Year To Success

Lesson 26: Self-Esteem

It was a snowy winter night when George Bailey stood on the bridge of Bedford Falls and convinced himself that he was more valuable dead than alive. George made a very common mistake on that cold, fictional night when he determined his worth based purely on his finances. It took a second-class angel named Clarence to restore his self-esteem and show him vividly how valuable his life really was. Although Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life is just a movie (and a great one at that), it’s a great example of true self-esteem.

Self-esteem is value or worth that one bestows on oneself. It is the inner feeling one has about oneself. High self-esteem is a character trait of a healthy individual. One cannot have too much self-esteem. Self-esteem is loving oneself, whereas over-confidence and narcissism are being in love with oneself.

Our current level of self-esteem is low, high, or somewhere in between and is always changing. For many people, they go through life with low self-esteem and don't do much to improve their situation in life because they feel deep inside they are just not worth it. Many of these feelings of inadequacy come from childhood and the school system. Adolescents have a seemingly natural ability to be able to lower the self-esteem of just about any individual. Unfortunately, despite their age, some people never mature mentally past adolescence, and the destructive criticism and mental abuse continues to be dished out to their children, employees, and/or students.

As adults, we often give ourselves low self-esteem by associating our self-worth with our bank accounts. We see rejection and failure as permanent, and give in to a negative mental attitude such as “why not smoke, we’re all going to die eventually anyway.”

One of the best things you can do for yourself is love yourself. For those of you who think that sounds too mushy, I will rephrase that to: one of the best things you can do for yourself is build your self-esteem. Individuals with high self-esteem:

  • are self-motivated
  • accept responsibility for their actions
  • take pride in their accomplishments
  • are loving and lovable
  • are capable of handling criticism
  • take command and control of their lives
  • are focused on goals
  • have tolerance and respect for others
  • have integrity
  • are willing to take risks

It is amazing how much time and money people will spend on temporary feel-good-about-themselves solutions, yet not do a thing to create lasting self-esteem. A new suit will make one look and feel sharp, but that feeling will quickly wear off with the novelty of the suit. The outside-in approach to building self-esteem is about looking your best to feel your best and works well in the short-term, but should be used in conjunction with, and not in place of, the inside-out approach of building lasting self-esteem.

Success without high self-esteem is not likely. People detect low self-esteem in others and will treat them accordingly. Fortunately, building self-esteem is quite easy, especially for those with a positive mental attitude. Here are several ways you can build your self-esteem from both the outside in and the inside out.

Outside In

  • Carry yourself well. Keep your head up, shoulders back and chest out. Don’t be a sloucher.
  • Dress for success. Look nice when going out in public. A simple rule is to dress just a bit better than the others you come across. Take care of your personal hygiene as well.
  • Speak clearly and confidently. Do not slur your words or mumble. Make eye contact when speaking with someone.
  • Stay in shape. Take care of your bod.

Inside Out

  • Realize your importance to others. Think about all the lives that have been and are being touched by your life.
  • Self-worth is based on what you are capable of doing, not what you have done. Since human potential is limitless, thus your potential is limitless; your self-worth is limitless as well.
  • “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” is one of the wisest truisms of our time said by the very bright Eleanor Roosevelt. The feelings of emotion like inferiority are something we generate within and over which we have control. Do not allow others’ perceptions or comments to affect your self-esteem negatively.
  • Engage in positive self-talk. Your subconscious mind has much to do with your self-esteem. Be careful what you say to yourself because your subconscious mind is always listening.
  • Invest in yourself. Books, classes, on-line courses, and anything that will feed your mind with knowledge and positive information are all great investments in you. Work on specialized skills that will make you more marketable in the workplace.
  • Realize that rejection and failure made you stronger and smarter. Rejection and failure are not always “bad” things. Rumor has it Colonel Sanders was rejected over 1000 times before he sold his chicken recipe. Rejection and failure are a part of life and two things successful people encounter more often than those who are afraid to try.

Healthy self-esteem is an important part of happiness in life, and high self-esteem is vital to success. You are a unique individual and have it within yourself to accomplish such wonderful things. The moment you realize this, you will possess the gift of high self-esteem.