No matter where you are today it seems as if the expression “self esteem” keeps cropping up. If a person is successful in business and in life they are said to have “high self esteem” whereas if they are unsuccessful they are said to have low self esteem, but is it really that simple? What exactly IS self esteem and why is it seemingly so important of a concept to so many people?
Defining Self Esteem
The process of defining self esteem can be a tricky business. For one thing, when listening to people talk it comes across as both a “thing” and an “experience.” For another thing the concept seems to be all tangled up with societal expectations and commonly held misconceptions.
A stripped down definition of self esteem would be to say that it is an experience; specifically that it is a way of experiencing the self and of analyzing one’s self-worth.
Far more than a simple feeling, the concept of self esteem (or experiencing the self) includes emotional, cognitive and evaluative aspects which, when taken together constitute a person’s ability of coping with life’s basic challenges and whether they view themselves of being worthy of happiness.
The Societal Disconnect
Can you see the disconnect here? In today’s society individuals have been conditioned to view themselves as successful (or not) by judging what they have or don’t have in the way of jobs and possessions; what they have achieved (or not) in the way of financial success or social status, and this view of success is tied directly to how an individual feels about themselves; about how their experience themselves and whether or not they view themselves as worthy of happiness.
So how can a person’s way of experiencing their self be separated from the expectations and commonly held misconceptions that have commonly been tangled up with the concept of self esteem? Perhaps the answer lies in understanding the true source of self esteem.
Finding the Source
The true source of self esteem does not lie in achieving or not achieving a preconceived level of success or in obtaining (or failing to obtain) a certain status or even having or not having certain things, because the self cannot be defined by things or status; by positions or power. Granted we have been conditioned to believe that our self-worth can be gauged by those things that we have or do not have, but the true source of self esteem, of feeling worthy of happiness, comes from our ability to see ourselves as human beings and the ability to accept and respect ourselves exactly the way we are.
Does that sound too simplistic? Perhaps it does, and perhaps it will leave you with your eyebrows knit and asking “well, that’s nice, but how does one go from connecting one’s self esteem by ones successes or failures to seeing ourselves worthy of respect and happiness?” That, my friends, is the real challenge, for now that you know the true source of self esteem, it is time to learn how to build up that self esteem so that you can view yourself as worthy of the respect and happiness that are your due.