It is important to feel like we deserve to be treated in a fair and kindly way by those around us and by the world in general. And we also need to feel some level of confidence in ourselves and others to interact with them. In order to have these feeling, we need to have a basic amount of positive self-esteem – we need to feel good about ourselves and “deserving”.
But it is not so simple – because in order to get along with others and succeed in the world we also need to be able to take a relatively honest look at ourselves. We need to be able to recognize when we’ve made a mistake or possibly hurt someone else. But even when we have made a misstep or done something wrong it still helps to feel that deep down we are ok. Like with so many things we’ve talked about on this site, it is all about finding the balance.
Developing and holding onto a positive image of yourself involves the following:
- Feeling like you belong – being accepted and loved by others including family, friends and your community. When you have acceptance and love you feel part of a bigger whole, stronger and safer. And this is why bullying and prejudice can hurt – they lead someone to feel unloved and disconnected from their community and society.
- Feeling like you have a purpose – this is related to your goals in life and what you want to accomplish. It is hard to feel good if nothing you do or are involved in seems to matter. We all seem to have a basic need to be working toward things in order to feel good and valuable.
- Having confidence in your abilities and knowing how to set reasonable expectations for yourself. Here is that balance again – feeling confident but also being able to assess yourself with basic clarity and honesty.
- Making decisions about things that you think are important. Being able to make decisions about important things helps you to feel you have some control of your life.
- An environment that helps you to celebrate your achievements and feedback when you do a good job. It feels good and builds confidence when others feel good about us and have confidence about us. When you get a good grade or a compliment from a coach for an effort that is well done, doesn’t it feel good?
- A community that helps you to feel comfortable when you make a mistake or fail at something and allows you to learn from the experience. We all make mistakes and it helps if we can safely acknowledge and learn from those mistakes without losing our sense of confidence or our basic goodness.