The Source of How You Feel About Yourself

Certainly one of the most important decisions we make in life is how we will feel about ourselves. We don’t usually think about it as a decision. It’s a given, just the way it is. And yet, I want to suggest it is a decision and one with far reaching consequences. Self esteem is the filter through which all of our life experiences are interpreted.

Self esteem can be defined as how a person thinks and feels about him/herself. It is a subjective evaluation that we make about our worth and competence. People with high self esteem believe they deserve to be happy and are capable of succeeding and handling life’s challenges. Conversely, people with low self esteem feel bad about themselves and are unsure that they deserve to be happy or that they possess the competence to succeed or handle life’s challenges.

Unfortunately, low self esteem could be considered epidemic. People everywhere suffer from the perception of not being good enough. Irvin Yalom, a renowned psychotherapist, theorist and researcher on groups asks people to anonymously write down their biggest secret. The most common response is a deep conviction of inadequacy–“I’m not enough; or If people really knew me they wouldn’t like me.” Two consequences follow from this self-doubt.

First, we look to others as the source of our self esteem. Since we judge ourselves as unworthy or incapable, we learn to depend on the judgments, opinions and approval from others to decide our own worth. And second, we erroneously conclude that feeling good about ourselves is not a right but something which must be “earned” or “proven” through performance.

For most of us, self esteem is conditional. In the Security Paradigm (see blog post of Feb 4) it has to do with belonging and approval. In the Success Paradigm it is measured by external symbols of success in the form of money, power, status, beauty, etc. Although these symbols may be fair measures of success they are not the source of self esteem.

In fact, the most important point I want to make is that the primary source of genuine self esteem is internal. High self esteem people are not innately more talented, beautiful or brighter. They don’t drive bigger cars or play more golf. People who have high self esteem have internalized a very personal decision to accept and affirm themselves for who they are. Their self regard is unconditional. It doesn’t depend on pleasing others; or on how well they perform. It isn’t “earned” through their actions and achievements but rather is expressed through them.

For some, this decision was made quite naturally and unconsciously as children. These are the fortunate ones who received lots of messages about their worth which became the essence of their identity. For many others, the decision has been made as an adult. These folks may have experienced disapproval, physical or emotional abuse, neglect, or overprotection as children and unconsciously concluded they weren’t okay. And yet as adults, they’ve realized that they don’t need to rely on those old decisions. They can challenge negative messages about themselves and re-decide in favor of feeling good about themselves.

Doing so requires that you be aware, take responsibility for how you feel about yourself and that you be willing to make and then act from a conscious decision. Doing so doesn’t make you perfect. You’re imperfect. You have feet of clay. You make mistakes. But then, you don’t need to be perfect to make this decision. It is a decision, a stand, a statement.


About Roger K. Allen
Roger K. Allen, Ph.D. is an expert in personal transformation and family development. His tools and methods have helped tens of thousands of people live happier and more effective lives. To learn more, visit www.rogerkallen.com>.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

My Purpose Statement

My purpose is to teach you strategies to replace negative patterns with a positive state of mind from which you can achieve your greatest desires and live a joyful and abundant life.

Subscribe Today!

Sign up to receive Dr. Roger Allen's newsletter, and receive a free copy of his eBook, Master Your Self-Defeating Emotions!

Stay Connected...

Email Format

"I want so much to express my deepest love and gratitude for teaching me in such a beautiful way those principles of truth that literally changed my life overnight. I have never been happier. The things I learned from you have set me free because I have learned to love myself and to be completely open and honest. It's amazing that I have lived my whole life for others approval but I’m so excited to have the rest of my life to do it my way."

Sally Hollingshead

My Purpose Statement

My purpose is to teach you strategies to replace negative patterns with a positive state of mind from which you can achieve your greatest desires and live a joyful and abundant life.

Subscribe Today!

Sign up to receive Dr. Roger Allen's newsletter, and receive a free copy of his eBook, Master Your Self-Defeating Emotions!

Stay Connected...

Email Format