Self esteem is defined by Dr. Twerski as a true and accurate awareness of one’s skills, capabilities and limitations. The importance of this is clear – one can optimally adjust or adapt to his reality or environment only to the degree that one’s perception of reality is correct. An incorrect perception of reality is a delusion, and someone who is delusional cannot possibly adjust properly to reality.
If I am delusional about myself, there is no way I can live a happy and productive life. If I happen to be bright but think that I am dull, if I am personable but think myself to be undesirable, if I am handsome and think myself to be homely, I am delusional, and my distorted self-concept precludes an optimal adjustment to life. Indeed, I believe that the overwhelming number of psychological problems that are not of physiologic origin are invariably due to low self-esteem, i.e., to a distorted self-concept in which a person grossly underestimates oneself.
You may say, “I know myself thoroughly, and I know that I am unlikable or dull or unattractive or impersonal. Those are facts, and it’s not my imagination.” However, having weaknesses does not make you incompetent or a failure. The real purpose of life is to become the best person you can become and to utilize your abilities for good.
Healthy self-esteem does not solve all the problems of life. Struggle and conflict is intrinsic to life. Sooner or later everyone experiences anxiety and pain. While self-esteem can make one less vulnerable more durable, it cannot make one ignorant of his feelings and needs.
Think of self-esteem as the immune system of consciousness. If you have a healthy immune system, you might become ill, but you are less likely to; if you do become ill, you will likely recover faster, your resilience is greater. Similarly, if you have high self-esteem, you might still know times of emotional suffering, but less often and with a faster recovery. Its presence does not guarantee fulfillment, but its absence guarantees anxiety, frustration and despair. So, focus on building your self esteem by creating greater awareness and build the skills toward more durable, fulfilling life.
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