Self-esteem is a subjective perspective on one's own personality. When understated, it means low self-esteem, and when overstated, turns into the feeling of superiority and arrogance. How to assess oneself in a healthy way?

Low self-esteem is like driving through life with a handbrake on. - MAXWELL MALTZ

The well-known psychologist Philip Zimbardo, in his book "Psychology and Life", defines self-appraisal as a generalized self-evaluation.

This self-assessment can be understated or overstated. When understated, it causes trouble adapting to the environment. People with such attitude perceive themselves as inferior to others, which makes them feel bad about themselves and other people. Too high self-esteem, however, makes people behave in an arrogant way, perceiving others as inferior to them.

Too low self-esteem occurs when you consider yourself as someone worse than you really are. With regard to a specific type of criteria (the level of education and knowledge, social status, earnings, appearance), a person with low self-esteem assesses everyone around as better than he/she is. Having numerous beliefs beginning with "I should" is a characteristic feature of such people.

I should:

... be more knowledgeable,

... be more sociable,

... worry less about other people.

People with low self-esteem often criticize themselves, punish for various behaviors, feel that they don’t deserve more in life.

Inflated self-esteem generates a sense of superiority and arrogance. It is only facade self-confidence. Such people still follow the same thought pattern of comparing to others and oscillate between being better or worse, they simply settle on the opposite end. They have a strong belief that they are better than others. They attribute qualities to themselves that they don’t actually possess or credit themselves with things that they can’t really do.

If we are too self-important, we feel more confident, but the fear still eats us - because every social situation brings risk of being among people who are better than us. In situations when such "threat" is real, the defense mechanism is activated and manifests itself through arrogance and sometimes even aggression.

Healthy self-esteem means knowing yourself well and feeling great in your own skin, accepting all your flaws and all your assets. The way a person with healthy self-esteem sees themselves can be described as follows:

"I know my defects and I accept them. I know my assets and I appreciate them. "

In our relations, we let go of the thought pattern of comparing to others and finally become aware that we are “all different, all equal”. People cannot be considered better or worse than others, even if some of them have developed certain skills or positive character traits to a greater degree than others.

There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness, and generosity.- NATHANIEL BRANDEN

Below you can find three important aspects of self-assessment. If you want to work on improving your self-appraisal, you can start from here.

Social context

Think about the social context: in order to find sense of security, you may feel the need to assess your own value ​​in relation to other people. Perhaps you attempt to get to know yourself through the prism of other people. You observe how they act towards you and what feedback they give you. You wonder what others may think about you and what you should do to have them think highly of you. It's a dead end street. When limiting beliefs rule in your head, the only thing you notice about yourself is inferiority and low value. This is the source of low self-esteem.

Think about how you judge other people. We often assess others the same way as we assess ourselves. It boils down to negating those features in others that we have not come to terms with in ourselves. If, for example, we do not accept our sensitivity and other feminine aspects of our personality, manifesting such qualities by other people will annoy us.

So, everything that bothers us in others is only information about what we struggle with within ourselves. Watch your reactions in social situations and you will get to know yourself better. This is an important task while working on self-appraisal. 

Criteria of self-appraisal

When we remark on a film we have seen at the cinema, we can look at it from many different angles and evaluate it in many different ways. We can review its story, acting, special effects, photography, music, and many other aspects of a feature film.

It’s the same with self-appraisal. We can evaluate ourselves using various criteria. Interestingly, however, we tend to reduce self-appraisal to a single general assessment such as "I'm hopeless", "I'm great", "I'm useless". Such generalization won’t do us any good, because it blanks out the whole spectrum of criteria that must be taken into account when making a thorough and accurate self-appraisal.

People very often built their self-worth on the whole range of values ​​and material things that are promoted by the media and society. Everything is constructed so that people feel worthless, which makes them very vulnerable to hyper consumption and such materialistic approach drives the economy. It’s high time to break free from that.

Self-appraisal based on facts

If you want to assess yourself, rely on facts. Do not make yourself believe in anything that isn’t true. A healthy, positive way to look at yourself can be established only once you’ve built a close relationship with yourself based on ultimate honesty.

The belief that you are not good enough only draws your attention to the things that could confirm that. Every belief works like glasses that change the optics of your perception.

For a change, you can find proofs of that you are good enough. That everything with you is alright. However, don’t look for confirmation in what other people say or think. Look for them in your own backyard. Water your own grass. When builing healthy self-appraisal, start with small things. The more you ask yourself "What shows that I am valuable?", the more reasons you will find.

Developing your self-esteem should take place simultaneously on two levels:

  • Getting to know your weaknesses, accepting them and treating them as a material for improvement and development,
  • Getting to know your strengths and learning how to truly appreciate each one of them.

What’s the best way to do it? There are several paths you can take and they all start with consciousness. You just got to know how self-esteem works and now you can observe your own thoughts, behaviours and reactions in the contexts described above more consciously.

I encourage you to try observing your thinking habits carefully. Pay attention to what you think about yourself and how you look at other people. It's firt step to builing healthy self-appraisal. If you notice that this sort of thoughts doesn’t work out well for you, let the work on improving your self-esteem be an important part of your personal development in the coming weeks.

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