Self Esteem – a Self-Concept

by Catherine DeAngelis

“I am Me. In all the world, there is 

no one else exactly like me…

…Everything that comes out of me is authentically mine, because I alone chose it — I own everything about me: my body, my feelings, my mouth, my voice, all my actions, whether they be to others or myself. I own my fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears. I own my triumphs and successes, all my failures and mistakes. Because I own all of me, I can become intimately acquainted with me. By so doing, I can love me and be friendly with all my parts. I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other aspects that I do not know — but as long as I am friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously and hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles and ways to find out more about me. However I look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time is authentically me. If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought, and felt turn out to be unfitting, I can discard that which is unfitting, keep the rest, and invent something new for that which I discarded. I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do. I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive, and to make sense and order out of the world of people and things outside of me. I own me, and therefore, I can engineer me. I am me, and I am Okay.”  —  © Virginia Satir, 1975 as quoted from her book Self-Esteem.

Virginia Satir (1916–1988) was a pioneering American psychotherapist and author with an aim to improve the mental health of client, patient, or group relationships such as in a family. She developed a model for examining your self, your situation and your choices. She believed that counseling and therapy experience seeks to engage powerfully with the inner self. Counseling sessions encourage the client to face pain and problems, to accept the present, and to discover inner joy and peace of mind.  Satir is most well-known for her books Conjoint Family Therapy, 1964, Peoplemaking, 1972, and The New Peoplemaking, 1988 and also for creating the “Virginia Satir – Change Process Model”, a model which continues to be embraced to this day.

Satir’s Affirmations on Self-Esteem

  • I do not have to feel guilty just because someone else does not like what I do, say, think, or feel.
  • It is okay for me to feel angry and to express it in responsible ways.
  • I do not have to assume full responsibility for making decisions, particularly where others share responsibilityfor making the decision.
  • I have the right to say, “I don’t know.”
  • I have the right to say “No,” without feeling guilty.
  • I have the right to say “I don’t understand,” without feeling stupid.
  • I do not have to apologize or give reasons when I say “No.”
  • I have the right to ask others to do things for me.
  • I have the right to refuse requests which others make of me.
  • I have the right to tell others when I think they are manipulating, conning or treating me unfairly.
  • I have the right to refuse additional responsibilities without feeling guilty.
  • I have the right to tell others when their behavior annoys me.
  • I do not have to compromise my personal integrity.
  • I have the right to make mistakes and to be responsible for them; I have the right to be wrong.
  • I do not have to be liked, admired, or respected by everyone for everything I do.

What is Self-esteem?

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Mark Tyrrell in his book, The Giant Within, Maximize Your Self-Esteem, “self-esteem is a combination of self-worth and self-confidence. It’s about believing you are a person of value – that you are deserving, capable and lovable.  It also has to do with an awareness of our positive qualities – thinking positively about ourselves, having a realistic sense of our shortcomings, and having the ability to take risks and cope with life’s difficulties. Self-esteem is not thinking that you are great at everything or that whatever you do is wonderful. Nor should it be confused with egotism, conceit, selfishness, or acting superior, which are usually attempts to disguise negative feelings about ourselves.”

How to Raise Your Self-Esteem

Canadian Psychotherapist Nathaniel Branden writes  about the central importance of self-esteem in the area of workplace, parenting, education, psychotherapy, and the culture at large. His book, How to Raise Your Self-Esteem offers answers to the debilitating outcomes low self-esteem can bring, such as under achievement at work or school, fear of intimacy or success, alcohol or drug abuse, sexual difficulties, anxiety or depression.  He identifies the reader on how to grow in self-esteem and how to take action to strengthen the feeling of self-worth or from how to break free of negative self-concepts and self-defeating behavior, to recognizing what self-esteem is not, freeing you from guilt, living self-acceptingly, and being authentic in relationships. He includes the importance of taking responsibility for your own happiness — and stop blaming other people and outside events and dissolving the internal barriers to success in work and love, and living actively rather than passively to nurturing the self-esteem of others and finding the courage to love yourself — and understanding that you are right to do so.

Loving yourself is a self-concept,
a seed that sows self-esteem!

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