“The value of self-esteem lies not merely in the fact that it allows us to feel better but that it allows us to live better – to respond to challenges and opportunities more resourceful and more appropriately.” – Dr. Nathaniel Branden
What is self-esteem? Simply put – self-esteem is your opinion of yourself. And personal opinions (regardless of who is giving them) are rarely based on fact. So unless you are dealing with facts your opinion of yourself is probably not true. (We are our own worse critics) You need to cut yourself some slack. Or as Annie would tell me – take a pill and chill.
Building up Your Self-Esteem / Your Self-Worth
There are a number of great books on how to develop your self-esteem – not only in yourself – but in others. One of my favorites is “The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem” by Nathaniel Branden PhD. Branden is a Lecturer and practicing Psychotherapist who has done more than any other theorist to advocate the importance of self-esteem to human well-being. We all feel insecure and unsure of ourselves at times. We all have self-doubt – especially if we are doing something we’re unsure of or we are doing it for the very first time. No one wants to look silly in front of their peers. No one wants to make a mistake.
Here’s a list of some of the things that you could do to build up your self-esteem. Read over this list and decide where you want to start. Remember – No one has the power to take away your self-esteem without your permission.
- Stop comparing yourself to others: You are unique – you are you. There’s no one else exactly like you. Do what makes you feel good on the inside. If being thin will make you feel better about yourself then do it. But don’t do it because someone else decided that thin was the way to be. Who made them “Supreme Commander of the Free World”?
- Stop putting yourself down with negative thoughts: I’m bald. I will always be bald. Nothing is going to change the fact that I’m bald because I refuse to wear a wig or get plugs or do the comb over thing. It is what it is – so suck it up and get over it and get on with your life. You either change it – or you change the way you are thinking about it.
- Surround yourself with positive, supportive people: I can’t stand to be around negative people. It’s like they walk around all day long with this black cloud over their heads. They wear me out. I have far better things to do with my time than to listen to them complain. You’ll know if you are the negative one when you walk into a room and everyone else gets up and leaves.
- Get involved in the work and activities that inspire you: I love what I do. I can’t see myself doing anything else. I can’t see myself retiring. They are going to have to drag me off the stage or bar me from the classroom. Do what turns your crank. Do what makes you truly happy. Choose a career that you’d do even if you didn’t get paid for doing it. (Don’t let anyone know about the money thing. You need money to pay the bills and keep a roof over your head)
- Respect your own needs. It’s OK to say no. You don’t have to feel guilty. Women have a hard time with this one. You need to spend “Me” time. You need to take care of your own needs before you can take care of others. Take a bubble bath – light a candle – play your favorite music – do something just for you.
- Stop trying to be perfect: No one is perfect. Let me repeat that. NO ONE is perfect. We all make mistakes now and again. You can’t beat yourself up over it. You learn from it – and you move on. Your future is not in the past so don’t live there. Most things are out of your control. Accept that you did your very best – and get on with it.
Low self-esteem – or low self-image translates into a lack of confidence – which causes us to think negative thoughts – which in turn causes us to hold back and give up easily rather than face tough challenges. You need to push forward even when you aren’t 100% sure of what the end result will be. Don’t wait for perfect. “Confidence is that feeling by which the mind embarks on a great and honourable course with a sure hope and trust in self.” – Cicero.