How to Love Yourself: 4 Truths for Reviving Dead Self-Esteem

I gave up my self-esteem in high school. Literally, I thought it was uncool. It made me stand out. So I faked being a miserable drudge until I made it.

I became afraid to look people in the eye. It was sort of like wild animals – I told myself. Look a high schooler in the eye, and they could become enraged and attack at any moment.

I became unobservant. People don’t like it when you notice things about them. People want to be exactly who they tell you they are, and no one else.

That’s what I told myself.

Of course, that is total crap.

I was trying to do “what people want”, to make them like me. But I didn’t like myself. I didn’t even recognize myself.

So I was crippled. I couldn’t see what others needed because I couldn’t see what I needed. I couldn’t see who others were because I was afraid to see who I was. I couldn’t value the real good in others because I couldn’t see it in myself.

The moral of this story is that when we don’t see or value ourselves, it’s because we believe that it is the only way to be loved.

But the opposite is true.

1. Self Esteem comes from Within

It’s impossible to have self-esteem granted from the outside. This means that nothing you do solely to please others can make you a worthwhile person (It’s a different story if you do it for other reasons too).

When you recognize that you have done something that matters to you, when you have become something it was hard to become, when you have won a fight it was hard to win – self esteem comes from the joy and love you feel within.

No amount of external approval or disapproval can replace what you know in your heart to be true.

2. Self Esteem is the Joy of Accomplishing What Matters

It is natural to feel joy at your accomplishments. It is natural to share them. The key is simply that these accomplishments actually matter to you.

I, for example, get a lot of good grades, and I couldn’t care less. They are “accomplishments”, but they don’t matter in the long run. However, slowly finding and learning to trust myself, after years of being “in the closet” about who I am, is a huge accomplishment for me.
The point here is that self esteem can’t come from something superficial. It has to come from something that truly matters to you. It has to arise from something that you actually value, something that is truly good.

3. Self Esteem Needs to be Shared

This is the opposite of how I saw it in high school.

If you feel joy at the recognition of the good in yourself, it’s natural to share that joy with others.

Celebrating your accomplishments with others lets them share your joy and remember what they truly value in themselves. It is the best way of advocating for the good in the world.

This is why small children so want to show you their accomplishments and discoveries. It brings them great joy to find a caterpillar on a stick, or to run very fast, and by showing you, they remind you of the small wonders of life.

4. Self Esteem is about Valuing What’s Good In You

At the end of the day, self esteem is about learning to trust your own values. It is about feeling out what matters to you, and learning to be happy with what you love. It is about appreciating the small and hidden accomplishments as well as the great ones, and realizing that you are enough.

Learning to love yourself calls for recognizing what you authentically love. It is about learning to see and share yourself again.

Loving What Matters

In the name of bringing more worthwhile values to the world, sit down today and write a list of things you love about yourself, accomplishments that matter. Follow how you feel. Only write down those things that you feel love for, that you believe in, that bring you joy.

Then tell someone about your list. Not to brag, not at all, but to celebrate what is good in both of you, to remind you of little joys and deep good.

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  1. Morgan,

    You just made me think back to my high school me and realize how much I’ve changed (admittedly, it’s been more than a few years).

    Allowing others to be your source of self esteem puts you in a pretty precarious position – you allow someone else to control the way you view yourself. At that rate, you ultimately cut yourself off from allowing your most authentic self shine through.

    Like you, I could’ve cared less about good grades, but it wasn’t the grades that I didn’t care about – it was the things that I was doing to earn those grades… Most of the tasks and subjects held no interest for me.

    When you find what makes you happy, the things that you would do regardless if someone asked you to do them or if you had a deadline or got paid – those are the things that matter enough to make you truly proud. To give you a sense of self esteem. To “make the grade” for so to speak.

    When you can get to that place, it doesn’t matter what other people are thinking of you or how they judge you because your self esteem comes from what pleases you, not someone else.

    • Morgan Alverson says:

      Hi Hermine!

      I agree completely about happiness. You know you’re in the right place when you would be doing this anyway. I think I realized how much I like blogging watching Jon Morrow’s sales video – all about the blogger ‘pain point’ of no one reading their blog. Of course, I love that you are here reading ;-). But I would be writing this stuff in notebooks to myself if I wasn’t putting it online.

      No matter how prestigious that external pat on the back is, it won’t matter unless it was earned by something that holds value for you. And then you are already doing something that matters, in and of itself, so you don’t need the approval anyway.

      It’s happiness, inner peace, fulfillment, and self-esteem. All in a nice gift box. All from staying hooked up to the source of you-ness and self approval within.

  2. You’ve got a great definition of self-esteem Morgan. It IS something that’s built through accomplishing the things that matter to you. That’s truth right there.

    It comes from being yourself and seeing all the awesomeness that is you. It’s earned with each little success that proves just how capable you actually are. So long as these things matter to you, self-esteem is virtually assured.

    I’m glad you’ve since moved on from your miserable drudge stage. That shit just ain’t cool 😉

    Trevor recently posted…5 Unexpected and Totally Awesome Benefits of Letting GoMy Profile

    • Morgan Alverson says:

      Yeah Trevor, I think I was thinking of you – talking about accomplishments and action and all that. But you’re right – eventually I’ve got to crawl out of my cave and do something about it. And seeing it done, out there in the world all pretty and shiney, that feels pretty damn good. It’s much nicer than constantly having to perform CPR on your self esteem by continually explaining to it that it is capable of all these great things it just hasn’t done yet. And it’s only fair to the world to give back.

      I too am glad to be a recovering miserable drudge. I feel much more cool now… no actually that’s a lie. I felt cooler then, but now I am more than content to not give a rat’s ass about coolness either way.


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