Self-Esteem Definition and How to Get Self-Esteem
"To me, self-esteem is not self-love. It is self-acknowledgment, as in recognizing and accepting who you are."
- Amity Gaige
What is the definition of healthy self-esteem?
Self-esteem is about how you see yourself.
It has nothing to do with the mask you show to the world or how other people see you. It is an interior thing. It is how you feel about yourself.
Healthy self-esteem is “I am lovable” and “I am capable of handling myself in my environment.”
When you don't feel lovable or capable, it's hard to feel good about yourself and it's hard to have strong self-esteem.
Getting healthy self-esteem is an inside job.
Healthy self-esteem isn't arrogance.
Healthy self-esteem is the balance between looking down on yourself and being arrogant. It is seeing yourself with real eyes and accepting what you see - flaws and all.
It is a knowing that you are not perfect and being OK with that, even while you strive to be better and better.
Arrogance actually is a sign of low self-esteem. Arrogant people have to put on airs and be boastful to counter the reality that they don't feel good about themselves.
Shame, guilt, perfectionism, and old negative messages repeating in your mind, can all contribute to being down on yourself.
Being unhappy with yourself taints every aspect of your life.
If you don’t recognize that your unhappiness is rooted inside, you may mistakenly attribute your unhappiness as being caused by something or someone else: your job, your partner, your house. . . . You might then conclude that you’d feel better if you could just change your job, dump your partner, move. . . . But there’s a saying about the disappointment that can come when you do something like move in order to feel better and then discover you’re still unhappy: Everywhere you go—there you are.
Self-esteem Activities for Adults
If you have low self-esteem, you don't have to stay there.
You can root out some of the experience remnants that are bringing down your self-confidence and change the impact those experiences have on you.
And you can learn how to gain confidence and self-esteem step by step.
Here are 5 ways to improve your self-esteem:
1. Root out shame.
Shame and guilt are in the same family of emotions. Guilt is "I have done something bad." Shame is "I am bad."
Shame tends to weigh a person down. It is also often imposed by others who shame us.
Guilt can be a more productive emotion than shame. Guilt can help you look at your mistakes and learn from them.
2. Deal with your mistakes.
Healthy self-esteem isn’t about ignoring the mistakes you’ve made in the past or allowing yourself to repeat those mistakes in the future.
It is about engaging humility and courage so that you can examine mistakes:
- gather the wisdom and understanding the situations have to offer,
- make adjustments and possibly amends, and
- acknowledge to yourself that you are human and therefore will make mistakes.
3. Strive for excellence, not perfection.
Perfection is unattainable. If you expect perfection from yourself, you will be chronically disappointed in yourself.
Excellence is doable. Striving for excellence allows you to take into account individual circumstances and adjust priorities for your time and energy according to those circumstances.
4. Counter negative self-talk.
Negative self-talk may be words or phrases that you heard many years ago popping into your mind again and again.
When you become aware of the negative messages you can challenge them.
In my thirties, I realized I would commonly hear “You’re stupid” in my mind. I began to challenge it each time I heard it, saying to myself: “Reality check. You’re not stupid.” And then remind myself of the evidence that I am actually quite smart. Eventually, the “You’re stupid” message went away.
5. Acknowledge that life as an experiment.
As we go through life, we are constantly trying to figure out what works and doesn't work.
Life is an experiment.
Learn to accept yourself while you strive to improve yourself.
For more info and help boosting your self-esteem, check out these products I created to help you learn from your emotions and overcome anxiety (and perfectionism):
Help with Emotions and Stress Relief Books
Help for dealing with Emotions and Stress Relief Hypnosis Recordings
- Ann Silvers