How to Develop a Good Self Esteem

I think your own definition of yourself is the most important identity you have. Of all the opinions of who you are (solicited and unsolicited), your opinion about yourself is the one you will believe the most. The danger with it is that 'belief' is the strongest human force on earth. The power of conviction has behind it, all the strength residing in the human person so much so that whatever identity you 'believe' becomes a self fulfilling prophesy. You unconsciously begin to act out what you believe. A vicious cycle erupts immediately. The more you act it out, the more you believe it. The more you believe it, the more you act it out.

What is self esteem and why is it so important?
The term self esteem is one of those combined words that don't give you a direct definition, but takes you in a roundabout way to get to a point. So, not to waste time on stuff you can google or get in the dictionary, self esteem boils down to 'how you feel about yourself, or what you believe about who you are. It's your overall opinion of yourself or your sense of worth.

Why is it so important you ask? Well it molds who you are, irrespective of your innate abilities, skill or God given talents. Who you believe you are determines what you believe you can do and that invariably determines who you are. 

The story is told of the eagle that was hatched in a chicken coop. After it grew up, it ate nuts like the other chicks and never attempted to fly. Luckily, one day a big awesome eagle meets the 'eagle-chicken' and convinces it to attempt to fly and in a swoosh, he takes off and soars'. There are many morals in the story, but the simple understanding is that as long as the eagle believed he was a chicken he never flew or hungered for fresh meat. That same way, whatever you believe about yourself will end up being what you will live out.

It also works the other way round, there are some chickens believing they are eagles and beating themselves up that they can fly and blood tastes like glue in their mouth, so they end up living an unfulfilled life because they have a wrong self image and self esteem. Your best life is when you find the life that is made for you. It fits like a glove or a shoe that has taken the shape of your feet. A healthy self esteem is one that allows you live out your full potential without putting you under the pressure of spreading yourself too thin, trying to prove a point.

The Things That Determine Our Self Esteem
  • The opinion of others about us
  • Our experiences (both failures and successes)
  • Our faith/ religion and
  • The source of our informative development

The opinions of others play a major role in determining our self esteem, especially in our teenage and impressionable years (although it also works throughout our lifetime). We care so much about what people think of us and we tend to model our lives, looks and mannerism to please others. This is especially common among cliques and clubs. Everyone wants to be and accepted as 'cool' (cool being whatever the self proclaimed leaders say is cool).

Our successes make us confident and secure while our failures make us timid and insecure. If we have more experiences of failures than of successes in our lives, the tendency is that we will develop a low self esteem, especially if we don't have a support system that would encourage us at those times.

Our religious tenets tend to insist on what we should think of ourselves. By establishing right and wrong standards, it sets a platform for our self judgement. If we meet the required standard, we are justified and this gives us a psychological high and an esteem boost. On the other hand if we fail to meet the faith standard, we feel condemned and crash in our esteem.

The books we read, movies and programs we watch, magazines and social networks we follow affect our self esteem by setting a social standard that we have to strive to meet. If our social media showcase a certain look and size as the 'in thing' everyone wants to be and look like that, and the more we try to look and act like our social role models and fail, the less we think of ourselves. So our self esteem depends now on how much we can kowtow to the image that has been approved by the media. Also on the same level is the opinions of our life models, parents, teachers, mentors etc who always voice what they think is best for us. Your father wants you to be in the military, because as he claims, it's the only noble profession (what he does not tell you is that he missed his chance of being in the army and wants to live his dream through you). So he rides you for wanting to be an artist, and you eventually develop a low self esteem because you're now in booth camp, hating it and sucking at it.

How to improve your self esteem
  • Accept yourself for who you are:
Your first step is to accept yourself. You are who you are and peace comes when you accept that. Some folk use this as an excuse to become lazy and give up on life because they accept a low pedigree as reason not to be successful. Accepting yourself for who you are does not mean you can't improve on yourself. It simply means you don't have to be someone else to be successful. You can make a success out of who you are.

  • Recognize your edge:
The same way no two finger prints are exactly the same, no two people are the same. That makes you very special. You are one in over six billion people. If that's not special, I don't know what is. Beyond that, you have a quality that makes you you, and once you discover what that is, work on it. Nobody holds monopoly on 'cool'. That's just what they want us to think so we keep worshipping them. Find your own brand of cool and sell it. Stop trying to be someone else (don't care how good they look). Add value to yourself so you can determine what the next phase of 'cool' will be.

  • Go to where you are celebrated:
If you are short, dark and on the heavy side, don't make a bunch of skinny light skinned models your only clique of friends just to be popular, you wont feel good about yourself when you guys go clothe-shopping (not a rule, just to make a point). Find people that celebrate you, accept you and are happy to have you among them. Whenever you are the third wheel, it hurts your self-image and makes you feel that you are not good enough. Find out what makes you feel good about yourself and stay with it. There's a difference between what makes you feel good and what makes you feel good about yourself. drinking a litre of coke or eating a 100g chocolate bar would make you feel good but will not make you feel good about yourself. While going to the gym might not make you feel good, but will definitely make you feel good about yourself.

  • Keep improving yourself:
Success makes us feel good about ourselves, so do everything to continue to have the feeling of success. Add daily to yourself. Make setting daily goals a priority, because in achieving them you scoop up the high of success. Simple things like giving yourself a target to finish a book in a certain time, taking a two week course, being nice to a mean neighbor…. We were all made to be conquerors, the more things you conquer, the better you feel.

  • Develop your faith:
There are so many depressing things in the world, so much pressure that makes you just feel down about yourself. It helps to have the knowledge that there is a divine power that wants you to succeed and is willing to help you succeed. Some people argue that it's a type of 'head in the sand' syndrome, but my argument (since this is not a theological treatise) is if  my belief in a God will help me face more, handle more, and survive better, how are you helping me by telling me that there is not? If you chose not to work hard because you believe some divine presence will do it, that's a problem. But if you take the 'heaven helps those who work hard' theory, then you'll be ok. Believing that you have help enables you deal with more, which makes you feel better about yourself and your situation.

Everyone deserves to feel good about who they are, because we all are worth quite a lot. No human life is more worthy or important than any other. It is not what we possess that makes who we are, it is who we are that makes what we have worth anything. If anyone is trying to put you down for any reason, please realize that you are not what they say you are, you are what you believe you are, and you are ‘all that and a bag of chips’.   

Image courtesy of  Grant Cochrane /

Kanayo Aniegboka

Kani is a writer, entrepreneur, blogger, public speaker and an all-round knowledge junkie who likes to view life from different angles.


  1. Hmm.... Good old self esteem, that has toddlers throwing tantrums, children withdrawing, teenagers making the worst mistakes, women whining, men struggling... oh thou self esteem, when will we ever be free of you? - Poet Funmilayo (Yeah right!)

    Thanks again Kani! permission to print and paste on my office door. people will check their esteem first before stepping into my office. will make my work so much easier. *rolling eyes*

    after-thought-comment: why didn't you write for so long! please don't become a 'dead blogger'. we (my friends and a few family) look forward to you now. you're such a good writer. are you published?

  2. Thank you so much Fumi! Permission granted(lol). I'm so sorry I've not written in a while, it won't happen again, I promise. You're a good writer too, And no, not published yet, but real soon.

    1. Psst... Me? A Writer? I don't have the discipline! if the rule says 2,000 words, I'd make it 10,000 just for fun. I'm a carefree writer, definitely not a good one.

      A promise is a promise... but why don't i see a new post yet?

      Can't wait for the book to be out then. what would you write about, i wonder? U seem to know a lot about a lot. (see what i mean about my writing... know a lot about a lot?)

      I have a question though, if your boss never commends you (even when you've done a bad-ass job and everyone knows it), but will commend every other person and never you. If you begin to second guess your competence, does that mean you're low self esteemed?

    2. First you need to correctly assess your boss, is he being hard because he wants to victimize you or does he see your potentials and is trying to push it out of you. You can tell by how he responds to your work; a mentor will tell you "fair, but you can do better" those are the midwives of our greatness, you may not like it, (because you believe you have done a great job, but they see more than you do). A killer on the other hand will put you down, even before others, does not have anything good to say to or about you, and most importantly will not correct your mistakes after grilling you. A boss who beats you up but corrects you and shows you the right way is a gold mine, the one who uses you without adding to you is a slave master. Once you can deduce correctly, you don't have to have a low self esteem. Stay with the mentor, he will build you, leave the killer, he will ruin you.

    3. I think she's both! A killer and a mentor! (i would deny it if she ever read this though.) I'll stay for the mentor side of her. The killer side threatens my self-esteem, but i won't quit. Which job could possibly be better than free cake, cocktail and partying?

  3. Wow! Thanks Kani. Wow! I think i have a low self esteem!

  4. this is really nice ,thanks kanayo

  5. Wow dis is awesome!I ve learnt so much on how to improve my self esteem !Good job pastor kanny!