Why Is Self-esteem Important?

January 5, 2016

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is the perception we have of ourselves. Therefore, it’s the ability we have to love, value, care for and respect ourselves. It’s how much we value each one of the aspects in our lives. It supports the foundation of our identity. It’s our main source of support.

Self-esteem is one of the keys to understanding ourselves and others.

“The worst thing that can happen to a man is to have him think badly of himself.”

It has two components: a sense of personal ability and a sense of self-worth. As the Canadian psychotherapist Nathaniel Branden affirms, it’s the sum of our confidence and self-respect. It’s an intimate experience that resides within the nucleus of our being. It’s what we think and feel about ourselves, and not what others think or feel about us.

Self-esteem starts generating in the first few years of our lives. During this time, our parents educate and teach us which behaviors are acceptable, dangerous, which will cause anger and/or dislike, etc.

Thus, patterns of education are established for children as per their family criteria. This determines a path for them and shows them where they can and can’t go. This, along with situational and personality variables, make up the wide spectrum of self-esteem.

When do self-esteem problems arise?

The concept we have of ourselves influences all of our most significant decisions and choices. It thus shapes the type of life we create. Therefore, self-esteem is very important, since it can affect every aspect of our lives.

If we have low self-esteem, we tend to be haunted by fear when faced with our own reality. We are accompanied by feelings of rejection, dissatisfaction and contempt towards ourselves. We even think that we’re of little worth and hide behind a wall of distrust, which pushes others away.

When we have low self-esteem, we’re overly sensitive to both external and internal criticism. Therefore, without a certain level of self-esteem, we can’t satisfy many of our needs. Judging and rejecting oneself causes a great deal of pain.

In fact, if we have low self-esteem, we can even offer a false image of ourselves to the world. An image focused on what we think others think of us. We seek external approval, which is a double-edged sword. Because if we obtain it, we could feel false happiness. But if not, we’d sink into sadness.

Either way, we depend on the eyes of others to see ourselves, since our vision is not enough. And depending on others’ approval just perpetuates our discomfort.

Most people seek confidence and self-respect in any place other than themselves. And that’s why their searching fails. Because we forget that we’re the ones who have the power to define who we are and whether we like that image or not. The secret lies in not judging ourselves.

According to Nathaniel Branden, in order to build good self-esteem we must do the following:

  • Live consciously.
  • Learn to accept yourself.
  • Rid yourself of guilt. 
  • Live responsibly.
  • Live authentically.
  • Help develop the self-esteem of others. 

Self-esteem isn’t determined by the social success we achieve, physique or our popularity. It doesn’t depend on anything out of our control. On the contrary, it depends on our own rationality, responsibility, and integrity.

If we don’t analyze our self-esteem, no one else will do it for us. Stopping and observing how we are and valuing yourself is a fundamental part of understanding the traps we set for ourselves.

“Love towards oneself is the starting point to developing someone who feels the courage of taking responsibility for their own existence.”
-Viktor Frankl-