The last publication of the year aims at boosting your self-esteem for the new year. Look at the positive experiences that marked the last months, bringing you joy and satisfaction: make a list of positive events that took place, and try not to dwell too much on failures or mistakes.
Our lives have been invaded by negativity. It is time to focus on the positive aspects of your personal and professional life.
How do you do that?
Read the article and find out!
To build self-esteem, you need 2 ingredients:
– the sense of self, which is how you perceive yourself;
– self-awareness, which shows how well you know yourself.
Both are based on personal perception and are at the core of what defines self-esteem.
1. Sense of self
The sense of self refers to the perception of characteristics that define each of us and makes us unique. On one hand, there are people who go through life without giving much thought to their own sense of self, what image they portray to others, and how they feel about their image. People acting this way usually drift through life, carried along by others or by circumstances, with little or no interest given to their own opinion.
On the other hand, there are people who are quite self-aware and pay attention to their impact on others, and how they measure the extent to which their behavior is acceptable.
A therapist noted that “having developed a sense of self is hugely beneficial to make choices in life”1: people who decide to pay attention to their sense of self improve their self-awareness, and consequently, their self-esteem. To gain a stronger sense of self, a person needs to trust his/her decisions and stand by them, even if it means saying no to others!
Finally, a sense of self provides the strength to accept what is in our best interest, disregarding other people’s opinion. Check-in with your sense of self to know your preferences and what is best for you at any given time: “A strong sense of self allows us to go through any storm we may encounter without being swayed by the winds of change”2. Trust your senses!
To better understand oneself, the first step is to do a mental check of your thoughts, beliefs, and reactions. One definition of self-awareness states that it is “the ability to see yourself clearly and objectively through reflection and introspection”. The author C. Ackerman speaks of a spectrum of self-awareness because it is difficult to be objective about our own self. However, a person should be able to know and self-control personal emotions.
To expand a bit further, self-awareness is at the core of what is known as ‘emotional intelligence’.
To expand a bit further, self-awareness is at the core of what is known as ‘emotional intelligence’. A recent article in the New-York Times emphasizes the importance of this value: the recently elected mayor of New-York City decided to select his staff by looking at the way candidates express their ‘emotional intelligence’ instead of solely focusing on their resume. This approach looks at ways the ways we face challenges, or address conflictive individuals.
Under pressure, our behavior says more than any academic achievement: this marks the difference between a capable person and an exceptional one. There are various reasons why self-awareness is so important:
- Self-awareness is one of the major components of emotional intelligence: an emotionally intelligent person knows how to address others in any circumstance; s/he can be proactive by boosting acceptance, and encourage positiveness.
- A self-aware person is able to see life through other people’s perspectives, such as:
— Work towards a common goal;
— Practice respect and self-control;
— Work creatively and productively; and
— Experience pride and self-esteem in the work achieved.
- Self-awareness leads to better decision making (Ridley, Schutz, Glanz, & Weinstein, 1992).
- Self-awareness makes people better at their job: a person knows how to clearly communicate with others, while enhancing self-confidence to create a positive working environment (Sutton, Williams, & Allinson, 2015).
On the opposite, a person lacking self-awareness starts with a deficient social awareness; situations become easily overwhelming, with difficult interactions, tense social environments, and complicated human exchanges.
To analyze your own situation, start by looking at what you like, what triggers confidence, creativity and joy. It is also important to underline dislikes and the effect they have on you.
Self-awareness brings the positive in you, and decreases negative thoughts and behaviors. It is one of the World Health Organization ten life skills, described in my article on the origin of psychosocial skills.
Becoming self-aware means that you can decipher different aspects of your personality including traits, behaviors, and feelings.
Self-awareness makes you focus on you!3
What is self-esteem? Self-esteem defines how much you appreciate yourself in any situation.
A positive self-esteem brings mental well-being. A person who becomes self-aware can improve the quality of life by modifying little things, one at a time. It is an asset learned and practiced since childhood, which becomes indispensable at the onset of adult life.
Self-esteem is a sign of personal stability.
A person with low self-esteem may be withdrawn and avoid socializing; for this type of people, any event outside of the strict minimum becomes a source of anxiety.
It leads to isolation, anxiety, and may turn into graver mental health issues. When feeling low self-esteem, it is recommended to seek professional help because treatments are effective when coordinated by knowledgeable people.
There is also the excess of self-esteem called narcissism, which has many manifestations.
For narcissist individuals, self-esteem is unstable and frequently shifts to excess, resulting in a highly unpredictable personality.
The behavior causes conflictive relationships, unexpected reactions, and the inability to receive criticism, which in turn complicates social interactions4.
Improve your self-esteem
Here is an exercise to better understand where you stand: take a piece of paper to answer the following questions:
- What went well this year: about yourself (internally), around you (externally);
- List positive and negative relationships: consider avoiding toxic ones;
- Your opinion counts: stand by your values, distancing yourself from conflict;
- What do you need to do to improve your physical health;
- How do you keep a stable mental health.
When you have defined your self-esteem strengths and weaknesses through this brief exercise, underline the points you wish to work on. Be selective and choose only a few points5.
Here are some tools to help improve your general ‘sense of self’, and self-awareness: both ingredients are indispensable to boost your self-esteem and feel better about yourself.
New-year resolutions provide the perfect opportunity to make changes and work on weaknesses. We are facing a challenging year ahead, so, get prepared, stay calm and take your self-esteem under your wing to feel at peace moving forward.