Self-esteem

Self-esteem is a term used in psychology to reflect person’s overall emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs (for example, “I am competent,” “I am worthy”) and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride and shame. Smith and Mackie defined it by saying “The self-concept is what we think about the self. Self-esteem is the positive or negative evaluations of the self, as in how we feel about it. Self-esteem is also known as the evaluative dimension of the self that includes feelings of worthiness, pride and discouragement. One’s self-esteem is also closely associated with self-consciousness.

Self-esteem is a disposition that a person has which represents their judgments of their own worthiness. In the mid-1960s, Morris Rosenberg and social-learning theorists defined self-esteem as a personal worth or worthiness. Nathaniel Branden in 1969 defined self-esteem as “the experience of being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and being worthy of happiness.” According to Branden, self-esteem is the sum of self-confidence (a feeling of personal capacity) and self-respect (a feeling of personal worth). It exists as a consequence of the implicit judgment that every person has of their ability to face life’s challenges, to understand and solve problems, and their right to achieve happiness, and be given respect.

Experiences in a person’s life are a major source of self-esteem development. The positive or negative life experiences one has, creates attitudes toward the self which can be favorable and develop positive feelings of self-worth, or can be unfavorable and develop negative feelings of self-worth. In the early years of a child’s life, parents are the most significant influence on self-esteem and the main source of positive and/or negative experiences a child will have. The emphasis of unconditional love, in parenting how-to books, represents the importance of a child developing a stable sense of being cared for and respected. These feelings translate into later effects of self-esteem as the child grows older.

During the school years, academic achievement is a significant contributor to self-esteem development. A student consistently achieving success or consistently failing strongly affects their individual self-esteem. Social experiences are another important contributor. As children go through school they begin to understand and recognize differences between themselves and their classmates. Using social comparisons, children assess whether they did better or worse than classmates in different activities. These comparisons play an important role in shaping the child’s self-esteem and influence the positive or negative feelings they have about themselves. As children go through adolescence, peer influence becomes much more important, as adolescents make appraisals of themselves based on their relationships with close friends. Successful relationships among friends are very important to the development of high self-esteem for children. Social acceptance brings about confidence and produces high self-esteem, whereas rejection from peers and loneliness brings about self-doubts and produces low self-esteem.

Parenting style can also play a crucial role in self-esteem development. Students in elementary school who have high self-esteem tend to have parents who are caring, supportive adults who set clear standards for their children and allow them to voice their opinion in decision making. Although studies thus far have reported only a correlation of warm, supportive parenting styles and children having high self-esteem. It could easily be thought of as having some causal effect in self-esteem development.

Childhood experiences that contribute to healthy self-esteem include being listened to, being spoken to respectfully, receiving appropriate attention and affection and having accomplishments recognized and mistakes or failures acknowledged and accepted. Experiences that contribute to low self-esteem include being harshly criticized, being physically, sexually or emotionally abused, being ignored, ridiculed or teased or being expected to be “perfect” all the time.

Having a high self-esteem is distinguishing yourself from the common. But it shouldn’t be rated higher than you ought to so that it wouldn’t become a malaise. Your self-esteem makes you abhor what is bad and it will always lead you away from doing something that might degrade your reputation. It is standing your ground not to engage in what others are doing. It might be pleasurable and pleasant though, but you know deep down within you that the end thereof is devastating. You might look foolish before others and you may be seen as an outcast due to your resolutions, but your reasons lie within you. Only God understands.

WHAT IS SELF-ESTEEM?

The term self-esteem comes from a Greek word meaning “reverence for self.” The “self” part of self-esteem pertains to the values, beliefs and attitudes that we hold about ourselves. The “esteem” part of self-esteem describes the value and worth that one gives oneself. Simplistically self-esteem is the acceptance of ourselves for who and what we are at any given time in our lives.

ASSESS YOUR OWN SELF-ESTEEM

Answer each question true or false

I have trouble accepting myself as I am.

I desperately want to change the way I look.

I think more about my failures than my successes.

I worry a lot that people would not like me if they really knew me.

I feel that everyone is much more competent and confident than me.

I almost always avoid taking on new challenges.

I am uncomfortable around successful people.

I avoid making mistakes at all costs.

I worry a lot that I am ineffective and incompetent.

I feel worthless.

If you are honest with yourself with the above questions in accepting that you are always feeling less than you are worth, you are on the right path to make a drastic change. It starts first of all from your thinking pattern. Your thoughts must as a matter of necessity change from dwelling on inferiority which attracts low self-esteem to dwelling on the sterling qualities about you even when the obvious says otherwise.

It gives us many posers that we only can answer. “How do I feel about myself?” What do others feel about me? “Is what others feel about me enough to dictate the pace for me?” What others feel about you is always perceived from a microscopic view based on their immediate deduction without taking your invisible features into consideration. So when they let you in into their conclusion about you, you may feel depressed by the weight of the conclusion. But you need to ask yourself whether what they feel about you is true. That two people make the same remark about you is not necessarily true as it’s believed in some quarters. The trajectory of their comment is ostensibly to make you feel less than you are worth. That is why no matter how brilliant and exceptional you are at work; your boss will never commend you. If he has to, it will be behind you. He rather scolds you in front of others and commends you behind them. You feel you are not putting in your best. If you feel you are doing your best, don’t rest on your oars, put in more. Your high self-esteem must remain intact.

PRACTICAL STEPS

*Don’t be complacent. Complacency is feeling comfortable with the status quo. It’s a feeling of contentment and satisfaction especially associated with unawareness and danger. Complacency invariably leads to stagnancy in life stemming out of being too comfortable with where you, who you are without a basic challenge for improvement. This means if you are a victim of low self-esteem, you must not be complacent about it. Aside the external influence that originates low self-esteem, though avoidable, we are also an architect of low self-esteem by allowing those external influences to get at us. A realization of this cause is a good step forward. Don’t let complacency set in. Turn around the ‘misfortune’ into the wealth of high self-esteem. When the way you see yourself forms the basis of your approach to the things of life, handling them will appear less tedious and assuage unnecessary hard work.

* Uphold the tenets of morality. But don’t be a bigot. You are not totally a perfect person because there’s no such thing as a perfect person. Moral values must form the basis of our lives. Draw the line between morality and culture. Let morality be so sacrosanct to you that no monetary equivalence will measure up to it. The force and the pull of peer pressure and the globalization of the subject in question is so strong and irresistible and has pulled many people down because of weak resolve and resistance to it. But we can rise up again and give a challenge by sponsoring a crusade against it. The issue of the legalization of gay-marriage in the world has incited the American government to start issuing sanctions to nations enacting laws against it. This is an immorality and aberration of the highest order. Since we found ourselves in a world where aberration seems to be the order of the day, what do we do so that we won’t be plunged into its depth? We must let the tenets and etiquettes of morality be our guiding mirror everyday.

* Be a person of your word. That is what we call fidelity. Be known by what you say because that is what you will be judged by. If you say something and you staunchly stand on it but you are found doing the opposite, you are putting your integrity to question. When it becomes incessant, it is turning into an habit and habit metamorphoses into a character. And you know character is 99% of who you are. When you make a promise, fulfill it. If you cannot fulfill a promise, don’t make it at all in the first place. There is a formula for this; under-promise and over-deliver. When you need two weeks to get something done for somebody, communicate to the person you will need one month to get the job done and the person will fix his or her mind to one month. Eventually under three weeks, you deliver the job to the person. He or she will be so impressed and happy that you get recommended to other people and you are growing by the day, a growing network of connection. That is under-promising and over-delivering, not the other way round when you over-promise and under-deliver. You know the implication of that, your self-esteem suffering a decline and a hit and it is affecting business.

* Exemplify good leadership. Bring out the inborn traits of leadership quality in you and tread softly. Don’t be puffed up with it. Bring it out among your siblings, among your friends and at your place of work. It is not necessarily until you are pronounced as a leader before you start exhibiting it or until you become the oldest in a place. Have you noticed that the people at the places of authority are not the oldest? But they are there by virtue of their leadership qualities. Whether they put it to good use is not a topic here.

* Pride is not in the game. Pride goes before perdition is the popular maxim. It hurts and rubbishes your self-esteem irreparably. There is a difference between self-esteem and pride. Self-esteem gives you the knowledge of right and wrong while pride gives destruction.

Author: Olajide Oluwafemi