Smith and Mackie (2007) term self-esteem as a set of positive or negative opinions about oneself. Self-esteem is an important predictor of success in career, relationships, marriage and public life. People who are depressed have very low self-esteem about themselves. They think of themselves as good for nothing and persons having a nil value. There are three states of self-esteem. They are;
- Shattered: An example of a person having shattered self-esteem is when he says, “I am old and useless to do this kind of work”. This person sees himself as an absolutely useless person.
- Vulnerable: In this state, a slight embarrassment or defeat may expose the vulnerable side of the person. Otherwise, such persons have a positive frame of mind.
- Strong: People in this state are very strong emotionally. Defeats, embarrassments etc. do not affect them. These people have a very high sense of self-esteem.
Psychologists, however, have prescribed several ways through which one can improve one’s self-esteem.
How to improve one’s self-esteem
- Control your thoughts- Watch out what your inner critic is saying to you. Every time you hear its voice, ask yourself- would this be the way your best friend would speak to you? If your inner critic is being merciless on you all the time, you need to silence it.
- Focus on the good things that happen to you- Everyday, write at least 3 good things that happened to you. Avoid the obstructive or harmful things that came your way. Focus on the happier side of the day. Do not dwell upon the negatives.
- No need to be perfect- In the quest to be perfect, many people lose control of themselves. It probably must do with the pressures of modern life where achievement is the be all and end all. But, not everyone can be perfect. Rather, focus on the effort or process. This way, you will be better able to appreciate yourself as a person.
- Accept mistakes- Often we fail to realise that mistakes come to us masked as opportunities. But, we are too fixated by the mistakes we commit. We are obsessed with the thought, “Why did I commit this mistake?” rather than, “How to avoid this particular mistake?”. If we learn how to avoid committing mistakes, we will tremendously improve our self-esteem.
- Experiment with new skills- Try out new skills and then improve upon them. For example, you may pick up music and track your achievement levels. If you continually improve yourself in this new skill, you will obviously set new benchmarks. Give credit to yourself after the achievement of every new milestone.
- Accept your limits- You are no superman. You have your own limits. Once you accept your limitations, you will stop blaming yourself for all the wrongs that are happening to you.