What is self-esteem and how do I get it? These are 2 questions I wonder a lot. Sometimes, I think of self-esteem as this magical thing that is “out there” somewhere – and I am constantly vying for it – this unshared secret that some have and others want. However, lately, I have been exploring the many components of self-esteem and as much as I thought it was a “magical” experience that could never be mine, I have concluded I am wrong…
I am learning that self-esteem isn’t really “out there” for me to attain but rather inside of me for me to let out. This new perspective has really helped me feel my self-esteem is rising and that it was always inside of me!
Self-esteem can be seen as having many aspects: self-care, self-compassion, self-efficacy, and self-trust. I want to help young girls move away from the idea that self esteem is “magical” (as I once believed) and we are either born with it or not, but rather something they can build up within themselves. I want us all to move away from the notion that self esteem is primarily built on achievements and accomplishments, and instead move toward an understanding that self esteem is based on our self worth and our ability to know our worth from the inside.
The first part of self-esteem is self-care. We can learn to feel good about ourselves by practicing self-care. This could include things like: drinking enough water, eating whole and nutritious foods, and getting enough sleep. Self-care can also include making time for ourselves to reflect and surrounding ourselves with positive people who encourage and support us. When we practice self-care, we feel good about ourselves and when we feel good about ourselves, we practice self-care!
The second aspect of self-esteem is self-compassion. This means we love and accept ourselves no matter what. Instead of criticizing and critiquing our every word and action, we learn to practice self-acceptance and mindfulness of who we are and how we are growing. No easy task – but with self compassion comes a depth of love for ourselves and the recognition that no matter what we do or how we do, we are still worthy and loveable, just as we are.
The third component of self-esteem is self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is knowing our strengths and what we are good at as well as our core qualities. Sometimes, these qualities are difficult to identify in ourselves, so it may help to ask people we trust what they see in us. I think it also helps to write these words down so we can “see” who we are. With self-efficacy comes the awareness that we can do things and that we do matter.
Finally, self-esteem is built up by trusting ourselves. This means, we take the time to be still and listen to our inner voice that tells us what we really want and what we know we really want to do. So often, we ignore this voice only to later say, “I knew it” or “I felt I should have….”. By trusting our intuition and inner knowing we are affirming ourselves and that we know what is best for us and thus we are building up our self esteem.
Self esteem is important in all aspects of our lives and I am happy to say that my “magic theory” is incorrect as this brings a sense of hope that self esteem is not out there somewhere for us to find but rather in each of us, ready to emerge!