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

A Self-Esteem Manifesto

As invisible and alone as you may feel, take this opportunity to declare, first to yourself and then to others, that you are committed to becoming fully engaged in life.

Giving or Taking Criticism: Stay Cool, Calm, and Collected

By Hendrie Weisinger Ph.D. on December 02, 2016 in Thicken Your Skin
Can you stay calm when giving criticism? Can you hear criticism without feeling your heart zoom?

Surfing Your Brain: Know Which Brain Is Talking

By Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W. on December 01, 2016 in Fixing Families
Your brain goes in and out of its rational state many times over the day. The key to successfully surfing your brain is recognizing what state you are in and taking action.

Emotionally Abusive Relationships, Part Two

Think you're in an emotionally abusive relationship? Understand the dynamics of emotional abuse.

The Wizard of Oz

By Abigail Brenner M.D. on November 29, 2016 in In Flux
This beloved story is one of self-discovery and transformation. Every time we venture forward into unknown territory we change, transforming into a fuller expression of ourselves.

Too Much Self-Esteem May Be Keeping Millennials Single

By Caitlin Cantor LCSW, CST on November 29, 2016 in Modern Sex
If you're a Millennial, you may be more skilled at being alone than you are in relationships. Learn the relational skills you missed if you grew up during the self-esteem movement.
K. Ramsland

Boys Dressed as Girls Who Became Serial Killers

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on November 29, 2016 in Shadow Boxing
Some serial killers recall being dressed as girls when young, despite being male. It might have had a negative impact.

How to Remain Optimistic Through Change

Are you feeling overwhelmed with the change that's happening in your world? Use optimism to transform your overwhelm into confidence.

How to Get Past Fears, Setbacks and Failures

By Leslie Becker-Phelps Ph.D. on November 29, 2016 in Making Change
It’s easy to be self-critical and feel demoralized in response to fears, setbacks, and failures. But you can choose a different path of feeling stronger and achieving your goals.

You Don't Really Know Yourself

By Robert Firestone Ph.D. on November 26, 2016 in The Human Experience
For the most part, people are unaware that their lives are controlled and regulated by negative attitudes toward themselves that represent a basic aspect of their identity

Managing Our Emotions as We Age

What problems can happen when our emotions take over the role of our intellect?

Make Identity Great Again

By Dawn R. Norris, Ph.D. on November 23, 2016 in The Next Step
Did working-class identity loss help Trump win?

Emotionally Abusive Relationships - Part One

Although emotional abuse can be subtle, the impact is profound and can create intense self-doubt, fear, anxiety, anger, and depression.

What’s Wrong with Wanting Things to Be Perfect?

What is wrong with wanting things to be perfect? Nothing, unless it is hurting you.

4 Ways You Can Start Treating Yourself Better Today

By Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D. on November 21, 2016 in Think, Act, Be
It can be frustratingly hard to change negative feelings about ourselves. Instead of focusing on your feelings, start with your behavior.

Save Your Thanksgiving With Multi-Minute Cooking Videos

By Jamie Krenn Ph.D. on November 18, 2016 in Screen Time
Thanksgiving is less than a week away. You are thinking: "What do I do with this turkey?!" Cooking videos may boost self-confidence, as told through social cognitive theory.

Taking and Giving Offense for the Fun of It

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on November 16, 2016 in Ambigamy
Taking and giving offense is sometimes necessary and sometimes just a way of alleviating self-doubt. We should keep this distinction in mind.

Do Your Trees Keep You From Recognizing Your Forest?

By Leon F Seltzer Ph.D. on November 16, 2016 in Evolution of the Self
It’s like not being able to see the forest for the trees. When you’re in the thick—or “thicket”—-of things, it’s hard to grasp the deeper dynamics of what’s going on in your life.

Are Your Morals Reasonable?

By Rob Henderson on November 14, 2016 in After Service
Are your morals based on reason? Research suggests they might not be.

Shame Management and the Trump Supporter

By Joseph Burgo Ph.D. on November 13, 2016 in Shame
Many white working class voters who feel likes "losers" supported Trump because he promised to restore middle-class jobs that provided a sense of "basic human dignity."

Acceptance: Greasing the Path to Growth and Happiness

If you are having difficulty making changes in your life, here is a different approach.

Narcissists Are Aggressive Jerks!

By Brad J. Bushman Ph.D. on November 07, 2016 in Get Psyched!
Does self-love or self-hate underly aggression and violence?

How U.S. Citizens Become Human Trafficking Victims

Many human trafficking victims are not physically held against their will, and some are even allowed to have cell phones and free time. So why don't they escape?

The Art of Subtle Seduction, Part 2

He recognized his partner as a work in progress, rather than a fixed entity. He stopped taking her for granted.

Feeling Happy for Others Can Make You Happy

By Toni Bernhard J.D. on November 02, 2016 in Turning Straw Into Gold
Here’s my recipe letting other people’s joy make you happy. The true wonder of this is that the more you’re able to feel happy for others, the happier you’ll feel yourself.

Is It a Circumstantial Setback or a Conspiracy Against You?

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on November 01, 2016 in Ambigamy
Sometimes they're out to get you, sometimes it just hard circumstances. We do better when we attend to the difference.

8 Things to Tell Yourself When You Feel Like a Failure

Failure is part of a long road to success—but only when you have the right attitude about it.

The Many Benefits of Self-Compassion

By Lisa Firestone Ph.D. on October 29, 2016 in Compassion Matters
In many ways, self-compassion is more beneficial to our psychological well-being than self-esteem.

How to Get Over Being Blindsided by a Breakup

Try these four ways to cope with your breakup blindside. They'll make the unreal real and help you avoid being blindsided again in the future.
eldar nurkovic/Shutterstock

Bringing Gaslighting to Light, Part III

Do you know how to recognize the signs of gaslighting?