What Exactly is Self Esteem
Literally, your self esteem is the esteem in which you hold yourself. If you perceive yourself to be inadequate, unworthy, unable, etc, you hold yourself in low self esteem. This will probably affect your behavior and how you communicate with other people. You might find it harder to look people straight in the eye, and you might fidget if you feel nervous. People may think of you as nervous or timid and less likely to recommend yourself for a pay rise, or to easily put yourself forward for a promotion. You might also let others walk all over you.
Sometimes we can go through periods when life is a bit tougher, perhaps after a divorce, or relationship breakdown. A situation like this, or perhaps losing a job through a company downsizing or relocating clearly not something for which we can be held to account, can lead to a temporary loss of self-esteem.
So self-esteem is not a fixed thing. Our lives are generally full of change. We begin, as does everyone else, as a child, and very dependent upon our parents and other adults. Part of this dependency is for approval, love and support for nurturing.
If we are fortunate, we are treasured, made to feel comfortable in our achievements and failings. We can’t all be top of the class, or make the school sports teams. We may achieve things some of the time, but not all the time. Many people are highly valued in their lives, their work, and their social networks, but this is not dependant upon coming first, getting medals.
If on the other hand we are unfortunate and don’t have kind, loving and supportive parents, maybe it is because they don’t understand how important self esteem is. It may be that our parents don’t have the self confidence to enable them to help us. We learn to assess ourselves also by how our teachers and friends treat us. We might have a great home life, but for some reason get picked on by a bully or group of bullies, and as a result can be scared, and feel our self esteem drop like a stone.
The main thing is to see our self esteem as something that we can affect ourselves. We can learn to recognize when our self esteem is getting a bit delicate, and when we need to give ourselves a boost. Positive thinking and a positive attitude is now recognized as a very valuable tool in managing our lives. This can benefit ourselves individually of course, but it is also important in that it can benefit the lives of those around us, and particularly those who depend on us.
Of course some people appear to have oodles of self esteem really worryingly too much self esteem in fact. They behave as if they are the only people on the planet. This is not a good level of self esteem if it makes a person too selfish or too demanding. If someone doesn’t respect the people around them, and only respects themselves, they have an unhealthy level of self esteem.
This unearned self esteem has been linked with bullying, violence and aggression. A too high opinion of ones self can result in unpleasant behavior to others, aggressive language and mannerisms and being overly loud and opinionated. . If we become really only concerned with ourselves, our own rights and entitlements, we are showing signs of excessively high self esteem.
So what we need to aim for is a healthy level of self esteem. Not too much, and not too little. With a healthy level of self esteem, an individual is likely to have a sensible view of their character, their ability, and their potential. Being able to make sensible evaluations of ourselves and others is far less stressful than having an overly high or low view of ourselves.
With a healthy level of self esteem we can more likely maintain calm, rational thought processes and behavior. We can deal with difficult situations more easily if we have a reasonable level of self esteem. We are less likely to become defensive or aggressive, and we are less likely to appear flustered, bombastic or nervous. Calm behavior is likely to result in others feeling more confident in us.
So it is definitely in our interests both in feeling better in ourselves and the realization that others will feel more comfortable in our company, if we have a good level of self esteem, neither too high, nor too low.