What is Self Esteem?
Some people think that self esteem means confidence – and of course confidence comes into it – but it’s rather more than that.
The fact is that there are any number of apparently confident people who can do marvelous things but who have poor self esteem. Many people in the public eye fall into this category. Actors and comedians and singers in particular can seem to glow with assurance ‘on stage’, and yet off-stage many of them feel desperately insecure.
Indeed, individuals can be stunningly attractive and world-famous, and seem poised and perfect – yet still, deep down, find it hard to value themselves. Think of the late Princess of Wales and Marilyn Monroe and you’ll accept, I think, that public adulation is no guarantee of self-belief.
So, if self esteem isn’t quite the same thing as confidence, what is it?
Well, the word ‘esteem’ comes from a Latin word which means ‘to estimate’. So, self esteem is how you estimate yourself.
To do that you need to ask yourself certain questions:
• Do I like myself?
• Do I think I’m a good human being?
• Am I someone deserving of love?
• Do I deserve happiness?
• Do I really feel – both in my mind and deep in my guts – that I’m an OK person?
People with low self esteem find it hard to answer ‘yes’ to these questions. Perhaps you are one of them. If you’re reading this post, we think you are. Don’t despair. Just read on!
The concept of self esteem can be summed up as: Confidence in our ability to think and in our ability to cope with the basic challenges of life and confidence in our right to be successful and happy, the feelings of being worthy, deserving, entitled to assert our needs and wants, achieve our values and enjoy the fruits of our efforts.
We also commonly think that self esteem is merely about how we feel about ourselves at any particular moment. While seemingly existing in degrees, we tend to believe that we have positive or negative self esteem and that we make that determination simply by how we feel about ourselves.
However, our feelings or emotions do not exist alone or have an independent existence. We do not just simply feel. Rather, for every feeling or emotion that we have, either positive or negative, there is a corresponding thought that we have about ourselves that generates the experience of self esteem.
Whether positive or negative, self esteem is merely how our psyche experiences the thoughts that we have about ourselves. If a person has positive thoughts about himself he will experience positive or good self esteem. On the other hand, if the individual has negative thoughts about whom he thinks he is then he will experience poor or negative self esteem.