What is self-esteem?
According to Meriam-Webster’s Dictionary (2015), self-esteem is “a confidence and sense of satisfaction in oneself.” Having a positive sense of self-esteem can lead to psychological health and well-being, while having a negative sense of self-esteem may lead to psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety. Our sense of self can also inform our decision making and the life choices that we make. For this reason, having a positive sense of self is important and is something that we should all strive to develop.
Do I need to work on my self-image and level of self-esteem?
If you would like to learn more about your sense of self, Psychology Today, provides a free, brief assessment of your general level of self-esteem. This 34 question assessment can be found at the following address: http://psychologytoday.tests.psychtests.com/take_test.php?idRegTest=3207.
How can one increase their self-esteem?
- Focus on the internal causes of your successes instead of the external. When thinking about an accomplishment, one might be tempted to focus on the external factors that led to success rather than the internal factors. For example, if you were to get a promotion at work, to what would you attribute the cause of your success? Would you believe that it was due to your hard work, talents and abilities (i.e., internal causes)? Or would you believe that you only received the promotion because the person who previously held the position retired (external causes)? Identifying and acknowledging the internal factors that led to your success will lead to an increase in self-esteem and therefore should be focused on when reflecting on positive life events.
- Identify your positive qualities. According to Leslie Sokol, PhD with Psychology Today (2010), one can increase their self-esteem by writing down a list of their positive qualities and reflecting on them. Include in this list any skills, talents, assets, resources, accomplishments or anything else that makes you feel good about yourself. You can also add to this list the compliments that others have given you. When experiencing moments of self-doubt, go back to this list to remind yourself of all of the positive qualities that you possess.
- Set realistic goals that can be accomplished. Although the saying “Shoot for the stars. Even if you miss you will fall among the stars” may hold some credence in certain situations, it is also important that we set attainable goals that can realistically be accomplished. When tackling large projects, remember to break them down into smaller parts so that you can feel a sense of accomplishment along the way.
- Surround yourself with the people who make you feel good about yourself. Spend time with the people who treat you with love and respect, and who acknowledge and congratulate you on your achievements. Although an individual with a strong sense of self-esteem may be able to disregard negative comments made by others, if that individual is constantly surrounded by this negativity, it will begin to affect their self-esteem. For this reason, it is important that we spend time with the people who make us feel good and that want to build us up instead of bring us down.
Written by Erika Stapert, PsyD