Strategies For Building Self-Esteem

While thinking about the Topic of the Week, I came across this wonderful article on Self-Esteem:

What is Self-Esteem?

Most people's thoughts and feelings about themselves fluctuate somewhat based on their daily experiences. The grade you get on an exam, how your friends treat you, ups and downs in a romantic relationship can all have a temporary impact on how you feel about yourself.

Your self-esteem, however, is something more fundamental than the normal ups and downs associated with situational changes. For people with good self-esteem, normal ups and downs may lead to temporary fluctuations in how they feel about themselves, but only to a limited extent. In contrast, for people with poor self-esteem, these ups and downs drastically impact the way they see themselves.

Poor vs. Healthy Self-Esteem

People with poor self-esteem often rely on how they are doing in the present to determine how they feel about themselves. They need positive external experiences (e.g., compliments from friends) to counteract the negative feelings and thoughts that constantly plague them. Even then, the good feeling (such as from a good grade or compliment) is usually temporary.

Healthy self-esteem is based on our ability to assess ourselves accurately and still be accepting of who we are. This means being able to acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses (we all have them!) and at the same time recognize that we are worthy and worthwhile.

Where Does Self-Esteem Come From?

Our self-esteem evolves throughout our lives as we develop an image of ourselves through our experiences with different people and activities. Experiences during childhood play a particularly large role in the shaping of self-esteem. When we were growing up, our successes, failures, and how we were treated by our family, teachers, coaches, religious authorities, and peers, all contributed to the creation of our self-esteem.

Childhood experiences that contribute to healthy self-esteem include:

  1. Being listened to
  2. Being spoken to respectfully
  3. Getting appropriate attention and affection
  4. Having accomplishments be recognized and mistakes or failures be acknowledged and accepted

Childhood experiences that may lead to low self-esteem include:

  1. Being harshly criticized
  2. Being physically, sexually, or emotionally abused
  3. Being ignored, ridiculed, or teased
  4. Being expected to be perfect all the time. People with low self-esteem were often given messages from parents, teachers, peers, or others' failed experiences (losing a game, getting a poor grade, etc.) were failures of their whole self

What Does Your "Inner Voice" Say?

There is so much more to this publication on Self-Esteem. The entire article can be found at The Counseling and Mental Health Center at the University of Texas, Austin

In my experience, everyone I've ever met has said that they struggle with self-esteem issues at some point in their lives, if not many times in their lives. The suggestions in this article are timeless and I believe of value.

Have a great week ahead,