Self-Esteem: Understanding The Importance



You can’t touch it, but it affects how you feel. You can’t see it, but it’s there when you look at yourself in the mirror. You can’t hear it, but it’s there every time you talk about yourself. What is this important but mysterious thing? It is your self-esteem.

All people have a mental picture of themselves; their strengths and weaknesses. This mental picture is called self-concept or self-image. It is formed through learned experiences beginning at birth. Self-esteem is the value judgment or degree of worth a person attributes to their self-image. Self-esteem is considered an important component of emotional health, self-esteem encompasses both self-confidence and self-acceptance.

Self-esteem and self-image are related to how people behave in society, perform in school, react to peer pressure, and interact with others. Having high self-esteem, or liking yourself and feeling confident that you can solve everyday problems, is generally seen as positive. Having low self-esteem, or disliking your self-image and feeling you have no choices or influence regarding everyday problems in your life, is generally seen as negative.

No one is born with a self-image. The experiences and interactions you have with other people, especially family members, causes you to develop an internal picture of yourself and thereby placing value on it. Thus, this becomes your self-image. It may not be your true self-image, but it is what you have become accustomed to.

Importance Of Self-Esteem

Anyone who thinks self-esteem is not important should simply Google the word. You will find that there are millions of web sites on all things regarding self-esteem. There are questionnaires, self assessment tests, programs, etc., all related to building one’s self-esteem. The Department of Mental Health has pages on their web site specifically dedicated to self-esteem. It is located under mental health on their site. It is vital for your mental health to have a healthy dose of self-esteem.

What Is Self-Esteem

What is the definition of self-esteem?

  • Webster – belief in oneself, undue pride in oneself
  • Oxford – good opinion of oneself

To understand self-esteem, it helps to break the term into two words. Let’s first take a look at the word esteem. Esteem is a fancy word for something that is important. It is valuing a person or a thing. For example, if you really admire your friend because he volunteers at the fire department on weekends, it means you hold him in high esteem. And the special trophy that is often given out for the most valuable player of the game is often called an esteemed trophy. This means the trophy stands for an important accomplishment.

The word self means, well, yourself. Put the two words together and you now see what self-esteem is. It is how much you value yourself and how important you think you are. It’s how you see yourself and how you feel about your achievements. Self-esteem is not bragging about how great you are. It is more like quietly knowing that you are worth a lot. It’s not about thinking you’re better than others or perfect (because none of use are) but knowing that you are worthy of being loved and accepted exactly as you are.

How Is Self-Esteem Formed

It starts when you are born and it continues on into adulthood. Some studies say that it starts in the womb, as a baby in the womb resonates with their mother’s vibration; loving vibrations, positive vibrations, and negative vibrations.

Why Is Self-Esteem Important

It is part of being a healthy, wholesome person. People with a high self-esteem have the ability to be joyful, hopeful, creative, set goals, achieve said goals, and contribute to humanity in some profound way. Most of us measure our self-esteem via things that are external to us. For example:

  • How do I look
  • Do people like me
  • Do my colleagues think I’m a team player
  • Did I get praised by my parents

The above criteria for assessing self-esteem are not in and of itself wrong or right. Of course you need the acknowledgement of others to confirm and bolster your self-esteem. However, if your self-esteem is based solely on these external criteria then you are in trouble. If you continually rely on other people to make you feel good, then you need ever-increasing doses of approval from others to keep you going. If you are without a firm foundation of your own self-worth your self-esteem will be knocked down quickly and easily.

When someone or something knocks down your self-esteem there may be a tendency to blame someone other than yourself and play the game of “if only.” If only such and such would happen or hadn’t happened then you’d feel better and things would be ok. High self-esteem comes from knowing what qualities and skills you have that you can rely on. It comes from setting realistic and achievable goals knowing that you can reach them, rather than attempting to accomplish everything. You can’t really point yourself in any one direction, since gaining and developing self-esteem is a life long journey. Upon leaving high school with your diploma, you are not given a platter of self-esteem. It’s a process and is developed over time.

Self-esteem isn’t like a cool pair of sneakers that you just love to have. Having high self-esteem is important because it helps you to hold your head up with dignity and to feel proud of yourself. It gives you the courage to try new things and the power to believe in yourself. It lets you respect yourself, even when you make mistakes, and, when you respect yourself, you respect others too. Having high self-esteem is also the ticket to making good choices regarding your mind and body. If you think you’re important, you’ll be less likely to follow the crowd when your friends are doing something dangerous. If you have high self-esteem, you know that you’re smart enough to make your own decisions. You value your safely, your feelings, your health; your whole self. High self-esteem helps you know that every part of you is worth caring for and protecting.

How Do You Get Self-Esteem

A new born baby does not view themselves in a good or bad way. They don’t think ‘Wow, I’m awesome” when they let a big burp or worry “Oh no, this diaper makes my legs look fat.” No, it is the people around the baby that help her or him develop high or low self-esteem. How? By encouraging the baby when it learns to crawl, walk, and talk. When people love and care for their babies, this helps both the baby and the parent feel loved and valued. As we become older, we take on a bigger role in developing our own self-esteem. It is all part of learning to see yourself in a positive way, to feel proud of who you are, and to be confident being you.

How Does Low Self-Esteem Impact Our Lives

Low self-esteem causes one to not think very highly of themselves. People with low self-esteem often criticize themselves very harshly, and don’t always feel good about themselves or think they are important. It is perfectly alright to have up and down days, but feeling unimportant is not ok. Feeling unimportant can cause sadness and prevent you from enjoying life. Having low self-esteem comes from venturing out into the world and finding your place in the sun. Having strong self-esteem is also a very big part of growing up. As you face tough decisions (the higher your self-esteem) it is important to feel you are worthy and confident because you already know you will get through whatever comes your way.

If you think you may have low self-esteem, try talking to someone you can trust about how you are feeling. They might be able to help you formulate ideas for building your self-esteem.

If you would like a free PDF regarding building your self-esteem. Contact Tynya R. Beverly at


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