How Do You Feel About Yourself?
Recognizing Signs of High and Low Self-Esteem

By Suzanne E. Harrill  

Self-esteem is a term that gets bandied around a lot these days, often a little too frivolously. The downside is that self-esteem has become a cliché, an easy label, and the subject of considerable derisive humor. The upside is that almost everyone knows the meaning and importance of self-esteem — that happiness, self-empowerment, satisfaction at work, good relationships and success are all built on a foundation of healthy self-esteem. 

Inner Resources Gird Outer Confidence
High self-esteem is a quiet, comfortable feeling of total acceptance and love for yourself — as you are. It is respecting and valuing yourself as a worthwhile human being, honestly seeing your good and not-so-good qualities, and taking care of and nurturing yourself so you can become all that you are capable of being. High self-esteem is characterized by congruence between inner states (beliefs, feelings, attitudes) and outer states (behavior, relationships, health). 

Building Self-Esteem
elf-esteem is the foundation of your life. If you do not like parts of your life, you have the power to rebuild that foundation. Begin with your beliefs about yourself. Update all that is false or that fail to support your growth and highest good. Remember, you alone have the power to change your inner world. As you gradually accept the truth of these new beliefs, your feelings about yourself will improve. This in turn will affect your actions, accomplishments and relationships and you will experience more love, joy, abundance and satisfaction in life.  

You are like an acorn, that at each stage of its growth cycle does its best to become a giant oak tree. The acorn can only grow to the degree that it is nurtured by sunlight, water and nutrients from the soil. But even if its early life is less than ideal, its growth will accelerate at any time proper nutrients become available. You, too, have done the best you can under the unique conditions that have shaped your life thus far. With additional nurturing, self-awareness and self-acceptance — just watch yourself grow! 

Signs of Low Self-Esteem

Rate the following on a scale of 1-------------10     (1 = least describes you ----------- 10 = mostly describes you.

_____   Self-blame, self-criticism, or constantly putting others down through guilt, blame, shame or faultfinding.

_____   Over- or under-achieving, eating, working, doing, etc.

_____   Playing the victim, rationalizing that outside circumstances are the cause of your problems.

_____   Not taking responsibility for your own life, turning power over to another to make decisions for you, then feeling victimized if the results are not to your liking.

_____   Taking undo responsibility for the lives of others; dominating and making decisions for them.

_____   Fear of change and reluctance to take risks, or too much change, taking dangerous, unwise risks.

_____   Constant negativity, or being so optimistic that reality is denied.

_____   Reacting to others with extreme emotion or no emotion.

_____   Boastful, overbearing behavior around others, or inability to maintain integrity during interactions.

_____   Demanding to be “right,” needing to have agreement or have your own way most of the time, or constantly acquiescing to the will and opinions of others.

_____   Constantly comparing yourself to others, thereby feeling inferior or superior.

_____   Black-white, either-or thinking, e.g. believing that a person is either good or bad based on rigid standards of good and bad behavior.

_____   Having pervasive deep-seated feelings of fear, terror, or panic.

_____   Speaking with lots of shoulds, oughts, could-haves, and yes-buts.

_____   Interpreting the hurtful words or actions of others as proof of your unworthiness. 


Select the signs of Low self-esteem that most describes you.

Describe methods on how you can increase your self-esteem.

Signs of High Self-Esteem

Rate the following on a scale of 1-------------10     (1 = least describes you ----------- 10 = mostly describes you.

 _____    Having an internal locus of control; getting “okayness” from within… not from others.

_____    Taking care of yourself — physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

_____    Maintaining a balance between thought, feeling and behavior; when out-of-balance, taking action to correct.

_____    Learning from mistakes and being able to say, “I made a mistake, I’m sorry.”

_____    Managing your life responsibly.

_____    Honoring individual differences among people.

_____    Listening to other points of view.

_____    Taking responsibility for your own perceptions and reactions.

_____    Having the ability to listen to your wise inner self (your intuition), and to act on this guidance.

_____    Demonstrating self-respect, self-confidence and self-acceptance.

_____    Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses.

_____    Choosing continuous self-improvement and taking positive risks.

_____    Balancing being and doing.

_____    Feeling warm and loving towards yourself.  

_____    Giving and receiving love easily, with no strings attached.

_____    Extreme Views Shield Doubt and Insecurity            

Some people with low self-esteem are overachievers who believe that a high IQ, physical beauty, winning at sports, or being Number One assures emotional well-being. They are often motivated by feelings of inferiority that propel them to seek validation of worth (their own and others) in outer manifestations, like money, power and praise. Others make a practice of devoting all of their time and energy to family and friends and none to themselves. Often they are “giving” for the wrong reasons, with hidden agendas and expectations. Still others believe that they can only earn love by doing something. They evaluate their worthiness based on what they do, not on who they are. Finally, many base their self-worth on the opinions of other people or on outside indicators.


Select the signs of high self-esteem that most identifies you.

Select the signs of high self-esteem that you would like to work on.