What is Self-Esteem?

Possessing little self-regard can lead people to become depressed, to fall short of their potential, or to tolerate abusive situations and relationships. Too much self-love, on the other hand, results in an off-putting sense of entitlement and an inability to learn from failures. (It can also be a sign of clinical narcissism.) Perhaps no other self-help topic has spawned so much advice and so many (often conflicting) theories. Here are our best insights on how to strike a balance between accurate self-knowledge and respect for who you are.

Recent Posts on Self-Esteem

Shame, Celebrity, and the Oregon Shooter

By Joseph Burgo Ph.D. on October 12, 2015 Shame
Until we as a society can wean ourselves from celebrity worship, the Golden Age of Narcissism will continue making the most disadvantaged and disturbed among us feel like social "losers," desperate for some way to escape from shame and achieve a fleeting "winner" status.

Coming Out and Taking In

As righteous, thrilling, and important as coming out is--and it is!--it is equally important to take in. Taking in is when we recognize the potential others see in us and let ourselves make meaning out of it.

You Can't Stop the Pain Unless You Know What Hurts

Learning to observe ourselves and others is a key to healthy and happy relationships.

The Scary Truth About Procrastination

By Bobby Hoffman Ph.D. on October 08, 2015 Motivate!
Sometimes finding out the root cause of our behaviors can be downright frightening. Beware the evil that lurks in the minds of the prospective procrastinator!

Why “Bribing” Your Child With Treats Doesn’t Work

By Suzanne Gelb Ph.D., J.D. on October 08, 2015 All Grown Up
Do you offer your child a “reward” to get him or her to comply with a rule? “If you tidy you room, I’ll take you to the movies.” But this is not a reward — this is a bribe. And “bribery” is not an effective parenting technique. Learn why bribing does not work when it comes to gaining your child's cooperation and what does.

Ego Defence Mechanisms: The Work of Anna Freud

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on October 07, 2015 A Sideways View
We all try to protect our ego from attack. But are our preferred defences effective and healthy? What are the defence mechanisms and how can we categorise them?

6 Surprising Benefits of Self-Compassion

Do you ever call yourself names or beat yourself up over the mistakes you make? If so, you might be missing out on the incredible benefits of self-compassion.

Cosmetic Vaginal Surgery Ignores Women's Mental Health

The promise of a "perfect vagina" generates enormous wealth at women's expense.

The Playground as Battleground: Take the Test!

Nice girls don’t do conflict. A girl often will become a “people pleaser” and adopt accommodation and avoidance as conflict styles. She will say “yes” when she really wants to say “no.” In contrast, men often perceive “no” as “go.” No becomes a challenge, something to conquer.

Why “Cheer Up” is Not the Nicest Thing to Say

When trying to comfort someone going through difficult times, we must consider numerous details to decide how to best help them. If we choose the wrong social support tactic, our attempts to help can have the opposite effect.

Do You Feel Like a Placeholder in Your Relationship?

If you suffer from self-loathing or low confidence, you may worry that your partner is always looking for some better—which may be a self-fulfilling prophecy you want to avoid.

Four Essential Keys to Successful Teaching

If you’re a teacher of any sort, then your success is primarily marked by the success of your students. Interested in keys to cultivating student success? Read on.

6 Ways to Tell if You’re Dating a Narcissist

While narcissists can be attractive, entertaining, sharp, and funny to watch from a distance, you don’t want to date or marry one. If you are already entangled with one, you may be reeling with confusion, self-doubt, and damaged self-esteem. Unfortunately, the chances of hooking up with a narcissist at some time in your dating or relationship life are pretty strong.

Love of Single Life: The Quintessential Modern Love?

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on September 26, 2015 Living Single
At a time when there are more than 100 million single people just in the US, there are still people denying that any of them could be truly happy. Research shows that people get angry at single people who choose to be single. What's that about?

Career Tips for Boys' Parents: Toward Moderate Self-Esteem

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on September 26, 2015 How To Do Life
Part I of a four-part series of career advice for boys and men.

Getting Over Relationship Insecurity

By Lisa Firestone Ph.D. on September 25, 2015 Compassion Matters
Insecurity, as most of us know firsthand, can be toxic to our closest relationships. And while it can bounce back and forth from partner to partner, both the cause of our insecurity and its cure reside in us alone. So, how can we best deal with our insecurities?

Is it Narcissism—Or Just High, Healthy Self-esteem?

By Caroline Beaton on September 25, 2015 The Gen-Y Guide
How psychology tests are failing us: the data behind Millennial narcissism.

Dark Thoughts Could be a Sign of Healthy Functioning

Healthier people can tolerate more subjective distress.

The Self-Loather's Worst Fear: Is Self-Image Set for Life?

A comment on an earlier post on self-loathing prompts a question about how easy (or difficult) it is to change the way we see ourselves.

5 Facts About Asian-American Christian Shame

By Sam Louie MA, LMHC on September 23, 2015 Minority Report
Asian-American Christianity is growing in the United States and abroad yet many Asians do not recognize how their cultural messages of shame negatively impacts their spiritual and emotional-well being.

Divorce Your (Bad) Mother: How to Love Her and Still Be Free

"The daily beatings stopped when I left home at nineteen, but the psychological abuse and manipulations were never-ending. I chose to love her from a distance and heal myself." Magdalena Gómez.

Paging Dr. Ben Carson: Homophobia Calling

The simple truth—that being gay is an expression of nature’s beauty, truth, and love—is not available to a mind closed by orthodoxy. Instead, our gay sisters and brothers are projected upon and viewed as sick and dangerous. Here's some light to illuminate the shadow of Carson's thinking.

How to Think of Your Body as Beautiful at Any Size

By Gregg McBride on September 19, 2015 The Weight-ing Game
The more we accept and respect others (no matter what they look like), the more disposed we'll be to extending that kind of acceptance (and even kindness) to ourselves. And when we change our judgements about how we look and what we weigh, we'll be more likely to initiate and even accomplish the kind of healthy, positive change that can lead to true transformation.

The Problem of the Self-Loathing Single Person

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on September 16, 2015 Living Single
In one brief essay, a nationally syndicated columnist ascribed some of the nastiest stereotypes about single people to himself, and perpetuated a long list of myths about the purported superiority of married people and their children. Science doesn't support his self-loathing or his singlism.

Do Tennis Champions Reveal the Secret to Mental Toughness?

The study from Middle Tennessee State University also found that the coaches rating of their tennis players' mental toughness bore no relationship to the athletes' own assessment. The coaches seemed to be basing their assessment of mental toughness of their players on their general results and rankings — yet this may be misleading.

Do You Have a Competition Mental Model?

Are you in competition with everyone else? Can you be effective leader with the Competition mental model?

The Paradox of Work

By Ken Eisold Ph.D. on September 12, 2015 Hidden Motives
Work is probably the most important thing we do. It is how we support ourselves, how we relate to each other, how we contribute to society, and how we build self-esteem. But our culture has always been ambivalent about it.

13 Things Mentally Strong Dogs Don't Do—Learn From Them

Does your dog give up easily? Is your dog a loser... or is he or she mentally strong?

5 Beliefs to Radically Transform Unhappiness to Wellbeing

Are you sad, anxious, managing a difficult relationship, grief or divorce? Are you feeling the stress of medical issues, parenting or work? Like flipping on a switch, changing the meaning you ascribe to life’s hardships instantaneously short circuits the thoughts that breed negative emotions. Adopt these 5 beliefs to transform unhappiness to wellbeing.

The Last Safe Prejudice

There are things we can do to encourage weight loss without stigmatizing people who are overweight