Self Esteem – The most life affecting trait?
Let’s explore what true self-esteem is, why it is SO important in your life and six areas of life to focus on if you want to raise your self-esteem.
I help people to overcome anxiety and self-defeat by developing the self-esteem, confidence and discipline to fulfil their deepest needs and live a thriving life that they love.
Of all of these, I believe that self-esteem is the most important and here’s why.
I’ve worked with over 1000 people over the last 8 years and in every case, the ones that continue to have good results are the one’s who have been able to look past the symptom, whether that’s health issues, relationship problems, not able to make money or whatever and have addressed the core element of self-esteem.
Self-esteem means different things to different people so, this is the definition that I use, which is taken from the excellent work by Nathaniel Branden “The Six Pillars of Self Esteem”.
Self-esteem is more than just self-worth. Self-esteem is the disposition to experience oneself as competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and be worthy of happiness.
It consists of two parts:
Self-efficacy – the confidence and the ability to learn and do what we need to do to achieve our goals along with the expectation of success
Self-respect – Feeling worthy of a happy life and able to have that.
Self-esteem is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Either a virtuous or vicious spiral.
Low self-esteem leads you to feel that you can’t achieve. This affects your actions, leading to failure, followed by you taking the failure badly.
More evidence that things aren’t going to or never work out.
With high self-esteem, failure is not an issue. It’s feedback, something to be addressed.
Low Self Esteem In Action
Let’s say you get a promotion or a new job. Instead of being excited, you start panicking, overwhelmed by the responsibility and new tasks you have to do. This leads to procrastinations.
Soon, imposter syndrome comes along and eventually self-sabotage causes you to lose your job.
This gives you all of the evidence that you need to maintain the pattern.
And how about in relationships?
You might have a pattern of going for unhealthy, unhappy relationships to subconsciously prove yourself right. Even staying in these unhappy relationships, as they provide you with the evidence that your low self-esteem needs to continue the downwards spiral.
Or, maybe you meet someone who genuinely loves you. However, as you can’t love yourself, you end up wandering how someone could possibly love the unloveable you and so reject them as being unfit in some way.
The same goes for health, making money, social interactions and friendships. Addictions and escapism. Every area of life.
In every area that you perceive yourself to be lacking, if the core belief is about not being enough, it will be a never ending project.
This is why self-esteem is the lynchpin of a happy and fulfilling life.
If you are coming from a place of true self-esteem, then your motivations for taking action are largely about experiencing happiness, living in line with your values, rather than avoiding suffering at all costs.
The thing about self-esteem is that it’s not just something that you can have. At least not this healthy, real version of self-esteem. You have to develop it over time, through the evidence that you demonstrate to yourself.
The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem
I mentioned Nathaniel Branden’s book “The Six Pillars of Self-esteem” earlier and I really resonate with the six areas of life that you need to practice and take action in if you want to build self-esteem.
I love this, as it provides an amazing framework to uncover the limiting beliefs and emotional blocks that might be preventing you from raising your self-esteem through taking what might be called virtuous actions and the positive psychological feedback loop that creates.
The six pillars are:
Living Consciously – essentially, this means making active vs passive choices and facing reality rather than engaging in escapism.
Every choice you make is either conscious or habitual. Over time, these build your reputation with yourself and will then either make it easier or harder to make conscious decisions.
This doesn’t mean that you have to be “on it” every moment. Sometimes, zoning out, relaxing or getting lost in escapism is a good choice. For example, while watching a movie.
It’s all about context.
Self Acceptance – This is a term that is bandied about a lot in personal development circles.
It isn’t just accepting that whatever decision you make is great. There are 3 aspects to this, which are:
1. Being on your own side. Not being your own enemy
2. Fully acknowledging and experiencing yourself. Not giving anyone or anything agency over you. For example, saying “that wasn’t me” over some behaviour or other.
It doesn’t mean that you have to like everything that you do. In fact it’s the opposite. It’s true self ownership and gives you a foundation for change.
3. Being compassionate to yourself. Treat yourself as if you are a true friend. No denial or lying to yourself. Accept and embrace the truth of how you are feeling.
Self-responsibility – Taking 100% responsibility for your life and wellbeing. Whatever has happened in the past, only you have the responsibility to achieve fulfilment in your life. No-one else has to accept you or fulfil your needs.
Self-assertiveness – Taking the action to be out there in the world and live true to yourself.
If you are walking on egg shells, terrified of the judgements of others, fearful of the repercussions of putting yourself out there, then you are likely to end up living a second hand life, at the beck and call of others beliefs and decisions, rather than your own.
This is all about being true to your own values and then doing what you can to move towards them in reality.
Betraying yourself and people pleasing are the nemesis of this pillar.
Living purposefully – Using your power to attain objectives that fulfil your values.
Being proactive rather than reactive with your choices.
Responding intelligently to feedback as you progress, rather than just forging on blindly. Altering your objectives and actions to take, as your life and values evolve
Having the self-discipline to have a plan and stick to it.
Personal Integrity – This is about staying true to yourself.
What do you do when no-one else is watching you?
One of the biggest excuses for most people to slack off and fall back into unconscious habits is when they are left on their own.
However, if this entails breaking a promise to yourself, YOU WILL ALWAYS KNOW! And this will make a big dent in your self-esteem over time.
Don’t escape into mental fog when the going gets tough. Stick to your guns.
All of these are both expressions of good self esteem and also generate good self esteem. So, try engaging with this virtuous cycle and see how your life changes.
If you are ready to level up your true self-esteem and experience the positive effects in all areas of life, book a free conscious discovery call with me.