The different pillars of the self

Last summer, while I was in the middle of a session with my shrink, he asked me if I had any esteem for myself.

I immediately answered “yes”, without hesitation.

At the time, I was convinced that I loved myself. And, I was also convinced that it only depended on being loved by others and succeeding in getting what you wanted.

At my response, my shrink had a tender smile and proceeded to explain to me the difference between self-esteem, self-confidence and self-affirmation. And as I started to realize that I was confusing self-esteem with self-confidence and self-confidence with assertiveness, he went on to self-love, self-acceptance and even self-image. And, that's it, he had completely lost me.

All these terms are the pillars of the self. If they meet in their definitions they do not, in reality, mean quite the same thing and it is essential to know how to distinguish them. To distinguish them well is to learn to know oneself in depth, it is to learn to improve each area that plays on the fulfillment of our global self. To know them well is to tend towards a total appeasement of our self.

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is the judgment that we have of ourselves and that we carry on ourselves.

Basically it is the relationship between what we really are and what we would like to be. Self-esteem takes root at birth, is built in early childhood and is consolidated throughout our lives. The environment (stable, secure, or not) plays a major role in its construction.

Self-esteem is thinking: “I am like that”.

What is self-confidence?

Self-confidence is believing in your potential and abilities.

Knowing yourself deeply, by doing a real work of introspection (and not by relying only on what others say), is the basis of self-confidence. It is acquired above all through internal security but also through the acquisition of skills and through the recognition of its fellows.

Self-confidence is feeling “able to”.

What is assertiveness?

Self-assertion is the set of assertive behaviors of an individual placed in a social situation. It is the ability to defend one's point of view in a calm manner and to sincerely and effectively express one's emotions, thoughts and limits (without denying those of others).

Self-assertion is acting in one's best interest.

What is self-love?

Self-love is a set of attitudes that go through: having self-esteem, being kind to yourself, protecting your physical and mental health, knowing your real interests and protecting your intimate territory. It could be translated as: being a good mother to yourself

Love for oneself is to respect oneself and do oneself good.

What is self-acceptance?

Self-acceptance is recognizing one's difficulties, flaws or history. Self-acceptance, like self-confidence, is knowing yourself but, above all, accepting yourself as you are.

Self-acceptance is thinking: “I am like that and it suits me”.

What is self-image?

Self-image is the idea that each of us has of our physical (appearance) or psychological identity. If the image that we have of ourselves is specific to each one, it can be totally distorted compared to what others really think.

Self-image is thinking: “I look like that”.

Once we know all the different pillars that build our self it is easier to work on the whole. Because if they are distinct, one does not go without the other. The basis of everything is to get to know yourself, really, to see yourself in difficulties by observing our reactions, trying to understand where they come from. When we know ourselves we can improve our self-esteem, by changing what we can (and if we feel the need to) then accepting what we cannot change: accepting our image, our real identity. When you accept yourself, it's the first step towards self-love. Then comes self-confidence and self-affirmation. And it is also in self-affirmation and self-confidence that we learn to love ourselves etc... Anyway, it's a virtuous circle!

It's your turn !

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