Self-esteem is a tricky subject. I used to have a very dim view of “self-esteem”, mostly because of the push to have it instilled in kids in school. I thought that giving a child “high self-esteem” required that you walk on egg shells and never tell the child that they are wrong (and not use red pens). I found it rather ridiculous. However, I have learned that there’s quite a bit more to it then that, and the misguided attempts by the public schools to build self-esteem really have more to do with never telling a child no (and hurting their little feelings).
What is real self-esteem? I’ve heard it defined as “Self respect” + “Self efficacy”.
Self Respect: “The quality of being worthy of esteem or respect.”
Self Efficacy: “…a term used in psychology, roughly corresponding to a person’s belief in their own competence.”
Self Respect: “I deserve ________”
Self Efficacy: “I am able to get _________”
Self-esteem effects every area of your life: let’s fill in those blanks with different words.
Happiness:If you don’t have self respect and believe that you don’t deserve to be happy, you’re going to constantly self-sabitoge your happiness. You’re going to act in ways that make you unhappy, because that’s what you believe that you deserve. If you have self respect (you think you deserve to be happy) but no self-efficacy, you really don’t believe that you can make yourself happy. You don’t feel in control of your happiness, and you have a feeling that happiness is something that you can’t attain, at least not for any extended period of time.
Health: People who lose weight think they deserve to lose weight, and believe in their ability to lose weight. If you have no self-respect, then of course you won’t lose weight. In an interview with fitness trainer Joel Harper, he said that the one thing that separates the people who are able to get healthy and the people who don’t is “deserve factor”: if they feel that they deserve to lose weight, they will.
Money: Self-esteem has a lot to do with how much money you make. If you don’t think you deserve to make a lot of money, you won’t. If you don’t believe that you can make a lot of money, you certainly won’t. People who have high enough self-esteem to believe that they can become wealthy usually do.
So, what do we do from here? We know that self-esteem is important, but how to we foster it?
No loser language.
“The economy is so terrible, no one can get ahead.”
“I would be happier if there weren’t so many idiots around me.”
“I’m a total failure.”
“Yeah, I could make more money…if my boss didn’t hate me.”
Being a victim and being a martyr: two sides of the same coin. If you blame other people, the situation, the climate, the circumstances, you’re a victim. If you blame yourself, beating your failures over your head, you’re a martyr. The net result of these two attitudes is the same: you never get anything done, and you slide farther into poor self-esteem. Don’t be a victim: you’re in control of your life. Don’t be a martyr: everyone makes mistakes, you just have to learn and move on.
Like yourself (and become likable).
Do you like yourself? If not, what’s keeping you from liking yourself? Chances are, there are some things that you do that cause you to not like yourself very much, or an attitude of disliking yourself has been engrained in your soul. This will always keep you feeling like you don’t deserve anything good. Start becoming someone you like, try out some of the 25 Ideas to help you live on purpose, start to like yourself and your self-esteem will take care of itself.
Update: found a great article that thoroughly covers how to beat low-self esteem. Check it out!