Most of us have a good idea of what Self Esteem is. It’s the name we give to the way we feel about ourselves, the way we measure what we think is our worth, or the way in which we regard ourselves.
We tend to have low self esteem when we don’t like ourselves, and when we don’t feel we are acceptable. On the other hand, we tend to have high self esteem when we think we are pretty good and believe that we have something of value to offer to the world.
When I ask people for a step by step plan for building a healthy self esteem, however, most don’t have a clue where to start, which tells me that self esteem for many people happens entirely by accident and at the unconscious discretion of parents or caregivers.
Clearly, that works well for some, but not so well for others.
One of the simplest definitions I have heard to date regarding the development of self esteem came from Dr Phil McGraw. He said that when we see ourselves consistently acting in ways that please us, we come to like and respect ourselves, and as a result, we develop self esteem.
When we realise that we have the skills that regularly bring success to us, when we create things that work, when we achieve goals, when we meet our own expectations and achieve great results through our actions, the good thoughts we have about ourselves are reinforced and validated.
This is even true if we have developed negative beliefs about ourselves through our childhood. We can undo these beliefs by literally proving them wrong before our very eyes, and watching ourselves do that helps us to real-eyes that we are more worthy than we might have first thought.
I would add, however, that it is very important to be honest about what pleases us, and sincerely seek our own approval (self esteem) rather than seek approval from someone else (external esteem).
How can we be sure we are seeking our own approval? A simple values exercise will help with that.
By getting clear about what we value, and being sure that the values that are influencing our decisions and driving our actions are our own values, we develop a stronger sense of self, and from there, the opportunity for a healthier self esteem is greater.
If building self esteem is important to you right now, and you would like help working out what your personal values, or If you want to make an appointment to seek further support in another area of your life, contact me.