Some people think that self-esteem means confidence - and of course confidence comes into it - but it's rather more than that.
The fact is that there are any number of apparently confident people who can do marvelous things but who have poor self-esteem. Many people in the public eye fall into this category. Actors and comedians and singers in particular can seem to glow with assurance 'on stage', and yet off-stage many of them feel desperately insecure.
Indeed, individuals can be stunningly attractive and world-famous, and seem poised and perfect - yet still, deep down, find it hard to value themselves. Think of the late Princess of Wales and Marilyn Monroe and you'll accept, I think, that public adulation is no guarantee of self-belief.
So, if self-esteem isn't quite the same thing as confidence, what is it?
Well, the word 'esteem' comes from a Latin word which means 'to estimate'. So, self-esteem is how you estimate yourself.
To do that you need to ask yourself certain questions:
• Do I like myself?
• Do I think I'm a good human being?
• Am I someone deserving of love?
• Do I deserve happiness?
• Do I really feel - both in my mind and deep in my guts
- that I'm an OK person?
People with low self-esteem find it hard to answer 'yes' to these questions. Perhaps you are one of them. If you’re reading this book, we think you are. Don’t despair. Just read on!
The concept of self-esteem can be summed up as: Confidence in our ability to think and in our ability to cope with the basic challenges of life and confidence in our right to be successful and happy, the feelings of being worthy, deserving, entitled to assert our needs and wants, achieve
our values and enjoy the fruits of our efforts.
We also commonly think that self-esteem is merely about how we feel about ourselves at any particular moment. While seemingly existing in degrees, we tend to believe that we have positive or negative self-esteem and that we make that determination simply by how we feel about ourselves.
However, our feelings or emotions do not exist alone or have an independent existence. We do not just simply feel. Rather, for every feeling or emotion that we have, either positive or negative, there is a corresponding thought that we have about ourselves that generates the experience of self-esteem.
Whether positive or negative, self-esteem is merely how our psyche experiences the thoughts that we have about ourselves. If a person has positive thoughts about himself he will experience positive or good self-esteem. On the other hand, if the individual has negative thoughts about
whom he thinks he is then he will experience poor or negative self-esteem.
Therefore, to truly understand what self-esteem is all about and more importantly to be able to alter it when necessary for ones wellness or healing, we must first get it that self-esteem is really about our thinking, and more specifically about the thoughts that we develop or create about ourselves. The thoughts or beliefs that we have about ourselves are crucial in that they determine or create the structure of our experience of self-esteem and the various emotions associated with it.
We also tend to think of our self-esteem as being something that is shaped by the events that take place in our life, particularly those from our past. We tend to believe that who we think we are and how we feel about ourselves is merely the product, effect or caused by the experiences that we have had in the past – it says that we are who we are by virtue of what has happened to us as human beings.
More specifically, we tend to think that the cause in the matter of whom we think we are and our self-esteem is due to circumstance, situation or others, people, places and things. We do not tend to think that our self-esteem is something we actually developed or created. Our personal
self-esteem is shaped by our past and the experiences we have had in our lives.
We created our thoughts and with it our emotions from the meaning that we gave to the events that took place in our life, especially at an early age. We give meaning to everything in our life including and most importantly to ourselves. At an early age the meaning that we give an event tends to be made out to be all about us. While events do happen it is not the events that are important but rather the meaning that we give them and especially how we made it out to be about our identity.
Living in a state of low self esteem can be very damaging to the quality of life you lead on a daily basis.
Your self esteem is YOUR opinion of yourself, but far too many people allow others to influence or even make up their opinion for them. It sounds so very silly, but if you think on this you will realize how certain events, comments and encounters helped to "make or break" your self esteem.
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