I listened to a fascinating talk by Denis Waitley on self esteem, particularly in respect to our children. He suggests there are four elements of self esteem, like four legs on a chair. Remove one leg, and the chair becomes unstable.
- Sense of Belonging – we all like to feel we are part of a larger whole. A team; a family; a gang. What can we do to make our son or daughter feel proud of the family team? Make them feel safe, loved and welcome. Make your home a place where your children want to bring their friends rather than a place they want to leave as soon as possible!
- Sense of Individual Identity – how can we encourage our kids to express themselves as individuals?
- Sense of Worthiness – show your children unconditional love. Help your children to feel comfortable in his or her own skin. Worthiness can only be anchored in core values, rather than external motivation.
- Sense of Control and Competence – this is self-efficacy, a functional belief in your ability to control what happens to you in a changing, uncertain world. You need a sense of worthiness to give you the emotional strength to carry on, but you need self-efficacy to believe you can succeed.
I read this over and over with a Father’s eye, thinking how can I help my son. The more I think it through, the more true it is for us as adults, as well. I know I feel a much higher degree of self-esteem when I demonstrate self-efficacy. My sense of belonging can be a tough one, when I work out of a home office or spend days on the road. My sense of worthiness can take a battering from customers or the boss – at the close of the day, look in the mirror and ask yourself “did I make a difference today”?