High self-esteem underpins every positive experience in your life. It helps you to see the positive in every situation; to cope with adversity and to fully appreciate the good times. In the modern, fast-paced society that we live in, there is always someone or something demanding your time and attention. When you are constantly responding to these demands you are meeting the needs of others. While it is good to help others, this can sometimes happen at the expense of taking time for you. When you do not take time for you, your self-esteem starts to drop. Sadly, many people do not notice their self-esteem declining until they experience some real difficulties.
Many people feel guilty about taking some personal time but it is essential if you are to maintain high self-esteem. It is imperative that you schedule regular time for you and, if you feel guilty taking this time, just remind yourself of the many benefits which you will receive. The benefits are not just for you. They are for everybody that you interact with too.
The Do's and Don'ts of Self-Esteem
I have created a FREE Checklist to help you determine what you should and should not be doing to maintain high self-esteem.
11 Benefits of high self-esteem
The following list covers some of the most common benefits of high self-esteem. These benefits impact on every area of your life.
1. You can be yourself
The ultimate success in life is to be happy while living your life on your terms. Each of us is a unique individual. We have our own unique:
- Vision for life
These things and more, form the basis of our identity. It takes a great inner belief to step up and pursue the life you want to live and the goals you want to achieve. Marketers spend a vast fortune trying to tell us what we want from life and what will make us happy. It would be easy to fall for their tricks; after all, they are amazing at what they do.
Your friends, family and loved ones can be just as guilty of trying to shape your life. They have their own goals and dreams and they may be hoping that you will help to achieve them. It is great to help those you love but it cannot be at the cost of your own goals and dreams. You will never be truly happy living the life that others have chosen for you.
High self-esteem allows you to observe what others recommend, suggest or even try to force upon you without bending to their will. Of course, in observing, you are always open minded and prepared to learn but when it comes time for you to make decisions; those decisions are based on what is best for you; not others.
You do not feel the need to adapt your views, values or behaviour to meet the expectations of others.
Values based living
You can learn more about who you are and, develop your self esteem with by discovering and living your values. 'Values Based Living' will help you do so.
2. You accept disagreement
Everybody has an opinion about just about everything in life. Opinions are necessary because you could never have all the information needed to know everything you would like to know. There is far too much going on in life and you cannot be in more than one place at a time.
Many of your most important decisions in life will be based upon opinions. You cannot see the future, so you use the evidence available to you to make the necessary predictions. Of course, not every opinion will be correct and so, not every prediction will work out for you. But then you get the chance to learn from your experience and put those lessons into action. That is how you grow and develop as a human being. High self-esteem allows you to cope with the setbacks, safe in the knowledge that you did your best.
High self-esteem also allows you to cope when others disagree with you. You understand that everybody has the right to their own opinion. Opinions are not fact so you could both be wrong or, in some cases, you could both be right. Many arguments arise over opinions but in a lot of these cases, the subject is not important e.g. there are people who would nearly go to war over who is the best footballer in the world?
Why get stressed about it? High self-esteem allows you to accept that others will often disagree with you. You feel no need to worry about disagreement as everybody is entitled to their own views. Just accept that you disagree and move on with your self-esteem intact.
While you should always be comfortable expressing your opinion, sometimes it is not worth the effort. Before you express your opinion, there are a few things you might want to consider. The audio below explains why:
3. You can articulate your view when challenged
One of the quickest ways to assess somebody’s self-esteem is to challenge their opinions.
If you have low self-esteem you may get anxious or flustered when someone challenges your opinion or actions. Those with low self-esteem are likely to have adopted other people’s opinions as they are desperate for approval and they want to fit in. They won’t necessarily understand the reasoning behind their stated opinion so, when you challenge that opinion, they will struggle to defend it. Have you ever tried to defend an opinion that isn’t yours? It is more difficult than you might imagine, especially if the opinion is in anyway controversial.
Also, they won't want to upset you either so, even if it is their opinion, they will be more likely to back down and defer to your opinion.
High self-esteem allows you to acknowledge the challenge and put your argument across without the need to concede or, the fear of disapproval. If you have high self-esteem, it is very easy to defend your opinion because it is your opinion. You took the time to consider the evidence available to you and formulate your opinion based on that information. When challenged, you can then explain the thinking behind that opinion.
That doesn’t mean that you will always convince others that you are right. In fact, it doesn’t mean that you won’t accept that you are wrong; if you are genuinely convinced / persuaded by the other person’s argument. But you will certainly be able to argue your case and articulate your view.
4. You accept new challenges
When you are presented with a new challenge which requires you to step out of your comfort zone, there are two main ways that you can face the situation:
- You can view it as something which you have never done before and are likely to fail at. Therefore, you will withdraw from the challenge and stick within your comfort zone.
- You realise that you have not done it before, but you see it as a fresh challenge and, even if things don’t go your way, it will be an opportunity to learn.
The first view is the view of somebody with low self-esteem while an individual with high self-esteem will adopt the second approach.
High self-esteem allows you to understand that if you don’t grow and develop, you stagnate, wither and die. To grow, you need to push yourself to new levels by taking on new challenges. While you hope to succeed first time at every new challenge, you realise that you probably won’t. But failure is only temporary and, on many occasions,, the best learning opportunities come from failures and setbacks.
So, when presented with an opportunity which requires you to step outside of your comfort zone; accept the challenge with relish.
Accepting new challenges and learning from setback are important components of your personal development. Read 6 Core benefits of personal development to learn more.
5. You do not fear uncertainty
The need for certainty is one of the most common causes of procrastination. Rather than act on the things that you know you need to do; you keep putting action off because you fear that you cannot be certain that you will do a perfect job. You convince yourself that if you learn one more thing, buy one more thing, ask one more person etc.; you will then be able to guarantee the perfect outcome. The problem here is that not only can you never do a perfect job; perfection is never really required.
With high self-esteem, you know the perfection is neither possible nor necessary. Instead of wasting time, trying to work out what you need to do to achieve the certain outcome you want; you identify what you need to do to do the best job you can. You then set about working on the task to the best of your ability. You know that once you take action, you can get feedback which will allow you to improve on the job further.
When you have high self-esteem, you know that certainty cannot be achieved, and all work is a work in progress. For example:
- You will always need to learn new skills in your job
- You will always need to keep working on your relationship with your partner
- You will always need to keep learning to use new technology, in every area of your life
- Throughout your life, you will have to keep making changes to manage your health
Everything in life changes and, the rate of change is constantly getting quicker. The pursuit of certainty is pointless. Therefore, all you can do is your best, with the resources you have at that moment in time.
When you take on new opportunities; know that the end result cannot be guaranteed. Don't let this deter you. Be excited to think of the all the positive possibilities.
Allowing your fear of uncertaintly to govern you is incredibly destructive. Read What is inaction costing you? to learn why.
6. You are more resilient
When you look at the most effective and successful people in the world, it is easy to think that everything always goes well for them and; they don’t experience setbacks. But that would be deluded thinking.
They are human beings, just like you and I. As such, they will experience the ups and downs of life too. The difference is that they are more resilient and better able to cope with the tough times. When they fall down; they bounce back quicker than the average person.
One of the biggest factors in their ability to be resilient is their high self-esteem. It is not that they never expect things to go wrong. They know that things will go wrong and while they may not always be prepared for it; they have full belief in their ability to cope with anything that life throws at them. They don’t waste time wallowing in their own misery. Instead, they identify the actions they need to take in order to get back on track and, crucially, they start to implement those actions.
Bad things can, and do, happen to anyone. When they do arise, your high self-esteem allows you to cope more effectively, take the setback in your stride and make the necessary adjustments to get back on track. So, build your self-esteem and allow yourself to minimise the impact of your tough times.
For some great tips to help you build your resilience, check out Building resilience in 8 simple steps.
7. You do not need approval
As the late Anthony De Mello said, approval is the most dangerous drug in the world. It is human nature to want to get along with other people and to build relationships. There is nothing wrong with that as, cooperating with others will allow you to achieve far more than you ever could alone. But when you need the approval of others, you destroy your self-esteem and sacrifice everything that makes you who you are.
If getting along with others and maintaining relationships requires you to be someone other than who you really are, then you are approval seeking. Some examples include:
- Expressing an opinion, you don’t believe
- Doing something you think is wrong
- Telling lies to make yourself look better
- Pretending to be knowledgeable about something you don’t know much about
When you have high self-esteem, you don’t need to pretend to be something you are not to gain the approval of others. You have your own approval and while you hope that others will like you; you are determined to be yourself and if they don’t like you; so be it.
It is great when others approve of you but it is not necessary. You know that you cannot please everyone so you just do what you believe to be right. Whether they like you or not; you will maintain your high self-esteem.
For more on the dangers of approval seeking, read 13 Approval seeking behaviours you need to stop.
8. It’s ok to not know everything
Nobody wants to look stupid. In any culture, to be described as stupid would be a terrible insult. But truthfully, it is a school yard insult. As we grow older, we tend to see that the idea of somebody being stupid is not very realistic. There is just so much to know in the world that nobody could ever know it all. And, as each of us has our own different interests, we tend to develop our intelligence in different areas.
I remember going to school with a boy who was pretty hopeless at most subjects but when it came to practical subjects like woodwork and metalwork; he was amazing. The things he could produce would astound you. It wasn’t that he was stupid with the regular school subjects; he just wasn’t interested in those subjects so didn’t see the point in putting the effort in. But what really stood out to me is that no matter what grade he got, in any class, he always had high self-esteem and; he never pretended to know anything about the topics he wasn’t interested in.
These days, he makes a very healthy living in the construction industry.
When you have high self-esteem, you will be like that boy. You will realise that you can’t possibly know everything and there is no point in pretending that you do. You will focus on what is important to you and what you are passionate about. And, if you don’t know the answer to someone’s question; you will happily admit it.
Life is a journey of discovery and growth where you can learn the things you need to know as you go along. Not having all the answers does not trouble you. Besides, there is always Google.
The Do's and Don'ts of Self-Esteem
I have created a FREE Checklist to help you determine what you should and should not be doing to maintain high self-esteem.
9. You are more committed
Think about a time when you faced a difficult challenge in your life. You were not sure whether you could succeed with the challenge or not. How did you feel about it? Did you believe you could do it?
In most cases, I would be able to tell you whether you were successful or not by your answer to those two questions. Because Henry Ford was right when he intimated that your level of belief in your ability to complete a task determined whether you would succeed or not.
When you have high self-esteem, you believe in your ability to overcome any challenge you face. Therefore, you are more determined to succeed. You know you will have to work harder and be more committed but because you believe you can do it; putting that extra effort in is not difficult.
However, if you lack self-esteem, you are not going to believe that you can overcome the challenge you face. Your attitude and behaviour change accordingly. You don’t put as much effort in because you don’t see the point. After all, if you are going to fail anyway, why work hard?
Low self-esteem leads to pessimism but high self-esteem gives you a more optimistic outlook on life. When you are more optimistic, you believe in yourself and you are more willing to commit yourself to your goals and objectives.
And so you see how high self-esteem has so often been the difference between success and failure, for so many great people, throughout history.
For more on setting and completing new challenges, check out the Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting.
10. You do not feel the need to be perfect
Perfectionism is a major source of stress. When you feel the need to be perfect, you are setting yourself up for failure. The best that you can do in any given moment is to do your best. There will be mistakes and you will make some bad decisions. When you lose the need to be perfect, you learn from your mistakes rather than berate yourself for them.
Often, failure is assured because of perfectionism. Your desire to be perfect means that you will not make a start on the task or project until you can be assured that you will achieve a perfect outcome. Of course, perfection is neither possible nor necessary so, you are just defeating yourself by setting unrealistic expectations.
High self-esteem allows you to see that you are not perfect, and you never will be. This isn’t negative. You see that you are a wonderful person who is capable of great things, while making some mistakes along the way. The only expectation you have is that you do the best you can at that moment in time. And, unlike perfection, that is an expectation that is always realistic.
If you struggle with perfectionism, read Perfectionism sucks - take action, gain wisdom, get better.
11. You accept that you and others are fallible
All through school and perhaps much of your working life, you will have had people constantly evaluating your performance. You are then awarded a grade based on your performance. In the more considerate evaluations, you may even receive some feedback on how to improve your performance.
Evaluation and feedback are certainly important parts of growth but unfortunately, they usually focus on the negative. They will highlight every mistake while ignoring the thousands of positive things that you have done. Each mistake is treated like it was a deliberate action. So much so that a great deal of modern leadership training focuses on how to identify and recognise the positive contributions. Imagine having to be taught to notice when somebody does something good for you!
Sometimes, you may overreact to mistakes and go on the attack. You may attack yourself or somebody else, depending on who made the mistake. Of course, this causes serious damage to your relationships, both with yourself and with others.
All human beings are fallible. In developing high self-esteem, you need to recognise that mistakes and failures are going to happen. You need to stop seeing them as a problem and start seeing them as a natural occurrence which provides a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow. This may well be the most difficult benefit of high self-esteem to achieve but from a confidence and relationship perspective, it might well be the most valuable.
High self-esteem allows you to accept that everyone makes mistakes. You ar thene more human and forgiving both with yourself and others. When conflict arises, you deal with it in the most dignified manner and then you move on without taking the baggage with you.
Values Based Living
When you have a deep-rooted sense of yourself and, you are clear about what is important to you; you will start to build your self-esteem naturally.
'Values Based Living' will help you to get to know yourself better through discovering and living your values.
The above list of benefits of high self-esteem is not an exhaustive list. For starters, these benefits are solely for you. When you have high self-esteem the quality of your interactions and your relationships is far greater too. No matter what you wish to achieve in life, that journey starts with raising your self-esteem to a level where you believe that achievement is possible. High self-esteem underpins all of the positive experiences in life. It enables you to cope with the tough times and helps you to create, and make the most of, the good times. Taking the time to work on your self-esteem is one of the most important things that you can do.