When your self-esteem is high you can move mountains.
But, without healthy self-esteem, success can be doubly difficult to attain or completely elusive. Low self esteem fuels self-doubt a pesky daily companion that makes you question your dreams and goals rather than embrace them. It also makes you waver in your decision making, assertiveness and motivation three essential ingredients for success.
Even when things are going your way, low self-esteem and self-doubt may make you feel undeserving of the success you have. You won't be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor and you may even unwittingly or purposely sabotage your efforts and the foundations of your success.
Low self-esteem also rips away at your relationships. When you don't feel good about yourself, you emit that feeling to those around you. You cannot love or appreciate others if you don't love and appreciate yourself.
What is Self-esteem?
Most of us hear the term often, but may find it difficult to pinpoint what it really is. I think this definition from Nathaniel Branden, author of The Art of Living Consciously, is one of the best Ive seen:
"Self-esteem is the disposition to experience oneself as being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and of being worthy of happiness. It is confidence in the efficacy of our mind, in our ability to think. By extension, it is confidence in our ability to learn, make appropriate choices and decisions, and respond effectively to change. It is also the experience that success, achievement, fulfillment happiness are right and natural for us. The survival-value of such confidence is obvious; so is the danger when it is missing."
Why Your Self-Esteem Suffers?
Your self-esteem is partly the end result of the validation or lack of validation you receive throughout your life. If you look at young children, they're full of wonder and confidence as they set out on their journey to discover their world. But, over time, self-worth becomes damaged by a variety of factors traumatic events such as the loss of a parent, abandonment, disappointments, failure, or physical, emotional or verbal abuse. Anger and envy can also negatively impact self-esteem. Mistakenly, some people think these emotions affect the intended targets. But, what anger and envy really do is stir up toxic emotions that eat away at your perspective and sense of self worth.
How Healthy Self-Esteem Develops
Everyone in the world suffers a traumatic event, disappointment, failure or mistreatment from others. But, not everyone develops low self-esteem. So, as I mentioned, self-esteem is only partly the result of external validation or lack of it.
The other significant contributor to self-esteem is your ability to interpret what happens to you and to use your life experiences to create the right mindset and proactive behaviors that help you to feel capable of success and worthy of it. As Branden puts it, "the root of our self-esteem is not our achievements per se but those internally generated practices that make it possible for us to achieve."