Today we are talking about self-esteem, self-confidence and self-acceptance. So what does self-esteem really mean? Many people say they suffer with low self-esteem without really knowing what it means. Self-esteem Is about the opinion we have of ourselves; what we feel and believe about ourselves. When we have good self-esteem we tend to see life positively and feel good about ourselves; and are able to brush off any negativity that comes towards us. When our self-esteem is low, we tend to feel very negatively about everything in our life; and every challenge that comes towards us seems to be another mountain to climb.
Self-confidence is trusting in your own abilities, your qualities and your judgement. Self-confidence means you accept yourself and trust yourself and you have a sense of control in your life. You know your strengths and your weaknesses. However, you may not have self-confidence in every situation in your life but generally you know who you are and what you’re capable of.
Self-acceptance is about self-esteem and self-confidence but it goes further and is about accepting that every choice you made may not have been right for you but you made it and it is now in the past and not worth thinking about. It is about accepting that things happen, people say things, that you have been hurt but that you will not spend any time thinking about these things. You put each one in a box and close the lid and accept that all of those experiences are making you the person you are now.
The importance of self esteem in achieving life goals, including weight-loss, is immeasurable. It is a factor in all our human endeavours. Understanding how our self esteem has been shaped and influenced in our lives can help us gain the essential awareness for change.
We all have self-esteem needs – they are built into us. We learn from a young age that we want the respect of others. As children we are very concerned with belonging to the social group. Our self esteem is developed from feedback from the world around us and our interpretation of it. People make comments about others on personality, appearance, weight, looks or talent, be them complimentary or uncomplimentary.
We become more aware of the feedback, such as the looks, the reactions, the comments, the avoidance, the engagement in conversation, the occasion of being ignored, not being picked for the team, winning and losing competitions, doing well or poorly in school, evaluations at work, assessment of career goals and interactions with neighbours and friends. We all hope for positive feedback.
However, we all know from experience there will be that negative feedback: that one comment a teacher, parent or relative made and can still echo in our mind, such as a friend’s unexplainable rejection, a teacher who put a label on us, a peer who was blatant in his or her dislike, comments on our weight or size, etc.
The more positive feedback we receive and internalize, the more secure in ourselves we feel. The more negative the feedback, the more insecure we can feel. We can begin to build a wall around ourselves, to protect ourselves from excessive criticism, put-downs, labeling or any adult scripting failure for our lives.
The trick is to realise that whatever the other person is saying – its their opinion – not a FACT.
For years when I visited my mother the first thing she would say is ‘have you put on’ – meaning have I put on weight. It was not until I was in my 50s that I asked her to stop doing that. She had no idea that it hurt and frustrated me. And the people giving their opinions have no idea that they are hurting you either. If you went back and asked the teacher or the other children in your class, I can guarantee that they will have no memory of what they said and yet you are carrying it around with you.
Take the quiz below – it’s an internationally recognised assessment and see where you rating lies.