High Self Esteem

Written by Karl Perera, MA, DipLC 

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Normally when we think about high self esteem we think about something that is positive and healthy. According to Frey and Carlock (1991), high self esteem is a gift that parents should pass on to their children to bring happiness and wellbeing into their life. They also mention that parents generally with high self esteem will pass it on to their children and the opposite is also true. This is also true of teachers, again Frey and Carlock mention that a teacher who is confident and has a healthy level of self esteem will also likely create the same in their students.

High self esteem is very helpful in life because it helps us to be more positive in are outlook and have confidence in our abilities. It can also protect us from hurtful comments from others and enable us to make decisions more easily. A healthy sense of self worth is also good for a mental and physical wellbeing.

Despite the fact that high self esteem is a positive, it can also become a negative as well. Too much unjustified belief in oneself can be I negative quality so it is possible to have too much self esteem. On this page we will take a look at a number of questions to do with self esteem including the signs to look out for, the benefits and what exactly constitutes a healthy dose of self esteem that is beneficial to wellbeing.

If you’re wondering just how important self esteem is to you then consider this quote by an expert Nathaniel branden:

“Of all the judgment we pass, none is as important as the one we pass
on ourselves”.

(Nethaniel Branden)

What are the signs of high self esteem?

The signs of having high self esteem include the following :

  • Having a positive sense of ones own potential and possibilities.
  • Being able to make decisions easily and without any stress
  • easily being able to make friends and develop successful relationships
  • being able to accept compliments as well as negative feedback
  • does not use words like can’t or won’t and talks generally using positive language when thinking about the future
  • at ease socially and when engaging with others

These are just a few of the many signs of possessing high self esteem, and it can be seen that these are all positive attributes. Self esteem influences your way of thinking and so these positive attributes are attractive on a personal level as well as on a professional level.

The behaviours listed above, which are signs that you have a healthy level of self esteem, also benefit you in so many areas of your life. Being able to accept yourself for who you are and what you need to improve on to become a better person is so valuable. The ability to look forward to the future positively and actively seek potential opportunities to improve your life and improve yourself opens up a whole new world for you.

I also believe, and this is what I have experienced, that all the factors above can contribute to a new way of looking at the world and other people too. In fact I believe that a high level of self esteem not only builds self respect but also respect for others. This new found respect for others can lead to a desire to help other people to improve their lives too.

According to Harter (2006), important signs of high self esteem appear in children at a very young age. These include curiosity about their environment in the world in general, smiling after feeling they’ve achieved something, sharing their experiences and successes with others and acting purposefully. We can also see how the same behaviours become positives as we grow older too. Where would we be without curiosity and the sense of achievement?

How can high self esteem benefit you?

Those with high self esteem believe that they are more attractive and have more successful relationships ( Baumeister et al. 2003), but is it really so? Baumeister at al (2003), did not believe that self esteem has been shown to be connected with successful relationships. However, they do say that those with high self esteem have what it takes to become leaders because they can speak in groups of people with confidence so that others will follow what they say.

There are many benefits but also costs of having high self esteem. Many of these benefits include mental and physical wellbeing, confidence, a positive attitude and creative mindset. Although there is a lot of research to back up these benefits it’s not quite as simple and straight forward as it seems.

How attractive is high Self esteem?

Although it has never been shown anywhere that self esteem can improve your physical attractiveness to others, confidence has been shown to be particularly attractive and this is true especially for women. I did say that confidence is also appealing to men. There is something appealing I think about a person who is decisive and knows what they want and we do it my this and others especially if it is lacking in ourselves. Of course for this trait to be really attractive this decisiveness and confidence should also respect others.

The connection between attractive nurse and self esteem is an interesting one. Generally if a person has high self esteem they normally regarding selves as more attractive and deserving of a more attractive partner. When a person has lower self esteem they generally choose partners who are regarded as less attractive (Kiesler and Baral, 1970). So the question becomes not how physically attractive one appears because of their self esteem, but how physically attractive someone feels due to their sense of self worth.

Are there any negatives to high self esteem?

Until this point we talked about all the positive points connected with high self esteem what are there any negatives? The only negative is when self esteem is too high or as commonly called inflated or exaggerated. This happens when a person has an an acceptably high opinion of themselves which is not really justified all based on reality. As this article suggests this can even cause violence and aggression because the person has such a high opinion of themselves that they don’t consider the priorities of others.

Salmivalli (2001) says that there is a lot of evidence and research that actually shows that high self esteem individuals who display aggression and violence do so because inside they have in insecurity and a lack of confidence despite appearing confident on the outside. Salmivalli explains that these individuals suffer from a continuously changing level of self esteem from low to high, narcissism and defensiveness.

Narcissism can be particularly damaging and cause aggression and violence because these kind of people find it difficult to find any fault in themselves and therefore can justify almost any action that they carry out on others. Narcissistic individuals can be very mean and very self centered. Being this kind of person can often limit the number of close friends you may have.

References and Research

  • Baumeister, R. F., Campbell, J. D., Krueger, J. I., & Vohs, K. D. (2003). Does High Self-Esteem Cause Better Performance, Interpersonal Success, Happiness, or Healthier Lifestyles? Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 4(1), 1–44. https://doi.org/10.1111/1529-1006.01431
  • Baumeister, R. F., Smart, L., & Boden, J. M. (1996). Relation of threatened egotism to violence and aggression: The dark side of high self-esteem. Psychological review103(1), 5.
  • Frey, D., & Carlock, C. J. (2013). Practical techniques for enhancing self-esteem. Routledge.
  • Harter, S. (2006). The development of self-esteem. Self-esteem issues and answers: A sourcebook of current perspectives, 144-150.
  • Kiesler, S. B., & Baral, R. L. (1970). The search for a romantic partner: The effects of self-esteem and physical attractiveness on romantic behavior. Personality and social behavior, 155-165.
  • Salmivalli, C. (2001). Feeling good about oneself, being bad to others? Remarks on self-esteem, hostility, and aggressive behavior. Aggression and violent behavior6(4), 375-393.

Website Author and Your Guide

Karl Perera is a fully qualified Life Coach (DipLC), Teacher (MA), and author of the book Self Esteem Secrets. He has taught at various universities including Durham, Leicester and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. He has run More-SelfEsteem.com since 1997 since suffering from low self esteem for more than 25 years overcoming it in his thirties.