Self-esteem means the regard and respect we have for ourselves. That all seems pretty straight forward, but here is the different approach: We decide how we will view ourselves.
[Tweet “Our self-esteem is not dependent on other people.”]
Yes, other people can help us see ourselves in a certain way. But we are still the ones who are in charge of our self-esteem. For example, someone might tell you you’re pretty. But that compliment may or may not change your self-esteem. You may decide that they’re only saying that because they haven’t seen you without your make-up, or they’re trying to be nice and they don’t really mean it, etc. Your self-esteem has not been changed by one person’s compliment, or in fact, many people’s compliments. You could decide that you’re not the pretty one. Your sister/mother/friend is the pretty one. Conversely, someone could tell you that you are selfish because you haven’t signed up for enough volunteering opportunities. How does that effect your self-esteem? You may be inclined to believe that about yourself. Perhaps you have been told that before by other people.
However, remember this is SELF-esteem, not the esteem of other people. You may decide that you are no more selfish than Henry David Thoreau, who, when asked why he did not help more people, replied that it was because he did not want to. He was a unique person who was doing something most of society did not understand, and saw as eccentric at best, and selfish at worst.
You can decide to have regard and respect for yourself no matter what other people say to you or about you. You can decide that it’s okay for you to be different. You can decide that you don’t have to get other people’s approval in order to be acceptable. You can accept yourself…RIGHT NOW! REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCES!
Yes, we can decide that we can’t just accept ourselves because of that monumental failure, because of that terrible thing we did in college, because we are 150-pounds overweight, because we are $100,000 in debt, because we are a hoarder, etc. etc.
We can decide to be defined by something that has happened in our lives. Or, we can decide we are more than our bank accounts, careers, social standing, and past behaviors. We get to make that decision. We are in charge of our own self-esteem. Understanding this is part of loving ourselves.