Boosting Your Self-Esteem

Improving the Way You Feel About Yourself

How do you "grade" yourself?

© iStockphoto/RBFried

Self-esteem is the reputation we acquire with ourselves. – Nathaniel Branden, Leading self-esteem researcher and theorist

Improving self-esteem is a very personal journey. It's a key part of feeling happy within ourselves, and of feeling that we're succeeding in the things that matter to us.

Positive self-esteem helps you to be yourself, handle adversity, and believe that you'll win through, despite setbacks. It's an inner force that sustains you, and gives you the courage you need to be the person you want to be.

Low self-esteem, on the other hand, does the opposite. It's connected to self-doubt, and to a general feeling that you're not quite good enough to meet life's challenges. If you have low self-esteem, you may believe that you aren't capable of achieving your dreams, and you may even believe that you shouldn't dream at all. In fact, low self-esteem is used to diagnose many mental disorders, and it can be associated with to a variety of negative emotions, including anxiety, sadness, hostility, shame, embarrassment, loneliness and lack of spontaneity.

To evaluate your own levels of self-esteem, complete the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (SES). This is a 10-item scale developed by Dr. Morris Rosenberg. Even though it was developed in 1965, it’s still a popular form of measurement used in self-esteem research.

What is Self-Esteem?

You're probably familiar with the idea of self-esteem. It's most often associated with self-confidence  , but self-esteem is more than just confidence – it goes deeper. In fact, some people argue that you can have self-confidence and still have low self-esteem – most notably if you approach life with a "fake it ‘til you make it" attitude (in other words, "pretend" until you succeed).

Healthy self-esteem doesn't involve faking anything. And although there's significant debate over the definition of self-esteem, a leading theory is that it's a combination of two factors:

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