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  • Neil Dolan

Self-Esteem and the Concept of Self; What You Need to Know to Boost your Self-Esteem



Self-esteem is important because it heavily influences our choices and decisions. Self-esteem serves a motivational function by making it more or less likely that we will take care of ourselves and explore our full potential.


When you value yourself and have a healthy level of self-esteem, you will feel secure and worthwhile, and have positive relationships with others.


I used to think that self-esteem was simply about how good I felt about myself. However, having worked on issues around my own self-esteem in the past, I now understand that it’s a bit more complicated than just how good I feel about myself. Self-esteem is just one component that fits within the overarching construct of Self-Concept.


The good news is that self-esteem is not fixed. Its measurable and flexible, meaning that we can improve upon it and measure those changes.


What’s the meaning behind self -esteem?

Self-esteem refers to a person’s overall sense of his or her value. It can be considered a sort of measure of how much a person “approves, values and appreciates, or likes him or herself”.


So, how we measure ourselves in relation to self-approval defines our self-esteem

How does self-esteem differ from other self-constructs?


Self-Esteem Vs Self-Concept

Self-esteem is not self-concept, although it does function as a component of self-concept. If you have every asked yourself “Who am I?”, then you have tapped into your perception of self-concept. Its about knowing your own thoughts, tendencies, preferences, hobbies, habits, strengths and weaknesses.


So, the awareness of who we are is our self-concept

Self-Esteem Vs Self-Image

A similar term with a different meaning is self-image. Self-Image is a similar construct to self-concept in that it is all about how you see yourself. Self-image is a number of self-impressions that have built up over time in relation to looks and personality. However, self-image can be based on false and inaccurate thoughts about ourselves, rather than on reality. Our self-image never truly matches up with objective reality, or the way in which others truly perceive us. Our thoughts and feelings distort our perceptions of objective reality.


So, the awareness of how we look and behave is our self-image

Self-Esteem Vs Self-Worth

Self-esteem is very similar to self-worth, but with an important difference. Self-worth is about how we value ourselves as being worthy of love. Whereas, self-esteem is about how we think, feel and believe about ourselves.


So, how we measure ourselves in relation to being loveable defines our sense of self-worth.

Self -Esteem Vs Self -Confidence.

Self-esteem is not self-confidence. Self-confidence is about how we trust ourselves and our ability to cope with challenges and be successful in the real world. Self-confidence is based on external measures of success and value, whereas, self-esteem is based on internal measures. People can have high self-confidence in particular situation, but still suffer from a low sense of overall value or self-esteem.


So, how we measure or performance in the external world is our sense of self-confidence.

Self-Esteem Vs Self-Efficacy

Similar to self-confidence, self-efficacy is also related to self-esteem, but it is not used as a measure towards self-esteem. Self-efficacy refers to the belief in one’s ability to succeed at certain tasks. You could have high self-efficacy when it comes to playing sport, but low self-efficacy when it comes to succeeding in mathematics. Unlike self-esteem, self-efficacy is more specific rather than global, and it is based on external success rather than internal worth.


So, how we measure our ability to succeed at certain tasks defines our self-efficacy

Self-Esteem Vs Self-Compassion

Lastly, self-esteem is also not self-compassion. Self-compassion centres around how we relate to ourselves rather than how we judge or perceive ourselves (Neff, n.d.). Being self-compassionate means, we are kind and forgiving to ourselves, and that we avoid being harsh or overly critical of ourselves. Self-compassion can lead us to a healthy sense of self-esteem, but it is not in and of itself self-esteem.


So, they way in which we relate to ourselves (critical or kindly) defines our level of self-compassion

What are the characteristics of self-esteem?


Characteristics of high self-esteem:


· Act assertively without experiencing any guilt after saying “No” to someone asking something of you.

· focus on the present moment rather than dwelling on the past.

· Believe you are equal to everyone else.

· Reject the attempts of others to manipulate you.

· Be open and accepting to a wide range of feelings, both positive and negative, and share them within your healthy relationships.

· Accept challenges and take risks in order to grow and learn from your mistakes when you fail.

· Enjoy a healthy balance of work, play, and relaxation.

· Handle criticism without taking it personally.

· Value yourself and communicate well with others, without fear of expressing your likes, dislikes, and feelings.


Characteristics of low self-esteem:


· People pleasing by always saying “Yes!” because when they say “No” they feel guilty

· What you do is never good enough

· Frequently doubt your decision

· You find it hard keeping relationships

· You avoid taking risks or trying new things

· You engage in addictive avoidance behaviours

· Struggle creating boundaries

· Pay more attention to your weaknesses

· Find it difficult asking for your needs to be met

· Pessimistic or negative outlook on life

· You doubt your abilities or chances of success

· You frequently experience negative emotions, such as fear, anxiety or depression

· You compare yourself with others and your ideal self, whereby you often come in second best

5 Top Tips on How to Boost Your Self-Esteem


1. Take a Self-Esteem Cost Benefits Analysis

Simply write down 10 of your strengths and 10 of your weaknesses. This will provide you with the information to develop an honest and realistic balanced conception of yourself.


2. Quit Being a Perfectionist

Recognise both your accomplishments and mistakes. Stop measuring yourself against your ideal-self (a fantasy version of you who is perfect). No one is perfect, aiming for perfection will only result in chronic failure experiences. Embrace your accomplishments and your mistakes in a positive way, knowing that you are learning and growing from those mistakes.


3. Set Realistic and Achievable Expectations.

It is crucial that you set SMART (Small, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-constrained) goals so you can track your progress. This way you will avoid setting extremely high expectations of yourself that are unrealistic and result in chronic failure experiences.


4. Stop comparing yourself to others

Comparing ourselves to others is something that is programmed in us through socialisation process, such as the social media. Be aware of what’s portrayed on social media because its mostly unattainable and does not reflect the real world. A lot of what’s portrayed is designed to make you feel inferior so that you feel anxious and engage in safety behaviours, such as buying their products.


The only person you should compare yourself to is you!!


5. Explore Yourself

Knowing one’s true self brings about a form of peace that cannot be overstated. Try and start by rediscovering your true core values, this can take some trial and error, but over time you will develop a deeper understanding of yourself. Some of the most content people are those who know their core values and live by them.

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