Self-esteem is described as a person’s overall sense of self-worth. A person can measure his or her sense of worth based on several factors.
How we view and regard ourselves determines how we are motivated in life. It also decides whether we believe we can accomplish our goals. According to humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self-esteem is one of the basic human motivations towards self-actualization.
Factors Influencing Self-Esteem
We can measure our self-worth with age, potential illnesses, physical and mental disabilities, limitations, to the type of job we hold. Our genetic makeup can also shape our personality though it is often our external experiences that shape the basis for our overall self-value.
Traits Measuring Self-Worth
Those who grew up receiving negative assessments from family and friends likely will suffer low self-esteem. How do you know if you have healthy self-esteem? You are likely to:
- Let go of the past
- Have confidence
- Be honest with yourself and others
- Accept both your weaknesses and strengths
- Able to say no to others
- Have a bright outlook
If you have a sense of low self-esteem, you would:
- Dwell on the past
- Put yourself down frequently
- Lack confidence
- Frequently experience anxiety, shame and depression
- Have a negative outlook on life
- Trouble saying no
- Put others’ needs before your own often
- Fear of failure
- Focus on your weaknesses
How To Improve Your Self-Worth
The simplest way to improve self-esteem is to not take everything so seriously! No one is perfect! Everyone makes mistakes. The only difference lies in whether you are honest about your mistakes or you cover it up.
The reason why honesty is so crucial to self-confidence is that it helps you accept yourself. By accepting yourself, you are able to make changes. Others who witness your honesty trust you. You will be appreciated for your bravery to express your vulnerability.
There are so many people out there who cover-up what they do not like about themselves. They feel that showing their emotional vulnerability is a weakness when it is a strength. Think about it – if you have no confidence in yourself, would you be able to express yourself honestly? Many people are afraid to open up because they care about how others see them. Having confidence means it would not matter how others see you as long as you are happy. Being happy includes accepting your weaknesses because it is normal. Those who cannot accept your honesty and who cannot be open with you, you might want to reconsider being in their company.
When you are honest with yourself, you will feel lighter because there is nothing to hide. However, do not be overly honest in an apologetic way to others. Being honest with yourself, accepting both your shortcomings and strengths is what is important.
Self-Esteem And Mindfulness
Building your confidence with honesty means you are willing to look within. Mindfulness is the practice of looking within ourselves.
Although mindfulness has been described as being present in the present moment non-judgmentally, it is a little more than that. Using meditation to first calm your busy thoughts, you will find your thoughts slow down. Meditation does not eliminate thoughts, it merely lengthens the pause between each thought.
When your mind is sufficiently calmed (you will know this for yourself), you can start on your mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is being aware of whatever you are doing – whether you are washing the dishes, listening to music, walking, standing to sitting down. Mindfulness is also being aware of the thoughts that have sprung up, whether they are idle chattering, or of a positive or a negative nature.
With the practice of mindfulness, you will soon start realizing that positive and negative thoughts and emotions spring up upon their own will. Sometimes seeing a familiar object such as a particular food brings a memory of your childhood to mind – this memory could be happy, sad, or neutral. If you are middle-aged or above, the memory could bring feelings of nostalgia, causing you to miss your youth.
No Conductor In A Symphony
Much of the brain’s activities occur when the neurons connect via synapses. These are electric chemical signals that run through our bodies in our nerves. The body and mind are constantly communicating with one another. When we touch something with our hands, an electrical impulse is sent to our brain via the nervous system. The brain then perceives and forms a thought (sometimes accompanied by feelings) on the object touched.
A symphony is usually directed by a conductor. However, scientists trying to understand how our brain works have found no such conductor driving how the neurons connect. The limbic region in the brain records memories based on experiences. When we experience an emotion about something, that memory is instantly recorded. Emotions such as anger, fear, and pain leave deep imprints within the brain. The good news is, scientists have also found the brain to be plastic (neuroplasticity). It means the way the neurons connect can be changed. Neurons could form a habit to cause fear when you see dogs for example. But this neuron connection of fear can be changed in the present moment.
There could come a time when you start realizing that self-esteem itself is driven by all of these unstable forces and processes going on externally and internally. Thoughts and beliefs come and go, they are not stable. So do feelings and even our bodies. The self is not solid or stable, therefore no one has ever found the conductor of the symphony in the brain.
With each realization, you may begin to feel more relaxed and start taking things less seriously. A purposeful life is after all one that is joyful and relaxed. Self-esteem is not found in the self but in letting go and enjoying your daily work and life.