Enhancing self-esteem

Self-esteem is the self-evaluation we make of our worth as a person. It is based on how competent, significant, likable and successful we think we are. Feeling good about ourselves (high self-esteem) reduces distress and provides the platform for eustress, personal growth and development, effectiveness and creativity.

Our self-esteem is based largely on the relationship between our actual achievements and what we want and expect out of life. When achievements exceed expectations then self-esteem rises. On the other hand, failure to achieve expectations results in low self-esteem. This is where Type As find most of their problems; they set themselves never-ending and unrealistic targets and goals which they rarely achieve. As a result, they struggle to secure adequate self-esteem. Since Type As believe that selfesteem can be enhanced only by achieving, they set themselves yet more unattainable targets and goals. Failure is usually more frequent than success, so self-esteem is further lowered. A vicious circle is established.

When self-esteem is low the potential for anger and hostility is high. So when Type As fail to achieve their expectations, their self-esteem is lowered and they become frustrated, irritable, angry and hostile. Aggression is then used in an attempt to achieve the impossible.

Type Bs, on the other hand, have much more realistic expectations. As a result, their achievements often surpass their expectations so self-esteem is rarely dented and remains secure.

One of the most difficult things in life is to discover yourself and to set yourself realistic goals and expectations which you feel able to achieve. You may need to be content with achieving less than 100 per cent.

Praise and recognition for a job well done is guaranteed to raise self-esteem. This is a good management strategy for establishing and maintaining a happy and productive workforce. With selfesteem high, cooperation is more likely. When dealing with others, remember that their self-esteem is easily damaged by adverse criticism of their work, mistakes and shortcomings. Also, praise yourself for a task well done by using self-talk.

Changing your self-image (how you see yourself) means reviewing all aspects of your life. Accept your faults and insecurities and work to resolve them. Harness your strengths and capitalize on them. Do not try to be what you feel others want you to be, be honest with yourself and others, express yourself; grow beyond what you are.

Looking good, feeling healthy, fit and loved, smiling, developing a sense of humour, not taking life or yourself too seriously and being assertive are all self-esteem boosters.

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