Healthy Self-Esteem
by Diane Linsley

Self-esteem is not something you can get - like getting a new car.
It's not something you can develop by practicing affirmations.

Self-esteem is simply the natural result of accomplishing your goals.
It has to do with overcoming challenges, learning from experiences,
and creating a better life for yourself.

To understand how self-esteem fits into your overall development, check out this Wikipedia article about Maslow's heirarchy of needs.

Self-esteem is not the same as self-compassion. I put self-compassion on the level of self-actualization because it is a spiritual ability. Even higher than that is universal compassion, which is on the level of self-transcendence. This level is not shown on the diagram because Maslow realized it later in his life. Self-transcendence is the enlightened stage of development.

Healthy self-esteem is not the same as high self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem is accurate self-esteem. It is possible to esteem your abilities too highly, which creates blind spots for where you need to improve.

Feedback from others can show you where you have overestimated your own abilities. Of course, the value of the feedback depends on its source. A person who just wants to criticize and drag you down is not a good source of feedback.

Self-Esteem is Personal

"As long as we suffer from low self-esteem - and it is a suffering - we will both fear others and crave their approval.... In the end, we are not here to fit in, to be well-adjusted, acceptable to all, or to make our parents proud of us. We are here to be ourselves." ~James Hollis, Living an Examined Life

Self-esteem is an inner experience. If your self-esteem is based on how many likes you get on social media, it's going to fluctuate wildly. Healthy self-esteem requires self-knowledge, as well as boundaries and assertiveness.

Self-esteem is a barometer that measures your success based on your personal values. You respect yourself when you are living your life in integrity. This means aligning your goals with your values.

Self-Esteem and Development

We experience self-esteem differently at different stages of development. At higher levels, self-esteem requires a connection with the soul. As we become more spiritually mature, our self-esteem shifts from being about worldly accomplishments to being about aligning our goals with our soul's purpose.

No matter how highly developed we are, we are still human beings with a body. Going to a new level in Maslow's heirarchy of needs doesn't mean that we no longer have to deal with the "lower" needs like eating food and having relationships.

At every stage, self-esteem is part of the picture. We always have a need to feel good about ourselves, even as we are working towards our highest creative and spiritual potentials.

For further reading, I recommend Nathaniel Brandon's The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem.

Here's a guided meditation for setting goals.

Be well,
Diane Linsley

As a life coach, I use many different processes to help
people with their personal growth. Click here if you are
interested in coaching with me.


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