I was teaching a parenting class once when one mother was appalled at another mother’s decision to not allow her daughter make-up. She said shocked and loud, “But what about her self esteem!!!???” The class all looked to me, waiting for me to agree with one or the other of these two beautiful women. I let them know that I was not concerned with self-esteem. Shocking!! Needless to say, I lost all credibility with the self-esteem mom and at that point, she quit the class. 

Self-esteem is defined in Merriam Webster as a confidence and satisfaction in oneself. So right off the bat it tells me that self esteem is within me. So my self-esteem is not about your telling me how great I am it’s about ME telling ME realistically how great I am. My self-esteem is not measured by my outside, although it may show up there, it’s measured by my internal self.

That being established, it won’t matter how great I look with make-up and hair and nails and the right ipod and phone and car, if my personality and depth can’t be measured worthily it’s in vain. Beauty fades, you need to have something substantial at that point, something internal.

I don’t believe in telling my children everyday they are great and powerful. Those are empty words that are like helium in a balloon. It lifts the balloon but as the helium leaks out, that balloon eventually falls to the earth. Instead, I believe in saying things like;

“You know that test you scored 100% on? That was really cool and showed hard work.”

“I was really proud of you for cleaning your room without being asked. It really showed initiative.”

“I know you said you mowed the lawn but you didn’t do a good job. Go back and do it again like you were taught because I know that you can.”

I believe in substance, building blocks in which you can solidly build a foundation of inner confidence and satisfaction. Building blocks in which the whole of your being is not externally motivated but internally driven. I see the young Hollywood stars of today and all of their lives they’ve been told how magnificent they are but they were never given the substance that will sustain them. They are, for the most part, helium filled balloons.

I want my children to know that they are capable of greatness and failure. I want them to know that their worth is measured not in their materialism but in their integrity and character. I want them to have substance within them. I want them to work to the best of their ability and to “be” to the best of their ability not because they have to but because they want to. Because to do so, brings them internal satisfaction that no one else on the planet can give them.

I find my self-esteem in a job well done, in a clean house, in a dinner that was properly cooked, in helping others, in being a person who can be counted on to keep their word, in being a good friend. Yes, I like to look nice and I like pretty clothes and shoes and all things girly but that is not my measure. My measure and the only thing that matters is my heart. When all is said and done and I look back on my life, I’ll be measured by my heart.

3 thoughts on “Self-Esteem

  1. There’s actually a lot of research being done of the effects of positive self-esteem on my generation. Since I’m at the lead edge, and most have either graduated or graduating college, there’s a host of evidence regarding whether affirmation at younger ages translates into stronger, more self-assured adults.

    Again, there is no conclusive evidence, but there are startling trends — young adults who base their self-worth on outside factors (results, family affirmation et al) have higher incidents of drug/alcohol abuse, as well as higher tendencies toward anger, stress and the like. Young adults who base their self-worth on internal factors, such as adhering to moral standards or living virtuously, are less likely to have eating disorders or bouts of drug abuse.

    Again, these studies are in their infancy — there’s studies out there showing young adults are happier now than in the late sixties, but the benefits to society remain unknown.

    Regardless, there tends to be a backlash in young adults when they come to adversity — those that have been taught to cope with “no’s” and failure TEND to have a higher success rate versus those that face the same adversity but have received constant affirmation without facing failures.

    At least that’s what the current trends are in the studies.

    Maybe keeping score in tee ball isn’t such a bad thing. Afterall, there are times where we lose. How we cope with failure is just as important as coping with success.

  2. Pretty good post. I just came by your blog and wanted to say
    that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case
    I’ll be subscribing to your blog and I hope you post again soon!

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