When I first started studying happiness, I would frequently come across principles relating to the self which I had heard before but apparently never truly understood.
For example, I could explain the meaning of self-esteem but I didn’t actually know how self-esteem was built. I could explain self-confidence but I thought it was either something you had or didn’t have. I could explain self-love, but my understanding was completely wrong. The problem is that most people who talk about self-esteem don’t know where it comes from or how to improve it. It’s not something you decide; it is something you build.
This might sound like a scary idea, but anyone can develop high self-esteem. If you felt your elephant get a little anxious about the idea of you having high self-esteem, that’s a sign you have been exposed to the wrong ideas dominating modern society. Self-esteem is not flamboyant. It's not egotistical. It is not about being the centre of attention. People often mistake high self-esteem with narcissism. Narcissism is a product of low self-esteem.
High self-esteem is silent. It doesn't need attention. It doesn't need admiration. It doesn't need to be flattered. It simply is. The higher your self-esteem, the less your mind is concerned about how people perceive you. It is safe. It is confident. It is sure of who it is. And because of this, it is free to pursue its hopes and dreams.
Self-esteem is based on two factors:
1 - How well you are meeting your six human needs
2 - Your level of self Love
We're already working on human needs so now we're going to focus on the building blocks of self-esteem: self-love, self-understanding, self-compassion, self-discipline, self-appreciation, and self-confidence.
Self-love is not something you feel, it's something you do. Working to improve your wellbeing is an act of self-love. Taking a relaxing bath is an act of self-love. To improve self-love, start focusing on things you do.
Self-understanding is often called self-acceptance. I'm not a fan of acceptance because it suggests things cannot be changed. Self-understanding means getting a clear image of where you are now, what things you like and what you want to improve.
Self-compassion is fairly straightforward. It means recognising things like your blueprint, your beliefs, and your habits are not always under your control and you shouldn't beat yourself up over the results they create. Self-compassion is giving yourself a break, understanding all you can do is work to improve them.
Self-discipline means doing the things the elephant doesn't want to do. It takes discipline to complete the exercises we're discussed today. The elephant doesn't want to do them so it will resist. Self-discipline means you coming up with a plan and following it even when your thoughts, feelings, and emotions are trying to stop you.
Can we take a second to appreciate all the great things about you please? We are wired to focus more on negative aspects of ourselves (and life). Self-appreciation is taking a moment to balance the books. If you and I met I can assure you I would see so many positive qualities in you and be amazed at some of the things you have achieved so far in life. Self-appreciation is you taking a moment to recognise those things too.
Finally, self-confidence. Self-confidence isn't you being confident about the things you have or how you look. Self-confidence is you knowing that if you set your mind to something you're going to get it done, no matter what it takes. Think of all the areas you have genuine self-confidence. 1000 things on your to-do list? You know you're going to get them done. Important presentation to create? You know you can make something great. A giant issue in your life? You know you'll find a way.
The biggest aspect of improving self-esteem is understanding what it means and how to improve it. After reading through this step I assure you you are well on your way.