Self-esteem – n. Belief in oneself; self-respect. A positive sense of one’s own worth.
Webster’s definition, although accurate, leaves out volumes of meaning. Self-esteem means being in touch with your true inner self, honoring your own needs, strengths and beliefs even when they are in opposition to those of the people around you. Self-esteem may be the single most important possession a traveler needs along life’s pathways. It is more important than money or love or even health, because it remains when those things are gone.
How do you develop self-esteem? Some people seem to be born with a strong sense of their own worth – it is a basic component of their personality. Others have loving parents who have developed their children’s self-esteem through caring attention and lots of praise and positive reinforcement.
However, if you are not born with a strong sense of self-esteem, or nurtured into it, there are some things you can do to cultivate your self-esteem:
Determine what your values are and then live up to them. You may find that your true values are different than the values you were brought up with. Your lack of self-esteem may come from trying to live with values that are not meaningful to you.
Ask yourself, “What is important to me? “How do I want to live my life?” What kind of person am I, and what kind of person do I want to be? Write down these questions and your answers, and focus on them daily.
Identify your needs and ask others to fill them. “You know, I really need a hug when I first come home from work.” Or “I would appreciate more verbal acknowledgment of all that I do for the family.”
Start engaging in activities you really enjoy and look forward to. Play tennis, learn a craft or ballroom dancing. Go to the theatre more often or splurge on opera tickets. When you are having fun you feel good about yourself, so make having fun and being silly a regular part of your everyday life.
Learn a new skill. Competence is a terrific self-esteem builder. One great idea is to develop skills that can help you to get the kind of job you have always wanted.
Say “no” when you can’t or do not want to do something.
Become involved in your community. When you accomplish things for others, your self-esteem grows.
Based in Rockport, life coach and psychotherapist Susan Britt, M.Ed., teaches individuals, couples and families to resolve relationship conflicts, clarify and achieve life and career goals, and accelerate personal growth. Questions and comments may be addressed to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 978-546-9431.