This was taken from the University of Texas website for counseling and mental health services. Self esteem is something I have always struggled with and I have recently decided to work on it with more focus. Here they are talking about having compassion for yourself. I found this section to have some parallels to Buddhist thought. Perhaps there are others that can benefit from it as I did.
Rebutting your critical inner voice is an important first step (to improve self esteem), but it is not enough. Having compassion for yourself means treating yourself with the same empathy you would show others. If a friend were having a hard time, you'd be likely to be extra caring and supportive. You deserve the same treatment! Rather than focusing on evaluating yourself, instead you can acknowledge when things are difficult and try to nurture and care for yourself in these times especially.
Forgive yourself when you don't do all you'd hoped. Try to be gentle with yourself rather than critical of yourself when things don't go as you had hoped. This can be surprisingly hard if you are not used to doing it, but recognizing that such experiences are inevitable can help.
Recognize your humanness. As humans we all make mistakes, and we are all impacted by external factors that we can't control. Accepting our "humanness" helps us to feel more connected to others rather than feeling we are enduring these types of experiences all alone. Recognizing that mistakes are an inevitable part of being human helps us to be more compassionate with ourselves and others.
Be mindful of your emotions. If you do feel upset about a situation, try to allow yourself to experience that emotion in a balanced way, without suppressing it or getting completely swept up in the feeling. When practicing mindfulness, try not to judge yourself for having negative emotions. If you can remember that emotions come and go and eventually pass, it will help you to not become overwhelmed by your feelings."
Here are some of the reasons they cite as foundations of our self esteem. I can relate to these reasons and it was helpful to identify them not only for my own healing but to learn how my behavior can affect my children.
"Our self-esteem evolves throughout our lives as we develop an image of ourselves through our experiences with different people and activities. Experiences during childhood play a particularly large role in the shaping of self-esteem. When we were growing up, our successes, failures, and how we were treated by our family, teachers, coaches, religious authorities, and peers, all contributed to the creation of our self-esteem.
Childhood experiences that contribute to healthy self-esteem include:
Being listened to
Being spoken to respectfully
Getting appropriate attention and affection
Having accomplishments be recognized and mistakes or failures be acknowledged and accepted
Childhood experiences that may lead to low self-esteem include:
Being harshly criticized
Being physically, sexually, or emotionally abused
Being ignored, ridiculed, or teased
Being expected to be perfect all the time. People with low self-esteem were often given messages—from parents, teachers, peers, or others—that failed experiences (losing a game, getting a poor grade, etc.) were failures of their whole self"
Love you guys, deepest bows Troy