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  • Kirsti Gwynn

How Self-Esteem Develops



Most of us know that low self-esteem is problematic. But did you know that psychologists now feel that high self-esteem isn’t always such a good thing, either?


The problem with "high self-esteem" is that it is usually conditional.


How self-esteem develops is usually by meeting certain standards we aspire to.


For example:


I have a great job

I make lots of money

I’m in a relationship

My business has really taken off

I’m attractive

… and these things make me feel good about myself!


But what happens if we lose these things, or if we haven’t achieved them but believe we should have?


If valuing ourselves is dependent on having certain things, that makes it pretty fragile.

If things go wrong, we stand to lose our own respect and kindness just when we need it most.


The more emotionally intelligent alternative is self-compassion.


Self-compassion means offering yourself the same kindness and respect you’d give to a good friend.

When you achieve the things you desire, it means celebrating that and acknowledging your efforts, the way you would be happy for a good friend.


And when you experience a painful situation, self-compassion means you remind yourself that it doesn’t define you, that it takes time to recover, and that you aren’t alone - all the same things you’d say to someone you love when they’re struggling.


With self-compassion, you offer yourself kindness and respect unconditionally, regardless of whether you’ve achieved everything you’d like to.

Simply because you deserve it.

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