What is self-esteem anyway, and how do you get it back once you’ve lost it?
Let me begin by saying that psychology’s definition of self-esteem has always bothered me.
It’s usually defined as a sort of self-evaluation of worth, often based on achievement.
I assume psychologists settled on that definition because it’s something they can measure.
They’re free to measure what they like of course, but I don’t believe they’re measuring actual self-esteem.
Authentic Self Esteem
In my mind, evaluation and achievement have little to do with authentic self esteem.
Eagle-eyed editor types will notice the lack of a hyphen in the term “self-esteem” above. That’s because I’m talking about two different things at the same time:
Authentic / self esteem
(which is like saying, “true self-esteem”)
Authentic self / esteem
(which means “esteem for one’s authentic self”).
I’ve outlined what I think of as signs of authentic self esteem on my website. There’s a link to that page at the bottom of this post.
People-Pleasing is No Good for Self-Esteem
I think self-esteem is the natural state of the human psyche before we take on a load of baseless shame.
Here’s how I think it goes …
We’re born with healthy self-esteem. Not a lot of consideration for others, that’s true. But at least we start out knowing and caring how we feel and what we want. Which, in my opinion, is important.
Next, through the processes of socialization and maturation, we learn to consider others’ needs.
However, we learn much more than simple consideration for others.
We soon figure out as children that:
1. We’re only good when we do good, and
2. Other people define what’s good.
We unfortunately learn that pleasing others is the highest good.
We may not like it, but it gets into our brains that way and can do a number on us for the rest of our lives.
Reclaim Your Self-Esteem
The idea that others are smarter or more important than we are undermines our ability to think for ourselves, and to accept ourselves and our experiences as valid.
It doesn’t have to be that way for the rest of our lives, though. We can reclaim our authentic self esteem.
Self-esteem is not something that must be built from nothing; it’s already there, just waiting to surface.
It’s what’s left over when we peel away that weirdness of treating others as demigods and ourselves as wretches.
Self-esteem is human nature, intact.
Check out some concrete ideas about what real self-esteem looks like by clicking the link below. Then please come back and share what authentic self esteem means to you.
Link: What is self-esteem?
Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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