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Self esteem - an overview

Author: Jackie Tasker
Published: Apr 1 2008

Self esteem develops from the moment we are born, and represents how we see ourselves in relation to the rest of the world: to friends, colleagues, complete strangers, in work, at home, in relationships, or alone.

Some self esteem may be inherent in personality, but largely it develops in response to the family environment, the place we first experience ourselves in relation to other people. Here our parents give us the first sense of whether we are lovable or capable, and this forms the building blocks for our future view of ourselves.

The word ?esteem? means to hold in high regard, and so logic would dictate that self esteem means to hold ourselves in high regard. However, often this is not the case.

What is Low Self Esteem?

Low self esteem is when you see yourself negatively in relation to the rest of the world. This relates to everything from how you look, your relationships, right through to how you perform at work.

Some common symptoms of low self esteem are:
? Not accepting compliments from other people;
? Putting yourself down to other people;
? Believing that everyone is better than you;
? Imagining what other people might be thinking of you ? and its not positive;
? Finding social interaction difficult;
? Focusing on the negative most of the time;
? Reluctance to take on challenges;
? Inability to trust your own opinion;
? Have little expectations out of life for yourself;
? Feeling worthless or inadequate

The good news is that self esteem can be improved, and included below are a number of techniques to help if you feel that you?re suffering from low self esteem.

How do I Measure my Self Esteem?

Firstly, you?ll need to get a sense of your self esteem level.

Look at the following questions, and answer yes or no to each. Don?t dwell on the answers, go with you instinctive reaction as this will be the best indicator:

? Am I lovable?
? Do I deserve to be happy?
? Am I Ok with being me?
? Do I like myself?
? Do I deserve more?

If you found it difficult to answer yes to one or more of the questions, then you?ll have some degree of low self esteem. If you found it difficult to answer yes to any of the above questions then you?re likely to have very low self esteem, so take a look at the techniques below to help in improving this position.

Techniques to Improve Self Esteem

Like Yourself
If you had to write a list of 10 things you like about yourself, could you do it? What if you had to write a list of 50, or 100 things, how would you find that?

If you have low self esteem you?ll probably find it difficult. Not because there isn?t anything to like, but because you actually don?t recognise the good stuff and so your perception on yourself is distorted. You support this distorted view by deflecting compliments and putting yourself down.

So why not decide today that even if you don?t like yourself very much, you do deserve to increase your ?things I like about myself? list.

There are two simple, but effective things that can help:
a) no more deflecting compliments, simply say thank you
b) no more putting yourself down. If you haven?t anything good to say about yourself, then say nothing. It?s an improvement!

Use the above to add one new thing to your list every week (you?re not allowed to take any off!), and watch it grow.

Positive Thinking

People with low self esteem wear negative glasses! They see the world from a negative point of view, and by focusing only on the negative they keep their self esteem low. It?s a vicious circle.

If your sentences often start with negatives e.g. ?I can?t?, ?I won?t? ?I?m not good enough? then change them to include a positive e.g. ?I can?t do X but what I can do is Y?

Set yourself goals that you can achieve, with a short time scale, and work towards them. Know what you?re good at from your list above and start from here. As your confidence grows you?ll be able to introduce some new challenges to work towards, but remember to keep it realistic!

Celebrate Achievements

How often to you stop and celebrate what you?ve achieved in a day, week, month or even a year?

My guess is not very often, which means that our achievements can get lost, and on low days it can feel like we haven?t actually achieved anything ever!

Identify at least one achievement each week (you can use the weekly goals that you?ve set), and celebrate in a way that means something to you. It can be anything from buying yourself some flowers, or telling your partner how good you were, to having a long relaxing bath. The most important thing is that you recognise the celebration e.g. I?m buying myself these flowers as I achieved my goal of phoning the college this week to find out about the new courses on offer.

Making an event out of an achievement is a positive stroke which feeds your self esteem.

Press Pause

Life has become so busy, that often it?s difficult to find time for ourselves. Taking some time out each day will help to re-focus on yourself, and take the pressure off.

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