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  • Writer's pictureMichael McEntee

Measuring our levels of self-esteem

The word 'esteem' comes from a Latin word that means 'to estimate'. So, self-esteem is how you estimate, or regard yourself. Self-esteem is defined as, “Confidence in one’s own worth and abilities; a sense of self-respect; a sense of personal pride.”

What is low self-esteem?

Low self-esteem is a negative picture of oneself that we might confuse with criticism. But it isn't that; and since criticism is healthy, if a person with low self-esteem starts resisting being self-critical this can lead to tremendous social interaction problems. Possible results of low self-esteem come from a growing lack of confidence, depression, and insecurity in terms of - for example - relationships. Low self-esteem might be caused by abuse, perfectionism, severe criticism, or being laughed at, ignored, or ridiculed.

Do you recognise any of these signs of low self esteem:

Blaming others - This is usually known as complaining, where your misfortune happens to be always everybody else's fault and never yours because in blaming others you do not assume responsibility. But by not assuming responsibility, you allow yourself to become a victim of your environmental circumstances.

Denial - By minimising problems, forgetting events and having a tendency to assume that you have done nothing wrong or inappropriate is simply not true. The reality of this denial is that you are afraid to take the risk of getting in touch with your true feelings. It’s like having a toothache and avoiding going to the dentist to avoid the pain. So we take medication hoping that the pain will go away, until we cannot bury it anymore and we make the appointment — by which time we have even more expensive work that needs to be done.

Unable to express our feelings - Being unable to express our feelings is being unable to feel them; or, more precisely, we are suppressing them, ensuring a false sense of dumbing down necessary feelings. This seemingly protective bubble that you have created over time, is in reality only serving to numb the senses and debilitate your quality of life. By developing a greater sense of assertive behaviour you can actually begin to dismantle that numbing protective bubble that you have built around yourself. Learning how to be more assertive will help you to be able to express yourself in a way that will, for example, allow you to no-longer repress feelings of frustration and subsequent anger.

Depending on others for self-acceptance - Do you depend on others so you can accept yourself? "If you like me, I am ok. If you accept me, I will accept myself," always waiting for a sign of approval so that you can feel good about yourself. The reality is that people will always have different points of view, that sometimes they project in us their frustrations and that if somebody really loves you he/she will accept you the way you are. Another reality of life: you cannot please everyone! So do yourself a favour and simply take time out to give yourself permission to be you; to accept who you are and all the finest qualities you have always possessed.

Lack personal boundaries - Have you issues in drawing a line between your problems and other people’s problems? Do you muddle other people’s problems with your own? This behaviour is linked with not knowing how to say no (which we've previously covered). Setting boundaries is really important. We can still help other people, show empathy to them, but there is a place inside of us that we have to respect and do not have fear of rejection or overwhelm from a multitude of tangled problems.

What is a healthy self-esteem?

The importance of a healthy self-esteem cannot be underestimated for the foundation of your existence. It defines how you perceive yourself and life in general. It means to assume responsibility, live consciously, respect others, and take care of yourself. Healthy self-esteem enables you to be proud without being overbearing, approach your circumstances with a positive attitude, know you are worthy to realise your dreams, understand that you deserve a joyful life, and make choices that are supportive instead of defeating.

Building your esteem is an internal process that you can start creating now by:

  • Living with more conscious awareness.

  • Taking responsibility for your life and changing your perceptions toward yourself and others.

  • Forgiving the past in order to move on with the life you deserve.

  • Developing an over all stronger and consistent sense of self-acceptance.

What is self-acceptance?

With self-acceptance you are happy with whom you are now, loving and approving of whom you are. It means being nonjudgmental toward you. Self-acceptance is a choice. Because you decide to accept yourself unconditionally despite your deficiencies. The truth is that we all have negative feelings regarding ourselves. There are two steps to accept yourself:

  1. Make the choice. You have to make a decision.

  2. The next step is awareness. It will help you to observe yourself and free you from debilitating judgment. It enables you to see yourself as you truly are, for better and for worse. When you are aware that you have a problem you solve it. There are many areas where you could become more aware of what you dislike, your body, relationships, personality or career.

Acceptance is an important step toward having a healthy self-esteem, it will help you to be focused in loving what you like and at the same time changing whatever you want to change. Stop comparing yourself and your achievements to others, and acknowledging your skills or the lack of them. This will bring inner peace and happiness. To acknowledge your good and bad habits and traits will alleviate feelings of dissatisfaction, anger, resentment or unhappiness.

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