29 September 2015

Building Self-Esteem: Understanding the parts of Self-Esteem

Frequently we hear people say that they have low self-esteem or low self-value or worth. These can mean many different things to different people.

This is the lens that I view self-esteem from that it is made up of three parts: self-concept, self-efficacy, self-worth. An individual’s Self-Concept is the answer to ‘who am I?’ Usually it comprises their past, present, and future traits, characteristics, performance and accomplishments. Self-efficacy is what you can do with who I am. An understanding of whether one can succeed in particular situations, which has an impact on motivation. Self-worth is the individual’s perceived value of what they contribute to their society, work, and/or family. Self-esteem is then the combination of concept, efficacy, and worth; plus the feeling how much control over one’s life. 

It is helpful to think of self-concept, efficacy and worth, each as sides of a triangle, and that self-esteem is the area of the triangle. Then it is possible to see that as someone’s concept, efficacy, and worth grow so does their self-esteem. As those three shrink, so does their self-esteem.

To help someone build their self-esteem, it is not just about helping them feel good about themselves or having confidence. It starts with the Johari Window principle. Helping them understand themselves. There are parts to a person that only they know about and that they and the people around them know. Then there are also blind spots, parts to a person that only people around them see. One of the first things I recommend is for a person to talk to a couple people that care about them (usually parents or extended family) and learn more about themselves, their family history, and what they think they will become.

Next after learning more about “who I am” – increasing self-concept, it is then important to understand what you can do with what you know about yourself. For me personally, I have learned in my family history that only three people have lived past the age of 80 – all female. So I know I have a limited time, almost an expiry date, which helps motivate me to do things and enjoy the present moment at home and at work.

After learning who one is, what you can do with it – and if that brings motivation, it is now interpreting the perceptions about the value you can contribute to society. Perception is influenced by feedback from family, friends, and society.

With all those parts combined, that makes up self-esteem.

While it is important to build self-esteem, it is even more vital to know what self-esteem is so that the smaller sections of the triangle can be built up.