential to healthy levels of self-esteem. A lack of either and a person's self-esteem will suffer.
In nearly every situation in life, whether consciously or subconsciously, human beings perform a quick self-appraisal. Before initiating any activity, a self-assessment is performed to determine:
Am I good enough?
Am I competent?
Can I trust myself?
Do I deserve?
If the answers to these are "YES”, then the person moves forward. If, however, one fails this self-appraisal then they will often choose not to act and therefore miss important opportunities for happiness, growth, and success.
Therefore, self-esteem is an indispensable part of being human. In order to be productive, successful, and happy we need adequate levels of self-esteem. Our self-esteem affects every aspect of our existence including our social interactions, career, relationships, spiritual growth and future aspirations. Without healthy self-esteem, people become paralyzed with doubt, fear, and indecision.
Like so many other things, self-esteem has its roots in our childhood. If a child grows up in an environment where he is valued, encouraged, praised, and loved, then he will develop healthy self-esteem. If however, one’s environment is lacking in these elements or a child is made to feel inferior or inadequate then the child's self-esteem will fail to develop.
Why does self-esteem matter?
Ideally, self-esteem is developed during childhood however it is possible for adults who are lacking in this essential human resource to begin to acquire and build it so that they may begin moving forward with a sense of happiness and purpose. Here are nine tips for building one's self esteem:
1. Be true to yourself. Live your life doing what feels right for you, not what someone else thinks you should do. While it is OK to listen to advice from others, in the end, research the issues and make the decision that feels best for you. Being a people-pleaser is a frustrating and draining way to live. Learn to get in the habit of feeling what is right for you and pleasing yourself. You are responsible for your own happiness. Your feelings are important.
2. Be aware of what your inner voice is saying. Listen to your inner dialogue and thoughts. If a particular thought is not kind or is not serving you, take note of this and redirect your focus to something positive. (This is clearing negative ego techniques here) This can be difficult in the early stage and time-consuming until you develop strength with mental focus. Remember to be kind to yourself as you are gaining awareness and strengthening your mental will.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others. You are not supposed to be like anyone else. You are uniquely you! You are the only one who can be as you and live as you are! Your perspectives, gifts and values are exclusively yours. If you want something to measure yourself by, compare how you were yesterday to how you are today. Dedicate some time to developing self love, acceptance and self esteem and improve every day!
4. Celebrate your successes, even the smallest ones!
5. Be grateful. We all have much to be grateful for. Gratitude alone can elevate our self-esteem.
6. Create a list of personal accomplishments and review it often. We tend to get overwhelmed looking at what’s left to be done and forget to give ourselves credit for how far we've already come.
7. Learn something new. Get curious and learn all there is to learn about what interests you. Learning is growing and growing your knowledge will increase your self-esteem. Learn about spiritual ascension!
8. Do something nice for someone else. Serving others without expectation of reward is a very effective way of making ourselves feel good. In fact, several studies have shown that doing for others is one of the quickest ways to build self-esteem.
9. Spend more time doing things that you enjoy. Whatever it is that makes you happy do more of it. Remember happiness is not a selfish act; happiness is an essential part of being human.
Self-esteem ultimately comes down to one’s personal belief that they are worthy, unique, and that they matter regardless of what anyone else may think.
Source Material: "The Elusive Here & Now", Dan Coppersmith, "The Power of Self Esteem", Nathaniel Brandon, Wikipedia
Nobody is shielded from having a sense of low self esteem. However, it is important to differentiate between feelings of low esteem from sadness, or from the effects of a string of bad days. There are a couple of symptoms of low self esteem that you can look out for if you feel that you or a loved one may be suffering from the effects of consistent low self esteem.
First, it is important to realize that unlike sadness or feeling like you woke up from the wrong side of the bed does not automatically constitute low self esteem. Low self esteem is characterized as a consistent negative belief system about the self, with persistent attitudes that these thoughts reflect in the decisions and choices that person makes every day. Destructive habits and addictions erode self esteem which may put a person in a cycle of depression. This enduring low self-image can permeate into a person’s every activities, as it is at the core of a person’s conception and belief of his or her self-worth.
One of the first symptoms of low self esteem is constant self-deprecation. One may find that a person with low self esteem will easily say bad things about his or her self, passing comments even about how they are not worth any effort. They may also talk about their incapacity to fulfill their duties or get things accomplished. Many times they will be very critical of others as they are of themselves.
In addition to self-deprecation, people suffering from low self esteem will constantly express unhappiness about their bodies and how they look. Poor self-image is one of the most telling signs of low self esteem. They may constantly be paranoid and sensitive about what people may judge them about how they look. What’s worse, some of them may respond to this bad self-image through some form of eating disorder or addictions.
People who suffer from low self esteem may be obsessed with order and controlling behaviors, forcing themselves to comply by an impossible standard of perfection in whatever task they are involved in. This may make them work slower than others, and may make them more vulnerable to feelings of not doing well because of their own impossible expectations. This feeling of failure (despite the fact that they did not fail, except by their own impossible, perfectionist standards) helps further feed their bad perception of their own self-worth.
They may also be extremely eager to please, depending very heavily on the approval of others in order to feel good about themselves. They find no pleasure in completing and succeeding in tasks unless they are recognized by the people whose opinions they believe matter or are important.
They may even be all too eager to compare themselves to other people they have high regard to. However, it is important to note that these comparisons, fulfill the function of the negative ego highlighting what they lack and what flaws they possess. When they see flaws in themselves or in others they may respond with self anger or lack of self acceptance.
While there are those who withdraw from society as a result of their low self esteem, there are those who respond by uninhibited anger lashing out against themselves or other people. They may express this either by hurting themselves or the people around them, even if these people are not those who triggered feelings of anger. After all, because of low self esteem, these people begin to hate themselves and direct hatred to the people around them. They are also likelier to suddenly explode in anger over very little issues at the drop of a hat, or when they feel that they are being cornered or humiliated. These are extreme cases of negative ego gone amok that is running mental and emotional fear programs.
Self-esteem is a human psychological need and that to the extent this need remains unmet, pathology (defensiveness, anxiety, depression, difficulty in relationships, etc.) tends to result. Self-esteem formally is "the disposition to experience oneself as competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and as worthy of happiness", and while others (parents, teachers, friends) can nurture and support self-esteem in an individual, self-esteem relies upon various internally generated practices. To be responsible to take care of oneself is one way of building self esteem. In Nathan Branden's framework, there are six "pillars" of generating and building self-esteem:
Branden distinguishes his approach to self-esteem from that of many others by his inclusion of both confidence and worth in his definition of self-esteem, and by his emphasis on the importance of internally generated practices for the improvement and maintenance of self-esteem in every day life.
By identifying the symptoms of having low self esteem, you will be able to determine the best course of action in order to appropriately respond to people and all life circumstances. If you or someone you know scores positively in terms of these symptoms, then it may be good to seek support strategies to clear negative ego and intend to build improved self esteem. There are many tools on this website to clear negative ego attitudes and negative emotions (fears) which also help to reprogram one's mind to find healthier beliefs and start to strengthen one's self esteem.
(Adaption from Wikipedia:Nathan Branden and Building Self Esteem)
Before people start to consider how self worth plays a key role in the development of personal character, many have forgotten that building character through self esteem is indeed one of the most important aspects of personality development. Through healthy self esteem and realistic goals with spiritual purpose, great virtues are potentially developed. Virtues such as embodying the spirits of purity, kindness, patience, diligence, discipline, generosity of which brings great harmony in one's life, filling it with great peace and joy.
As much as many people may not want to admit it, a stronger inner core foundation can be established with how a person builds character, especially when self worth is a primary factor in shaping and molding the values and virtues of a balanced individual. Without a strong core self developed with healthy self esteem, personal goals and spiritual goals are directly impacted leaving one feeling confused about their life circumstances.
How is it so?
Self-esteem is the value of a person’s worth and there are a lot of factors that come into play, especially in helping a person fell more confident about himself, which is also a primary factor in establishing a person’s outlook towards personal inspiration and feeling as a success. On the spiritual ascension pathway, recognizing the importance of character building as a necessary part of having self love and self acceptance is critical to progress through self deception blocks. When we have low self esteem our psychological defense mechanisms will act to block our progress moving forward and evolving in life.
One who understands they are a loved and worthy spiritual vessel for the spirit of God Source, will begin to learn that self love is at the core of self acceptance which is the quality one must build to truly feel and experience God's love for all of us. Once we feel love for ourselves we build inner confidence which further builds our trust with life.
A person who is more confident about himself, the more focused and determined the person is to aim for achieving a better state in life, regardless of whether it be for career, success, spiritual purpose, inspiration, family or personal goals. A peaceful and fulfilling life is most possible when one seeks inner truth and self knowledge while building a relationship with God and the relationship to the self. When building a relationship with the self it may mean we are taken through character building life experiences we do not prefer. We must push through our fears in order to experience the accomplishment of moving past our perceived mental limitations. If our mental limitations and/or self entitlement govern our actions, we will become stunted in our growth and fall into low self esteem.
To better understand and define self–esteem, it is simply holding oneself in high regard as a result of many factors that determine a person’s worth. It is easy to remember you are loved unconditionally by God source and to meditate with the intention to flow the grace of unconditional love to your own heart to feel self love. With self love one can build self esteem.
Self- esteem does not require regarding oneself's behaviors as always perfect nor does it demand from a person to be faultless or blameless, rather, valuing the self as priceless, worthy and unique.
This is what makes a person feel confident and good about himself or what makes them keep their head held high in the face of tribulation or adversity and this quality can be considered a measure of a persons degree of response to life’s circumstances, be it good or bad. With healthy self esteem one responds to life challenges without blame or spreading negativity.
Self- esteem can also align to help a person make better choices, especially when it comes to personal character development, improved learning and coping skills with life which attracts and manifests abundance. Self esteem improves mental and emotional clarity.
Self- esteem in one's personality starts at birth, through parenting, environmental and other factors, and as a person’s consciousness develops and takes shape into adulthood, this is when a person starts to measure himself as to his own value and belief system around self worth.
It then shapes how a person looks at himself and compares or assesses himself with the environment or his surroundings and starts to ask himself, do people like me and accept me for being me? Do other people regard me as an example or inspiration for others? How do other people look at me? What is my attitude and behavior towards life? Am I a deserving and worthy person to be loved, appreciated to experience abundance?
These are but some of the common social questions that help a human being understand in the earlier growth stages which build his gauge to measure his value and worth as a person. It is clear the current (anti-human) social systems in place are not cultivating large amounts of happy, well adjusted, healthy adults with self esteem, that are contributing to society in positive ways. Positive human development is based on healthy self worth and self esteem. This is a gift we must learn to give to ourselves, especially if we were the victims of great abuse and childhood trauma.
People with low self–esteem are usually those who often do not regard themselves highly than they should or are simply those who do not want to risk making sacrifices for the betterment of their own personalities and character.
Having healthy self–esteem is having the ability to make solid positive choices in the face of challenges and one is less likely to follow a spur of the moment or recklessly made decision without thinking-feeling things through.
There is less likelihood that someone with a good solid sense of self–esteem makes reckless decisions that could lead to his own distress and downfall. When we have healthy self esteem we are able to have better clarity and this supports us in making better decisions, taking into account the overall value of our own personal feelings, safety, health and well- being.
A lot of people may tend to ignore or neglect what usually is some of the best measurements of achieving balanced success in ones life with a persistent ambition to explore the inner being, discovering how personality, outlook, belief systems and attitudes affect their course in life.
Building strong character traits through cultivating healthy self–esteem is as equally important as the process of spiritual development. All aspects of one's state of being, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually are negatively impacted and stunted without having acquired a strong foundation for moral character and healthy self-esteem.
(Adapted source partially from Building Self Esteem)