Self-esteem is the opinion you have about yourself. It shows your attitude concerning your overall sense of value and worth – how you perceive your capabilities and capacities. Self-esteem is a product of your life experiences. It is influenced mainly by your childhood experiences, which impact your choices and decisions and feelings of worthiness.
In other words, self-esteem has a motivational role in helping you pursue your personal goals, desires, and aspirations. Positive self-esteem is associated with positivity and resilience toward life. It means you can handle the good and bad that life throws your way without negatively affecting yourself. On the other hand, low self-esteem is characterized by a critical view of self – this perception makes it difficult to bounce back from hardships.
The Self-Esteem Spectrum
Self-esteem has varying degrees, and people tend to fall somewhere on a continuum. While low self-esteem is negative, high self-esteem is not always positive either. It is dependent on the factors behind the rise in self-value.
High self-esteem results from accomplishments like facing challenges, meeting goals, or overcoming adversity. On the other hand, there is a type of high self-esteem that is not actualized in life fulfillment. You cannot substantiate the sense of entitlement on anything significant. The esteem comes off as an inflated ego or self-centeredness.
Low self-esteem can also be a result of undervaluing your accomplishments. Although you have travailed through difficult situations, relate well with people, and set challenges and overcome them, your sense of worth is skewed because of depression, anxiety, or obsessive perfectionism. Exploitation and abuse can also keep you from realizing your worth. However, an external observer can see your qualities and values.
Cultivating positive self-esteem needs work on both ends of the spectrum. It requires applying reasonableness when assessing accomplishments and actions. Whichever end of the spectrum your self-esteem lies, you can improve it in several ways:
1. Evaluate Yourself
Self-reflection is a significant part of self-actualization. You cannot know who you are if you belittle or overlook anything of value in you. You cannot find yourself either if you are constantly looking through the eyes of perfectionism. You can never measure up to an ideal. Furthermore, you can not only rely on your virtues or vices alone. Reflection helps you see the inherent you.
Instead of undermining or magnifying your accomplishments, be realistic. Write down your strengths and weaknesses – be truthful in your listing. There are some things that you have mastered and some you have not. Identify virtues like courage, determination, resilience, fairness, honesty, prudence, self-control, and integrity. You also have vices like tardiness, envy, greed, arrogance, and so forth – note them as well.
Rather than letting either aspect of the list determine your esteem, work on your weaknesses. Strive to be better. Monitor the improvement and acknowledge where you are failing. Additionally, polish your strengths and learn to acknowledge their contribution to your life.
2. Work on Your Thoughts
Thoughts are powerful. Hence, the saying you become what you think. However, your thoughts do not grant wishes. You cannot make things manifest by simply thinking about them. Thoughts are a powerhouse because they influence your motivation, emotions, attitude, and mood.
When you think you are not good enough, you will put in less effort—your inclination to work or achieve decreases. So, you settle for less – even though you may have it within yourself to overcome the challenge. Similarly, if you think of the possibilities and abilities positively, motivation increases.
It is often said, trying and failing is not a terrible thing because you learn the causes of failure. You are better off for it than not knowing at all. On the other hand, failing to try is where failure lurks. Ignoring your failures is equally damning. It means you never learned – there was no room for improvement.
Additionally, base your thoughts on facts, not emotions. You are not giving in to something because you have thrown caution to the wind or have nothing to lose. You evaluated your strengths and weaknesses and saw it fit to face challenges or break records. Your goals are realistic and achievable – every success pushes you to set higher attainable goals. It all begins with your thoughts. Therefore, be aware of what your mind entertains.
3. Be Kind to Yourself
Self-evaluation is not being critical of yourself. You do not need to beat yourself up for failure. Instead, learn from your mistakes, incompetence, and slips. You did not know better – now that you do, you can take a different course of action. Do not sweep things under the rug and pretend that failure does not exist. Most importantly, do not let failure define you. Learn from it and move on – improve.
Celebrate your achievements as well – pat yourself on the back. However, do not be puffed up by them. Be sober in your praise. Overindulgence breeds contempt and pride. Instead, employ rationality in admiring your strengths.
4. Embrace Meekness
Living as a good person in a world which can sometimes seem wicked and perverse is a daunting task. When your self-esteem is low, that makes you everybody’s doormat. Abusers thrive in dismantling the world of do-gooders. Instead of lowering your bars for bad people to thrive, learn to be kind. Your values are not based on how the world is but on who you are.
Do not cower down to people seeking to exploit you. Humility is not weakness. The world may frown upon your attempts to be nice, but goodness is a quality that shines a light in a world sometimes littered with darkness.
5. Learn to be Assertive
Overcome timidity by being assertive – this is not a call to be aggressive. It is not passivity either. Being assertive means, you respect yourself. You are not always saying yes to people at the expense of yourself. Although you are a good person, you will not let people take advantage of you. You know when to say no. You can make your opinions, concerns, and thoughts politely known.
Assertiveness also means you respect the other party’s opinion and are open to resolving conflicts amicably. People know where they stand with you – you can reason out decisions and are logical in your actions. It lets people earn your respect.
6. Do Not Shy Away From Challenges
Tests and trials are great life teachers. When facing conflict, your weaknesses and strengths can get highlighted. You get to find out what you are made of – and make improvements where necessary. Learn to go beyond your comfort zone – that is where real growth takes place. Challenges build resilience. They help you endure and learn self-control.
Life is not always going to be easy. There are going to be trials and tribulations. If you are not strong enough, you may become depressed, anxious, and traumatized by the ordeal. When the going gets tough, do not give up. Keep your focus on success.
Taking on challenges also means seeking help. Work with others. You learn a great deal from their experiences and gain from their support and accountability.
7. Keep Good Company
Your environment also contributes to your esteem. For example, if you work in a toxic workplace, the negativity of your work experiences can influence your outlook on yourself. Similarly, when you live or hang out with negative people, you are likely to pick up the habit. You adapt to their view of the world – that is why if you show me your friends, I can show you who you are.
Be around people who build you up. They celebrate your strengths and help you work on your weaknesses. Additionally, be the change you want to see. Influence your company positively as well. It is true that when you walk together with others, you tend to go far and be strengthened in the journey.
8. Avoid Unhealthy Competition
Having high self-esteem is not a competition. You need not be jealous of those who have mastered the art of success. Instead, those people should be your inspiration. Learn from them instead of dismissing who they have become.
Kill the habit of comparison. It leaves you dissatisfied and ungrateful. You never actually grow if you intend to outsmart everyone in the room. The journey to self-actualization is a one-person journey. You are racing against yourself. You win by finding yourself.
9. Remember that Everybody Makes Mistakes
High self-esteem is not a race to perfectionism. It is an awareness of your value and self-worth. Therefore, do not lose hope when you find out how near impossible it is to overcome vices -you are not packaging yourself as a nice person. Instead, you are subduing your weaknesses one day at a time. It is a lifelong journey.
10. Be Patient
The pendulum that is self-esteem shifts all the time depending on your life experiences. Be patient with the process. Learn to embrace change. Do not be impatient to want to see results. Your growth comes with time. However, remain dedicated to the cause.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.