Essentials of Self-Esteem

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One of the subjects that frequently gets brought up in therapy is self-esteem. What is it? Where does it come from? Why do some people have oodles of it while others can’t seem to find it at all?

The truth is, we’re all a product of our own circumstance. We come into this world the centre of the universe. We’re not born with self-esteem, our lives and the people who are in it help us to form that self-esteem, or keep us from forming our self-esteem over the span of our lives.

It’s important to note that self-esteem doesn’t look the same for everyone. There’s a preconceived notion that if you have something sought-after, or are someone of importance, you ultimately have high self-esteem because, how else would you have gotten to that place? This is simply not the case. You can be the Star Quarterback of the Chicago Bears and still feel insecure each time you step off that field and take off that gear. You can be the most successful Doctor in your industry, saving lives each and every day whilst feeling as though you cannot save your own from your insecurities. There is a lot of grey area when it comes to self-esteem. The world is not so black and white.

The following was not written by me. It was provided to me as homework to complete by my Therapist, who has given me permission to share.


Significance: We need to feel we matter and that we are important. We need to feel that we are making a significant contribution to whatever sphere we find ourselves in, be it family, our job, our friends or our recreational pursuits.

Competence: Competence means believing we can make things happen and can master our environment. Remember – if you think you can, you will. If you think you can’t, you won’t.

Connectedness balanced by separation: We need to maintain balance in our lives whereby we keep our individuality and at the same time we have feelings of belonging. We can’t feel good about ourselves if we are cut off and alienated from everything. On the other hand, we can’t feel good if we’re absorbed into another’s identity.

Realism: We must be realistic – no one is perfect. We all have flaws. Self-esteem is focusing on the positives while recognizing that we do still have problems. Remember to set realistic goals and believe in your ability to handle whatever difficulties you may cross.

Ethics and values: We need to develop a clear sense of what is right and what is wrong. As we are all individuals, this will vary. The important thing is that we are comfortable with the understanding that everyone is entitled to their own core set of ethics and values.

Lifetime Process: Virtually all of us, to some degree, have problems with our self-esteem. As adults it is possible to overcome these problems but we need to have a belief that we can do so.

In summation: if we lack significance, we can seek affection. If we lack competence, we can increase our skills and take pride in our efforts. If we lack a sense of connectedness we can reach out to others. If we lack a sense of individuality, we can discover more about ourselves. If we lack values we can see what is important to ourselves.

It’s important to note that if we lack self-esteem, that can always be fixed. As humans we’re constantly changing and evolving, and if we make a conscious effort to improve our self-esteem, things can and will get better. Things won’t just magically happen, though. The work needs to be put forth for anything to change.

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34 thoughts on “Essentials of Self-Esteem

  1. Some of the points brought up here correlate with emotional needs. The need to feel that we matter, of value.

    The point of competence mentioned has a cross-over with the related concept of self-efficacy (that is belief in one’s ability to achieve goals/control over affecting change rather than how good one feels). Having things that we’re good at can and does make us feel better. A lot of what you’ve mentioned also explains why people who are unemployed might feel a bit down.

    I don’t know if you’ve heard of The Human Givens approach (which I’m a massive fan of). It is based on the idea that the more out emotional needs are met, the less vulnerable we are to mental health problems like depression, low self-esteem, anxiety and addictions.

    I will also say that there’s a lot of nonsense from society, this idea that you’re nobody if you don’t have x, house, x, job by x age then you’re a failure. This whole ‘you are what you do’ nonsense isn’t the be all and end-all. There’s so much more to it.

    Thanks for this, it’s better than the usual easier-said-than-done ‘love yourself’ nonsense.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. As much as I know it’s nonsense that if you don’t live up to society’s expectations you’re a failure, I’ve struggled deeply with my self-esteem this year and the very fact that I don’t live up to societal expectations can, on my best days, make me feel bad and my worst days make me feel incapable of basic human function.

      That being said, it’s a work in progress.

      I’ve never heard of the Human Givens approach. It’s an interesting concept though. I should read more on it and see. It sounds very wise.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is really goodβ€”it validates what I have always thought about self-esteem. I have long felt our culture treats self esteem as if we were each born with an already brim-full bucket of self esteem and it’s everyone else’s job to make sure none of your self esteem spills out, when really the bucket only comes partially filled and it’s up to each of us to fill it ourselves with all the things you mention.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is really up to us to fill it. Of course, being able to fill it depends on if there’s a source around for which to gain the self-esteem. If we’re in a shitty environment, we have to either get out of that environment, or settle with the fact that our self esteem will never reach full potential


  3. I do struggle with self-esteem but it was a big, mysterious concept to me. ‘Just belief in you’. Thank you for breaking it down and to give clear points that indeed can be adjusted. Very good post!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s always felt to me that self-esteem has to do with connection with others and how we see our selves in relation to other people. Its definitely a garden that needs constant tending to.

    Excellent read V

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It is a garden. Actually someone posted a metaphor a few comments above this about self esteem being a bucket we need to fill through the products of the environments we put ourselves in. I think between the two it’s important to use that bucket of self-esteem to water our garden and make sure we flourish.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I reblogged it on my Twitter feed. I was going through a bout of depression and self doubt the past few days.

    Sadly, when I get like this, I go through a deleting phase and that’s just what I did to my blogs! 😭😭😭😭 Sooooooo now I’m starting over!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, something I think is important is to always keep your posts. Even when they might make you sad, or down or worse. Because you’ll reach a point in time where you’ll be able to look at those posts and feel proud for how much you’ve moved on.

      I’m sorry you’re struggling and feeling depressed lately. Sending you love and hugs ❀


      1. Awww, I missed these moments! πŸ₯°πŸ˜­ You have nooooooooo idea how much I’ve been upset with myself over this. I had two deaths in the family and the struggles of trying to re-acclimate back into the working field. I was so happy to get followers 30 something for each blog, but it’s not too bad; I guess, for starting just a few weeks prior. I’m going to try to “get my BLOG back,” LOL

        Thanks V for being supportive and encouraging.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I hope all is well with you Vee. I have been thoroughly enjoying my stay in Montreal and have been away from WP for a long time! Last I saw from you was that you had a ticket for some undisclosed place πŸ˜ŠπŸ’ƒπŸ»
    I hope and pray that life is treating you well. Job? Move to another city? Mom ?
    Love and blessings.

    Post on Self Esteem is goodπŸ˜ŠπŸ‘πŸΎ but I don’t agree that : We are products of our circumstances. On the contrary : Our circumstances are the products of our thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought you might have been travelling since I hadn’t seen you around here in so long. I hope that your travels are treating you well and that you’re thoroughly enjoying all of the joys Montreal has to offer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much V. I had stopped blogging /WP much before I started to travel. Was consuming too much time 😊 Let us see what plans God has for me.
        I loved Montreal and am told Vancouver is even better πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜πŸ’•
        Am off to Vermont tomorrow.
        Whenever there is anything important happening in your life, do let me know so that I can pray for you.
        Love πŸ€—

        Liked by 1 person

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