by May Bleeker, 20 April 2009 (updated 10 Sept 09)
Positive self esteem shows up in our lives whether we think about it or not. It shows in our behaviour and attitudes, just as low self esteem does. And it affects every decision and action we take. We also bring it to every relationship we have, for better or for worse.
Do you like the way you treat others? And the way you are treated? Does it make you feel happy and good?
What do you do when you disappoint someone, or when they disappoint you? When you get angry or make someone angry? Do you approach or avoid? Build or burn bridges? Are you able to assert yourself?
Do you accept the opportunities that come your way with gratitude and courage, or do you run for the hills out of fear and uncertainty, flinging every excuse you can over your shoulder?
Do you encourage your own success by doing what is necessary or do you undermine your own happiness through self-sabotage or leaving others' happiness out of the equation?
Positive self esteem consists of attitudes, thoughts and behaviours that are geared towards success as a human being.
Whatever helps you live a balanced, happy, fulfilling life, respecing yourself and others, is part of positive self esteem.
Healthy self esteem is not about being perfect or never making mistakes. Its about working towards the positive in life.
When things go wrong and when things go right, its about preserving the good things like love, friendship, family, hope, making a contribution, sharing, kindness and fun. Did I already mention love?
With each new situation you get to choose afresh. Keep on choosing the negative and this is what your life will mainly consist of. Keep choosing the positive and you are moving in the right direction.
Photo by Hamed Masoumi
People with good self esteem may appear lucky or it may seem that things come more easily to them. But there is a certain mindset and approach to life that encourages good things to happen and that deals with bad things in a way that does its best not to create more bad feelings or lasting unhappiness.
In many cases healthy self esteem is about saying yes to life and your experiences. Accepting what already exists right now is important, because once something has happened you cannot erase and rewind.
Don't waste precious energy fighting what has already happened. Save it for figuring out how to respond. This is your only real point of choice.
Sometimes it is about saying: Stop. No. Or, I'm leaving this situation. Knowing when enough is enough and having the ability to act on this knowledge is also part of having high self esteem. The assertive part.
Developing the characteristics of positive self esteem is possible. How easy it is depends on how strongly you hold on to habits of thinking and behaving that do not work for you.
It can be difficult to change if you don't know how, but when enough factors come together, changes can come about easily and naturally. You have to be open to the cues that show up in your life and be willing to start somewhere.
There are certain signs of self esteem that you can look out for. People who have these characteristics tend to have healthy self esteem. Wherever you have an opportunity to express these in your own life - do it! It will have a positive effect on how you feel about yourself.
• Self awareness
• Self acceptance
• Self motivation and internal locus of control
• Inner strength
• An attitude of gratitude
• Self trust
• Discernment and good judgement
• A knack for finding happiness
• Assertiveness & non-verbal assertiveness
• A service orientation
• Congruency and integrity
Some of these attributes take time to develop. Maybe years. But don't underestimate the effect that they can have on your life and happiness. Or the effect it can have on your well-being when these these qualities of high self esteem are neglected.
Consciously bringing more of these attributes into your own style of being will assist you in developing positive self esteem.
I learn by going where I have to go. - Theodore Roethke
(from The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron)