Webster’s Dictionary: Self-Esteem is a realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself; self-respect or exaggeratedly favorable impression of oneself. It is a feeling of pride in oneself.
Charles, 4 years old had built-up self-doubt in himself because he felt he could not do anything right to learn and had no friends. He had come from a rich family who gave him anything he wanted. On the other hand, Mary, came from a poor family was very happy, well-adjusted, but was limited in what she can do but was determined to learn as much as she could as teachers could see her progress. Two children with two different ways of looking at themselves – Charles had self-doubt, while Mary had self-esteem and self-respect or regard for herself. Aren’t we like these children? Doesn’t it remind you, when looking at yourself, whether we felt adequate or inadequate, likeable or unlikable, valuable or worthless?
What might seem hard to understand is that the way we feel about ourselves doesn’t just depend on our appearance or abilities. Much more important our opinion of ourselves depends largely on how we have learned to think about ourselves from the important people in our lives. If the “significant others” in our life have helped us to feel important and loved, we will be inclined to have a healthy opinion of ourselves. If they have given us reason to feel inadequate and unneeded, we are apt to find ourselves thinking:
- “There’s something wrong with me.”
- “I don’t belong here.”
- “I don’t like myself.”
- “I don’t have what it takes.”
- “I don’t compare well.”
- “I want to hide.”
Bad self-esteem leads to feeling as if your act has nothing to offer. If you think poorly of yourself, you will tend to act poorly. If you have a low image of yourself like Charlie, you will be inclined to back away from your peers, family, and challenges. If you are sure you’re going to fail, then chances are you will. Low self-esteem is like self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe you don’t have what it takes to win at life, you are apt to confirm your own prediction. Can Charles be helped? Sure!! Good self-esteem is a blessing. Those who believe like Mary has something to offer are more likely to make a positive difference in other people’s lives. Children who have a healthy sense of self-respect are more likely to pursue relationships and challenges. Those who think well of themselves are more likely to fulfill their own expectations.
Part 2 next time continues with self-esteem and a look at positive thinking.