Self-Regard

“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.” Marilyn Monroe

What is self-regard?

Self-regard (also referred to as self-esteem) is a term used to describe how much you accept and value yourself as a person. Accepting and valuing ourselves is essential for good health, happiness and success.

People with high levels of self-regard value and accept themselves for who they are, and are clearly able to separate this from tasks and activities. They are also able to readily admit if they can’t do something and welcome constructive feedback from others. Rather than feeling threatened by it or defending against it, he or she will see it as an opportunity for developing and learning.

How can it be measured?

One way of assessing your level of self-regard and whether it is having an impact on your life, is to consider your usual response to negative feedback. How do you feel? How do you process the information? Do you tend to focus only on the negative comments? How long do you dwell on negative feedback? What changes do you make after receiving the feedback?

What impact does it have on my life?

People with high self-regard may have feelings of disappointment after receiving negative feedback, but these feelings are measured and manageable, more on the scale of disappointment than devastation. They are resilient to feedback and failure, quickly rationalize the details and move forward, using the information to learn and grow.

Conversely, people with low self-esteem tend to dwell on negative feedback and comments, often dismissing positive comments (as being lucky or people just being nice). Negative feedback can be seen to have a significant impact on them, with emotional responses such as defensiveness, aggression, distress, depression, powerlessness and a lack of ability to rationalize or respond in a measured way.

How does it relate to self-confidence?

It is important to distinguish self-regard from self-confidence – low confidence is linked to a specific activity that someone may be inexperienced in performing. Someone with high self-regard may lack confidence in doing something they are unskilled at but this will not impact their self-regard. Self-confidence can be built through practice and activity and it can be faked until achieved, hence the term ‘fake it till you make it’. Self-regard cannot be faked and is based on an individual’s perception of themselves.

So how do we build and protect our self-regard?

Our self-regard is made up of a combination of attitudes about ourself held in our unconscious emotional brain. These attitudes are built up from feedback we receive from others from the moment we are born. Indeed for newborn babies if their needs are met, they are fed, changed, comforted in distress etc, they tend to develop high self-esteem and have an optimistic view of the world. Conversely, if their needs are not met, they develop low self-esteem and have a more cynical view of the world.

In short, to build our self-regard we need to accept all positive feedback and constructive negative feedback and not accept negative non-specific feedback about us a person. We cannot change what people say about us but we have a CHOICE about whether we accept and take on board what they say.

Furthermore, if we associate our activities with our own self-worth, then our performance in carrying out that activity and how others appraise it, will automatically have an impact on our self-esteem.

Next steps

To protect our self-regard we must unconditionally accept ourselves whatever and never put our self-regard on the line. Whether we succeed or fail at something is then completely independent to how we feel about ourselvesĀ – success or failure merely gives us feedback about our performance and opportunities to learn from that experience.

The way we respond to any feedback given to us, has an enormous impact on our self-regard.

Develop more healthy habits towards receiving feedback by completing this feedback exercise.

If we associate our activities with our own self-worth, then our performance in carrying out an activity and how others appraise it, will automatically have an impact on our self-esteem.

Accept yourself whatever by practising this two of me exercise.

A large amount of feedback that we receive comes from our own self-talk which is often critical.

Create positive affirmations and develop a habit for giving yourself positive feedback by regularly practising this affirmation exercise.

People with high levels of self-regard readily admit if they can’t do something and welcome constructive feedback from others seeing it as an opportunity to develop believing ‘there is no failure only feedback’.

Raise your awareness of the unconscious conditions that you measure yourself against and accept yourself regardless of what you do or have by practising this unconditional acceptance exercise.