What does it really take to build lasting self-esteem?
When you think of your own self-esteem, you probably imagine a scale or list of numbers that indicate how much of it you have.
We believe that having a lot of self-esteem (or self-worth) is a good thing, while having low self-esteem is to be avoided. The idea is that thinking little of yourself will lead to negative and unfavorable emotions that lead to negative and unfavorable actions.
The problem with this philosophy is that you end up putting high self-esteem on a pedestal, which is a recipe for disaster. Think on what happens when we put people on a pedestal. Typically, these unrealistic expectations disappoint us greatly when they’re not met, simply because we put too much stock into something or someone before we make an attempt to know or understand them.
Put simply, your self-esteem goals may be too lofty. You’re striving for perfection, where there is none, and the inevitable realization that you’ll never have the overpowering confidence you desire may actually hurt the self-esteem you’re desperately trying to improve.
The solution to managing your self-esteem effectively is quite simple. It requires the ability to understand what your goals are. Do you want higher self-esteem because you feel as if you’re lacking something? Your endgame may be to have something that you don’t have already, such as better friends, lots of money or the admiration of others.
This doesn’t work because one of two things happens: we either gain what we’re striving for and want more of it, or we don’t gain what we desire and are reset to “0” on the self-esteem scale.
Further, we end up believing that eliminating every weakness in our life will somehow make us feel better about ourselves, but that is impossible. Understanding and appreciating both your strengths and weaknesses are the only paths to building meaningful self-esteem.
That is why the word integrity is so significant. It means “wholeness,” which you can’t have if you try to get rid of every imperfection that defines you. Of course, we should always strive to remove the weaknesses that harm us or others, but there are some weaknesses, such as an inability to play sports or be world-famous, that aren’t worth the energy we put into them in order to fix them.
To sum up, there are plenty of good things you can do to build your self-esteem without setting unreachable goals. Taking care of yourself, dressing nicely and putting yourself out there are some positive steps to this. But when you feel the temptation to aim for perfection, then it’s time to adjust your personal goals for self-esteem.