What is Self Esteem?
At certain times during our life, it can feel as if there is a universal force determined to work against us. During these difficult times our self esteem might suffer, but what exactly is self esteem?
The word ‘esteem’ originates from the Latin word ‘to estimate’ and so self esteem is an individual’s appraisal or evaluation of their own abilities and worth. When life’s obligations and unexpected problems cause us to feel bad about ourselves and our situation in life (for example thoughts such as “I am a failure” or “I am not very attractive”) this is often referred to as having low self esteem. If only we could just make the difficulties in life fade away, our self esteem would never be an issue. Unfortunately, just wishing for high self esteem is not enough; you have to work on it, but how?
Many of us admire the character and self esteem of those who have surmounted great challenges, such as Philippe Croizon, the man with no arms or legs who swam the English Channel, or Nelson Mandela, a man who served 27 years in prison and then when released went on to become the president of South Africa. Such people serve as role models for the rest of the population because, among other things, it seems they do not let life get the best of them. Our role models are more similar to us than you may think. They, too, have problems, fears, emotional pain, and experience doubt; after all, they are human. However, a potential key to their success is their level of self esteem.
What Can I Do to Improve My Low Self esteem?
When we feel confident about ourselves and our self esteem is high, we are filled with the sense that we can accomplish our goals, and take on the world. The problem being, that we do not always feel so capable. So what can you do to pick yourself back up and boost your low self esteem? Here are some tips that are designed to help put more pep in your step:
- If you have to eat frogs, start with the largest one first. When we are faced with several tasks that we have been putting off, it may be best to do the one we least wish to do first. Why you say? Because finishing the most threatening task first will help to make the rest of your problems seem less challenging.
- Find what you excel at and do this regularly. Engaging in activities that allow you to experience success on a consistent basis will add consistency. This consistency may help you to feel more stable and help you deal with life’s hiccups with greater ease.
- Make use of your support base and make time for you. Call your friends or family, book a massage, or go to the gym. Stay connected with the areas in your life where you can draw strength. Providing time for yourself will help you to regroup and reconnect, which may lead to a boost in your self esteem.
- Become more conscious of the thoughts you are experiencing. Are the thoughts you are having negative or hurtful or are they positive and helpful? During difficult times many of us experience negative messages and this can affect our self esteem. Start confronting the negative messages and replace them with something positive. In time this can help you feel better about yourself.
- Talk it out with a therapist. Feeling down from time to time is normal, but experiencing low self esteem or persistent negative thoughts about oneself is problematic. Speaking with a therapist may be useful in understanding your level of self esteem and your negative thoughts, and can help you to feel better about yourself.
By Justin Duwe, Psychotherapist BSc, MA, MBPsS
Harley Therapy – Psychotherapy and Counselling can connect you with therapists who specialise in improving low self esteem. Call if you would like to learn more about how therapy may help you improve your self esteem and set you on a journey to a happier and more fulfilling life.