What is Self-Esteem?

Synonyms of self-esteem:

  • self-respect
  • self-confidence
  • self love
  • self-evaluation
  • self-worth

There are many definitions of self-esteem in numerous books, websites and wikipedias, and they are often incongruent with one another. I have decided to define self-esteem in my own terms to the average person who is not interested in intellectual jargon.

This one comes from my heart and not from the dictionary. I believe that self-esteem is the story that we tell ourselves about ourselves. It is what we have come to believe about who we are, what we are capable of, and what we think other people think of us, and what they assume that we are capable of. It is a very intangible thing as it comes from our feelings as opposed to our knowledge. That's what makes it such an enigma. I hope this makes sense to you. Self-esteem is the most important aspect of our being.

My take on life is that we are all 'good enough' just the way we are. We are all special and unique and each one of us contributes something original and different to this life and to the people in our life. I believe that we need to treat ourselves gently and lovingly because until the day we die (and possibly beyond) we are a 'work in progress'. That's the way it was meant to be. That's why we are here.

We were meant to have a healthy self-esteem. We were born with a healthy self-esteem. We were born in, and with, love. (Fear is something that we learn). When we love and accept ourselves, we ‘feel good’. When we ‘feel good’ we are fulfilling what was intended for us by our Creator.

At the risk of losing some of you, I would like to address the question of our Creator. I am not a religious person, but I am a spiritual one. I believe that religion is man-made while spirituality is God-given. What that means is, we have a small spark of our Creator inside all of us. That spark has put love at the source of everything. Love is the answer everywhere, anytime and all the time. If you are not open to any talk about spirituality, I would like to ask you just a few questions. Why and how did we get here? Who created us and how did we, and our earth become such an amazing healing machine? Who thought up the balance of nature? And who created puppies and flowers. And, of yes, why is the moon so connected to the tides? There, I’m done! No answer necessary.

How Does Our Level of Self-Esteem Affect Our Life?

If we grow up believing that the world is a safe place and that we are valuable in the scheme of things, our choices and actions will reflect that. We will be open to new things and confident that we can accomplish challenging tasks. We will trust more people and create a circle of influence that reflects our openness and confidence. On the flip side of the coin, if we are fearful and timid of the world and think that we are not capable of doing certain things, we will shy away from activities that we think we are not able to do and we will attract people into our lives who we think do not expect a lot of themselves or others. Our thoughts come from our beliefs, hence our thoughts are the instigators of all of our actions.

Earl Nightingale, one the foremost advocates of the power of the mind said

“ We Become What We Think About”. It has been proven time and again that thoughts become things.

Our thoughts stem from the beliefs that we have adapted and called our own. So basically, the only meaning that anything has for us, is the meaning that we give it. Just think about that for a minute. Is it a far out concept for you?

We all know that we have differing opinions on the same subject. And why do you think that is? Because we each interpret a particular event or incident based on our own belief system. How we perceive something is how it is for us individually. Knowing that, leaves the door wide open to change anything we want into anything we want. All we have to do is consciously change our mind. Simple?

We can change our mind in a flash about what flavor of ice cream we want, but what we believe deep down inside our unconscious mind needs a little more help.

Intellectually, having low self-esteem would be easy to change. Since it is our own opinion of ourselves, we can just change our opinions. And if we really know that it is only our own opinion of ourselves, we can just change our mind. But somewhere deep down inside us, neural pathways have been made that are a challenge to change. But change them we can.

Our thoughts come out of our beliefs so the only meaning that anything has for us is the meaning that we give it based on those beliefs.

How did we get our opinions of ourselves?

When we ask 'what is self-esteem?' we are really asking 'what do we think of ourselves?'

Most of us love our parents. We look up to them and want them to approve of us. Our parents were children too and they were taught some of the same things they have taught us...usually without any conscious thought.

Self-esteem was never a subject up for discussion at any family gathering, school event or board meeting. It was seldom in anyone's vocabulary. So our parents just repeated behaviors and beliefs that were passed down from our ancestors. Many of those behavior patterns were no longer useful and in fact were detrimental to our feelings about ourselves. We can't teach what we don't know.

So some of us have to deal with our low self-esteems. When we come to the conclusion that we need to accept and love ourselves unconditionally, we will search out resources to assist us in understanding ourselves and changing what doesn't work.

Our children are like sponges. They say what we say, they do what we do and they are how we are. How we are speaks volumes. Remember this always.

Today there is more and more interest in personal awareness as well as more access to information on the subject of self-growth. Slowly but surely we will move forward in that direction and our children will benefit from our knowledge and wisdom.

Every thought that you have, every feeling that follows, every decision you make, every action you take and every result that you receive is a direct result of what you believe about yourself.

By Janet Robinson

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Return from What is Self-Esteem to Family Behavior Patterns

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Optimum Development occurs when an organism makes the maximum number of mistakes consistent with survival. In other words, the more mistakes you make, the closer you become to your best possible self, provided that the mistakes don't kill you.~~~Sidney Dancoff

Spiritual Cinema Circle