The Importance of Healthy Self-Esteem

“There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.” – Zora Neale Hurston

WHAT IS SELF-ESTEEM?

1. The reputation we give ourselves 2. The disposition to experience oneself as competent to cope with the challenges of life and deserving of happiness 3. Self-esteem is a consequence – a product of internally generated practices, such as living consciously, responsibly, purposefully, and with integrity.

*Stay away from and out of relationships with people who are not living consciously. (people who are disconnected from their feelings and behave badly when they are subconsciously triggered) Even Eckhart Tolle advises, “At times you may have to take practical steps to protect yourself from deeply unconscious people.”

CAN A PERSON HAVE TOO MUCH SELF-ESTEEM? 

Can a person have too much physical health? The answer is simply, no.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PRIDE AND SELF-ESTEEM? 

Self-esteem contemplates what needs to be done and says, “I can.” Pride contemplates what has been accomplished and says, “I did.” Authentic pride has nothing in common with bragging, boasting or arrogance. It comes from a different place; not emptiness but satisfaction. It is not out to “prove” but to enjoy. Pride is the emotional reward of achievement. It is a value to be attained.

WHAT IS PSEUDO SELF-ESTEEM?

Pseudo self-esteem is the illusion of self-respect without the reality. It is a non-rational, self protective device used to diminish anxiety and provide a false sense of security — to lessen our need for authentic self-esteem while allowing the real causes of its lack to be evaded. (For example, seeking self-esteem through popularity, prestige, material acquisitions, etc. Narcissists appear to have an abundance of self-esteem but they actually have very little, if any.)  The acclaim of others does not create our self-esteem; neither does knowledge, skills, material possessions, philanthropic endeavors or face lifts. These things can sometimes make us feel better about ourselves temporarily. Comfort is not self-esteem. Self-esteem is an intimate experience; it resides in the core of our being. It is what we think and feel about ourselves, not what someone thinks and feels about us.

HOW IS THE FALSE SELF DEVELOPED?

The false self develops when the child finds that his or her perceptions, feelings, thoughts or judgements conflict with those of parents or other family members. The question arises of whether to heed the voice of self or to disown it in favor of the voice of others. The “Self” can slowly erode during our lifetime but it takes the most hits while we are children. Internally our self wrestles — Should we express our thoughts or suppress them? Should we choose independence or conformity? Should we choose self-expression or risk self-repudiation? Should we assert ourselves or surrender ourselves? The cost of staying comfortable, keeping the peace, blending in, not making waves, being “good” or “right,” or being accepted , is too great for the person who desires the freedom of authentic self-esteem. Sometimes this understanding and desire comes later in life when we start to struggle with our relationships.

CAN WE RESTORE AND RECOVER OUR AUTHENTIC SELF? 

Yes. One of the ways self-esteem is acquired is by thinking independently when it may not be easy to do so, when it may be frightening, when the person doing the thinking is struggling with feelings of uncertainty and insecurity and is choosing to persevere nonetheless. It’s not always easy to stand by our judgment. To honor your perceptions(feelings) in the face of opposition, is to honor consciousness; to honor consciousness is to honor self-esteem. The recovery process involves emotional risk. It will take time and emotional energy but it will be well worth the effort.

“The process required to develop both spirituality and self-esteem is self-approval. Self approval results from our behaving congruently with our internal/eternal identity.”  -Richard Bednar author of “Spirituality and Self Esteem”

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