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Reflections-By Dr Rajan Philips

The value of self-esteem

( This motivational article was published in Oman Observer , one of the leading Newspapers in Oman. The article is reproduced with the permission of the author )


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Success is a magical goal that we all yearn for in life. What we mean by success and how we go about to achieve it may vary from person to person. Whatever the individual perception there are innumerable factors that contribute to success.
One of the vital elements is self-esteem.

Self-esteem is something in our control and I believe a pre-requisite for accomplishing anything worthwhile in life. It can in fact spell the difference between success and failure.

The well-known psychologist Abraham Maslow, who charted out a hierarchy of human needs, put self-esteem above basic survival needs such as food, shelter and clothing.

We may define self-esteem as how much we like, respect and accept ourselves. It is a measure of how worthy, valuable and capable we consider ourselves in society.

Having high self-esteem is not to be confused with being egoistic which implies an inflated opinion often based on an erroneous belief that we are superior to others.

Self-esteem can shape our thinking, self image, confidence levels, emotional well-being and our very outlook to work and life.
Having a high level of self-esteem will help us to value ourselves and our contributions and be aware of our uniqueness. This in turn will help us to value and respect others.

Positive self-esteem paves the way to a healthy personality. Motivational writer Nathaniel Branden rightly calls self-esteem: the immune system of our consciousness.

A healthy level of self-esteem fosters positive traits like creativity, rationality, flexibility, honesty and independence. On the other hand, low self-esteem breeds the opposite qualities.

Everyday concerns like job status, home environment, and social relationships determine self respect levels but ultimately our self belief can override all these and give us the capacity to face adversities with confidence.

Low self-esteem results from a poor self image and it fuels negative thinking. In this state we become very vulnerable to and easy victims of the negative comments of others.

We get trapped in a vicious circle — low self-esteem leads to drop in goal achievement which in turn reduces our self-esteem even further.
Quite often, as managers or teachers we find our staff or students performing well below their known potential. We are left puzzled and disappointed. We ought to recognise that one of the key causes could be their low self-esteem. Once we find this, we must swing into action and initiate measures to boost their self-esteem.

One writer uses the analogy of a plant growing in a pot to illustrate the impact of self-esteem. The growth of the plant is restricted by the size of the pot. Low self-esteem is like a small and narrow pot that stifles the growth of the plant beyond a point. High self-esteem will ensure free and unhindered growth.

According to Nathaniel Branden, the motivational guru of self-esteem issues, there are six steps to cultivate high self-esteem. These are living consciously, self-acceptance, self-responsibility, self-assertiveness, purposeful living and personal integrity.

Self-esteem is surely the cornerstone of a positive attitude towards living. A high level of self-esteem will go a long way in developing a confident, happy and highly motivated personality. So let us not spare any effort in nurturing our self-esteem.

A few quotes:
Whether you think you can or think you can’t — you are right. — Henry Ford
Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand-break on. — Anon

- Oman Observer

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