There’s a lot of talk today about self-esteem so what does it actually mean? If we ‘esteem’ someone highly, we think a lot of them. So really it’s just about how we think about ourselves, or the way we ‘esteem’ ourselves. That’s self esteem.
It’s nothing to do with how clever we are or how well dressed we are, how pretty we are or how handsome we are; it’s about how we think about the person we think we are. To be able to ‘esteem’ ourselves it means we need to have a right assessment of ourselves. OK, I’ll unpack that in the pages to come but here are a couple of thoughts to start with:
Wrong Assessment: Many of us think badly about who we are but when we do that, more often than not it ISN’T a right assessment. What we feel is so often very different from the truth about who we really are - and I’ll show you in the pages to come what that really means.
Let me introduce you to someone I know, Gina - you won’t know her. Gina thinks she’s rubbish yet I happen to know she holds her family together against all the odds. Gina’s self-esteem is rock bottom but her family think she’s great. She denies it of course, but it’s true! What is amazing about Gina is that she thinks so badly about herself that you would expect her to be rubbish as a person, but she’s not. A lot of us are like that; we don’t think much of ourselves but in fact we don’t do too badly in life. In such a case we simply need to work on seeing ourselves as we really are. Gina is doing really well, even though she thinks badly of herself, but how much better could she be doing if she thought rightly about herself?
Right Assessment - but it can change! But then there are others of us who feel bad about ourselves and, to be truthful, we’re not coping with life very well.
Chris (and you won’t know him either) has felt bad about himself ever since at school he was told he was rubbish. He lacks confidence and everything he puts his hand to, goes wrong. When we start thinking rightly about ourselves, we soon find it has spin-offs in the way we act. If Chris can change how he thinks about himself, he may find life getting better for him.
If I think badly about myself, does it have to stay like that?
Some theory to think about
It has been suggested that someone who thinks rightly about themself has, at least, the following characteristics:
- are tolerant of others, respect others, accept responsibility for their own actions, have integrity, feel good about their achievements, are self-motivated, are willing to take thought-out risks, are capable of assessing and handling criticism, are loving and loveable, aren’t afraid to seek worthwhile and demanding goals, they take command and control of their lives.
How about that! Is that how you’d like to be? Well why not make it a learning objective in the coming days.
Healthy, good or high self esteem isn’t about:
· having a high opinion of yourself – because it may be inaccurate
· being clever – some very clever people still feel bad about themselves
· being popular – it’s not about what other people think about you,
· being a hard worker – it’s more about thinking than achieving
· being a pretender – it’s actually about knowing the real you.
Probably the most common cause of low self-esteem is because of things that have been said to us or done to us earlier in life – which we have taken on board and accepted into our lives.
Things said: · “You’re stupid, you’re no good, you’re ugly!”
· being rejected by partner or friends
· being turned out by family
i.e. where we have not been loved or valued by others
Have I had any of these experiences? I probably have some things I might want to change.
Emotions, Memory & Knowledge
Our emotions do not necessarily convey the truth.
In fact memories may not accurately convey the truth. When we look back our memories may be dulled by time or they may be distorted by things that have happened since, or they may be distorted because at the time we only had a small part of the picture.
Suppose we had an abusive parent. Suppose we found out that in fact they had been far worse treated than anything we have known. Knowledge sometimes brings understanding which may shed light and eases the feelings.
One popular writer tells the story of travelling on the underground one day in a fairly empty carriage. A man and two boisterous children got on and the man sat taking virtually no notice of the children while they made lots of noise, disturbing the peace of the carriage. The writer became more and more irritated with the man’s inability to control his children, when the train pulled in to a station and the three got up to leave the carriage. The man seemed to come to and apologetically turned to the writer as he was about to leave and said something like, “I’m sorry if my children were noisy. We’ve just visited their mother in hospital and she’s got just a day or two to live from cancer.” Suddenly the writer’s feelings for the man and his children changed. I wonder what was the truth about those who abused us, rejected us or spoke badly of us? Maybe they had no excuses but just perhaps.....
I wonder, did I really know the truth about the past?