By Bonnie Bennett, ACMHC
Truthfully, how important is self-esteem? It effects every decision and touches every part of your life.
Webster’s dictionary defines self-esteem as “a confidence and satisfaction in oneself : SELF-RESPECT, 2: SELF-CONCEIT” (“Self-esteem.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/self-esteem. Accessed 28 May. 2020.); I would say the definition is most accurate, but most people focus on the self-conceit part and feel that if they are confident in themselves then they are conceited, self-involved, or worse yet…. A NARCISSIST!
How can you tell you have no or low self-esteem? The answer is how you treat yourself- internally and externally.
How can you improve your self-esteem? The answer is how you treat yourself – internally and externally.
The first and most important thing people should look at is the internal dialog one has with their self. It is not uncommon for people to be mean to themselves when they feel they did not do the best they can do, or if a mistake is made, or a poor choice was chosen; here comes the punching gloves!
Media, society, culture, community, and experiences; all have had a huge role to play in how we look at ourselves.
The media presents concepts that could be considered either self-indulgent or confident; and the perception is twisted by the intent of the story.
Society and community unknowingly (knowingly?) set a tone for “normalcy” or what is expected of us as an individual, along with the bar that is to be achieved that is usually miles high.
Culture- in a sense is how we live our lives, helps define who we are. But if not defined carefully can limit us and set standards that may not be healthy or beneficial to us.
So now what?
Treat yourself as you would your very best friend. Be kind and honest with yourself. You would not look at your friend and say “Really, your gonna wear THAT?!, not likely. You are more apt to say “let’s try something that will work better for you”.
Approaching yourself with kindness and acceptance is the pinnacle to repairing self-esteem and starting to feel not only better about you, but maybe about life in general. Removing others expectations of yourself also removes some of the pressure to reach the bar that others have set. We want to help you learn to lean on yourself to set the standards.
The term self-love can be very confusing. What does it really mean? It means the basic care of self:
The concept of self-worth can be confusing at best. What is it? How do I judge it? Noting your self-worth is looking at your value. When we value ourselves, we are more apt to take care of and protect ourselves. One of the major components of self-worth is:
We have all heard before how important it is to accept ourselves, but the real question is how many of us actually do?
No one person is all good or all bad; we are all a beautiful mixture of both (although we lean heavily one way or the other) and that is part of our uniqueness, part of what makes us human.
Does this mean allow our ‘bad’ to rule the day? Not necessarily, but it does mean being kind to yourself and recognizing that it is all part of being a human being.
Sometimes it is easy to say we have forgiven ourselves for whatever… but reality is most of us choose to brush it under the rug and forget whatever the offense is that we have done to others or ourselves or we beat ourselves up for years about the event.
Reality is, you need to forgive yourself more than you forgive others (still need to forgive others eventually).
Holding onto negative emotions that go with not forgiving ourselves slowly eats us alive, the continual emotional beatings we give ourselves lends to the pain and anguish that literally breaks us down.
What can we do about it?
Today’s culture does not make it easy to be kinder to ourselves. There are so many factors that work against that very concept. And yet, we have the ability to break free and love ourselves for who we are, our uniqueness, the very beauty in how we are made, to be authentic and true to who we are while striving to be the best that we can be in the same breath.
No matter what happens with you today: remember one thing…..
YOU ARE PERFECT JUST THE WAY YOU ARE RIGHT THIS MOMENT, LATER TODAY, TOMORROW, AND FOREVER.