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What Is Self-Esteem: The Search For Self-Worth

Updated on December 15, 2012

OVERVIEW

Perhaps my greatest challenge as a teacher over the years was not to instill knowledge into my students, but rather to help them with their self-esteem.

When I first began my teaching journey, I was amazed by the number of students who had very little self-esteem. Really, why was I surprised? I had struggled with it during my years in school, and in truth I have, at times, struggled with it as an adult. Why did it surprise me that other children struggled as well?

The fact is that a very large proportion of human beings struggle with this issue. We are always, seemingly, in search of our identity. We are always, seemingly, struggling with the elusive questions of who we are, and what is our place in this world.

And so the search continues!

Believe in yourself!
Believe in yourself! | Source

FALSE FOUNDATIONS

When I was released from my teaching job in 2002 because of my alcoholism and conduct unbecoming a teacher, I was devastated. For twenty years I had defined myself by my occupation. I had always wanted to be a teacher, and when people would meet me I always said, “hi, my name is Bill, and I’m a teacher.” My identity was built upon the foundation of my career choice. Thus, when I lost my career, it was as though I had lost who I was.

How many of you have done the same? How many of you have defined yourselves by saying you are a mother, or a dentist, or the son of your parents, or whatever? It is as though we see no identity other than the one tied to our work or role in a family.

And what utter nonsense it is!

A DEFINITION

Self-esteem is defined as “aperson's overall emotional evaluation of his or her own worth.”

With that as our guiding light, one must ask where low self-esteem comes from? Why do some people have a healthy self-worth and others very little?

Low self-esteem seems to be grounded in one or more of the following:

· Neglect….children who have grown up with very little love or affection tend to have low self-esteem.

· Criticism….those who are constantly criticized, either during childhood or adulthood, in the home or at a job, will show signs of low self-esteem.

· Lack of achievement….many people base their self-worth on their achievements in life.

· Physical appearance….in our “pretty” society where so many are judged by their looks, people who are less attractive, or cannot afford proper clothing, may feel less than worthy.

· Child abuse….needs no explanation.

· Unemployment….many people gauge their self-worth on their ability to do a job well; when there is no job, a feeling of unworthiness settles in.

· Family influence….children who grow up in a nurturing and supportive family have a strong tendency to have good self-esteem; the opposite, of course, is also true.

· Series of negative experiences….beaten down by too many negative experiences, a person will internalize it and come away with feelings of unworthiness.

THE FACE OF LOW SELF-ESTEEM

What does low self-esteem look like? If we were to picture such a person, they would most likely exhibit one or more of the following characteristics:

· Depressed, disturbed, or unhappy appearance

· They are walking, talking pictures of negativity

· They tend to be loners and avoid social settings

· Troubling symptoms can manifest i.e. anorexia, excessive drinking or drug use, obesity, etc.

· They have a hard time taking compliments

· They hesitate to form an opinion, and rarely state an opinion.

SO WHERE DOES THAT LEAD US?

In a perfect world, a person’s self-esteem would not be dependent on outside influences. No matter how we were raised, or what we looked like, our self-esteem would blossom and we would be happy and well-adjusted.

Obviously, this is not a perfect world. Let me further relate to you my own experience.

As I said, my self-esteem took a serious pounding when I lost my teaching job, because somehow, over the years, I had defined myself as a teacher. Without the teaching gig, it was as though I had lost an integral part of who I was.

Mind you, I had an ideal childhood. I had very supportive parents who nurtured me and gave me all the encouragement one could ask for, so I can’t blame my problems on a poor childhood experience. No, the fact is that despite an excellent childhood, my self-esteem took a detour somewhere during adulthood.

We are all such complicated creatures, are we not?

TAKING A CLOSER LOOK

Again, we are talking about my experiences, but if it helps any of you in any way then fantastic!

Was it the alcoholism that destroyed my self-esteem, or was the inclination towards heavier drinking related to earlier years? Despite a good childhood, I remember feeling inferior for much of my childhood. Was that related to abandonment issues because I was adopted, or was it related to feeling that I was an ugly child?

Oh my goodness, we are complicated creatures!

Toss in two failed marriages and we have quite a stew of emotional upheaval, don’t we?

The truth is I may never know. The truth also is that I no longer care.

I had what can only be described as a re-birth six years ago, and since that moment my self-esteem issues have disappeared. There is something about almost dying, especially when it is because of your emotional turmoil, that brings about a certain clarity about life.

Six years ago I realized that what I had been doing was not working. Any idiot could see that, but it took me facing death to come to that clarity. If what I was doing was not working, and if I wanted to live happily, then I needed to change everything that I had been doing.

Light bulb goes off above cartoon character!

THE NEW VOYAGE BEGINS

And so I did exactly that! I surrounded myself with positive people. I grabbed hold of the things about myself that I liked and I held on for dear life, and I eliminated those things I did not like.

I re-invented myself in the image that I had always wanted.

No, it was not easy, and yes, I struggled!

Bottom line: today I am happy with who I am. I do not define myself by my occupation nor by my position in a family. I am simply Bill Holland, a human being who is trying to be a better human being.

And that has made all the difference in the world!

Sit with me awhile and let's chat

WHAT IS THE ANSWER FOR YOU?

There is no easy answer for that, but I do know, without a moment of doubt, that we can choose to –reinvent ourselves. Naturally there are those with medical conditions like clinical depression who may not be able to do this, but for the most part, the majority of us have that ability.

Recognize what it is that is holding you back and then change it.

Recognize the ghosts from the past that shaped you, and vanquish them.

Toss out with the garbage the old stinkin’ thinkin’ and see yourself as the miracle that you are, a living, breathing unique gem.

Embrace positive thoughts and you will live positive actions.

Seek professional help if you believe it is warranted.

Reach out to trusted others so you can share your feelings.

It is never too late! Get up right now and go look in the mirror and repeat after me: I am the equal of all others. I am no better than anyone else, but I certainly am no worse than anyone else. I deserve respect! I am a human being and as such I deserve to be loved! I am the only one of me out of seven billion inhabitants of this planet and that makes me the rarest of rare.

No, don’t turn away from the mirror; we aren’t done yet. Look at your reflection one more time and say these words…..I……LOVE……ME!

2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Brandi, what a great reflection. I felt that way when I left teaching, as though a part of me had disappeared, and I didn't know who I was. It is an interesting dynamic for sure. Thank you for sharing that.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Billy, that picture of the cat and lion is one of my favorite. Be who you see yourself as.

      I worked in a prestigious career in law for 12 years. It was very difficult for me to stop working and raise children. My choice, but I felt like I lost my identity when I stopped working.

      As a mom, there are times when I feel like people do look down at me because I'm no longer that professional career woman in a suit and heels. Now I'm lucky if I make it out of the house in something other than exercise pants and boots from tending to the home and animals.

      But it's character building to do something other than what we think we're meant to do. I'm a much stronger person than I was when I was working in a career.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh Beckie, that had me snorting tea this morning! Yes my dear, I think there are positives in those moments...the biggest being that it makes me laugh uncontrollably. :) I love your outlook on life; lose a job you love and get right back up and dust yourself off and give it a positive spin. I sure do like you!

      love,

      billy

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Billy - For me, this is the most impressionable Hub from you to date. I was as you were. My entire being centered around my career. Because I dealt with the vendor community for a major grocery store chain, my responsibilities were numerous and I loved it. I could walk into a local restaurant, bar or gathering and know the owner as well as almost every person in the place. I enjoyed knowing my job well and performing it. However, it took up 75 to 80 hours a week, while I often chose it over other personal choices. Then my day came when I was laid off. I need to say no more. It was the best lesson every taught me. It made me reanalyze what really mattered.

      I do have a question though? When someones dog pulls their pants down in front of the new neighbors, or say someone pees their pants on an uncontrollable basis....maybe even gets their hair caught in the window on the interstate as they are driving...do you think constantly overcoming these situations has played a positive benefit on my esteem? I think it has. Just asking.

      Love, BeckieXO

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rasta, I have the feeling you are not alone with that comment. It can be a very tough battle, especially weighed down with the past. Thank you for sharing.

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 4 years ago from Jamaica

      Self -esteem is an uphill battle for me. I try my best to be a good citizen and love myself first. It is hard, because there was a lot of negative energy I had to deal with growing up.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rd, thank you, and I love the last line that you wrote....fearfully and wonderfully made by God! That is beautiful!

    • rdsparrowriter profile image

      rdsparrowriter 4 years ago

      Hi Bill, you are an excellent writer and a good teacher who teach with expereinces. Even I went through low selfesteem because of endless critisism and eternally being compared to others. But, when I finally learnt to accept and see myself as Jesus sees me through the WRITTEN WORDS from The Bible..and I thank God for those who helped me see myself, to be myself and who later on accepted me as I am, without trying to change me into someone I'm not. " I'm fearfully and wonderfully made by God."

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Leslie.....minions? LOL You are too funny my dear! self-esteem and alcoholism? which came first, the chicken or the egg? I'm not bright enough to answer that question. I just know it does not rule my life any longer and for that I am grateful.

      Thank you as always; you really are a breath of fresh air in this community, and I think you know how much I admire you.

      Yes, a reason for everything....it would be nice to know that reason occasionally. :)

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 4 years ago

      Bill..you say your self esteem took a pounding when you lost your teaching job, but - wouldn't you say that low self esteem played a part in your alcoholism first?

      i agree that self-esteem issues are a HUGE part of what's tearing the world apart...amongst other things, of course..

      You come from a 'healthy' childhood, Bill...me - not so much, and yet - i believe my self-esteem was saved because i was 'blessed' with a talent..

      my sister on the other hand - lives a most 'privileged' life but carries almost every single one of the self-esteem issues you describe..

      she is absolutely miserable and jealous of...everything...anything...all..it's very sad..

      timing, attitude, philosophy, courage, insight, empathy - a 'healthy' life requires sooo much balance...so much evolution...

      We - the minions that avidly follow you - are grateful that you evolved so healthily - and are also gifted with the ability to...share and ignite!

      i believe there's a reason for everything...

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Louisa, thank you and I agree with you. Although I wouldn't wish it on anyone, it was part of the shaping process for me. I am not immune as of this day, but I know what to look for and can guard against it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      PS, thank you for your honesty. I think many of us are in the same boat. This thing is so transitory; that's why it is so important to surround ourselves with positive people who will help us see our value. :) I love when the angels come; thank you and I'll tell Bev she is being watched over today.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alicia and yes, it is a complex issue, and oh so fragile.

    • Louisa Rogers profile image

      Louisa Rogers 4 years ago from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico

      Hi Bill, I thought this was exceptionally well-written and thought provoking. It made me consider my own thoughts about self-esteem, which imho, is the best kind of hub-- one that stimulates my thinking. So, here goes!

      I view my own self esteem as a state-in-process more than a destination. It will always be hovering a little, like a temperature gauge, rather than a fixed point. Outside factors can influence it (like a job loss, as you said).

      The other thing I thought about is that while I grew up quite insecure in many ways, and not with a very high self-esteem, I don't regret it. The process of attaining self-esteem itself helped build my confidence. I'm certainly not saying I wish low self-esteem on others. Some people never overcome low self-esteem with tragic results, for themselves and others (witness what happened in Connecticut, to take one awful example). In my case, though, the process led me to greater resilience. Thanks for a great hub. Voted up, useful, awesome.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      Bill, good morning

      The main reason that I read your work is because of your candor. You tell it like it is. NO sugar coating ...just your take and how it can translate into meaning four our lives.

      As a fellow teacher I too spent much of my time encouraging and cheering on children in an effort for help their self esteem vessel to fill up and overflow. And hopefully it worked and in some small way their lives are better because teachers every day continue to do so.

      I had self esteem issues for the nine years I was married. I never realized it so much then but in hindsight I know it is true. I never felt smart enough, cute enough, good enough. And now I know it was not me. But that is another story. It was partly my fault as I cared so much about what others thought and not enough about how I felt about things that I was missing life.

      I met a most wonderful man who made me feel as though I was the BEST. And my confidence soared. We still remain friends today.

      Thank you for writing this Bill. It was important for me to read this right now as I am having a hint of SE issues right now---but it will pass I feel certain.

      Again those Angels are fluttering to you and Bev....:) ps

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      As usual, this is an excellent hub, Bill. So many factors go into the creation of a person's self esteem - it's a complex topic. You've dealt with it very well! I love your final advice, too.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Dianna; I have always believed that if proper principles were taught at home AND school many of the problems we see in society could be cut down to a manageable number.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      aminur, thanks for the visit, but I'm not sure why you left this URL on my site, which you are not supposed to do. Please don't do that again.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I can't help but think that these types of messages need to be taught to our children in the home and at school. Building their character and self esteem will prevent them from falling to dark choices. Great post, as always!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I figured you wrote that for me because of the hub, so thank you, despite the glitches offered by HP. :)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Bill, this was supposed to be an acrostic poem that I wrote after I read your hub, but the bold letters didn't come thru. Maybe HP can work on that and add spell/grammar check to the comments module!

      Love Ya!

      Sha

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, i will, and do, and I thank you so very much.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jamie, you could be talking about me too. It's very hard to shake that sort of thinking, as you well know. Luckily, for right now at least, I am comfortable with who I am. :) Thank you my friend, and Happy Holidays to you and yours.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Madison, and thank you for the following. I look forward to reading some of your work in the near future.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      See your heart with your

      Eyes

      Love what you see and

      Feel from the heart.

      Everyone is

      Special

      To that there is no dispute.

      Each of us has a gift…

      Even you

      Make an effort to see yourself as others do.

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

      Bill.. I have always been one of those types that felt like I needed to be below the heap, instead of on top. I agree with everything you have written here... low self-esteem is hard and by the time you know you have it, it's already so ingrained that changing that way of thinking is extremely difficult. For me, I found peace with myself and others in the steps. I believe I will always have a tendency to want to crawl under a rock but I know I don't have to and there is a solution, if I am willing to take action. Great hub.. thank you for sharing :)

    • Madison22 profile image

      Madison 4 years ago from NYC

      This is such an important topic and you covered it so well with your honesty and experience. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rmcleve, thank you, and bless you for struggling but continuing. I think I know what you are referring to, and it can't have been easy, and yet look at you....able to talk about it, able to learn, willing to grow......you will be alright; of that I have no doubt.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Shruti, I am grateful for your words, and if I accomplish that with my words then I am a happy writer. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, I totally agree. There were many time growing up when my self-esteem would take a hit at school and my parents would have to repair the damage when I got home....it is an endless cycle for sure. I'm pretty sure your daughter is in good hands. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Arun, I agree completely with that old poem. Parents have such an incredible influence, positive and negative. It is our responsibility to be as much of the positive as we can be. Thank you Sir!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Honey, thank you very much. If my words help others then I have succeeded as a writer. You are a good person and I appreciate you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Martin, I'm guessing that self-esteem is not a problem for you. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Cris, you are too kind, but thank you! If I provide you with those things then I have succeeded in what I was trying to do.....you just can't take the classroom out of the teacher. :)

      Be safe in the skies and blessings to you.....and sending love to you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, I think society's image is a tough one to live up to...and yet so many try. :) We are complicated for sure....a constant struggle to be ourselves. :) Thank you my friend!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jackie, indeed, it is never too late. The killing of Self....we are not locked in to be the same person our entire lives....we can change. :) Thank you Jackie and Happy Holidays to you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pearl, you make a great point. When I was teaching I would see examples of that every single year. Our parents are our greatest influence, followed probably by our teachers. We are shaped in those early years, and if it has been a negative influence it takes a long time to recover.

      Thank you Pearl; your day has arrived. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, you make an excellent point, one I believe in greatly. Parents definitely lead their children by example, and I have seen instances of what you are talking about.....meek, humble mothers whose daughters are the same...frightened parents whose children are the same. Thank you for bringing that up and for your nice words my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Martie, thank you and great comment. Would my self-esteem take a dip if not for HP? I guess if I were not accepted on this site, or received a barrage of negative comments, it is entirely possible. Hopefully that won't happen. :) I hope you are having a great Sunday!

    • rmcleve profile image

      Rachael Cleveland 4 years ago from Woodbridge, VA

      Another wonderful hub, and on a very important topic. Without going into too much depth, it's safe to say that I've struggled with extremely low self-esteem (mixed with major depressive disorder). That was on one side, while on the other was this desire to live a good, true, honest life. Nothing fit, nothing mixed. So, I'm slowly and surely knitting together the threads of each side to fashion a life that makes me calm, peaceful, and focused.

      I'm so very happy that I'm able to be on this path from such a young age, and love sharing it with others!

      Hope you're having a wonderful day, Bill! See ya around. :)

    • shruti sheshadri profile image

      shruti sheshadri 4 years ago from Bangalore, India

      everytime I read your hubs, it just makes me feel so good sir! it gives me a punch in the face reminding how lucky we all are and how much more each of us are capable of doing!

      thank you :)

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Awesome hub Bill! I think that teaching children self esteem comes not only from parents, but from everyone. I am blessed to have parents that always supported and nurtured me and I would like to think that we are doing the same with our daughter. It just shows how building people up, not tearing them down, really makes a difference!

    • ARUN KANTI profile image

      ARUN KANTI CHATTERJEE 4 years ago from KOLKATA

      Thanks a lot for triggering some thought provoking search. There is an old Bengali poem which in a nutshell says that every child has a latent father in his inner self. So the duty of the parents is to have confidence in him or her thus helping the child grow up to become a self respecting human being in due course.

    • HoneyBB profile image

      Honey Halley 4 years ago from Illinois

      Your words of wisdom should help many people reinvent themselves or find the person they were when their inner child still existed. Thanks for sharing this wonderful uplifting message.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. As a beloved egotist and a 33rd degree mason... well.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Once a teacher is always a teacher Bill. You may not be sitting and teaching in a traditional class room but you are still teaching...teaching us and a much bigger size of students than a typical class room for you now have the world reading your life lessons and respectfully listening to you.

      I've been on and off HP, quite busy with other things in life. I'm pretty sure I've missed quite a lot of good hubs but as an avid follower, I sinfully peeped albeit couldn't comment back.

      Always a pleasure to land here. I learn something new everyday, other stuff is like a wake up call and other read makes us wonder and ponder. This one is all of the above. Excellent!

      Thanks Bill. Up and across (except funny), passing along and know that you are loved.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. We sure are complicated creatures aren't we? I think this is a big problem in our "perfect society" today. If everyone looked into the mirror and was happy with what they saw it would be a much better world. Great job Bill.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      This is great and very true and reminds me of someone elses hub talking about children lacking in the same way and really how can parents with no self esteem raise children to be as they should be? Vicious cycle huh? It is never too late though...for anyone, that is so true. Rebirth is really so easy when it is what we really want.

      Great write! ^

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 4 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Billy, you've done it again my friend! Another excellent article about a very important subject. As I think I've mentioned before, my husband received no praise from his parents. Instead they would nitpick about things that really did not matter. However, when my husband joined the boy scouts his self esteem was restored by the scout master. He eventually became an eagle scout and as assistant scout leader.

      My parents always encouraged and praised my efforts, and they gently pointed out when and where I needed to make improvements. I was very lucky to have grown up in a positive atmosphere, while my husband knew only negativity until he found scouting. It's amazing just how crippling criticism is, and how enabling kind words and supportive gestures can be. Voted Up, Useful, Awesome and Beautiful!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      As always Bill you make your point so well. It is so evident your self esteem is no longer low as you never hesitate to share your past and/or your problems.

      Children follow example more than words. If parents are comfortable in their own skin they can pass that on to their children. My mother used to tell me, "There's nobody better than you in the whole world, but remember, you're no better than anyone else." By the grace of God I never had low self-esteem. My parents gave me confidence in anything I did and I am so grateful to them, more than they will ever know. I was a very lucky young lady to have had those two wonderful people in my life!

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 4 years ago from South Africa

      What a profound and thought-provoking view on self-esteem. Of course, our self-esteem depends on our purpose in life and very much on what we mean to ourselves and also to others. We are balancing ourselves on this every day of our lives, and this is normal. Being in balance, having balance, keeping balance, is the challenge.

      Surely, billybuc, our self-esteem will take another dip if we lose our opportunity to share our true selves and brilliant thoughts on HubPages? What then, would we do to keep our self-esteem strong and healthy?

      Voted up, well-explained and so-so thought-provoking!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Amy, I remember that SNL skit; thanks for reminding me of it. This is an issue I wouldn't talk about if I hadn't been at the bottom several times; I rose out of the hole and I ain't going back in it. :)

      Thank you as always; these are tough times for sure, but as always, we will come through it. Hopefully we will learn from it. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I like that, Russ! I will never say it is easy, but I will always say it is possible. We are in control of much more than we believe we are, but we'll never find that out unless we try.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Doc, thank you! I am sincere; I made a choice to be that way. I will thank you more in tomorrow's hub. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, it is amazing, and it is such a slender thread that holds our self-esteem together. I will always believe that it is possible to turn it around if we make the right choices.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Melissa! I decided to add personal anecdotes about ten months ago in hopes that it helps others....turns out it does. :)

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Self-esteem is such a tricky topic. It is so hard to gain and so easy to lose. It seems like a lot of us go in cycles, sometimes high and sometimes low, affected by relationships, jobs, and financial status, etc. I'm so glad that you were able to rebuild your own self-esteem and share this with us. Your story gives us all hope, that even if we are having self-esteem issues --that doesn't mean we can't decide to see the positive and good in ourselves starting right now. What a great message!

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      Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      You are so right, Bill. We are complicated and there are no clearcut, cure alls. Laughter, being the best medicine, but in short supply today, following the mass murders of young school children in CT yesterday, the idea of the mirror therapy did give me a chuckle as I envisoned SNL character, Stuart Smalley, who looked in the mirror and repeated his mantra, "You're good enough, you're smart enough, and doggone it, people like you." Thank you for a great writing on an important, relevant topic along with a memory that made me smile.

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      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      I recall Nathanial Brandon's book in the 1970s entitled the Psychology of Self Esteem. His take was 180 degrees different from what wh now think of it. He emphasized using one's mind to the fullest, focusing on everything around you and taking responsibility for your surroundings. As an animal is fulfilled by doing what it is meant to do, so a human is fulfilled by doing what he or she is meant to do - Use your noggin. Nice hub Bill

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      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      You make very good points. Self-love does take a lot of work, but like you said, it's inside of us all. There's nothing phony about you. You come across as very sincere. I wish you could have been my professor in college. Anyhow, you are a gem Billy: full of knowledge and wisdom. Thank you for sharing your experience with the rest of us.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Nancy, we are fragile creatures we humans; it takes so little to break us down. Great reflection my friend; thank you.

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      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      The words low esteem get thrown around a lot lately. And also blame for poor conduct, crime, bullying etc. It may be just a label today but suffering from this is no fun. I don't remember having low self esteem but I had an incident that happened when I was twelve or so..and I suffered a long time after that..I guess was poor self esteem. Took a long time, and every once in a while I get a shudder. You told it well and it is so true that we blame outside influences..Some people never have it with the worst conditions..Amazing phenomena.

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      Nancy Yager 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      I have worked on the self-esteem issues with many friends. You just start building them up everyday. It sounds so simple and easy because it is. We so this with our kids, but then it seems to get lost in the adult world.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Yvonne, you make some excellent points, especially about the introverted child. It took me a very long time to realize that my being introverted did not mean that I was strange. Even with supportive parents, we can receive such subtle signals from seemingly everyone that what we are doing is abnormal and thus we are less than.....it is all rubbish of course, but still very powerful.

      Thank you my friend; I love your comments. They always force me to step back and reflect further on some points. I appreciate that.

      Have a great weekend Yvonne!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Liz, you are very correct in your comment about introversion. I still face that on occasion. I find great solace in being alone at times, and if people do not understand that, well then too bad. I am fine with who I am today and I need no confirmation from others.

      Keep that shirt; it suits you fine! :)

      Thank you Liz; have a great weekend!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, I was fairly certain you understood the message here. It is a serious body blow to lose ones' job, especially a job that is so important to us, a job that speaks to your hearts.....and yes, that will hurt our self-esteem. I'm glad you found the truth in the fact that you are so much more than a teacher. :) Thank you my friend and I hope your Saturday is somewhat peaceful. :)

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hugs to you, Linda! This is one of those things I feel strongly about. Even though I am no longer a teacher, I feel compelled to keep getting the message out there, that each of us is precious, and finding the ability to tap into that uniqueness is one of the secrets to happiness and contentment.

      Thank you as always my friend and have a great weekend.

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      Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

      Well said my friend. Low self esteem is rampant in this world of competiveness. Few take the time to encourage but have plenty of time to berate and challenge. As you have said in so much of your work though, we have a choice and if we choose to surround ourselves with the right people, we change our own feelings of self worth. Another wonderful piece of encuraging work. Hugs to you this day.

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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Beautiful message Bill and you are very right about self esteem and self worth. They are tricky entities in themselves, but will say when I lost my position as a teacher due to the economy I too questioned my self worth a bit. I have subsequently realized that I was a teacher, but still am so much more too and also have so much more to give to my husband, kids, family and friends. You said a mouthful here Bill about this and will refrain from going on and on, but will say thanks for the positive message here and have of course voted up and shared all over!!

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      Liz Davis 4 years ago from Hudson, FL

      I think one of the reasons we have such issues with self-esteem these days is the self-esteem movement itself. Everyone wins, everyone gets a sticker, everyone gets a trophy . . . instead of encouraging children in their strengths and helping them to learn that we all have weaknesses, we tell them that all you have to do is show up. We all need to cultivate our talents and work toward goals that add meaning to our lives.

      I would like to add that there's a danger in mistaking introversion for low self-esteem. I encountered a lot of self-loathing when I was younger because I wasn't the outgoing, cheerleader-type. Our society makes us think that there's something wrong with you if you'd rather stay home and read a book instead of going to a party. If we encourage our kids, from introvert to extrovert, in their abilities without making them think that there's something wrong with them, their self-esteem will flourish.

      Ok, you got me babbling again. Oh, and I still wear my purple hippie shirt all the time. I was born 20 years too late, for sure! lol

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Genna, it is an aspect of teaching that many teachers overlook, and that is a huge mistake. Funny how when there are budget cuts it is always the arts and humanities that are cut, when they are so desperately needed.

      Thank you for the virtual hug! :)

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mark, it is indeed kind of like PIPO! :) Thanks buddy!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, I agree; it takes very little to raise our self-esteem. Thank you!

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      Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      “Perhaps my greatest challenge as a teacher over the years was not to instill knowledge into my students, but rather to help them with their self-esteem.”

      I could just hug you for this, Billy. I, too, have noticed this as a growing problem with our youth. Many blame the parents, but this is not necessarily where the problem lies. The school environment, competition, peer pressure and bullying can lend to this problem in many ways. I wish more schools would include more of the arts and humanities and performance testing rather than solely “teaching to the test.” I realize that math and science are crucial, but we seem to have lost sight of preparing our students in how to feel better about themselves, and to better prepare them for the outside world. Up and shared.

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      Yvonne Spence 4 years ago from UK

      Bill, I found it really interesting to read that you had a brush with death that lead to your clarity. I recently read a book by Anita Moorjani, in which she recounts her battle with cancer to the point of death and in the near-death state she had total clarity about her life and how she had been slowly dying by not allowing herself just to be who she was. Her low self-esteem totally disappeared. I found it so interesting that you wrote: "There is something about almost dying … that brings about a certain clarity about life."

      Yet not everyone who has a brush with death winds up with this clarity. I wonder what makes the difference? Perhaps this is just one of life's mysteries.

      Coincidentally I just wrote a similar post about valuing yourself on my new blog. It's my feeling that no matter how kind our parents are there are universal beliefs that mean the vast majority of people have low self esteem. Even instructions to children such as: "Always put others first," and so on, lead to a sense of being less important than others. My sense is that perhaps we do too much correcting of children and if we just were able to be in more in tune with their magnificence then nobody would have low self esteem. I don't mean in a way that falsely puffs them up either, but just that allows children to be as they are without the need to make them conform to what adult society sees as right. For instance society, and schools, appear to value people who can easily chat with others more than those who are quiet, so an introverted child generally does feel as if he or she should be more outgoing. (I was one too, as is one of my daughters.) Even parents who have been or still are introverted worry about their kids being that way (yes I've been guilty) and of course that gives the subtle message to the kid of "you're not okay as you are."

      This is turning into another of my dissertation length comments, so I'll stop now. You'll have to stop writing such thought-provoking hubs! :)

      PS, I once did a painting of our cat very similar to the picture you chose!

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      Mark G Weller 4 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      Awesome message Bill, and one that so many have problems with. Kinda like your PIPO isn't it!

      Mark

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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Change can be as simple as a new job to help you on your way.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Made, when I decided to become a teacher, there were more than a few people shocked. LOL It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. Who better to help kids with self-esteem issues than someone who had lived with those same issues?

      You would be a fabulous teacher.....why do I say that? Because you care!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, words of hope can never be wrong. I think that gospel is the perfect choice my friend. Bless you and thank you for your caring heart.

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      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Billybuc, I had a great sermon planned for Sunday. And then that tragedy struck in CT. I will have young people looking to me for some answers. Many with low self esteem. We will use the Gospel of Luke about John to lift them up. We will find time to speak with any and all. Not one child will be left to carry the burden alone. Thank you for this inspiring hub.

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      Madeleine Salin 4 years ago from Finland

      I like that thought - we would have been two quiet kids. There was actually a very smart boy in my class, and he was just as shy as me. We where in the same class for 13 years(!) and I hardly spoke to him - maybe a couple of words the last years, LOL! He's a teacher now. Who would have guessed that? A part of me would like to be a teacher too. Then I could help those shy children to open up, start talking and establish some self-esteem. :)

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Made, you are welcome, and thank you! I was an incredibly shy child. If you and I had been kids together, we probably would have never spoken to each other. LOL I'm glad it is better for you now, as it is for me. Bless you my dear and here is a hug from rainy Olympia.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Randi, I truly believe that self-esteem is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. Thank you for your kind words and friendship. I appreciate you greatly!

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      Madeleine Salin 4 years ago from Finland

      I had low self-esteem as a child and as a teenager. I was always the quiet child in school and I thought my opinions didn't matter. I'm glad I have more self-esteem now. It's probably because of all the people I met when I moved away from home. The friends I have made have made me a stronger person.

      This hub really touched me. I could start crying when I think about my childhood and how shy I was. I'm not sure why my self-esteem was so low. I'm so happy my own children seem to have much more self-esteem. Bill, thank you for writing this hub and keep sharing your life with us. Hugs from Finland, where the snow keeps falling. :)

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Whonu, I wish I could sit down with every kid and adult who has self-esteem issues....give me an hour with them and I'd have them feeling good about themselves. We all need positive strokes...without them we are in for a long and painful lifetime. :) Thank you Sir!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kt, once a teacher, always a teacher. Thank you, and I completely agree about the formative years....they are so important to our development, and at that fragile time serious damage can be done to the psyche by someone in authority. Thank you for an excellent comment.

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      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Excellent words, excellent advice! You are so good at leading by example , my friend. Evertything you say is wrought with personal emotion and experience. It leaves the reader saying and thinking...I can do this! Self-esteem is so very difficult. Thank you for addressing an all important issue that can be a true underlying issue in so many areas.

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      whonunuwho 4 years ago from United States

      Bill, this is the one most important issue in all of our lives and what we all strive the most to find in our own personal search. I taught, as well, and my kids' spirits virtually flew, when they were recognized for something good that they did or created an art project that got them recognition. I once had to write a college research paper on this subject and was successful in the process in establishing my own self esteem. Thank you for sharing this vital subject and one that is the most important in all of a child's life.

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      Kristin Trapp 4 years ago from Illinois

      Although you rightfully no longer tie your self-esteem to your profession, I would like to point out that you are still a teacher. This Hub is the perfect example of you sharing your knowledge so others might learn and avoid some of the mistakes and pitfalls that you have experienced along the way.

      I've often wondered about self-esteem and how kids that have loving, ideal homes and families still may suffer from low self-esteem. I've concluded that self-esteem is so fragile during the growing-up years and any misplaced or unkind word especially from someone in a position of authority (coach, teacher, etc.) can have a profound impact, no matter how wonderful the parents are.

      Wonderful Hub and insights, Bill Holland. Voted up and awesome.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rich, thank you buddy, and I commend you on your hub today. You said what needs to be said, no matter how close it hits home to so many parents. Thank you for speaking out!

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      Rich 4 years ago from Kentucky

      Bill - Very good message here. I used to preach to my people to "check the latitude of their attitudes with a check up from the neck up." I also pushed them in that I wouldn't have chosen them for the position if I hadn't truly believed they were the best person to see the job through. My goal was to get them feeling great about themselves so that they believed they could challenge the world and win. Many of them almost did! lol Yet, a regional manager of mine found intimidation and constant downgrading his cup of tea. Thank God my time with him ended. It's amazing what can be accomplished when a person's self esteem is high, and how little when low. Great hub, my friend!