Self-esteem: the what, why and how
What is self-esteem
Self-esteem is the level of respect you feel for yourself. It is the level of admiration you have for your knowledge, skills, abilities and for your personal achievements.
Most of us base our level of self-esteem on the feedback we get from others.
If the feedback is positive, we conclude we are worthy of respect and our self-esteem increases.
However, if the feedback we get from others is not favorable, or if there is no feedback whatever, we conclude we are not worthy of respect, and our self-esteem goes down.
Why this is important
When others give us feedback, they are seeing us through the lens of their own values, opinions, beliefs and life experiences.
By looking to others for validation, we are often giving power to people whose view on the world may be very different from ours and the result is that negative feedback may simply be a reflections of those differences.
The feedback is, therefore, irrelevant. But the impact is huge.
The consequences of low self-esteem.
Lack of self-esteem has significant consequences.
One of the most common symptoms is what is commonly referred to as “people pleasing”.
“People Pleasing” simply means that you go to extreme lengths to meet the needs of others, to ensure their happiness, at the expense of your own needs.
While there is nothing wrong with helping and supporting others because you want to, “people pleasing” is motivated by a fear of rejection, of not being liked.
The result is perfectionism, loneliness, feeling that life has no meaning, stress, and, when taken to the extreme, depression.
The antidote to low self-esteem
If low self-esteem is the result of looking to others for validation, then the antidote to it is looking within yourself for validation.
When you know, deep inside, that you are worthy of respect, then even in the absence of external positive feedback, you can feel good about yourself.
The benefits of high self-esteem
The benefits of high self-esteem are also significant. They all contribute to a high quality of life.
The benefits include:
1. life is joyful and fulfilling
2. you have the confidence to step out of your comfort zone and try new things and experience new things – getting the things you desire in life is much easier
3. increased independence – when you don’t depend on the constant support and validation of others to take action in life, you have freedom of choice in how you live your life
4. permission to make mistakes – striving for perfectionism is a downward spiral since there is no such thing as perfection. Increased self-esteem means you have an increased willingness to take risks and you see "mistakes" as learning opportunities
5. improved relationships – as your self-esteem increases, your ability to trust and to show your authentic self to others increases. The result is that you will naturally find likeminded people who will appreciate you for who you are and what you stand for
The 3-step process to increasing self-esteem
1. Clarify your values. These are the things that are most important to you, the things that must be present in your life for you to feel happy and complete. Values can be intangible, such as “honesty” or they can be tangible, such as “walking in nature”. Whatever your values, if they do not show up in your life, you feel like something is missing, something is out of alignment.
2. Clarify your life purpose. We all have unique gifts, and our life purpose is to share those gifts with the world. Your purpose is the cause that you are dedicated to which is greater than yourself, it is the impact you want to have on the world. For example, my purpose is
to make people feel seen, heard, and valued,
that they matter, that their life matters.
Whether it’s a question of buying a meal for a homeless person, helping my clients stop being people pleasers and start living life for themselves, or acknowledging the clerk in a store who has been “invisible” to the last 20 customers, my purpose is the same.
3. Honor your values and your purpose in everything you do. Living with purpose is not about what you do, it is about how you show up in life. When you honor your purpose, you automatically feel good about yourself, regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.
Low self-esteem is NOT a life sentence, and it is NEVER too late to change.
A high level of self-esteem is one of the keys to confidently living life on your own terms, to being in control of everything you do.
If you struggle with low self-esteem, let's chat. Book a 15 minute complimentary session. There is no obligation and at the end of our time together you will know if what I offer will be helpful to you and if we are a match.
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