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"How we criticize ourselves is vitally important because we must learn to direct our criticism at those activities which are possible to correct; otherwise, we will be too hard on ourselves and may lock ourselves into failure." Dr. William Glasser

I imagine it is not hyperbole to state confidently we desire the best for ourselves. Several factors strengthen our striving for personal success, and one of those factors is our self-esteem.

The American Psychological Association Dictionary of Psychology defines self-esteem as "the degree to which the qualities and characteristics contained in one's self-concept are perceived to be positive. It reflects a person's physical self-image, view of his or her accomplishments and capabilities, and values and perceived success in living up to them, as well as the ways in which others view and respond to that person."

To succeed, we must make space for self-reflection on our behaviors. How we interpret our experiences, our appraisals of what we consider a success, and how we connect our experiences to our self-worth. Those who succeed in their endeavors demonstrate discipline, open-mindedness, and resilience. Beneficial external influences and an internal sense of security foster these habits. For example, our inner source of belief says, "I'm capable of finding solutions to problems, and if I cannot, then I know who to consult for feedback."

There is reciprocity between our internal and external sources of strength and belief. However, it may seem simplistic to highlight what should be evident inner strength is vital to self-esteem. It must be noted that environmental influences encourage or discourage our self-esteem and, by extension, our self-worth. For example, think of a situation where a person is criticized for doing something incorrectly but never how to improve. At what point does the person begin to second guess themselves?

This does not imply we do not correct behaviors because we do not want to hurt people's feelings or negatively affect their self-worth. Instead, we do so with consideration for the person's emotional adjustment. Emotional adjustment is "the condition or process of personal acceptance of and adaptation to one's circumstances, which may require modification of attitudes and the expression of emotions that are appropriate to a given situation."

Tough love is okay but should not harm someone's sense of self. Consider the reassurances from being told you are doing a good job. Morris Rosenberg noted in his book Society and the Adolescent Self-Image that self-esteem represents more than how we think and feel about ourselves. Positive external influences also strengthen it.

High self-esteem does not imply you are great at everything because self-esteem fluctuates. The fluctuation in self-esteem results from external favorable or unfavorable feedback and internal perceptions of one's effort toward achieving a specific goal. Variations in self-esteem are short-term and referred to as self-esteem stability.

Individuals with low self-esteem depend on being affirmed by someone else to feel good about themselves and their achievements. They tend to inaccurately evaluate themselves and discredit their positive experiences as good luck or chance.

In contrast, individuals with healthy self-esteem are aware of their strengths and weaknesses and recognize mistakes are not disastrous but growth opportunities. Neither do they personalize their mistakes or confuse mistakes with their self-worth. In other words, individuals with high and healthy self-esteem experience more self-esteem stability.

Healthy self-esteem is different from arrogance.

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