Self-esteem can be defined as your attitude toward yourself. It is a combination of self-confidence and self-respect according to Nathaniel Branden, author of How to Raise Your Self-Esteem. Your self-esteem affects your decisions and behavior.
People with low self-esteem place more value on other people’s opinions than on their own judgement. If you are afraid that others will laugh at you or reject you if you let them see the real you, then you are living with the belief that other people know better what is good for you than you do. In reality, only you know what’s best for you. When you step being afraid of abandonment and stop seeking other people’s approval, it will get easier for you to trust your own opinions and intuition.
How To Raise Your Self-Esteem – Whenever you hear yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself, such as I’m not good enough, stop and ask yourself where that thought oringinated. You might discover an old wound that needs healing or you might realize that it’s just habit thinking, not the truth. Pull such thoughts from your inner dialog the way you would pull weeds from a garden. Nurture only positive thoughts that heal your lack of self-esteem.
Self-Acceptance And Self-Esteem – In the process of developing a self-image, we develop feelings about who we think we are and tend to look for information of these feelings from other people. That confirmation, when we get it, makes us feel that we are entitled to have our image of ourselves.
Who we think we are is confirmed or denied by the responses others make to our communication with them. Unless we get clear and supportive messages, we are not likely to have effective communication experiences. Early in our lives we learn how to give each other many different kinds of responses, and we should recognize that what we do to each other has an effect on our feelings of worth, our self-esteem, and also on how well we can get the job done, because without some internal support for our activities, the outside work we do will not get done.
Self-esteem is that feeling which we get when what we do matches our self-image and when that particular image approximates an idealized version of what we wish we were like.
For example, you might see yourself as an “outdoor type” (self-image). You may imagine yourself as a successful forestry engineer (idealized self-image). You may go and register in a forestry school (action). That action matches your self-image and your idealized self-image. If you are accepted in the school and subsequently earn high grades, you are confirmed by others (peers and professors), and this confirmation will validate your feelings of self-worth and your self-esteem.
Maintenance of self-esteem is complex. Many times our attempts at maintaining positive feelings about ourselves are successful. Yet some of our attempts are sometimes self-defeating.
We sometimes try to hide parts of ourselves from others, fearing that if they knew these parts of ourselves, they might reject us. In his excellent book Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? John Powell relates a poignant and real answer to the question: “I am afraid to tell you who I am because if I tell you who I am, you may not like who I am, and it’s all I have.”
We hide parts of ourselves, for example, when we cover up feelings. We store up anger or frustration and keep a cool facade. Half the time we don’t really deceive others because our nonverbal behavior give us away. But when we succeed in hiding, we tend to “gunnysack,” that is, to collect angry feelings inside us (generally in the stomach-a sure way to get ulcers) until the time when a trivial incident will “make us” explode-the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Sometimes we try to put on certain masks to appear something we are not. We give off false cues to the people around us and erect walls of intended impressions. The more we pretend to be what we are not, the more we tend to lose touch with the real world and our own reality. What others think of you is none of your business. Your only obligation for yourself in any lifetime is to be true to yourself. As the ancient philosopher Aristotle once said: “Care more for the truth than for what people think.”