By Sharon R. Bonds, PhD
Self-esteem is the true sense you have of your intrinsic value that’s derived from your
perceptions, both conscious and unconscious of your values to others. It can be further
defined as the trust you have in your ability to perform behaviors and achieve goals that’s
considered to be important. To put it simply, self-esteem is liking you unconditionally,
as you are, no matter what your dress size or physical ailment consist of.
In my opinion there are several different types or I should say levels of self-esteem,
which consist of high, low, the middle ground and neutral?
High self-esteem is thinking highly of yourself which in most cases is noted as the
basis for career success and good relationships with other people. When one feels good
about themselves it affects how you think, act, and feel about others, as well as goals are
achieved. Now there’s a down side to high self-esteem and it occurs when you compare
your value to another individual and determine or find yourself superior. Which
almost always results in feelings of arrogance, selfishness, and being difficult to be with,
Low self-esteem on the other hand is just the opposite, if you focus own failures,
inadequacies, and other people perception(s) of you, you will be immobilized by self-pity
or self-hatred. The more negative thoughts you have regarding yourself, the lower your
self-esteem. If you have low self-esteem you have little confidence in your abilities and
question your self worth, which is the bases of or I should say the root of overeating,
drinking, drug abuse, failed relationships, physical, mental, and emotional abuse and the
list goes on... Low self-esteem, in my opinion has several different faces, and I would
like to label them as the pretender, the rebel, and loser . The pretender is an individual
that acts successful, happy, and content, but in reality they are afraid of failure and fearful
that someone is going to found out and expose them. The individual needs continues
success to maintain the mask of positive self-esteem, this generally leads to issues with
procrastination, burn-out, competition, and perfectionism.
Now, the rebel has total disregard for authority figures and thrives, as well as resides
in continuous anger due to feelings of not being “good enough” or a “failure”. This
individual needs to continuously prove that criticisms, judgments, and ridicules do not get
to them, which in turns triggers issues of responsibility, blaming others for their failures
or mistakes, breaking rules or laws and or fighting authority. And is generally the main
reason why the abuser abuses.
Finally, the loser acts as if they are unable to cope with life and always need to be
rescued, they act helpless and unable to deal with everyday life issues such as household
chores, trip to the market, pumping gas, just to name a few. The individual utilizes
indifference behavior or self-pity as a shield against the fear of taking responsibility for
changing his or her life. This type of individual relies on others constantly for direction
and guidance, which leads the individual to becoming under-achievers, lacking
assertiveness and excessive reliance on others in relationships. Overall, the
consequences of having low-self esteem can be very devastating and it can range from
anxiety to stress, and loneliness. Low self-esteem contributes to problems with abuse,
as well as having a devastating affect in friendships, relationships, and can seriously
impair academic, as well as job performance.
It can lead to underachievement and increase vulnerability to sexual addiction, drug
usage and alcohol abuse. Worst of all, these negative consequences themselves reinforce
the negative self-image and can take a person into a downward spiral of lower and lower
self-esteem and increasingly non-productive or even actively self-destructive behavior.
Having self-esteem that’s too high or to low should be undesirable, in fact there’s
always the middle ground , and even though it can be unstable, you will feel as if you are
on a roller coaster oscillate between feeling good about you and feeling bad. The
feeling good, or I should refer to them as the successors, elevate your self-esteem and the
feeling bad, tends to keep you on an even till while it acknowledges the existence of good
thus reinforces one’s ability while setting boundaries. Not everyone has the composite to
reach the middle ground and for those individuals that function on the middle ground,
they need to stop all judgment of self and others and just go in neutral while realizing the
thought that they cannot judge themselves or others accurately.
Healthy self-esteem is based on the individual’s ability to assess themselves while
accepting, as well as valuing themselves unconditionally. Which essentially means to be
true in your acknowledgement of your limitations, weaknesses & strengths, and
accomplishments, while at the same time accepting yourself as worthy, meaningful, and
worth while without reservations, precautions, or conditions.
Lives are far too complicated, and they are to biased for an individual to create more
issues, problems, and negative emotions through lack of self-esteem. Low or I should
say unhealthy self-esteem will block you from seeing the forest for the trees, knowing
that in most cases what you think about yourself and others really has no meaning
anyway, it amounts to nothing but a temporary feeling, if that. My goal is to be selfless
and non-judgmental while enjoying life to the fullest. What really matters is a clean,
clear perception of what you really are in the eyes of the creator, not in man, in other
words, work on the spiritual side of you to get a healthy balance physically, mentally,
intellectually and spiritually. It’s the creator’s view that matters, and in his eyes you are a
gift with special talents, uniqueness, you are irreplaceable, and deeply loved. Knowing
the creator loves you unconditionally will give you the unshakable worth and value that
no man can take away, and you shouldn’t give it away either. Only the creator can give
you an equal distribution of self-esteem for yourself and others by not violating spiritual
laws. Pure love for self and others is the creator’s trademark.
Steps to enhance your self-esteem:
- Pay close attention to your feelings and thoughts, and focus on what’s best for you. Remembering to be non-judgmental of self and others.
- Always be yourself and take proud doing it. Never pretend to be someone else.
- Always take pride in your achievements and take the time to notice them.
- Set realistic goals and then take pride in your achievements no matter how small they may be.
- Explore your special gifts and talents, learn to appreciate as well as love the unique individual that you are.
- Accept and identify your strengths and weaknesses.
- Know that no one is perfect in their own eyes, but God sees us a perfect, when we are working on our selves.
- Learn to accept and love yourself. Be your own best friend.
- Get to know yourself.
- Maintain an “I can” attitude and offer yourself encouragement along the way.
- ;Positive affirmations remove negative thoughts.
- Remember that all you have is the present moment and in that moment you can and should practice the universal law of unconditional LOVE!
- Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift. Treat it that way!
By Dr. Sharon R. Bonds, PhD,
This article is copyrighted.
Copyright © The Library of Congress 2007