What is self esteem?

What is self esteem?Self esteem does not mean seeing yourself as the greatest person in the world. It's not the same as being conceited. Healthy self esteem means liking yourself, for the most part, as you are. You can have OK self esteem and still have occasional periods of self doubt. How you feel about yourself depends on who you compare yourself with.

Healthy self esteem means thinking as highly of yourself as you think of your peers. Excessive self esteem = being over confident or complacent. OK self esteem is compatible with humility. Humility is not the same as self-effacement. The right balance should place you mid-way between grandiosity and self-effacement. Check out the quiz follow up page: Boost Your Self Esteem.

You don't have to be happy about every aspect of yourself to have reasonable self-esteem. You just have to accept yourself as good enough. Bear in mind that, if your role models are so superior to you that you can never live up to their example, you may be putting needless pressure on yourself to live up to an unattainable standard.

Healthy self esteem doesn't depend on being wealthy either. It depends on what you expect of yourself. If you demand that you should be this and should be that, but these demands are unrealistic, you may never like  yourself much. So, self esteem is as much about having the right standards as it is about how you see yourself.

Building and Maintaining Healthy Self Esteem

Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Celebrate your strengths and achievements by regularly reviewing what went well instead of thinking only about problems or setbacks. We are so used to negative feedback that we are more aware of our weaknesses. Set achievable targets and get regular feedback. Change the way you talk to yourself - stop putting yourself down. Be sure that you are not judging yourself against unreasonable standards. Beating yourself for your weaknesses is self-defeating.

Beware of global talk. Here are some examples: "Life is awful." "I am a terrible person." "Nothing I do works out."

These statements are too global. Life isn't awful, just some parts of it. You are not terrible, even if you have done one or two terrible things. Finally, even if some of the things you do don't work out, that doesn't mean that nothing you do works out.

Keep in mind that these statements don't describe anything factual the way the statement "Snow is white" does. No, these statements express your attitude toward things. Even if you can't change these external things, what can you do to change your attitude, how you view things. Try to see something positive in everything. Spend more time with positive people, those who always look on the bright side. Avoid spending much time with overly negative people.

See the Self Esteem menu above for more on this topic, especially:  The Self Esteem Attitude and Boost Your Self Esteem 

Read the self esteem stories of other people here.

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