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Developing Self-Esteem

+Self-Esteem (My Validation by Others)

Our working definition of +Self-Esteem is:

Self-concept measured by pride and acceptance of oneself; The personal inner measure of one's self-respect, which is influenced by the validation of others.

What we believe to be true about how worthy, valuable and capable we are resulting in a level of confidence and satisfaction in oneself: a personal self-appraisal of our opinion of our intrinsic value, including a sense of our relative competence and worthiness vs. others.

The synonyms for +Self-Esteem are:

Ego, Pride, Self-Assurance, Self-Satisfaction, Self-Regard, Self-Respect, Self-Worth, Sense of Worth.

The Need for Respect from Others (My Validation by Others)

Maslow (1970) advanced the concept that there are two kinds of esteem needs: The need for respect from others and the need for self-respect. According to Maslow, these esteem needs occur on two levels. The lower level is dependant on reassurances and validation of others to bestow fame, respect, and glory.

Maslow, A. H. (1970). Motivation and Personality, 2nd. ed., New York, Harper & Row. Chapter 4.

Thus, by analogy this is depicted in the graphic above by the words: My Validation by Others, The Need for Respect from Others. At this level of self-esteem development, we depend on others for respect. This imbalanced dependence on other people (vs. self) becomes a source of self-esteem that is in need of constant renewal and re-assurance. For example, people with low esteem need respect, approval, and acceptance, and they are always seeking it from others. Those with significantly low levels of self-esteem can feel powerless and frustrated, blame others for their own shortcomings, are often defenseless, and think others do not value them.

The Need for Self-Respect (My Inner View - Self-Concept)

As can be seen in the preceding graphic, we can also think of self-esteem as our inner view of our self-concept that is more self generated than it is dependant upon validation from others. In this view, not only is self-esteem earned in response to our appropriate behaviors and interactions with others over time, but also as it is based upon our demonstrated level of confidence, competence, and achievement. Maslow's theory is in alignment with this in that it represents the higher of the two levels of esteem needs, because it has a basis in confidence, competence, and achievement, and ultimately it only depends on one person.

This level is depicted in the graphic by the words My Inner View - Self Concept, The Need for Self-respect and represents the higher of the two levels of esteem referenced by Maslow. At this level of self-esteem development, people approach new challenges enthusiastically, confidently assume responsibility, and feel capable and competent in their ability to influence others, and to cope with life's challenges.

Thus, at the higher level, self-esteem becomes our appraisal of our internal view of our worthiness, adequacy, competence, and achievement. It is based on a conscious as well as sub-conscious self-assessment of the degree of pride in oneself, and is built on perception of our worthiness of esteem and respect from self and others. Note that at this upper level of self-esteem development, we set the stage for advancing our focus to Self-Confidence, the next Personality Characteristic quadrant for discussion following Self-Esteem.

Consider this one note of caution. With a basis in self-appraisal, self-esteem is subject to harmful excesses concerning overly critical self-perceptions too harshly judged (i.e., I am not worthy), or by an inflated sense of self-importance based on ego influences that do not match with reality and the opinions of others (i.e., I am the greatest).

Where Does Self-Esteem Come From?

Our self-esteem starts at an early age, and continues through adolescence and adulthood to be shaped by accomplishments as well as interactions with people we judge to be important to us.

"Our self-esteem develops and evolves throughout our lives as we build an image of ourselves through our experiences with different people and activities. Experiences during our childhood play a particularly large role in the shaping of our basic self-esteem. When we were growing up, our successes (and failures) and how we were treated by the members of our immediate family, by our teachers, coaches, religious authorities, and by our peers, all contributed to the creation of our basic self-esteem".

University of Texas at Austin (1999). Better Self-Esteem, The Counseling & Mental Health Center, 1 University Station, Austin, Texas

Personality Characteristics