Self-esteem can be the most vital tool in reaching happiness, inner peace and success.
There are two primary sources of one’s self-esteem: what we think of ourselves and what others think of us. If you imagine self-esteem represented as a pie divided into those two main sources, how would you divide it to represent your own self-esteem? Would you say that your self-esteem depends mostly on your self-perceptions, or on how others perceive you? Or do you rely on both sources equally? Are you satisfied with your individual proportion? If not, there is work to be done to come closer to your “ideal self”. What would be the ideal proportion for you?
If you feel that your self-esteem depends more on what others think of you, your self-concept is primarily at the mercy of others. This means you believe more in what others think of you rather than in your own self-evaluations, or judgment calls. To the furthest extreme, if you rely purely on others’ perceptions of youself and do not value your self-evaluations, you will ultimately lose all sense of your identity and end up in the passenger seat of your life.
If your self-esteem relies primarily on your self-evaluations than others’ evaluations of you, then you are in the driver’s seat: you believe in yourself; you are self-confident; you are aware that you know yourself better than anyone else. Man is not an island, however – as social beings, part of our self-esteem needs to be fed by others’ perceptions of us. An “I am all that” attitude is not constructive to building and maintaining relationships and will eventually drive others away.
Accept yourself for who you are. Beware of perfectionism, this idea that you either get it perfect or you are worthless. Perfectionism is the enemy of self-esteem, as it paralyzes us into a prison of fear and insecurity, and drowns us in feelings of inadequacy. Strive to do your best, but accept your inevitably and perfectly imperfect self. Remain aware of your flaws and of the areas you wish to improve upon, as well as those you find valuable and engaging.. The most you can ask of yourself is your best effort in what you do. When you accept your imperfect self, you will be able to accept others’ imperfections too.
Learn to love yourself and happiness will follow, as well as your love for others and for life!
Breaking a pattern of negative self-image and low self-esteem can take time, practice, and perseverance, and your EFAP (Employee and Family Assistance Program) counsellor can help you along your way. Connect with one over the phone, through E-Counselling or First Chat.
Adapted from article by Borges-Ho Ury, special advisor to Mississauga.