Low self-esteem is one of the common denominators in people suffering with anxiety and depression.   Most of our problems revolve around a need to defend against attacks to the perception we have of ourselves.  If we have low self-esteem, we are on high defense against perceived attacks to our self-esteem. 

Learning to master behaviors such as self-acceptance, self-reliance, self-assertiveness, and integrity, help to increase self-esteem.  Having a new healthy sense of self-esteem protects and defends against many of common stressors we fight against in daily life.

But what exactly is self-esteem?  Self-esteem is defined by Dr. Nathaniel Branden (a leading pioneer in the study of self-esteem), as “the experience of being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and of being worthy of happiness.”

It consists of two components: (1) Self-efficacy—confidence in one’s ability to think, learn, choose, and make appropriate decisions, and, by extension, to master challenges and manage change; and (2) Self-respect — confidence in one’s right to be happy, and, by extension, confidence that achievement, success, friendship, respect, love, and fulfillment are appropriate for oneself.

As one can see, self-esteem has nothing to do with egoism, arrogance, cockiness, superiority, or narcissism.  Having those traits would be a compensatory mechanism against low self-esteem.  Many people who project an air of confidence are giving off an air of pseudo self-esteem.  Pseudo self-esteem is merely a defense mechanism to compensate for a lack of feelings of self-worth and self-efficacy. 

Unfortunately, the term self-esteem has been trivialized over the past couple decades.  Many people use the word self-esteem to mean its opposite: pseudo self-esteem.  Over recent years, people have tried nurturing children’s self-esteem through giving them a sense of feeling “special” or privileged.  Unfortunately, this has backfired.  It’s created the “me” generation we often hear about.  Again, this is not genuine self-esteem.  It’s compensatory behavior.  Genuine self-esteem is more rooted in self-acceptance and self-trust.


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