You, Your Self Estem, and Its Importance in Your Growth!

Sanjeev Sharma
 


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Introduction

Did your boss, took you for a ride? Did your girlfriend/ boyfriend ditch you? Did your friends take you for granted? And you feel that you are useless and you feel that they are hurting your self esteem.

Understanding Self-Esteem

To understand self-esteem, it helps to break the term into two words. Let's take a look at the word esteem first. Esteem is a fancy word for thinking that someone or something is important or valuing that person or thing.

And self, means, you. So when you put the two words together, it's easier to see what self-esteem is. It's how much you value yourself and how important you think you are. It's how you see yourself and how you feel about your achievements. Self-esteem isn't bragging about how great you are. It's more like quietly knowing that you're worth a lot (priceless, in fact). It's not about thinking you're perfect - because nobody is - but knowing that you're worthy of being loved and accepted.

In the words of Dr Nathaniel Branden, widely regarded as “the father of the self-esteem movement”, self-esteem is “the disposition to experience oneself as competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and as worthy of happiness. ”

Importance of Self-Esteem

Self-esteem isn't like a cool pair of sneakers that you'd love to have but don't have to have. Good self-esteem is important because it helps you to hold your head high and feel proud of yourself and what you can do. It gives you the courage to try new things and the power to believe in yourself. It lets you respect yourself, even when you make mistakes. And when you respect yourself, others usually respect you, too. Having good self-esteem is also the ticket to making good choices about your mind and body.

If you think you're important, you'll be less likely to follow the crowd if your friends are doing something dumb or dangerous. If you have good self-esteem, you know that you're smart enough to make your own decisions. You value your safety, your feelings, your health - your whole self. Good self-esteem helps you know that every part of you is worth caring for and protecting.

What Self-Esteem Is Not

Self-esteem is the experience of feeling and knowing that we are competent to live and worthy of living and being happy.

Genuine self-esteem is not primarily dependent upon the approval of other persons in one's social environment. While it is indeed desirable to have the realistic good opinions of others, no one can give us self-esteem except ourselves. The person who ties his self-esteem to the approval of others is already handicapped in self-esteem and is constantly in jeopardy of further loss of self-esteem.

Contrary to what one sometimes hears or reads, self-esteem is not just a synonym for any positive feeling about oneself. Thus, self-esteem is not egotism, arrogance, conceitedness, narcissism, or a desire to feel superior to others. Indeed, these attitudes betray a lack of genuine self-esteem. Self-esteem is not the euphoria that might be temporarily induced by a job promotion or a new love affair. In fact, if one feels incompetent to handle the job or unworthy of love, these experiences can be a challenge to an already impaired sense of self-esteem. One can feel like an “imposter, " who might be “found out" at any moment.

Self-esteem – A Psychological need (Some facts from Research)

Self-esteem plays a crucial role in psychological well-being. Individuals who are high in self-esteem tend to be at less risk for depression (Crandall, 1973) and hopelessness (Abramson, Metalsky, and Alloy, 1989). Self-esteem is a better predictor of satisfaction with one’s life than any objective characteristic of individuals, such as income or age (Diener, 1984). High self-esteem has been implicated in good mental health (Baumeister, 1991; Bednar et al. , 1989; Taylor & Brown, 1988).

Most people who seek psychotherapy do so because of general feelings of low self-esteem. Low self-esteem has been linked to problems such as depression, use of drugs (Brehm and Back, 1968), alcohol abuse (Wahl, 1956), suicide, and eating disorders. Relative to high self-esteem people, low self-esteem people tend to be more anxious, depressed, jealous, and lonely (Cutrona, 1982; Goswick & Jones, 1981; Kanfer & Zeiss, 1983; Leary, 1983; Lewinsohn, Mischel, Chaplin, & Barton, 1980; Taylor & Brown, 1988; White, 1981).

Self Esteem At a Work Place

Research has validated that self-esteem is a key factor in enhancing work performance and improving employee behavior.

Employees with high self-esteem (relative to those with low self-esteem) are:

More intrinsically motivated and optimistic (Bandura & Cervone, 1983; Burger, 1992; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Harackiewicz & Larson, 1986; Harter & Jackson, 1992; Vallerand, 1983), More creative (Domino, 1971; Mackinnon, 1962), More apt to work harder in response to significant negative feedback (Brockner & Elkind, 1985), More likely to be productive in quality circles (Brockner & Hess, 1986), and Less negatively affected by chronic stressors such as role ambiguity and conflict (Mossholder, Bedeian & Armenakis, 1981).

In the words of Warren Bennis, “. . . knowledge workers, in particular, can be creative and productive and happy only in an environment that nurtures self-esteem. ”

Research shows a positive relationship between self-esteem and leadership. Leaders typically have higher levels of self-esteem than non-leaders. Self-esteem plays a critical role in decision making, inspiring people and gaining others’ trust. Leaders with high self-esteem are generally decisive, assertive, willing to make tough decisions, and exhibit high but realistic expectations of their followers, which become self-fulfilling.

Simply put, how can one be a good leader if he distrusts his own mind and how can one bring out the best in others when he feels insecure in his interpersonal exchanges? Nathaniel Branden concludes as follows: “The higher the self-esteem of a leader, the more likely it is that he or she can inspire the best in others. A mind that does not trust itself cannot inspire greatness in the minds of colleagues and subordinates. ” Research shows that, relative to high self-esteem people, low self- esteem people set lower expectations for their performance in a variety of situations (Coopersmith, 1967; Kiesler & Baral, 1970), and these lower expectations lead to reduced effort (Diggory, Klein, & Cohen, 1964; Wattenberg and Clifford, 1964).

People with low self-esteem generally underestimate their capabilities and subsequently establish less challenging or mediocre goals for themselves. (Heatherton & Ambady, 1993). Research also shows that underachievers are generally less confident and less ambitious (Goldberg, 1960), less self-accepting (Shaw and Alves, 1963), and lack a sense of personal worth (Durr and Schmatz, 1964).

If I Can Help You In Boosting Your Self Esteem

Think back to when you did something new for the first time. Learning something new is often accompanied by feelings of nervousness, lack of self-belief and high stress levels, all of which are necessary parts of the learning process. The next time you feel under-confident, remembering this will remind you that it's perfectly normal - you're just learning.

Do something you have been putting off. Like writing or calling a friend, cleaning the house, tidying the garden, fixing the car, organizing the bills, making a tasty and healthy meal - anything that involved you making a decision, then following through.

Do Something You Are Good At.

Examples? How about swimming, running, dancing, cooking, gardening, climbing, painting, writing. . . If possible, it should be something that holds your attention and requires enough focus to get you into that state of `flow’ where you forget about everything else. You will feel more competent, accomplished and capable afterwards, great antidotes to low self-esteem. And while you're at it, seriously consider doing something like this at least once a week. People who experience `flow’ regularly seem to be happier and healthier.

Stop thinking about yourself I know this sounds strange, but low self-esteem is often accompanied by too much focus on the self. Doing something that absorbs you and holds your attention can quickly make you feel better.

Get Seriously Relaxed.

If you are feeling low, anxious or lacking in confidence, the first thing to do is to stop thinking and relax properly. Some people do this by exercising, others by involving themselves in something that occupies their mind. However, being able to relax yourself when you want is a fantastic life skill and so practicing self-hypnosis, meditation, or a physically based relaxation technique such as Tai Chi can be incredibly useful. When you are properly relaxed, your brain is less emotional and your memory for good events works better. A great ‘rescue remedy’.

Remember all the things you have achieved. This can be difficult at first, but after a while, you'll develop a handy mental list of self-esteem boosting memories.

Remember That You Could Be Wrong.

If you are feeling bad about yourself, remember that you way you feel affects your thoughts, memory and behavior. So when you feel bad, you will only remember the bad times, and will tend to be pessimistic about yourself. This is where the tip `Get Seriously Relaxed’ comes in.

Once you have tried out a few of these, consider making them a permanent part of your life. For most people, good self-esteem is not just a happy accident, it's a result of the way they think and the things they do from day to day. Good Luck.

Conclusion

Self-esteem is one of our most basic psychological needs. The degree of our self-esteem (or lack of it) impacts every major aspect of our lives. It has profound effects on our thinking processes, emotions, desires, values, choices, and goals. Deficits in self-esteem contribute to virtually all psychological problems. And psychological problems lead to lowered self-esteem. It is a reciprocal relationship.

Looking forward to your comments and feedback Have a great day and take care.

Regards

Sanjeev Sharma
Pune-India
Mobile: +91-9890788259
E-mail: ss_himachali@yahoo.com; s070976@yahoo. co.in
Blog: http://sanjeevhimachali.blogspot.com/

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