It bothers me to no end when a woman short-changes herself – maybe because I do it to myself fairly often. More specifically, I have an acquaintance who has refused to date anyone for the past decade because she still pines for someone…who used her and tossed her aside (and slept with one of her friends). Does she deserve better? Absolutely. Yet she yearns for the love lost because, as she explains it, “there were some good times.” When I interact with her, I often have to resist the urge to grab her by the shoulders and shake her, screaming, “Let him go! You’re an intelligent, beautiful woman. If I were you, I’d be the Cirque de Soleil of dating, juggling 8 men.” And then I remind myself that a) I can’t tell people how to live their lives, and b) she has to arrive at this epiphany on her own.
Women with solid self-esteem have an aura. They’re like the sun on a cold morning, where all you want to do is bask in their awesomeness. I envy them. And it’s not about attractiveness, because a woman who has a strong sense of her value and self-worth glows.
So how do people with high self-esteem conduct themselves? What do they think, feel, and say? What don’t they say? Here’s what data from Queendom’s Self-Esteem Test reveals:
- They love themselves as they are. They won’t change their personality, beliefs, or appearance in order to please others. This doesn’t mean they give themselves license to be rude or uncaring; they just don’t live for other people’s approval. People with high self-esteem also know that they deserve love and respect.
- They know what makes them special. They know what they bring to a job or to a relationship and they know their strengths. They are not oblivious to their faults but they also won’t focus on them incessantly.
- They believe that they have the ability to accomplish whatever they set their mind to. People with high self-esteem take their destiny in their own hands and will work hard to achieve their dreams. They know they have potential. You’ll rarely, if ever, catch a high self-esteem person uttering anything akin to “I’m not good enough/smart enough/thin enough/pretty enough/successful enough/skilled enough.”
- They don’t see failure as a failure. Rather, they see it as being part of the process of attaining success. People with high self-esteem use failure as inspiration and as an opportunity to learn. They believe that there are no mistakes in life, only lessons.
- They know that their value is not contingent upon their looks or their bank account. They recognize that they way they behave and, most importantly, treat themselves will determine the degree to which others will respect them.
- They cultivate a healthy level of self-love. Unlike arrogance, narcissism, or conceit, self-love isn’t about shameless self-promotion. People who possess genuine self-love are humble and secure. They have self-respect, but they also respect others.
- They don’t compare themselves to other people. People with high self-esteem take pride in their accomplishments and in who they are. They recognize that life is a journey, with everyone taking their own path. Should high SE people choose to compete with anyone, it would be with themselves. They don’t see themselves as being superior or inferior to anyone else.
Side-note: If you find yourself tempted to Facebook stalk former high school friends or your ex, stop. Put your device down and back away. Go do something else. Watch TV. Exercise. Play with your pet. Take a walk. Clean that junk drawer you always say you’re going to clean, but never get around to. If you already have fragile self-esteem, Facebook stalking will cause it to plummet in about 6.8 seconds.
- They accept constructive criticism. They recognize that there is always room for self-improvement, and will use criticism to initiate and inspire change if they feel it has value. When it comes to mean-spirited criticism, they may consider whether it has merit (i.e. whether there is a nugget of truth in it), but they also won’t take it to heart.
- They are their own cheerleaders. While praise and pep talks are great, people with high self-esteem don’t rely on other people to inspire them – they are self-starters and self-motivated. They happily and proudly celebrate their achievements, even if it’s only a party of one. They appreciate – but don’t require – a pat on the back.
- They’re assertive. People with high self-esteem are not afraid to (diplomatically) speak their mind or bring up grievances, even if doing so could result in rejection or conflict. Tying into their assertiveness is the belief that they deserve to be treated with respect. High SE people will not abide by disrespect and mistreatment from anyone.
- They neither need nor seek validation or approval. People with high self-esteem don’t base their self-worth on the opinion of others. They are comfortable making mistakes, failing, and showing their vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Moreover, while other people’s happiness will matter to them, high SE people recognize that it is not their responsibility to make other people happy. And here’s something that may surprise you: People with high self-esteem don’t consider it important to be liked by everyone.
- They don’t strive for perfection, but they will strive to do their best. While they will push themselves to achieve their full potential, people with high self-esteem know that setting the bar impossibly high is a recipe for disaster, with a side order of misery. They enjoy challenging themselves and want to do well, but they accept that they’re going to mess up sometimes.
The beauty of self-esteem is that the more you validate yourself, show respect to yourself, and work on improving yourself, the stronger it gets. This means that even if you did not have the luxury of a childhood that allowed you to build a solid foundation of self-esteem, you can start nurturing it now. And this is where I feel our education system is lacking, because you’re taught how the world functions, but not how to function in the world.
I want your self-esteem to grow not like a mighty oak tree that can easily be felled by a well-struck bolt of lightening, but like a willow tree: So that no matter what storm you face, you won’t bend or break. So that no matter who insults you, hurts you, or how much the world sends challenges to you, you’ll still be standing tall and proud. Get started now. Read some good self-help books, or book an appointment with a therapist or life coach. And most importantly, start doing what high self-esteem people do (and don’t do) in the list above.