Self-esteem is central to our wellbeing
What is self-esteem?
Psychologists, therapists,counsellors and mental health professionals generally agree that our personal self-esteem is a measure of the mental picture that we hold of ourselves.
Stanley Coopersmith was one of the earliest theorists on self-esteem and he defined it as ' a personal judgement of worthiness that is expressed in the attitudes we hold about ourselves.' His landmark assessment instrument The Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (CSEI) remains a widely used tool in self-esteem research.
In the mid 1960s Morris Rosenberg and social-learning theorists defined self-esteem in terms of a stable sense of personal worth or worthiness, measurable by self-report testing. The Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale has also become a frequently used definition for research.
A more recent theorist and psychologist is Nathaniel Branden who wrote a popular book called The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem. He states that 'Self-Esteem is the disposition to experience oneself as competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and as worthy of happiness.'
You might have heard the words 'healthy' and 'unhealthy' used in conjunction with the term self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem means having a constructive, positive and affirmative view of yourself. In other words you believe in your capabilities and accept your limitations and you can set and work towards realistic goals and develop satisfying relationships.
In The Everything Self-Esteem Book, Robert M Sherfield, Ph.d. defines unhealthy self-esteem as '...having a negative, pessimistic, disapproving view of yourself and the inability to see beyond your limitations and problems. Low self-esteem is a mental health problem. Low self-esteem can cause you to lose sight of your goals, weaken your motivation, depreive you of meaningful relationships, and cause you to focus only on your limitations.'
Which ever way we look at it self-esteem is 'a good thing': when we have it we feel fully engaged with life and when we feel its lack we struggle to cope. Self-esteem is not the only determinant of happiness, but it is certainly one of the most important.
How your levels of self-esteem affect your life
Have you ever considered how your life might change if only you could believe in yourself more consistently?
Would your relationships benefit if you could stand your ground a bit more and express your real feelings?
Because we (naturally) want to be liked we can sometimes find ourselves doing things that we don't want to do and saying yes when we would really like to be saying no. Whenever we behave like this we are not being true to our real feelings and so our self-respect falls and we lose our self-esteem. This downward spiral can lead to an inability to make decisions and a feeling of loss of control - this can be a frightening experience.
But the good news is that you can develop and strengthen your levels of personal confidence and self-esteem, by using simple strategies and techniques. You will be amazed by how much better you can feel about yourself when you stop acting like a victim and start to take charge of your life. Why not decide right now to make the choice to build your self-esteem and give yourself the courage you need to move onwards and upwards?
Top 10 reasons to develop your self-esteem
- You feel happier and more optimistic and this affects all your relationships.
- You have a strong sense of inner security - you know you can trust yourself.
- You can let yourself and others off the hook.
- You can appreciate the joy of living in the moment and stop dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
- Your new positive and upbeat approach starts to attract new and exciting opportunities as others sense your inner confidence.
- You stop comparing yourself with other people and begin to value your own unique gifts.
- You take better care of your physical, mental and emotional health.
- You get clear about your true goals and can take the steps towards achieving them.
- You can see the good in yourself and others and this brings more joy into your life.
- You begin to love and value the gift of life - this is indeed priceless!