The etymology of the compound word self-esteem and in particular the second part, esteem, comes from Latin verb aestimare which means to judge, to estimate or evaluate a situation. An estimation /evaluation involves in almost most of the cases an analysis based on which we can make a judgement and reach a conclusion in relation to our object of analysis.
Interestingly, the verb aestimare was later absorbed and translated into our culture as esteem , meaning value and admiration and it’s nowadays widely used in combination as self-esteem. We generally understand self-esteem as the value we place onto ourselves and if we ought to look at it through the old Latin framework we can even say that self-esteem is the measurement , the assessment of one’s self. Self -esteem in itself is therefore neutral in imparting judgments of one’s self, and it is merely a tool, an inner compass by which we can delve deeply into the human being and gauge a flavour of our own inner world!
An individual who has constantly made a habit of educating themselves and being on life’s journey , feeling the thorns of inner growth at every step of the way and not giving up, will have a relatively easy task to talk about the self-esteem. Such individual will almost instantly feel well grounded in life and have the confidence that he has the right to exist and be part of this mysterious universe as much as the trees, the animals and the rest of his fellow humans! For such individual will have taken the pains of facing their fears, their deficiencies, and before they turned to outer world they turned inside, and they recognised the immense value of this process as an essential requirement to be able to become and develop as a balanced, whole personality.
This is probably the hardest task of the modern man and woman, a task that requires enormous courage, to educate one’s self before educating others, to constantly model what the nature does, growing, refreshing, letting go of the old and nourishing the new.
Self-esteem, as mentioned above, is a tool of evaluation , an intrinsic tool that nature has built in us. It’s our inner compass or thermometer that tells how we see ourselves, how we estimate ourselves and the value we place onto ourselves and each of us will do it differently. Some people will use their thinking function to evaluate it, and others will use the feeling function according to their personality type. Regardless of the function used, we will always have a response from the inner self. It can be a feeling in the body, or an overwhelming sensation, or a thought. It is important to pay attention to that sign as usually it can start a dialogue that can lead to finding out more about the origins of the sign and what it actually wants to tell us.
We usually hear phrases like ‘’ He might have great self-esteem ! He walked in the room with a confident smile and gave an outstanding presentation!’’ Now the reality is that that’s the scenario that we saw and how it looked like from where we stood. It could have well been possible that the man simply worked for a long time on his illusionary fear of speaking in public, and he finally overcome it and he looked and felt triumphant! Such victories are always the result of inner work, and of course we are not talking here about pathological tendencies of abnormal confidence that do not reflect reality but simply about that sense of confidence that is critical for our wellbeing and constant adaptation to life and our environments.
It is true that nature has inbuilt in us many of these wonderful tools that man still has to learn how to work with them and self-esteem is one of those. We speak about Man being the most unique and extraordinary creation of our species, yet the irony is that we can suffer from low self-esteem and we seek validation in all the other places apart from our inner thermometer. We shut down that inner voice, we speak louder and louder so we don’t hear it, we get busier and busier so we can’t even see our faces looking back at us , and then when the inner tension becomes unbearable, we collapse and complain we don’t know who we are anymore or what is our purpose here.
To have self-esteem- is a given. It’s a gift of Nature. We all have a sense of self, of being in the world. It’s an organic, maternal, both subtle and strong sense of home, as being part of the earth and its life but part of our role here is also to use these tools and gifts to carve in our uniqueness, our wholeness. One never quite knows for sure what the spring has engendered until the autumn shows, but one has to work patiently and at the end of it we might exclaim like Michelangelo : ‘’The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.’’
Blog by Mia Pal