Where does self-esteem really come from?

Confidence’ derives from the Latin word, ‘to trust’. Self-confidence essentially means to trust and have faith in oneself.

A self-confident person is able to act on opportunities, rise to new challenges, take control of difficult situations, and accept responsibility and criticism if things go wrong.

Just as the foundation of successful experience is self-confidence, so the foundation of self-confidence is successful experience. In the absence of confidence, courage takes over.

Confidence operates in the realm of the known; courage, on the other hand, operates in the realm of the unknown, the uncertain, and the fearsome: you cannot be a confident swimmer unless you once had the courage to lose your footing in deep water. Courage is more noble than confidence.

While self-confidence and self-esteemoften go hand in hand, it is possible to have high self-confidence and yet low self-esteem, as is, for example, the case with many celebrities. Esteem derives from the Latin aestimare, ‘to appraise, value, rate, weigh, estimate’, and self-esteem is the cognitive and, above all, emotional appraisal of our own worth. Our self-esteem is the matrix through which we think, feel, and act. It reflects, and also in large part determines, our relation to ourself, to others, and to the world.

One problem with achievement-based self-esteem is that it promotes the fear of failure and the pursuit of success at all costs.

People with healthy self-esteem are able to take risks and to give their all to a project or ambition, because, although failure may hurt or upset them, it is not going to damage or diminish them

Tagore, the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, seems to perfectly encapsulate the Buddhist attitude in this poem-prayer.

-Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them.

-Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain but for the heart to conquer it.

-Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved but hope for the patience to win my freedom.

-Grant me that I may not be a coward, feeling your mercy in my success alone; but let me find the grasp of your hand in my failure.

Socrates is a shining example of a man who bravely lived up to his ideals, and, in the end, bravely died for them. Throughout his life, he never lost faith in the mind’s ability to discern and decide, and so to apprehend and master reality. Nor did he ever betray truth and integrity for a pitiable life of self-deception and semi-consciousness.

Many people find it simpler to work on their self-confidence than on their self-esteem, and end up with a long list of abilities and achievements to show for themselves.

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