Do you possess a positive or negative sense of yourself? Do you feel good about who you are, or do you feel like you are somehow deficient? Does your concept of “I” include “I am competent,” or “I am capable,” or “I am worthy?” Or, do you instead, live with a negative internal dialogue of “I am a loser, a failure, and worthless” when you look within?
By definition, self-esteem begins with an internal evaluation of who we are as human beings, or finding the “self” within, and making a judgment of who we are relative to who we wish to be.
What is self-esteem?
The concept of self-esteem tends to be one of those things that we think we “know,” yet have trouble defining.
Noted psychotherapist and author Nathaniel Brandon, well known for his work in this area, put it quite simply, defining self-esteem as “the disposition to experience oneself as competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and as worthy of happiness.”
Even more simply, self-esteem is your judgment of you, and your value as a person – essentially, your sense of self.
While our judgments of others can be fairly harsh at times, as human beings we can be even tougher when judging ourselves. After all, no one knows us better than we know ourselves, and our self-judgment can be truly relentless, whether conscious or unconscious. It is this constant self-evaluation that defines our beliefs in our own value, our sense of self-worth.
Often however, we misinterpret who we are inside by judging ourselves too harshly, often blaming ourselves for actions which are not our responsibility. For example, victims of child sexual abuse will often impose the blame for their abuse upon themselves, thinking they somehow provoked an otherwise trusted adult into their own exploitation. When a child grows to adulthood believing she is the cause of her own abuse, her sense of self will quite naturally suffer, and suffer greatly.
Once she learns to accept that she was not the cause of her own abuse, but rather the victim of betrayal by a person she trusted, she can begin to rebuild her self-esteem, knowing that she is worthy of thinking of herself positively.
By living consciously, or knowing what we are doing while we are doing it, is the foundation of promoting a positive sense of self. Beyond this, one must behave in ways that foster self-acceptance, self-responsibility, and self-assertiveness, combined with personal integrity, if we wish to promote our sense of self-worth, or self-esteem.
Are you struggling to generate a positive sense of self-worth, especially due to emotional trauma in your past? Contact us today for a consultation.
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