Self-esteem is defined simply as a realistic, appreciative opinion of oneself. Realistic means that we see ourselves accurately and honestly, neither inflating nor deflating our strengths or importance. Appreciative implies positive feelings of liking and accepting. The person with self-esteem is generally secure. Secure means free from fear and doubt; not troubled; stable; safe from damage or attack. Secure people are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and are comfortable with who they are inside. They are deeply and quietly glad to be who they are. They are relatively safe from attack because they know deep inside that nothing anyone can do or say can change their abiding worth as a human being.
People with self-esteem have no need for arrogance or destructive pride—the belief that they are more worthwhile as a person than others, or more capable than they are. Arrogance and destructive pride lead to enmity and competition, rather than cooperation. They cause us to view people on a vertical scale—one must be above others in order to have worth. People with self-esteem also possess a dignified humility. They realize that at a very basic level they are like all people—wanting to be happy and avoid suffering. Like all others, they are born, they die, and they share the same bodily functions. They wish to be loved and respected, and feel the same feelings of gladness, sadness, fear, and anger. Thus, self-esteem views people on a level playing field, equally worthwhile as human beings and warranting respectful treatment.
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