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To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves - there lies the great, singular power of self-respect. - Joan Didion
Self-esteem is based on the thoughts and feelings you have about yourself. These can be positive, negative, or accepting. High self-esteem is reflected by positive thoughts such as “I’m smart, attractive, and interesting.” Positive thoughts can help you feel effective, capable, and lovable. Low self-esteem is reflected by negative thoughts such as “I’m ugly, stupid, and boring.” Negative thoughts can make you feel worthless, unlovable, and incompetent. People with high self-esteem accept and like themselves.
Self-esteem has a strong influence over your life. It affects how you think, act, and feel about yourself, and influences your relationships with others. It can affect your performance in school and work, as well as influence how successful you are in achieving your goals.
Self-esteem develops and changes over the course of your life. Experiences and relationships with family members from birth until the present were strong influences. School experiences also contribute to self-esteem. Relationships with childhood and adult friends helped to form your self-esteem, as do experiences with work and career.
In general, positive experiences and relationships contribute to high self-esteem, while negative experiences contribute to low self-esteem. Self-esteem continues to change throughout life as a result of new relationships and experiences.