One of the most universal issues I see people struggle with is self-esteem. The core of self-esteem is how we feel about our own worthiness, value, and lovability as a person. Many, many women, perhaps most women, struggle with occasional, frequent or continuous feelings of not being good enough, kind enough, perfect enough or deserving of the good things we desire for ourselves or see others enjoy.
We tend to think of self-esteem as a unidimensional concept, an overall, global core evaluation of our worth and value. Long ago, I began to rethink this concept and I have found it more useful to talk about self-esteems, that is, self-esteem as a multi-dimensional concept. While we do tend to have an overall sense of how much we do or don’t like, love and value ourselves, we actually have many self-esteems.
For example, we may have good self-esteem about the kind of friend we are to others, our cooking skills, our teaching abilities, and many other qualities and skills. However, we may struggle with low self-esteem around issues of weight and body image, procrastination or our functioning as a spouse or parent. Rather than resigning ourselves to the belief that we have low self-esteem and always will, we can identify the parts of ourselves we feel good about and separate them from those aspects we feel bad about.
We can acknowledge and celebrate those qualities and skills about which we feel a sense of self-value and worthiness and address those areas where our self-esteem needs improvement. It is also important to address our sense of our worthiness.
- How would you describe your global sense of self-esteem? Do you see yourself as having good self-esteem or low self-esteem overall?
- Now think about the various areas in which you feel either quite good about yourself or less positive about yourself. Share a couple of these with the group.
- How is self-esteem related to your ideas about perfection and imperfection? Can you acknowledge your imperfections and still have high self-esteem?
- When, where and how did you develop the overall sense of self-esteem you have today?
- Has the level of your global and/or specific areas of self-esteem changed over the years? In what direction?