When you respect yourself, you acknowledge your own dignity and value as an individual and unique human being. As strange as it might sound, you treat yourself well, in much the same way you would treat someone else you respect. To believe in yourself means that you have confidence that you have a right to fulfill your deepest personal needs, aspirations, and goals.
True self-esteem comes from within. To achieve this we must build a satisfying inner relationship with ourselves, literally behaving toward ourselves as we would toward someone who is worthy and adequate.
We must learn to value ourselves, whether or not others do, if we are to build inner security. To accomplish this we must learn to value ourselves for who we are, not only for what we do. Can you bring to mind five things that you like about yourself that are not based upon your accomplishments?
When self-esteem is low this deficiency creates a vulnerable sense of self and a feeling of emptiness which many try to fill by latching on – often compulsively – to something external that provides a temporary sense of satisfaction, identity, or fulfillment. This may be another person, a drug, some behavior, or anything else that attempts to fill the void left by self-doubt or a lack of self-understanding. When the quest to fill your inner emptiness by appropriating something from outside becomes desperate, repetitive, or automatic you have an addiction. The addiction then substitutes a temporary feeling of control or power for a more lasting sense of inner confidence and strength. Growing in self-esteem means developing confidence and strength from within. The basis of your self-worth becomes internal. As such, it is more lasting and stable and less dependent upon external circumstances.
When we lose contact with our inner self, we may try to fill that empty space by creating an idealized self, sometimes called a Persona. This is the image that we want the world to see when they look at us. It takes a lot of energy to maintain an idealized image. And rather than putting energy toward actualizing our real self, we put our energy and attention toward an illusion. The heavier our reliance on our idealized self, the more out of touch we become with our inner self. But the more we try to blow life into a hollow shell, the less authentically and happily we are able to live. This syndrome of heavy reliance on an idealized self is strengthened in families that model perfection or have personal values that demand that the family at least appear perfect. When normal human qualities must be hidden to serve and idealized image, the energy that might have gone into building a solid relationship with the self is wasted.
The remedy is to bring your focus back to the present moment and to sit with an open and willing attitude ready to know one’s own inner makeup. The first step in the road to higher self-esteem is to know that no matter how long you have denied your true self, it can still be accessed. If you are willing to sit honestly with yourself and listen, you will eventually discover your own true voice.