Although the word self-esteem is often associated with self-confidence, the two do not mean the same thing. Today’s post aims to explore the true meaning behind the word self-esteem. Keep reading to learn more.
The article will also provide its readers a concise guide to improve self-esteem, as well as, an explanation about the importance of each habit that they’ll have to implement into their lives in order to achieve what they want.
Before the actual discussion starts, please read the following story first.
EVERYTHING STARTS WITHIN YOU
Susan is a desk-bound CIA analyst. Initially, when Susan joined the CIA, she wanted to become a field agent. Despite of being qualified for the job, she didn’t get it. Her superiors (at the time) did not think that Susan was a good choice for the field. Instead of looking at her test scores, they judged her skills based on her appearance and demeanour. Nonetheless, the agency decided to keep Susan, as they found her rather helpful as an analyst.
One day, a field agent named Bradley (Susan’s colleague) goes missing. The agency fears the worst: the agent is presumably dead. This shocking news prompts Susan to volunteer herself to finish Bradley’s mission. Although Elaine (Susan’s boss) is a little hesitant about it, she ends up accepting Susan’s request to carry on Bradley’s mission. Since many other CIA agents had their identities exposed, Elaine figured out that it would be safer to use Susan for the mission.
The first days in the field were a bit difficult for Susan. Life as a field agent was not as glamorous as Susan thought. In addition, danger was always eminent. Despite of the initial hurdles, Susan eventually finds her way, completes the mission and gains recognition from her boss and peers.
As one can see, Susan was not as unfit for the field as her former superiors thought she was. So, what was Susan’s real problem? Why didn’t she become a field agent right from the start? Well, there are two aspects that are worth mentioning here. First, people judged Susan based on her appearance (not her skills). Second, Susan did not believe in herself enough to make a change in her career.
The Difference Between Self-Esteem And Self-Confidence
The words self-esteem and self-confidence appear often together, but they don’t mean the same thing. Having confidence might help with one’s self-esteem, but being confident about something is not equivalent to having a high self-esteem.
What Is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is about how we view ourselves. In other words, it’s a construction based on our perception. Having said that, people with high self-esteem tend to view themselves in a more positive light. The complete opposite occurs in people with low self-esteem, which tend to be their worst critic. As a result, low self-esteem often leads people into depression and self-destructive behaviours.
What Is Self-Confidence?
Self-confidence is the perception that we have regarding one or a set of skills. For instance, one might be exceptional at doing something and yet, have a low self-esteem. Artists are a classical example of people who are very skilful at what they do and yet, suffer from a poor perception of themselves.
Building a good self-esteem is an ever-going process and it doesn’t happen overnight. Why? It’s easier to stick with bad habits. Let’s be honest, creating new habits and following them, it’s hard. However, nothing is impossible and building your self-esteem up is one of the best things that you’ll ever do for yourself. In other words, when you fix your self-esteem issues, you’re fixing the relationship that you have with yourself.
5 Good Habits To Improve Self-Esteem
Now, let’s cut to the chase. What can you do to improve self-esteem? It’s all about working your mindset. As mentioned before, self-esteem is about perception, so let’s work on it. Here are some useful tips to help you set your mind on what’s really important.
GOOD HABIT #1 – BE KIND TO YOURSELF
First and foremost, be kind to yourself. When people are unkind to you, you cannot be unkind to yourself.
Don’t let your inner worst critic sabotage your life. You’re in control of what’s going on up there (in your head). Looking at our flaws or mistakes and learning from them it’s a good thing. However, don’t let that self-analysis consume you. There is no such thing as perfection.
As people, we make mistakes, it’s bound to happen. Call it human nature, if you want. However, that’s also the beauty of life. Making mistakes and being flawed means that we are living. If you think about it, it’s a privilege to be alive. Therefore, don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember, if you don’t have a good relationship with yourself, you won’t be able to build anything with other people.
GOOD HABIT #2 – DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
Comparison is the thief of joy and comparison is poison. Therefore, you do you and forget about the others.
You should never compare yourself to others because you’re not them. By comparing yourself to other people, how fair would your assessment be? First, your current situation might not be the same as the people’s that you’re comparing yourself to. In addition, there’s a huge difference between reality and perception. So, on the outside some people might appear to have it all. But do they, though?
In general, people only show what they want to show and that often means the highlights of their day / life. Having said that, if you going through a low moment in your life, would it make any sense to compare your low-low with someone’s high-high? That’s why comparison is poison and the main reason why you shouldn’t be doing do it. Let others be who they are and focus on yourself. The only person you can compare yourself to is you.
GOOD HABIT #3 – STOP LOOKING FOR APPROVAL FROM OTHERS
You don’t need people’s approval to feel good about yourself. That’s like placing your well-being in someone else’s hands and you do not want to do that.
The first person that you need to get approval from is you. Are your personal life decisions and behaviour in line with your values? If so, you don’t need to listen to other people’s opinions about you. Now, this not a green light to be a straight up narcissist, this conversation is not about that.
People like to talk. Having said that, not every opinion formed during those conversations have your best interest taken into account. If that’s the case, then you should should totally ignore those external voices. Meanwhile, a good friend that emits an opinion (in a constructive way) is someone who’s worthwhile listening to. The total opposite of that, is a random person / acquaintance that makes unkind remarks about you just because it makes them feel good about themselves. That’s the type of crowd that you should be avoiding. You don’t need their approval.
GOOD HABIT #4 – INVEST IN YOURSELF
Do the things that you enjoy doing, whatever that might be. It’s never too late to pick up a new hobby or get better at something. In addition, the more you get out of your comfort zone, the better.
When you do things for yourself, it’s like a little treat for your mental health — it will make you feel good. Don’t let all the extra stuff in your head take your focus away from the things that you really want to do. Let me remind you that a full day has 24 hours. Some of that time will go to sleeping, eating and working. What do you usually do with the remaining time left? Do want to spend it worrying about things that don’t really matter? Or would you rather use it on something more useful?
Although, it might sound cliché: it’s never too late to learn something new. However, don’t do this to get something out it. Confusing? Let me explain. Do not pick up a new hobby or hone a skill, just because you’re trying to capitalize from it. Why? It’s exhausting and it might hinder you from pursuing the things that really bring you joy. Don’t ever think about life decisions as win-lose situations, it can put a lot of pressure in your head.
Take travelling as an example. It’s a leisure activity and many do it because it brings them joy. However, no one can guarantee that you’ll have an amazing trip. Nonetheless, getting out of your comfort zone is already an experience itself. No matter the outcome, positive or negative, experiences always help you grow. With that mindset, you’ll always win.
GOOD HABIT #5 – TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEALTH
Last but not least, take care of your body. A healthy mind needs a healthy body to inhabit.
It’s easier to have a good self-esteem when you’re in a good place, mentally and physically. Therefore, make sure that you also allocate part of your day to exercise. The best way to physically exercise is to create a routine. Once you figure out when it’s the best time for you to go out there and work on your body, you are pretty much set for success. By the way, being busy is not a good enough excuse to not exercise. Think about all of your futile activities during the day. Now, use that time to exercise.
Many mistake being healthy with being thin. However, they are two completely different beasts. Right now, you should be focusing on being healthy. So if you body is a machine, you need to make sure that is functioning properly. It’s not about how the machine looks, but how well it works. By the way, when it comes to our health, there are no shortcuts. Forget about the hacks to get healthy faster. It might take a while until you start noticing results, but it’s okay because everything that is worthwhile takes time.
The most important relationship that you will ever have is the one with yourself. Therefore, nurture yourself (mentally and physically) and you’ll reap the benefits from having a high self-esteem.
Improving your self-esteem comes from within. It’s not about how you look, your material possessions or social status: it’s about how you perceive yourself. Being alive is a gift, therefore, do not waste it by being unkind to yourself. If you only have one life to live, do it to the fullest. However, that’s only possible if you free yourself and stop being your worst critic.
Stop pitying yourself and start taking steps towards doing the things that you really want. How are going to get anything done if you fill your mind with self-hate, doubt and criticism? Having said that, working on your self-esteem is the best gift that you can ever give to yourself. Try to see it as an investment. The more you work on developing a healthy relationship with yourself, the more you’ll be able to achieve in life. And remember, knowing how to enjoy the ride is way better than knowing your final destination.