What is self-esteem?
It’s the value you set on yourself
Self-esteem is the value you set on yourself. Thus, if you tend to perceive yourself rather negatively, that reflects low self-esteem. On the other hand, if you see yourself positively, it reflects good self-esteem. This is the short version, but there are several factors that can affect your perception of yourself.
It can vary
Any given person’s self-esteem can vary from one activity to another and one time to another. For example, it might be different at school, at work, or in love. It can also change in different situations. It may depend on your age and the specific domain (social, artistic, educational, physical, etc.) and the importance you assign to each domain.
It means accepting yourself the way you are
Good self-esteem means accepting yourself the way you are. It’s not always easy! To do it, you need to be aware of your strengths, the areas you need to work on, and your limits. We work to get to know ourselves, we develop a realistic view of ourselves, and we learn to love ourselves the way we are.
It can be developed
Self-esteem develops over time. Small everyday actions, thoughts, and positive attitudes gradually build our self-esteem. All the little actions we take to develop our self-esteem are like the bricks in a house that we’re slowly building. The more solid the foundations of the house are, the better we feel and the more confidence we have to move forward.
It’s a learning process
Self-esteem and confidence are strengths you can work on and develop. It’s a learning process. We start building them when we’re very young and they keep changing lifelong. Adults also have to keep working on and caring for their self-esteem!
Frequently asked questions
We often think that everything would be better if we were different: taller, less shy, more this, or less that… but it’s not true! Get to know yourself by exploring your tastes, strengths, and limits. Accept yourself the way you are, and develop your own talents and interests. The people who love you can help you identify your strengths and qualities.
Learn to be kind to yourself. Look your mistakes in the face, find out what they have to teach you, then remember your strong points, and keep moving forward. To boost your self-confidence, you can also set yourself small challenges in the domains you like. When you succeed, don’t forget to write it down in a notebook! In moments of self-doubt, you can read it over to remind yourself of your successes.
Before trying to correct your defects, ask yourself if your expectations are realistic. Do you really need to change? If yes, what defects are causing problems, and why? Do you really want to change or is someone else asking you to do it? You might be motivated to grow. Identify the aspect of your personality you want to work on, then set yourself realistic goals, that gradually get bigger, so you get closer to your ultimate aim.
Remember that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, we often talk about qualities or defects, but it’s also possible just to see them as personality traits: a particular personality trait can hurt you at times, but at other times it might be useful. Can you find good qualities hidden behind your defects?
It’s normal to doubt yourself. You can’t feel confident all the time. Self-confidence is built with time and experience. It grows and develops, just like you! You can cultivate it by emphasizing your successes and strengths and treating your mistakes as learning experiences. Don’t wait to feel perfectly sure of yourself before trying something, or you risk never doing anything! The idea is to accept your doubts but do it anyway. Self-confidence will come with experience as you learn from your successes and failures.
You don’t like feeling different? You’d prefer to be like other people? In adolescence, it’s normal to want to be like other people. But if we were all the same, the world would be a boring place! We all have something that makes us unique. Our strengths, weaknesses, and differences are also what give us our personality, and make people like us (or not). You can take an interest in other people’s activities in order to get closer to them, but be yourself, respect your limits, and cultivate your own interests.
A beautiful body doesn’t necessarily give you self-confidence. It’s your perception of yourself that’s important! Even if you think that you meet some of the standards for beauty, even if people tell you you’re handsome or beautiful… it’s up to you to develop your self-esteem. You need to cultivate your talents and interests as well. Your big and small successes in different areas of life will help build your self-confidence. It’s important to feel comfortable with your looks, but if you count on them too much, you risk forgetting to develop your personality! Your relationships with other people, your ability to fit into a group, your romantic relationships, the recognition people give you, and your successes are all factors that will help you build self-esteem.
If you know your strengths, you can use them more easily when you need to in different situations, and you can express your thoughts and emotions in your own way. Some people are more introverted, and others more extraverted. For some people, being assertive means talking loudly and taking up lots of space in a group. For others, it’s more delicate and discreet. They aren’t noticed as much but they’re just as confident about asserting themselves. No matter what your style may be, you need to feel comfortable about how you express yourself!