What is Healthy Self-Esteem?

by | Apr 25, 2023 | Feelings, Healthy Relationships, Personal Growth

I often talk about “loving ourselves up” through life.  

We know we have healthy self-esteem when we’re able to love ourselves up every time we make mistakes, aren’t good at something or do things that we regret.  

We don’t turn on ourselves. 

We don’t collapse into shame. 

Nor do we defend ourselves against vulnerability by going “one-up” in our relationships or putting others down.  

Instead, we stay in shared humanity and healthy humility. 

We love ourselves up, no matter what.

When we notice the gap between how we are currently showing up and how we wish we had shown up, we stay committed to healing, learning and growing.

Being loving with ourselves increases our … 

  • Ability to accept and love ourselves and others, no matter what.  
  • Ability to love ourselves and others, despite our flaws.  
  • Ability to extend graciousness to one another when we fail, or get something wrong, or say something unskillful. 
  • Willingness to look for the good in ourselves and others, even when we are prickly.  

It allows us to see our tendency to rise into grandiosity or slink into shame for what it is, and then bring ourselves back to shared human experience.

Want to “love yourself up” better?  

Here are four key practices that may help:

  1. Practice Self Compassion:  We practice being kind and understanding towards ourselves when we make mistakes or face challenges. We keep our focus on what we are learning and practicing, not on what we did “wrong.” We develop a willingness to just feel our way through our feelings, using them as a springboard and flashlight to get more deeply in touch with our universal human needs.
  2. Focus on Our Strengths:  We stop criticizing and judging ourselves, and instead, focus on our strengths. Instead of, “I’m such an idiot; I can’t believe I did that,” we might say, “I’m so sad that I had that impact on you and that I wasn’t aware of how this would affect you – how can I help or make it right in this moment?” We own our mistakes, we accept responsibility for our actions, and we get our next actions even more aligned with our deeply good intentions.  
  3. Reframe Negative Self-Talk:  We notice when we’re being critical of ourselves and reframe our thoughts into their underlying feelings and needs. Byron Katie suggests that we ask ourselves if our thoughts are true or not, and that can be a good place to start.  Remember that you don’t necessarily believe everything that you think! For every judgment that arises within you, make it a practice to get more deeply connected with what it tells you about your underlying needs and desires.  
  4. Practice Exquisite Self-Care:  Engage in activities that nourish your mind, body and soul. Limit the things that drain you and increase those that bring you joy.  Work towards a “no dread” schedule.

It’s so much easier to be kind and compassionate to others when we make it a daily practice to be kind and considerate with ourselves. Creating the kind of loving, supportive relationships we may want with others starts with the inner work of offering that same love and support to ourselves.

Want some concrete steps you can practice to increase self-compassion and reduce self-judgment?  In this video, I’ll walk you through  a step-by-step process.

Have a comment?  I’d love to know!  Please leave it below.


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