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What is Self Esteem

Visualise a tree in spring. The strong thick branches that bear extensive green foliage, the colourful flowers and the rich yield of fruits to its credit; all make for a magnificent sight! If we weren’t introduced to biology, we would find it hard to guess that the source of this impressive view lies deep within the soil in the form of the tree’s roots! The roots not only provide essential nourishment to the tree, but also hold it so firm to the ground that neither harsh wind nor a rainy storm can uproot it so easily! If the personality of an individual is thought of as the foliage, flowers, or fruits above the ground, the penetrating root of the tree is the individual’s self esteem! The crowning glory of an individual’s confident personality is deep rooted in his/her self esteem. So, Lets see what is self esteem.

What is Self esteem?

Self esteem can be defined as the extent of an individual’s evaluation of self worth or value and gives a measure of how much one appreciates self or stands by oneself. It is a level of maturity that lets you be aware that you need not fit in any made-up definition of so called ‘perfection’. You need to be able to embrace your uniqueness. It is about respecting one’s self with elements of self belief and self-contentment.  It is also about being true to yourself to promote that inner growth within, that ultimately shines outwardly as self-confidence, like an aura in your personality!

Why is self esteem important

Self esteem is a notion worth discovering and promoting within us, as it forms the source of all those qualities such as confidence, hard work, determination, perseverance, courage, and all of those virtues that one needs to in order to achieve the most sought-after element called ‘success’! It makes every moment of life worth experiencing.

Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.

– Malcom S. Forbes

This is why most people end up with over/under confidence that hinder performances. The above quote underlines the need to discover oneself and to evaluate accurately the traits that define one’s qualities. Self esteem is a tool that helps you with this evaluation.

Self esteem Needs Grooming

An abandoned land may have everything: soil, rain, sunlight, and air. However, we cannot harvest any crop from there because we have unwanted plants growing out of random seeds that just came in from unknown sources. A farm land on the other hand, is high-yielding and fruitful. The only difference in the latter is that seeds of choice are sown and looked after till they grow and yield the harvest. Similarly, self esteem if left untamed, becomes a mere collection of voices and notions about yourself based on what other people think or comment. In other words, you start seeing yourself through other people’s vision. It tends to get mis-leading, as your potential is left unexplored. However, if you take charge of the situation, observe yourself, discover your self-worth, and start nurturing your qualities, you will start grooming your self esteem and this will yield the fruits of success!

Benefits of Positive Self esteem

When your self esteem is firm, you start feeling better about yourself on the whole. The outcome of most situations in life are not always under our control. It will aid in facing any situation boldly and with hope such that you sail past troubles and bounce back again with original zeal and enthusiasm. In other words:

Self esteem does not let any situation take charge of you; it makes you capable of taking charge of any situation!

We also:

  • Feel less pain through failures and rejections and rise again stronger than before.
  • Experience more calm and feel less stress and are less anxious about any outcome, no matter how crucial.
  • Can handle criticism and negative feedback without getting hurt or demoralised.
  • Can handle positive feedbacks and praises without being carried away emotionally or getting too excited.
  •  

How to Build Self esteem?

Now coming to the million-dollar question. How to build that ideal self esteem? Let us discover.

Believe in Yourself

Self belief is the core strength of self esteem. Self belief can develop with one realisation. Every individual is unique and the core potentials vary. This is what sets up apart and makes us so special individually. Do not be disheartened if people fail to see you in a particular light. Instead take charge and present yourself as that unique individual and define your own style to the world.

Self talk

Self-talk is that inner conversation that we tend to have within ourselves. Self-talk is a medium for introspection. Words have immense power. However, self talk could work either in favour of or against building our self esteem depending upon whether it is positive or negative self talk. Positive self-talk need not always mean saying nice things about oneself. It means being true to oneself and assessing one’s strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities. Self-talk should not lead to a build-up of pressure with statements like, “I am sure to succeed”, rather they should be assuring and realistic like, “I will keep working till I succeed”.

Focus on Good About Others

This is one practice that can double the benefits! It has a profound effect not only on one’s own esteem but on that of others’ as well. So, what happens when you focus on the good things you see in others? By thinking good about others, we surround ourselves with positivity. We focus on our own good qualities and feel motivated to present the best in us. We also learn to get over assumptions and stereotyping.

Be Among People having Positive Outlook

‘Influence’ has deep rooting effects. Like a sponge absorbing water, we knowingly or unknowingly absorb abstract qualities like emotions, opinions, or outlooks from people we spend time with. Always choose to be among those who are in the habit of extending positive affirmations. Then these notions slowly seep into us and make optimism our norm. The gist is to team up with optimistic individuals which allows our ideas to be reinforced and to be applied. If not in person, worthwhile interactions can happen through social media, or through good books where so many new ideas are exchanged.

Replace self pity with self compassion

There is a lot of difference between self-compassion and self-pity. The difference is to such an extent that if the former leads to building positive self esteem, the latter could fuel negative.

Self-pity is like looking at problems and hardships in life with a magnifying glass! It is like zooming every set-back and trying to victimise ourselves. It is an unrealistic approach that sees only negative outcomes on the long run and hence closes all door on new possibilities. Self pity demotivates us from trying out anything that is innovative.

Your mistakes are just what you did, not who you are.

Self-compassion on the other hand lets you ‘observe’ rather than simply ‘see’ the reasons behind downfall and not blame the self always for lack of capabilities. Accept failures and frame new ways of emerging out of them by not involving emotions but through logic. It lets you think of similar situations in the past and how you got past them successfully to reach to this point. It helps you gain back will-power.

Have a Goal Oriented Morning Routine

While it is true that words have power, it is also true that: Actions speak louder than words do. Accomplishing tasks is a great way to boost self esteem. The best way to do this is to introduce small goals for yourself.

Morning hours are extremely productive where you may start afresh like the rising Sun. It is a time before you get preoccupied with work/school, and so you can do something new. Unlike post work or school hours in the evening when you are exhausted, morning hours are ideal as they start after a good night’s sleep. Morning routine is the key that unlocks an entirely new world of possibilities. You may attain overall growth by paying attention to your physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual health; nurture your hobbies; or follow your passion. With little steps, you will discover a whole new transformation in months and years to come.

Once Strengthened, How to Retain Self esteem?

Nothing in life can be done just once and abandoned. When you clean your home, you cannot just leave it unattended for long. New cobwebs form on ceilings, more dust sweeps in and gathers on tables, fresh clutter piles up, and everything needs maintenance to make your home presentable to yourself on a day-to-day basis. Similarly, building and maintaining self esteem has to happen every day. Once strengthened, we need to follow-up on all those activities that led to continue gaining and improving it.

Self esteem is the mother of all skill sets. It is the battery that drives the origin of skills such as confident communication, excellent leadership qualities, spirit of team-work, skills in conflict resolution, relationship building, and a host of others. Just as the battery needs re-charging, we need to work on re-charging our self esteem to keep these skills replenished. Keep practicing on what you already know, bring about small but effective changes in routine, keep exploring your potential, and be in the habit of learning new skills. This will account for the maintenance programme of reinforcing self esteem.

What can Damage Self esteem and How to Overcome Them?

Self esteem is what strengthens the emotional quotient. Lack of it often exhibits as weak emotions in individuals to the extent that it could lead to chronic depression. One must avoid below practices such as:

Self-criticism: This happens usually because one starts to think low about one’s own qualities just because they may not fit in a particular bracket what people consider as normal. It is a result of comparing yourself with others on a scale that is not uniform. Shaming your own personality traits, or ethnicity could prove damaging to self esteem. Replacing self-criticism with self-appreciation can fix the problem. This is how you learn to develop the distinctive features within you and present them to the world with pride.

Existing in Past Memories: Overthinking about what you once were or what you were unable to achieve, or lingering on to unpleasant memories of the past is retrogressive. You cannot go back and change the past. Even if you could how would it even matter? Instead dwell in the present and do everything that is within your capabilities and see how you create a wonderful present, and a bright future!

Failing to Express Gratitude: Feeling grateful brings a feeling of contentment. Failing to express gratitude only leads to build-up of guilt and regret and lowers overall self esteem. We are all inter-dependent on each other and it is a good feeling to make note of at least one thing that you are grateful about in a day. Prayers also work wonders for the same reason in improving self esteem.

How Much of Self Esteem is Too Much?

Self esteem has to be of a balanced and positive type. A pessimistic attitude may lead to submissive and low self esteem. On the other hand, over-confidence may lead to a higher self-esteem, and could get equally toxic to growth as would a low self-esteem. It blinds one from being courteous, and makes him/her get carried away without genuine merit. Higher self esteem is a sort of exaggerated self-worth or self-praise that could lead to narcissism. Narcissism is a personality disorder that leaves one craving for excessive compliments and makes the persons disrespectful towards others. Narcissistic attitude finally damages relationships.

Conclusion

Self esteem helps you take bold new decisions based on your goodwill and intuition without being hindered by the constant fear of failure. Self esteem is not just the root that supports a vibrant personality, it is also the seed that carries the essence of happiness. Nurture it the right way and see how it grows to make every moment of your life worthwhile. Self esteem helps you evolve. Remember that things do not happen overnight. Just as one misdeed does not lead to big failures all of a sudden, small good deeds too take time to convert to success stories. One needs to be patient and persevere with constant efforts to let the brilliance of self esteem shine through us!

Recommended books for Self Esteem

Article Credit

This article is contributed by Ms Preeti Tambraparni, post graduate in microbiology with a certification in clinical research. Her expertise are writing personal blog in life science related topics and health blog.

More articles from Ms. Preeti Tambraparni:

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One thought on “What is Self Esteem

  1. Gone through your article. Liked it. While talking about
    “Talk to yourself”, I noted that this habit isn’t new to us Indians. In the Vedic days what the Rishis did in their lasr stage of life, the Vanaprasthashrama, was nothing but talking to themselves. They spent their last leg of life in the forest, and alone. Whom, therefore, could they have talked to but themselves? Upanishads are all aGone through your article. Liked it. While talking about
    “Talk to yourself”, I noted that this habit isn’t new to us Indians. In the Vedic days what the Rishis did in their lasr stage of life, the Vanaprasthashrama, was nothing but talking to themselves. They spent their last leg of life in the forest, and alone. Whom, therefore, could they have talked to but themselves? Upanishads are all about Rishis, talking to themselves, rediscovering
    themseves, through Vedas.
    I, wrote a poem, during my border postings. Full version is in my old computer which is now kaput. First stanza ran like this: Sometimes all of a sudden
    I become stranger to myself
    And ask who am I ?
    What interest have I got ?
    With who ever am I ?
    Can I meet him – I ?
    And shake hands with him – I ?
    And say glad to meet you – I ?
    But am I really?
    Go ahead and keep writngbout Rishis, talking to themselves, rediscovering
    themseves, through Vedas.
    I, wrote a poem, during my border postings. Full version is in my old computer which is now kaput. First stanza ran like this: Sometimes all of a sudden
    I become stranger to myself
    And ask who am I ?
    What interest have I got ?
    With who ever am I ?
    Can I meet him – I ?
    And shake hands with him – I ?
    And say glad to meet you – I ?
    But am I really?
    Go ahead and keep writng.

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