Know Your Worth (No. 1): Building Your Self-Esteem
This article is part of The Melanin Series’ “Know Your Worth” short-read miniseries. This series addresses the varying elements of knowing one’s value and self-worth.
Let me ask you a question: Do you know your worth?
I am not asking whether or not you know that you deserve to be respected, or whether or not you know that you are appreciated in your social circles. I am asking if you know your worth. Take this time to evaluate the contributions you make in your relationships. Think about your reactions to varying experiences (acceptance, rejection, success, failure, etc.). Do you feel guilty for your successes? Are you able to appreciate your failures or weaknesses? Do you compare yourself to others?
Having strong self-esteem is the foundation to having strong self-worth.
In psychological terms, self-esteem is a term that describes a person’s beliefs about themselves. Self-esteem also describes how a person’s belief’s about themselves can help to determine what a person thinks they are worth.
Self-esteem and self-worth are different things. Self-worth evaluates our perception of external relationships; whereas, self-esteem is solely about intrapersonal perceptions. Individuals with strong self-esteem can have a strong sense of self-worth. If you have a strong awareness of yourself, then you can have a strong understanding of your place and value in your communities and relationships.
How do I know if I have low self-esteem?
People who have low self-esteem often display these signs:
- Consistent pessimism, negative thoughts, or negative speech.
- They have a lack of confidence.
- Are unable to express their needs.
- Display extreme or frequent feelings of shame, depression, or anxiety.
- They constantly believe that other people are better than them.
- Having difficulty accepting constructive criticism or feedback.
- They have an intense feeling that failure is imminent.
Above all, having a healthy self-esteem is important.
Psychology expert Abraham Maslow created a theory called the “Hierarchy of Needs“. This theory believed that high-self esteem fulfills the human need to feel accomplished. To sum up, Maslow proposed that self-esteem is necessary to obtain the ultimate human desire for self-actualization.
Beyond theory, having a healthy self-esteem is important because with self-esteem you can make positive and healthy decisions that benefit you and your life. Individuals with poor self-esteem struggle to find independence. They constantly depend on other people to, directly and indirectly, guide their decisions. Secondly, people with low self-esteem struggle to take risks, find success, and have low productivity because they believe that they are incapable of achieving great things.
Having strong self-esteem begins with acknowledging and accepting that you are exactly who you are meant to be.
From our youth, we are taught one very important thing that can be disparaging to our self-esteem as adults. We are taught to conform. Depending on if you are a male or female, children are taught to sit quietly or be boisterous. We are taught to be gentle or get loud. We are taught to play into our society’s social norms.
In short, society tells us where we are supposed to be in our lives. At age 25, we are supposed to be establishing ourselves in our careers. Perhaps at this age, we are settling down. At 30, we must have 2 kids, a dog and be earning a 100k income. Society tells us what looks good and what doesn’t. They decide the trends and fads. If we don’t measure up to these standards, then something is wrong with us.
There is nothing wrong with wanting these things or even listening to society. What is problematic is allowing your shortcomings with society’s standards to affect your self-esteem and image of yourself. You were designed to be you and you alone. You may have an image of what you would like your life to be, but not meeting it does not mean that something is wrong with you.
Ignore the haters!
In short, you cannot allow others’ judgments or perceptions of you to dictate who you should be. People make judgments on what they can see. Those coworkers or classmates probably see you for 1/3 of your entire day. They do not know how you are with your family or friends. They probably no nothing about your beliefs, dreams, background or accomplishments. If they do not know you, then why let them dictate your emotions or perception of yourself? Why let them rent space in your mind for free?
Overall, our hope for you is that you can work towards building your self-esteem.
Even if you think you’re self-esteem is pretty great, why not let it be better? Why not work towards loving all those things about yourself that you consider to be unlovable? You are stuck with yourself for the rest of your life, so why not love yourself.
Here are 5 carefully researched top tips to help you build your self-esteem.
- Become self-aware. Remember those questions that I asked at the beginning of this article? What are your answers? Do you know how you react in certain situations, or how these situations make you feel? Becoming self-aware means acknowledging when, how, and why you react to certain things. The more you become aware, the more you can focus on how you let these things affect you. The end goal is to turn negative thoughts and actions into positive, reassuring ones.
- Accept compliments. If we feel bad about ourselves, we are less likely to accept compliments or believe that they are genuine. If you automatically feel the urge to refuse compliments, practice positive responses. Also, compliment yourself! Each day, compliment yourself on how you do things, how you look, etc. Acknowledging your strengths will positively change your perception of yourself.
- Be compassionate and forgiving towards yourself. Nobody is perfect. Every day that comes is an opportunity to learn how to be better. Rather than beating yourself up for your shortcomings, acknowledge what went wrong, and make a note of how to do better next time.
- Practice self-care. We talk about self-care and how it is important to developing self-esteem and productivity. Read about this topic here.
- Focus on what you can change. You are the only person that you have control over. You cannot control other people or their reactions. To try and do so will most definitely end in failure and heartbreak.
Remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.
What are your thoughts? Comment and share below!