We’ve all had times when we lacked confidence or didn’t feel so good about ourselves. This is completely normal! However, when we have consistently low self-esteem it makes us less likely to persist in creating a subjectively successful and meaningful life. It can also lead to poor mental health and a tendency to tolerate demeaning situations (relationships, work environments etc).
Conversely and unsurprisingly, a healthy level of self-esteem can have a hugely beneficial effect on our overall wellbeing. In fact, self-esteem is considered to be the single most significant predictor of happiness and resilience.
In this post we will focus on the basics of ‘Healthy Self-Esteem’ to better understand what it is and how to cultivate it!
What is Healthy Self- Esteem?
Healthy self-esteem can be defined as a realistic and appreciative opinion of oneself. This implies that we have an awareness of both our strengths and weakness. It also means that we have a general sense of self-worth, despite of our imperfections.
What Determines Self-Esteem?
The level of self-esteem that we have day-to-day is determined by numerous factors. Our genetics, upbringing, life experiences and the self-talk we engage in, all play a part. These factors combine and evolve into a variety of beliefs that we have about our abilities, potential, appearance and self-worth in general. It also influences our view of others and the world around us.
However, if you haven’t been blessed with a childhood or the genetics that promote healthy self-esteem, there is still much to be hopeful about. That is because self-esteem is changeable. It is a skill that can be developed and mastered with consistent practice.
How to Develop Healthy Self-Esteem?
There are many ways to cultivate healthy self-esteem but we will touch on three steps here. If you think you could do with an increase in self-esteem why not give these steps a try this week:
1. Meditate: Mindfulness meditation helps us to recognise thoughts without overly identifying with them. We don’t need to analyse or believe thoughts that pop into our heads just because they are negative. We can learn to view critical and judgmental thoughts as mental events that arise and pass away, instead of habitually considering them to be worrying facts! This approach can take time to master but can be transformational in itself!
2. Objectively write down 10 of your strengths and 10 of your weaknesses: When we recognise our strengths we are encouraged to use them to elevate both ourselves and others. While a non-judgmental awareness of our weak areas, allows us to understand our current limitations and become more at ease with ourselves.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others: This is not only an exhausting process but a misguided one. When we measure our self-worth in comparison to others, we tend to focus on external factors such as appearance and wealth. This approach is known to increase the level of stress, anger and relationship difficulties we experience. While those who base their self-worth on internal sources related to moral commitments or inspiring challenges for example, are happier and have higher levels of self-esteem.
This is a subtle but important point. In the context of physical exercise, it means that our training goals are as healthy as our reasons for wanting to achieve them. If we want to lose weight, get stronger etc because we think it is the missing link in our quest for true happiness, we will be disappointed. However, if our main objective is to reduce stress and increase wellbeing while working towards an inspiring goal (lose weight, get stronger etc), we are more likely to stay on track and enhance our self-esteem in the process.
As always, the choice is yours!