We are surrounded by references in the media, on TV and in our own lives to “self-esteem” and “self-confidence”, but many of us are left wondering what are we talking about? What does “self-esteem” even mean? Dictionary definitions of self-esteem range from simply “pride in oneself” to “holding a good opinion of oneself” to the more inclusive “the quality of being worthy of esteem and respect.” Each of these definitions is fitting, although it seems difficult to try to sum up such an important part of our self-image in just a few words.
No matter how we phrase it, self-esteem and self-confidence encompasses the way we regard ourselves and our worth. It’s that thing that seems to always stand between us and those seemingly elusive goals of “happiness” and “success.” When we see other people who seem successful and happy, we tend to ask, “What do they have that I don’t have?” In many cases, the answer is self-esteem and self-confidence. Of course, improving our self esteem isn’t going to guarantee us instant fame and fortune, but that’s not what it’s about, it’s about feeling comfortable with ourselves, being happy with who we are.
Now, while a healthy sense of self-esteem is key to much of the success and happiness we seek, it must not be confused with being conceited or egotistical. Those with healthy self-esteem do not think they are worth more or are better than anyone else. They simply recognize their own self-worth and feel a sense of confidence.
Low self-esteem is defined as the feelings of unworthiness. Many who suffer from low self-esteem simply feel that they are not “as good” as everyone else. They think of themselves as deficient and inferior in some way. It’s important to note that while extremely low self-esteem may indeed affect every aspect of one’s life, there are different degrees of low self-esteem. Some may suffer only mildly and perhaps only in certain situations. Some may suffer as the result of a particular event or set of circumstances and only for temporary periods of time (provided these feelings are addressed properly).
How can low self-esteem affect us? Why should we do something about it? After all you’re used to feeling that way and life isn’t too bad. (Or is it?) The truth is that when we suffer from low self-esteem it can affect all aspects of our lives, including: Personal relationships, job performance, our overall health, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, depression. Depression studies show that low self-esteem can be linked to some of our nation’s greatest problems. That is why it’s essential to seek a form of recovery. We perpetuate the vicious cycle of self-esteem ourselves. While we may feel the world is out to get us, the truth is, we are our own worst enemy. We may not even realize the extent to which we criticize ourselves. We often treat ourselves worse than we would ever consider treating others. So, it stands to reason, we’re the only ones who can put a stop to it! Finally, we realize that after years of feeling out of control, it turns out we are in control of our recovery. Most important of all, we realize that we deserve it.