We encounter many situations in life that go against our wishes and make us uncomfortable.
This attitude comes from our desire to be able to control life as much as possible. The less control we have, the less comfortable we feel.
The truth is that a strong self-esteem frees us from this urge to control our life. A strong self-esteem takes life experiences just as they happen. With this attitude we define the experience itself and how we handle it.
Aldous Huxley explained this truth with the words: “Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you.”
With this constructive attitude we find ourselves better able to handle life’s variety of experiences.
It’s so easy to say that a high self-esteem shows that we respect ourselves. But what exactly does self-respect mean? Is there a way to develop self-respect in a healthy way?
There’s a simple step we can take to find out what self-respect means for us personally. Sometimes it takes looking at how we give respect.
Try to think of life moments when you offered respect in a positive way. What were these moments? What was it that touched you deeply enough to make you feel respect toward someone? As soon as you find out what evokes respect from within, you’ll know that adapting this same attitude will help develop your own self-respect.
Many people feel respect when they witness an unselfish act – such as helping without self-interest. When we embrace this attitude by doing the same we create self-respect.
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” This proverb of Confucius expresses an attitude which can be applied to esteem as well as life generally.
As long as we integrate esteem into our life on a daily basis we can’t go wrong. Esteem step by step means that it’s better to give small or just one sign of esteem but to give it daily instead of giving a lot of signs of esteem on one day and nothing at the following days.
Each new habit we want to let grow in our life needs this kind of attitude: going slowly but steadily instead of doing a lot and then stopping. Esteem can become part of our life when we live it step by step.
Health is something we only recognize when we don’t have it anymore. We can change this attitude toward health by showing esteem for our health.
The first step of showing esteem for our health is to recognize how healthy we are. The next step to get it back on track if you’re not.
For people who need scientific proof of the effect of behavior on our health this recent research will be interesting.
Researchers from the University of Kuoipo and Oulo, Finland made a study about the connection between physical activity and health. They found that men who participate in sports for half an hour a day have half the risk of getting cancer.
The reason for this connection lies in the fact that regular physical activity creates a higher consumption of oxygen – which prevents healthy cells from transforming into cancerous cells.
Researchers underlined the fact that moderate sport, such as brisk walking for half an hour daily is the best exercise.
Of course these results are also applicable for women. Take the first steps in giving esteem toward your health.
We don’t change other people, people change themselves. But a healthy self-esteem can be a positive example to encourage others to make their own changes.
Having a high self-esteem means that we are self-confident in what we are and what we do in a healthy way. This means that we don’t overestimate our abilities but that we have a deep self-understanding of failure and success as being part of our life. This life wisdom emerges from a high self-esteem and can help people around us to undertake the effort for a positive change in their own lives.
We often experience that it’s easier to lead by example than by words. When people see us handling life situations calmly and self-confidently they are more likely to do the same. This is the only way we can help others to realize changes in their attitudes and lives.
“Don’t say inside, what you cannot say outside.” This quote could sum up the way we think about how our self-esteem expresses itself.
How are you speaking with your inner voice about yourself? We’re not talking about the soliloquies. We’re talking about the little inner comments we make about everything we do or say. Our attitude toward ourselves is reflected in our self-talk. Attitude toward ourselves is just another word for self-esteem.
We are normally polite toward others, and we smile and encourage others when they fail.
But how polite are we toward ourselves? Do we encourage us when we failed?
Our inner voice speaks almost endlessly. What we have to be aware of are all the harmful words. Negative self-talk isn’t constructive. Our self-esteem needs genuine self-appreciation when we do something good and constructive criticism when we make mistakes.
Self-talk only seems to be hidden within us. In fact it’s visible to everyone through our self-esteem.
We have a certain picture of ourselves with which we try to define our attitudes, believes and opinions. This picture can be weak and fragile or strong and self-confident.
How we think about ourselves is called our self-concept.
To find out what your self-concept is answer questions such as “What do I want to reach in my life?” or “How successful am I in my life?”.
Self-concept isn’t the same as self-esteem even when both are closely linked to each other.
Self-esteem touches the emotional aspect of our self. The picture we have about ourselves is filled with feelings and impressions – and self-judgments.
To find out what our self-esteem is answer questions such as “Am I an important person for my job or family?” or “Do I have unshakable trust in my abilities?”.
With our self-esteem we judge our self-concept . With high self-esteem we judge ourselves honestly.
In quiet moments of life we can listen to our inner voice speaking about our self-concept and self-esteem and assuring us that both aren’t unalterable. Our self-concept grows through our life as well as our self-esteem. It’s up to us to give this growth the right direction.
When we integrate esteem in our life we experience an inner calmness which we also call serenity.
To be able to reach serenity we need to clear out our minds. In fact it’s like clearing out our homes from clutter. The clutter in our homes shows that we can’t let go of things. We collect them and we bind ourselves to them.
In our mind we do the same, we can’t let go thoughts, memories, habits and attitudes.
Just by letting go of one binding thought we immediately feel freedom and calmness. This small step makes us open enough to allow esteem to enter in our life. And even better: the more we live esteem, the more we are able to clear out our mind and live a life in calmness and serenity.
Western culture is acquainted with the four cardinal virtues. These cardinal virtues – wisdom, justice, courage and moderation originate in ancient philosophy. The general explanation for virtues says that they are inner attitudes of doing good with joy.
Virtues will remain just theory as long as we don’t integrate them into our lives and make them a habit. In coming posts we’ll discuss the connection of esteem to each of these four cardinal virtues.
Virtues work like a mirror. We see in each of these four mirrors our life and our attitudes. Rather than discussing virtues theoretically and philosophically by creating the picture of a perfect life we’ll try to find practical ideas for realizing esteem through virtues in our daily life as life is imperfect and fragile.
The word “self-handicapping” was first used in psychological studies 30 years ago. It describes a certain attitude of how people handle failures.
Self-handicapping is about cheating ourselves. When facing failure people can make all kinds of excuses without acknowledging that they could have done more to achieve success.
Self-handicapping means that people defend themselves by talking about all the reasons why they couldn’t possibly succeed.
A high self-esteem doesn’t know this self-handicapping attitude. With a high self-esteem we don’t need to defend our failure because we have enough self-confidence to know that we did our best.
We don’t need to find excuses when something doesn’t work out as we thought. Our self-esteem, based on self-knowledge, gives us confidence and calmness.
For a person with a healthy self-esteem failure never means loss of esteem because giving ourselves esteem always means having strength to face new goals and new efforts toward success.