Self-esteem means the feeling or the beliefs which you hold about you in your mind. It is your opinion of yourself or your regard for yourself, or how you stand in your own esteem. It is what you feel when you look at yourself in the mirror or when you think of yourself, your achievements and your abilities. Your self-confidence, sense of self-worth and self-respect depened upon it. People hold opinions about themselves, which become reflected in their behavior and attitude. It defines their future and their destinies. You and your self-esteem Your self-esteem is a product of your perceptions and experiences, and how you have been treated by life, people and circumstances. As you grow up, you build a self-image based upon your experience, beliefs and worldview, which in turn shapes your self-esteem. Your self-image or your thoughts and beliefs about you become reflected in your thinking and behavior, which is why it is necessary to have healthy self-esteem. Self-esteem is also responsible for extroversion or introversion, and how a person relates to the world and people, find his or her true potential and claim a rightful place in the world. People vary in their self-esteem. Your self-esteem may also radically change overtime according to circumstances. Many factors contribute to it. Positive experiences and repeated achievements increase it. Negative experiences and repeated failures lower it. High self-esteem makes people test their limits and aim for self-actualization goals, while low self-esteem makes them believe that they do not deserve success and happiness and settle with their lot or for less. Some people suffer from chronically low self-esteem. Nothing seems to uplift their spirits or make them feel good. It is as if they have given up control and condemned themselves to a life of limited achievement and expectations. Knowingly or unknowingly, they also limit their success so that they do not have to face unnecessary problems or endanger their safety and peace of mind by attracting negative attention and criticism from others. Because of low self-esteem many people do not even try to improve themselves or their circumstances. Although success is supposed to boost self-esteem, in some cases it does the opposite. If people had difficult childhood and were made to feel worthless and useless while they were growing up, success may only reinforce their belief that their success was mainly due to luck and other extraneous factors, and they do not really deserve it. What low self-esteem can do People with low self-esteem may have the following characteristics. They give undue importance to others’ opinions, rather than trusting their own. They constantly look to others for approval and appreciation. They settle with their conditions and prefer to remain within their comfort zones. They avoid asking anything or trying new friendships for fear of failure and rejection. They undersell themselves, quickly compromise or settle for less. They easily give in or admit failure to avoid confrontation. They avoid being assertive about their rights and privileges and make poor deals. They unnecessarily blame themselves even if they have done nothing wrong. They feel guilt and remorse for other people’s faults, feeling responsible for them. They are seldom happy with their achievements or successes, but readily feel depressed for their failures. These are just a few examples. In reality, low self-esteem influences every aspect of human behavior. It is probably one of the most destructive and limiting factor, which prevent people from being themselves or realizing their dreams and aspirations. You may even consider it a natural malware, a trojan or a virus that afflicts the minds of millions of people and severely limits their skills, abilities and potential. Suggestions to Boots Your Positive Self-esteem Since our goals, relationships, expectations, attitude, behavior, success and failures depend upon it and since it is important to our wellbeing, peace and happiness, one must resolve the problem of low self-esteem. In this regard, the following suggestions are worth considering. 1. Avoid comparisons: Each person is unique, and so are his or her circumstances. Yet we cannot help comparing ourselves to others to know where we stand or measure our success. Comparisons can lead to negativity and low self-worth, since we tend to compare ourselves with those who are doing better than us. Therefore, it is better to avoid comparisons and focus upon one’s own positives. 2. Dispute negative self-talk: Everyone has an inner voice, which most of the time also doubles as the inner critic. At times, it is useful, but mostly it is judgmental or critical. It is also largely responsible for feelings of negative self-worth. You can learn to dispute your negative self-talk with reason and facts and replace negative feelings about you and your actions with positive ones. 3. Accept yourself: Self-acceptance is the first step to deal with the problem of low self-esteem. Human behavior is complex, and human beings possess composite personalities which are a mixture of opposites. You must therefore wholly accept whatever you are, with all your positives and negatives without judgment or reservations. 4. Forgive yourself: You must not only accept yourself but also forgive yourself, for all your mistakes, weaknesses and failures. No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Even the most successful people are not immune to failures and weaknesses. Therefore, learn to forgive yourself, instead of beating yourself down with self-criticism and feelings of guilt and remorse. 5. Focus on your strengths: People with low self-esteem tend to focus more upon their failures and shortcomings. It puts them in a never-ending cycle of negativity, reinforcing their poor self-image. Instead, you should focus on your strengths and achievements, and put your natural talents, skills and abilities to better use. If you make it a regular habit, you will begin to feel good about yourself. 6. Ignore negative people: Forgive and forget those who caused you pain and hurt in the past, but are no more relevant to your current life and ignore those who may be still hurting you or undermining you with their negativity and criticism. Most of them do it because they are not happy with themselves and their own feelings of self-worth. Know that as far as criticism is concerned, you can accept it on merits or ignore it. 7. Use affirmations: Use positive affirmations to reinforce feelings of positive self-worth or boost your morale and confidence. Keep telling yourself what you are capable of and what you can accomplish in life. It is the best way to counter your negative self-talk with positive thoughts and feelings and reprogramming your thinking and attitude towards yourself and your accomplishments. 8. Practice visualization: Visualization is another useful technique to build positive self-image. Use creative visualization techniques to improve the areas in your personality and behavior, which are largely responsible for your low self-esteem. Visualize a better and more capable you, the person you want to be in your esteem and in that of others. 9. Learn to appreciate: People with low self-esteem do not easily appreciate others or themselves. Their negativity towards themselves also becomes reflected in their attitude towards others and the world. You can change it by learning to appreciate the good things in life. By that, you will learn to see things in a positive way and reinforce positive feelings towards you and others as well. 10. Practice assertiveness: Learn to be assertive about the things that you value so that you do not have to act against your will or let others control your life and actions. It is OK to look for approval and appreciation from others, one should not totally dependent upon it to feel good, approved or validated. If you are assertive, people will respect you, and you will learn to stand for yourself and your rights. With the help of willpower, you can change your habitual thinking and behavior, and overcome the obstacles caused by your own negative and self-destructive behavior. With determination and resolve, you can refuse to listen to your negative self-talk and work for your goals. As far as self-esteem is concerned, you always have a choice. You can either accept your deprecating thoughts about you and keep reinforcing your negative self-image, or you can reject them and learn new ways to feel good about yourself.