Self Esteem and its imposters

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Whatever you are doing, love yourself for doing it. Whatever you are feeling, love yourself for feeling it.

-- Thaddeus Golas

What is self esteem?
Beware of imitators...
How can I increase my self esteem?

What is self esteem?

Self esteem is a group of beliefs that determine your level of confidence and sense of satisfaction with yourself.

Beware of imitators...

TV and magazines present very enticing ads that suggest that if you just lose 10 lbs (or buy this car or make more money, etc.), you will feel happy with yourself. Oh, and not so incidently, they have the product to help you do just that. These things might make you feel better about yourself in the short term but in the end they are conditional. They are just one more set of hoops that you must jump through before you can feel OK. If you fall under the spell of this vision of self esteem, you will be preoccupied with appearances, social status and external affirmations.

By the same token, be careful of comparing yourself with others. There will always be those who are more something (attractive, smart, talented, etc.) and you will feel bad by comparision. Even if you do compare favorably, it may lead to momentary esteem but it will be conditional and impermanent. Authentic self esteem arrives when you accept yourself completely and take pride in yourself exactly as you are today.

How can I improve my self esteem?

Start with these facts:

This is not to preclude self improvement or working toward goals. It is to say that, as you work toward the life that you want, you accept yourself exactly as you are today.

Self esteem is further maintained and enhanced by some very basic self care behaviors. It means eating when you are hungry and stopping when satisfied. It means exercising your body to keep it strong and flexible as you age. It means sleeping when you are tired and taking time to rest or refresh yourself.

In relation to others, self esteem is evidenced when you say yes to interactions that enrich you and no to interactions that harm you. If there are people in your life who are critical or judgemental of you, consider asking them to change that. It will be harder for you to improve your self esteem if those around you are prone to criticism and judgment.

When you wake up in the morning, choose an affirmation to start the day. If none comes to mind, try this one on "I am lovable exactly as I am right now." Try to make it a daily practice.

All these things, taken together should help increase your self esteem. And remember: