Monday, 25 Feb 2019
The Art of Cultivating Self-Esteem
By Dr Becky Spelman
The concept of self-esteem is loaded with
several misconceptions. We all know vaguely what it relates to, but as far as
exact definitions go, the facts often become skewed by assumption.
Many think of it as confidence, which is partially
true, though that doesn’t quite tell the whole story. If you have a high degree
of self-esteem, it’s reasonable to expect you’d be confident. But if you’re
confident, it doesn’t always follow you have high self-esteem.
Even more prevalent is the idea you’re born
with it. You either have it, or you don’t – similar to the misnomer surrounding
confidence – it is a God-given trait, or a lucky inheritance based on your
genetic lottery ticket.
The truth, is, nothing could be further from
similar, yet still remain distinctly separate from one another. To have
confidence isn’t always of the self, but can also be to have belief or faith in
a specific outcome – an external projection that often belies our true
To have self-esteem, on the other hand, is to
have an innate sense of self-worth. It is an unshakable belief in yourself and
your abilities; a constant that does not fluctuate.
Someone with a strong sense of self-esteem
would never let themselves be shoved around in a relationship, taken advantage
of or allow their name to dragged through the mud.
But how do you get to the point of holding
yourself in such high regard?
Esteem is built on the repetition of
‘esteemable acts.’ By taking part in positive activities that make us feel good
about ourselves, we cultivate the feeling of self-worth.
Self-esteem is gained, earned, learned and
relearned throughout our life. It is, in effect, a skill. Although, one we
confuse as a trait. We learn how to
make ourselves feel good about who we are, and over time, fine tune this
So when we refer to self-esteem, we’re doing so
within the context of self-care and self-nurture, of
which esteem is the desired result. However, as we cover quite often in this
blog, there are no cut and dry answers to what the ‘right thing to do is.’
Whatever makes you feel good is unique to you,
and will be your truth. But to experience genuine
feelings of inner goodwill, your esteem needs to be something you cultivate for
yourself. That is, you can’t defer responsibility for how you feel to someone
If you rely on validation from those around you
to feel a sense of worth, what you feel isn’t a true reflection of esteem. You
feel good only because someone has affirmed or re-affirmed something you either
didn’t believe or were doubtful of before. Nothing has changed.
As soon as that input is no longer given, your
contentment leaves just as quickly. The key is for you to become the one who
provides that sense of validation, independent of others, reaffirming your own
Placing the outcome of your wellbeing in the
hands of someone else is like building a house on quicksand. It is finite. And
just as the house will sink, people come and go. You simply can’t rely on
others to provide you with this core need.
The only real constant in life is yourself.
For your sense of well being to be long
lasting, it must come from within. You must accept yourself as you are with all
of your faults, and love yourself unconditionally.
That is the true essence of self-esteem.
It is earned by learning and relearning how to treat yourself with the utmost respect.
*** If you’re struggling with addressing any form of addictive personality behaviours, one of our specialists would be happy to provide you with an initial consultation to help determine the best way forward.