Wikipedia defines self-esteem as “a term in psychology to reflect a person’s overall evaluation or appraisal” of one’s self worth. Simply put, self-esteem is the opinion you have of yourself and your value as a person. For example: I am good looking. I feel good about myself. I am kind. I am competent.
To decide whether you have low or high self-esteem, try asking yourself the following questions:
• Do others respect what you do?
• Do you believe you are successful?
• How do you perceive yourself?
• How do you feel about your strengths and weaknesses?
• What do you think of your social status?
• How do you relate to others?
• Can you make your own decisions?
Self-esteem is gained through positive experiences
and by the way other treat you.
Why is self-esteem so important?
Actor Clint Eastwood says, “Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s power.” According to psychologists, positive self-esteem is vital in development of a healthy personality. Nathaniel Branden calls self-esteem: “The immune system of consciousness.”
Our self-esteem determines how we operate in life:
How we interact with other people. Self-esteem predetermines our goals, our achievements, and our satisfaction with life.
There are things you can do to increase your self-esteem and bolster your self-confidence. These may seem simple and easy to do but they really help to nurture your self-esteem.
• When you encounter others whether at work or on the street, smile and establish eye contact.
Dress for success. No one is more conscious of your physical appearance than you are. When you don’t look good, it changes the way you carry yourself and interact with other people.
Use this to your advantage by taking care of your personal appearance. If you believe you look good you will also feel good about yourself. The way you walk is a good indicator of how you feel about yourself.
Walk briskly, energetically, purposefully. Research shows walking 25% faster will make to you look and feel more important!
• Your posture speaks volumes about your self-confidence. Walk tall, shoulders back, ready take on any challenge, confident you will win!
• Physical fitness has a huge effect on self-confidence. If you’re out of shape, you’ll feel insecure, unattractive, and less energetic. So commit to a fitness program. It doesn’t have to be formal. Walking or biking two or three times a week is a good start.
• Answer the phone pleasantly at work and at home. When calling others identify yourself before asking to speak to whomever you called.
• Show genuine appreciation for a gift or complement.
• Don’t brag. People who brag about their own exploits or demand special attention are trying to build themselves up in the eyes of others.
• Don’t talk to others about your problems or issues. Instead, be positive about your life and your situation.
• Don’t criticize anyone—including yourself! People admire and respect those who are always positive about others. They want to spend time with them.
• Respond to difficult times or depressing moments by increasing your productivity. As Malcolm Forbes said, “Vehicles in motion use their generators to charge their own batteries. Unless you happen to be a golf cart, you can’t recharge your battery when you’re parked in the garage!”
• See mistakes and rejections as learning opportunities. Admit your shortcomings and devise a plan for fixing them. As Denis Waitley noted: “It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are not.”
• Focus not on what you did wrong but what you did right. Have faith in yourself.
• Don’t put things off. Meet assignments, problems, obligations head on.
• Nothing succeeds like success. Start with something you can do immediately and easily. By starting with small successes, you build more confidence in your abilities. Each completed task is a building block towards self-esteem.
• Visualize success. See yourself reaching goals and experiencing success.
• Read something inspirational, listen to something empowering, talk to someone who can uplift your spirits, who can motivate you to become a better person. Listen to motivational speakers who speak about empowerment. (See resources list.)
• Focus on what you have. Create a list of things you are grateful for. Remember past successes, talents, relationships. Set aside gratitude time each day.
• Praise others. Refuse to engage in backstabbing gossip. Compliment others. In building their confidence, you will build your own.
• When you attend a meeting or conference, sit in the front row! You’ll show confidence—and be more visible to the important people.
• During group discussions, get involved. Make an effort to speak up. You’ll become a better public speaker, more confident in your own thoughts, and recognized as a leader.
• Focus on the needs of other people. Stop thinking about yourself and concentrate on the contribution you can make to the rest of the world. The more you contribute, the more your self-esteem will increase. In giving, we receive more than we give.
• Self-esteem comes from positive self-imaging. Be proactive. Self-esteem doesn’t happen while we wait passively.
• Get out and do things. Set up a lunch date with a friend. Socializing with others provides opportunities to connect with others, practice communication and interpersonal skills
• Do something that scares you. Overcoming a phobia increases confidence in your ability to do other things.
• Regularly doing things that you excel at. This reinforces your belief in your abilities and strengths.
• Set clear, actionable goals. 80% of North Americans say they don’t have goals. People who regularly write down and review their goals earn nine times as much as those who don’t. Achieving goals builds confidence and self-esteem in your abilities.
• Take stock. Write down what you do well and what you’d like to get better at. Select an area for improvement that is the biggest priority and work on it. This might be a work, home, community, financial, health or interpersonal goal.
• Ask someone you trust: “What do you like about me?” “What are my strengths?” or “What do you love about me?” We are our own toughest critics. Hearing from another person our positive qualities helps to build self-esteem.
• Use positive affirmations, and mantras. Your affirmations have to be the true. You might have an uplifting song you play to bolster self-esteem.
• Stop comparing yourself to others. Low self-esteem stems from the feeling of being inferior. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. Follow your own path and proceed at your own pace.
The Creed of Optimist International describes a way of life that increases your self-esteem and value others:
• To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
• To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet. • To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
• To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
• To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
• To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
• To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
• To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
• To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
• To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
Amos, Wally (2008) The Path to Success is Paved with Positive Thinking.
Dwyer, Wayne (2005) The Power of Intention.
Hay, Louise (2004) Everyday Positive Thinking.
Osteen, Joel. (2007) Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Everyday Life.
Patton Thoele, Sue ( 2001) The Courage to be Yourself: A Woman’s Guide to Emotional Strength and Self-esteem.
Perara, Carl. Self-esteem Secrets: Steps to Success.
Tschirhart Sandford, Linda and Donovan, Mary Ellen (1985) Women & Self-esteem: Understanding and Improving the Way We Think and Feel about Ourselves.
Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse (2010) Learning to Love Yourself: Finding Your Self-worth.
Varnum, Gary (2010) Positive Affirmations: 92 Affirmations that Apply Positive Quotes an Positive Words to Banish Negative Thinking.
Vincent Peale. Norman (2003) The Power of Positive Thinking.