Do We Have Self Esteem Backwards?

hands cutting card that says "I can't"

I believed I had good self esteem. If not good, it was adequate. It got me by and I believed making it through my divorce proved I could handle anything.

But it turns out that when there is a new challenge and life expects me to be something more than who I think I am, I freeze. I hope that if I ignore the situation, it will go away. I remind myself of my cats, who think if they don’t look at something, it’s not there.

When I finally look at this new “challenge,” I begin to rationalize. “I don’t have enough self esteem to handle this, so I have to stay right where I am. I’ll sit with a cup of tea, get stressed, get acid reflux and watch Judge Judy so I can feel superior to a few random people.” Eventually, I get angry (thank goodness)!

When I rode horses, I didn’t have the self esteem to compete, but I did have the love of riding and the passion and drive to do it. So, I did. At first, I competed embarrassingly badly. But there were people who picked me up and dusted me off, often literally. My self confidence grew as I became a better rider, but more importantly, so did my self esteem. I learned I would survive mistakes and embarrassment. I learned that those things don’t define me any more than winning a blue ribbon defined me.

I believe self esteem doesn’t come from reading self-help books, though they can help.
I believe self esteem doesn’t come from meditating, though it helps.
I believe self esteem comes from walking out the door and living your life.

Each step and each misstep will feed your self esteem and it will grow. You will learn more about who you are and be amazed. You will be more compassionate to others, understanding that, like each us, they are doing the best they can. Your life will be filled with confusion and joy, messes and celebrations, mistakes and miracles. What could be better?

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