According to Wikipedia: “Self-esteem is an individual’s subjective evaluation of their own worth. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs about oneself as well as an emotional state such as triumph, despair, pride, and shame.”
I believe all of us, as human beings, have experienced self-esteem struggles. They can show up in our daily lives, whether we do anything about them or not. You may experience those feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy in one or more areas of your life. That’s OK. I’ve been there many times myself. Those feelings were ingrained early on in my childhood.
I am here to tell you this: I understand that what you’re going through is not easy, and believe me, you are not alone on this road. However, the truth I would like to share with you today is that if you show up to your life every day facing your struggles, hardships, and failures; putting in the time and hard work knowing yourself; bringing awareness to yourself, and being honest with your limitations, you will be taking a vital and much-needed step towards progression, character building, and self-growth. I promise by the end of it, you will have become a better version of yourself than when you have started initially.
How do you find self-acceptance and awaken inner strength? There are a few necessary steps to take that can help you through your discovery, starting with:
Ask yourself: How do you define your self-esteem? How much do you value yourself? How worthy and capable are you?
2How Self-Esteem Develops
Where do those opinions about ourselves come from? They are formed by various factors, like our achievements, relationships, and connection to a larger purpose. Most of these opinions we form about ourselves, however, are developed in our formative years.
3Challenging Our Core Beliefs
The number one factor that is responsible for diminishing our self-esteem is our thoughts. It’s not external situations that create our self-esteem. When it comes down to it, it’s what we tell ourselves. How we speak to ourselves is directly linked to what we believe about ourselves.
When our thoughts are critical, self-defeating, and negative, they have the power to diminish our self-esteem significantly. Without challenging our thoughts, we have grown accustomed to hearing them. These thoughts may not be accurate, and out of habit, we repeat them. We must challenge our thoughts, reframe them, and question their validity.
One of the key ingredients to healthy self-esteem is to practice self-acceptance. Self-acceptance helps us feel good about ourselves and independent from our flaws, mistakes, and failures. It helps us release judgment and embrace all facets of who we are.
Self-acceptance is unconditional; we are not reliant on our achievements to build our self-worth. We begin to reaffirm our qualities and attributes, accepting non-judgmentally our weakness and strength. It’s liberating to experience a kind of happiness that is not dependent on goal-oriented thoughts.
In a nutshell, self-compassion is being kind and loving toward the self. We practice it when we are going through a difficult time or recognizing qualities about ourselves that we dislike, rather than judging and criticizing ourselves. We offer patience and kindness toward ourselves instead of berating ourselves for all of our mistakes. It is practicing forgiveness, knowing we don’t have to be perfect to have high self-worth.
There are three components of self-compassion:
- Extending kindness to ourselves just as we treat others.
- Common humanity, instead of focusing on how we are different from others. Self-compassion helps us view our similarities. We recognize that inadequacy, perfections, and challenges are part of our shared human experience, not something that happens to us alone. It lessens our self-judgment and connects us with others.
- Mindfulness offers us a balanced perspective and allows us to observe our experiences with openness and clarity, helping us face and accept life without judgment.
Combined, these three aspects of self-compassion provide refuge to our overly critical minds and enhance our overall acceptance of ourselves.
To increase our self-esteem, society taught us to compare ourselves to others to prove that we are better. We became competitive. That falsely heightened self-esteem is contingent on our most recent successes or failures.
Therefore, our self-worth is dependent on our circumstances. Self-compassion is unconditional, and when we are caught in the game of comparison, not only do we thrive on being better than others, but our perspective is distorted; it’s impossible to see the whole picture.
We don’t always see underlying struggles, burnout, or depression. We observe people gain accolades and success without being privy to their hardships. With a competitive mind, the more successful people are around us, the lower our self-esteem falls. We begin dismissing and devaluing our own self-worth. Therefore, we should drop our comparisons and practice self-compassion.
7Letting Go of Perfectionism
At a young age, most of us are put on a quest to be perfect in all aspects of life. As we work toward achieving our perfect self, much of our attention is spent focusing on our flaws. Often, we get mad at ourselves for not meeting our own expectations, and at the same time, putting quite a bit of pressure on achievement.
As for making mistakes, we are unable to let them go, and our relentless internal critic won’t grant us the ability to experience satisfaction and happiness. Whenever we reach a goal, it seems our best is seemingly never quite good enough for ourselves.
This always elusive quest for perfection chips away at our self-esteem because it does not allow us to accept who we are. Many of us have this idea that striving for perfection and criticizing ourselves will eventually lead us towards greater success.
In conclusion, beating ourselves up does not get us anywhere positive or further in life. It holds us back from taking risks. If happiness is what we want, and growing our self-esteem is our desire, we must let go of our tendencies to be a perfectionist. We have to understand that what we achieve in life does not equate to our feelings of self-worth and that the process of doing things is equally as critical as the targets we set for ourselves.
Increasing our self-esteem also involves gratitude in that we accept and appreciate all that we can do while simultaneously honoring all that we cannot. It is simply acknowledging that we recognize that our best is not only acceptable but also good enough.
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8Author: Amal Candido
Amal is a Certified Coach Practitioner, Administrative professional, Organizational management, and Human Resources management. In addition to her past work portfolio in retail, travel, hospitality, and the financial industry, she is currently working in the legal sector. In her spare time, Amal enjoys writing, blogging, yoga, and meditation. Amal is the author of “Authentic Leader” for Leaders and people managers and “Executive Assistant Guide to Survival."