In the pursuit of healthy self-esteem

My intuitive belief, backed up by findings of researchers in psychology is that a healthy dose of self-esteem is necessary for individual happiness. Self-esteem, the way people perceive their own worth, lays the foundation for the thoughts, emotions, actions and behaviours that we adopt. The problem is that each individual has too high or too low of a self-esteem, which affects our inner life, relationships and professional life. It is possible though to discover a balanced perception on our worth in order to live deeply and in harmony with who we truly are. 

Healthy self-esteem means the ability to perceive our own worth as realistically as possible, by reviewing our current relationships and achievements and further challenging ourselves. It is less important whether the outcomes of our challenges are successes or failures. It is more important to develop a healthy self-esteem, which enables us to feel content and learn from our personal endeavours. In other words, a healthy self-esteem means feeling good in our own skin while we are improving different aspects of our life.

How can we feel good when we are under the stress of reaching goals? A healthy self-esteem can take away the focus from the stress and increases our awareness into how we can meet are our most important needs as human beings. For example, a healthy self-esteem can make us see how to live meaningfully and take steps in that direction. A healthy self-esteem can help us have “feel good” interactions with different people.

However, reaching the balance point where we possess healthy self-esteem can take years of our life. Each one of us has to first fight with either too high or too low self-esteem, which results from the parenting style we were raised with and from the culture where we grew up.

Having a too high self-esteem means being overly confident about everything we do. We believe that we are much better than the people around us. Thus, there is the risk that our ego inflates and we may miss out opportunities when we could learn something valuable from others.

Especially in love relationships, the too high a self-esteem may turn us into egoistic individuals who become blind to the needs of the loved one. Relationship conflicts may result from excessive pride and too high expectations about “what I want and I need”.

On the other hand, others may struggle with too low self-esteem, the depressing feeling that “I am not good enough, so I deserve less”. As a result, the job, the love life and everything else are a reflection of the lack the confidence to even hope for good things to happen to us.

Having too low self-esteem brings us down and keeps us away from exploring our true potential in life. For example, thinking that “I am not smart enough to study mathematics”, may prevent us from at least give it a shot. Instead, if we think, “I will study mathematics and see how I feel about it”, we may be surprised to see that mathematics is an exciting discipline.

If indeed, you start studying mathematics and you see it’s not your cup of tea, then nothing prevents you from studying other more interesting topics.

How can we develop the sense of a healthy self-esteem? Each one of us knows it deep inside on which side of self-esteem we are. It is a matter of admitting to ourselves that we have too high or too low self-esteem and get motivated to do something about it.

Learning to be humble about everything we do can be useful for those of us with too high self-esteem. This means that we need to become aware that we are not the centre of the world. Our work, while it is fascinating for us and useful for a group of people, may not be interesting for some others.

Learning how to ask for what you want is a skill that those of us with low self-esteem may need to work on. This way the people around us may start paying attention to us and respect us for who we are.

Thinking, acting and behaving according to who we truly are, bring joy, satisfaction and healthy relationships. When we master the skills to live according to healthy self-esteem, we have the chance to discover authentic happiness.

So, let’s start 2014 with a very important resolution: to find our healthy self-esteem! Good luck to everyone who is interested in such a pursuit!

For a detailed analysis of internal and external factors that can influence self-esteem, you might like reading:

Six Pillars of Self Esteem by psychotherapist and writer Nathaniel Branden


You may also like reading:

Why you owe to yourself to find your true self and what it implies

The first pregnancy – the beginning of a different you

One of the laws of nature is that women are built so that they can carry babies in their wombs. At the same time with the new life who develops inside you, you go through irreversible inner changes, too. The nine months of pregnancy, which end with the labour, are only the beginning of expecting the unexpected in terms of how you will relate to the world as a mother.

Whatever happens during pregnancy, remember that when it ends, you get to hold your baby in your arms

I expected to experience more sudden shifts of emotions, which happened alright. On top of that, when my mind needed it most, it would become void of thoughts. The self-image of a person who remembers everything had to change in face of new evidence, such as forgetting the house/office keys and friends names. When having group discussions, I would start expressing my ideas but the more I talked, the more I would feel I fail to make others get my point. Looking people in the eyes who cluelessly nodded was even more discouraging.

The notorious morning sickness made it harder to be on a good mood. The changes of my body shape made me feel ugly and doubt that I would be attractive for my man. And the cherry on top of the cake was the depression that affected me.

In the first trimester, instead of being super, extra happy, I started painting the world around me in black. I was even wondering whether I am in the right relationship. It helped to talk with my doctor who told me that some women get depressed during pregnancy. I was lucky, it ended after the first trimester.

I never imagined I would feel out of place going to restaurants, but as my belly started growing, I did feel that others were looking at me as in “your place is at home, mommy!”. Leaving aside the fact that my mouth was watering when seeing friends eating whatever they wanted and having a glass of wine. Who would have guessed that I would feel isolated?

For an extrovert person, the feeling of loneliness is unbearable. I started looking for a group of pregnant women with whom to share feelings of pregnancy. I joined a class of yoga for pregnant ladies and that was a genius idea. Each class used to give a boost of energy in addition to the energy that I got from socialising with other future mothers.

As the labour day was approaching, I started reading books about giving birth. I wanted to know everything about the birth positions and the relaxation tricks that you can possibly use during labour. I came up with a plan of how I wanted my labour to develop.

When the day came, the pain made me forget about everything I had planned. I had to surrender and let the labour happen as my body was able to handle it. When I was taking a shower after giving birth, I fainted. I felt when they put me in a wheel chair, and as I was regaining my sight, I felt a warm bundle in my arms. I opened widely my eyes and there he was, depending on me to carry him safely to our room.

The bond

As I was trying hard not to drop my baby, I finally realised that I have a new big role – that of a mother. The nine months of pregnancy were not enough to come to this realisation.

Almost two years passed and we have been apart for a half a day, three days in a row. It’s absolutely fascinating how a tiny human being can absorb you so much that you forget about your individuality.

Until three days ago, I unconsciously rejoiced being the indispensable person for him, the one whose name he calls first when he wakes up, when he wants food or when he is in trouble.

Three days ago, I organised a play date with one of his favourite friends, a girl that I’ll call Emma. We were walking towards the playground when he let go of my hand and he grabbed Emma’s hand. It was a strange feeling to be aware of the present but envision the future of how our live will change.

His father and I will remain behind and he’ll go out there in the world, living his life with the girl that his heart has chosen.

It may sound an exaggeration, but I felt useless, unimportant and forgotten. I could not help thinking of the role of mothers in Italian culture, where for men, their mothers are the queens. I wished we lived in Italy.

After giving more thought to it, I concluded that I’ll chose to play a humble role in my child’s life – to be there when needed without asking for anything in return, except maybe a phone call once a week.

The way towards independence starts, being paved with mother’s tears. He’ll go to daycare and I’ll continuously think of him, “Is he happy?”, “Does he have good friends over there?”, “Is he well taken care of?”.

At night, I admire his Angel face framed perfectly by the darkness of the room. I want to compensate for the time when he is away.


How about you? How did the motherhood change you?

You may also like to read the following posts:

What Does It Means To Be a Parent?

How can mothers relax

Carpe Diem? Yes, please, but how?

It’s never easy to be a woman

When negativity sneaked into my heart

Do we know what to expect when we decide to be stay at home mothers?

The Voice that whispered “you are pregnant”