Self-esteem is what we think of ourselves. When it’s positive, we have confidence and self-respect. We’re content with ourselves and our abilities, in who we are and our competence. Self-esteem is relatively stable and enduring, though it can fluctuate. Healthy self-esteem makes us resilient and hopeful about life.
Self-Esteem Impacts Everything
Self-esteem affects not only what we think, but also how we feel and behave. It and has significant ramifications for our happiness and enjoyment of life. It considerably affects events in our life, including our relationships, our work and goals, and how we care for ourselves and our children.
Although difficult events, such as a breakup, illness, or loss of income may, in the short term, moderate our self-esteem, we soon rebound to think positively about ourselves and our future. Even when we fail, it doesn’t diminish our self-esteem. People with healthy self-esteem credit themselves when things go right, and when they don’t, they consider external causes and also honestly evaluate their mistakes and shortcomings. Then they improve upon them.
Healthy vs. Impaired Self-Esteem
I prefer to use the terms healthy and impaired self-esteem, rather than high and low, because narcissists and conceited individuals who appear to have high self-esteem, actually don’t. Theirs is inflated, compensates for shame and insecurity, and is often unrelated to reality. Boasting is an example – it indicates that the person is dependent on others’ opinion of them and reveals impaired rather than healthy self-esteem. Thus, healthy self-esteem requires that we’re able to honestly and a realistically assess our strengths and weaknesses. We’re not too concerned about others’ opinions of us. When we accept our flaws without judgment, our self-acceptance goes beyond self-esteem.