by Marina Kotze:
In short, self-esteem comes down to how a person feels about him- or herself, based on his or her subjective evaluation of his or her own worth. Thus, a person who feels worthy will feel good about him- or herself and this healthy self-esteem will contribute towards other attributes in a person’s life, such as feeling confident in his or her own abilities and with a healthy dose of confidence, a person feels ready to face the world and achieve certain goals. Self-esteem may then be described as the level of confidence and satisfaction in oneself, resulting somewhere on a spectrum between high or low self-esteem.
As an occupational therapist working in the specialized clinical field of adult psychiatry, I can confirm the vital importance of developing and maintaining a healthy self-esteem. I often see the effects of a low self-esteem in a client’s life and how it negatively impacts on a person’s general health and wellbeing. People often question their ability or inability to amass to certain life ideals, and very often poor self-esteem is at the centre of the problem.
Self-awareness is at the core of developing a good self-esteem. Emphasis is placed on developing, as this implies that self-esteem is an attainable skill that is very much within reach for all of us. Without going into the details of the origin of self-esteem and how it is developed or not developed, the good news is that as adults with the ability to learn and adapt, we can acquire a certain skillset to ensure a healthy and functional self-esteem. And as mentioned, we can start at creating self-awareness.
Self-awareness starts with our ability to take care of ourselves. As entrepreneurs and business owners or just any other busy person, it is easy to get overwhelmed with everyday responsibilities and in the process lose sight of the importance of keeping oneself emotionally and physically well. The importance of taking care of oneself cannot be emphasised enough. Responsibility may be explained as “response-ability”, implying that all people need to have the “ability to respond” to difficult situations and challenges.
Our ability to respond to daily challenges in a healthy way, where our general health and wellbeing are not placed at risk, is a good indicator towards developing a good self-esteem. Thus, the point I want to make here is that an intact self-esteem starts with appropriate selfcare. The way you are able to take care of yourself is an accurate reflection of how you feel about yourself. Tackling daily responsibilities in such a way that enhances your health, and not to the detriment of your health and wellbeing, attributes towards building high self-esteem. I suggest you make a realistic list right now of ways you can effectively take care of yourself.
Examples may include:
– Physical exercise
– Speak up for self
– Have enough hours of quality sleep every night
– Complete crossword puzzles
– Manicure nails
– Talk to a friend or supportive relationship
– Say “no”
– Allow others to take responsibility for themselves
As you are able to effectively take care of yourself, you will be much better equipped to also take care of other responsibilities as well.
The next step to increase our self-esteem, is to become knowledgeable of common self-esteem terms and their meanings.
Here is a list of some self-esteem terms and a brief description of each:
– Value: to regard highly; esteem
– Leisure: a time for nurturance through activities that are completed without rush or haste
– Life-skills: strategies, techniques, and tools to manage or balance day-to-day situations or challenges
– Growth: personal development
– Assertive: a learned communication style that is honest and direct
– Independence: freedom from influence, control or determination of another or others
– Coping: a behaviour that allows one to deal with or attempt to overcome problems, challenges, stressors, and difficult situations
– Nurture: to take care of and be good to oneself
– Self-worth: one’s value as a person, as perceived by oneself
– Forgiveness: ability to give up resentment or desire to punish, or stop being angry
– Self-management: a balance of adequate coping skills, time-effectiveness, and self-control
– Affirmation: a positive, powerful self-statement concerning the ways in which one desires to think, feel, and/or believe
– Well-being: the state of being healthy emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually
– Self-confident: awareness of oneself as an individual, and as a worthwhile person
– Character: moral strength; integrity
– Body-image: one’s perception of one’s own physical self
– Respect: to feel or show honour or esteem
– Dignity: pride and self-respect
Take the time to thoughtfully reflect on above descriptions and how it applies to your life. Make notes of ideas and thoughts that come to mind and digest these concepts. Revisit your notes in days to come and re-evaluate your thinking process so far on self-esteem. Invision your behaviours being impacted as a result of perhaps new insights gained. You will be astonished of high much learning can take place in such a short amount of time.
Now, as your understanding of self-esteem has increased we will now focus on increasing our
self-esteem. The end-goal is to have a healthy, functional high self-esteem. I will now introduce some ways and techniques to do just that:
1. People with high self-esteem not only talk and think positively about themselves, but also see the good in others and verbalize it often, focusing on virtues, achievements, and positive adjectives. Examples of speaking positively about others include “You’re a very polite person”, “You always look on the bright side of things”, “You’re a great friend”, “The colour blue really looks great on you”, “Thanks for being so sensitive to my feelings”.
2. Recognize and bring attention to the positive gains you made on a
daily and weekly basis. It is important to recognize and acknowledge
your efforts and accomplishments on a regular basis. You can even write
it down on a sticky note and place it on a wall as a frequent reminder.
Examples of these are a goal accomplished, a compliment you received, a
personal strength discovered or rediscovered, a new skill practiced, a
new friend made, and a completed important task.
3. Present yourself in a positive light. The ability to acknowledge
and present oneself in a positive light is a key to healthy self-esteem,
as well as one’s ability to establish and maintain friendships and
4. Acknowledge and accept positive qualities about yourself.
Acknowledging positive qualities in front of peers further augments
one’s self-esteem. Also, accept positive feedback from others. It is
important to differentiate between a healthy self-esteem and
over-confidence or arrogance.
5. Frequently remind yourself of your personal motto that you live by
and hope to live by. A motto is a brief sentence or phrase used to
state what one believes in. A motto that one values is a powerful way to
strengthen self-esteem. Examples of mottos are “All for one and one for
all”, “One day at a time”, “This too shall pass”, and “There’s always
light at the end of the tunnel”.
6. Create steps to greater self-appreciation and recognize symptoms
of self-defeat. Self-esteem boosters are actions, thoughts, and ways
that improve self-esteem. On the other hand,
self-esteem busters are actions, thoughts, and ways that lower self-esteem.
7. Positive affirmations: affirmations can be a very powerful way of developing or restoring self-esteem. Affirmations are statements about a desired outcome as if it is already coming into reality. They are positive statements about who we really are. When we begin to recognize the negative messages we tell ourselves, we can then start to re-program them into positive messages by using positive affirmations like “I am lovable”, “I can do anything I set my mind to”, “I am smart”, “I am strong enough to be who I am”, “I will”, “I matter”, “I am big as I have to be”, “My life is important”, “I am creative”, and “I do exist”. Other ways to state affirmations are to start with “I accept…”, “I have…”, and “I feel…”.
Keep affirmations short and simple; choose only positive words; and make sure the affirmation fits you and expresses your desires. An affirmation is a gift to yourself – positive thoughts and messages produce positive results and behaviours. Furthermore, positive affirmations help diminish fears and self-doubts, improve self-confidence, and help you see the real you!
I trust that the information contained in this article has and will enhance your understanding and development of self-esteem. I furthermore wish you all the best on your journey towards growth and much fruit bearing success.
[References available on request.]