Updated: Jul 15, 2022
Almost all of my patients ask me to help them with building their self-esteem! But how does one go about doing so? First of all, self-esteem is NOT the same as self-confidence! Self-confidence is earned by external achievements (i.e., our education level, work achievements aka,, our place in society, etc.), Whereas, self-esteem is the meaning we give ourselves without the external gains or the lack there of! In fact, true Self-esteem is unshakable in nature and comes from a true definition of self! Self-esteem can build up by simply respecting our needs and wants. But one needs to know themselves good enough to know what their needs and wants truly are! If we could feed our own basic NEEDs (i.e., self love, care and regards), we could then go about asking for our WANTs from others! We need to know who we are and what we are all about in order to build our self-esteem!
See if you can answer these few questions first: Who am I? What makes my heart happy and content? What are my interests? What are my needs and wants in my most intimate relationships? Why do I rely on others/situations to feel good about myself?
Many people get stuck on answering these seemingly simple questions or get caught up in some generic definition of self. Such as; "I'm a kind and giving person", "I'm honest", "I'm smart", "I'm hard working"..etc.. If these qualities were meaningful enough then why are we still feeling worthless and unworthy of love and remain uncertain of who we really are and what we deserve? They all seem to have one thing in common. They might leave us at the mercy of other's feedback and perspective of us in defining our standing in the world and with others.
Human beings are social creature and that's a fact. We do need other's feedbacks in order to get a sense of who we are. But what if that's all one relies on to get a sense of one's self? That could leave us on a shaky ground and so dependent on those we've surrounded ourselves with or encountered throughout our lives, plus the situations we found ourselves in the past a well as in our current life.
A solid "definition of self" leaves very little room to define ourselves by our relationships (of any kind) or the situations and circumstances we find ourselves in. But what is a solid definition of self? Picture yourself as the carefree toddler for a moment if you will, where exploring new things were as easy as breathing. Yes, we were all once an expert at exploring things and decidedly gravitated towards what made us happy and content! But as an adult, we stop exploring our world for various (valid or invalid) reasons. Therefor, finding ourselves stuck in situations or with people who make our lives less pleasant and difficult to endure! Let's learn to explore again! Let's pick and choose what makes us feel content without fear. Hopefully we can all decipher between healthy and meaningful explorations than unhealthy and quick fixes! That, my friend, is a great start for building a true sense of self which inevitably increase our sense of self, hence; self-esteem!
You can always use the help of a professional therapist to facilitate your discovery of self. But don't ever stop discovering yourself on daily basis! Listen to that inner-toddler as much as you can, but decide as a responsible adult! Let that be your guide for life ! Enjoy your journey my friends!