Building Self-Esteem

Joyce B. Robinson

January 8, 2024

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With the added stress of job and home-life pressures, it’s imperative to learn how and why we react the way we do to life’s obstacles. According to John P. Hewitt in The Social Construction of Self-Esteem, “Self-esteem is confidence in one’s own worth, abilities, or morals. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs about oneself, as well as emotional states, such as triumph, despair, pride, and shame.”

Knowing Your Personality Type

Your personality type influences how you act and how you relate to others. There are basically four different personality types: Assertive, Non-Assertive, Aggressive, and Passive-Aggressive.

Assertive Personalities

Assertive people stand up for their rights without violating the rights of others; they are calm, think rationally, and are self-confident. They confess to errors; make requests instead of demands; maintain eye contact; give and receive constructive criticism; communicate honestly and directly; voice personal opinions and disagreements, without becoming defensive, and take responsibility for their behavior and choices.

Non-Assertive Personalities

Non-assertive people are timid, meek, have diffi culty dealing with feelings of anger, and refuse to stand up for their rights. They suppress their feelings; suffer low self-esteem, don’t look people in the eye; keep their heads lowered; allow people to walk all over them; don’t refuse unreasonable requests; are indecisive and try to please everyone.

Aggressive Personalities

Aggressive people are extremely competitive, domineering, and stand up for their rights without regard for the rights of others. They humiliate, degrade, and belittle others; are stubborn and resistant to change; make demand instead of requests; take credit for other people ideas; create turmoil; blame others for their mistakes, are loud and obnoxious; express anger in destructive ways; never compromise, and walk around with a chip on their shoulder.

Passive-Aggressive Personalities

Passive-aggressive people view themselves as victims. They appear to be open but are often not honest; pretend to be your friend but talk about you behind your back; agree to perform a task but conveniently forget about deadlines; consistently misunderstand what is expected of them, and procrastinate and justify it by saying, “why rush? We have plenty of time,” even when the deadline is close.

Normally, each one of us possesses personality traits from each personality type.

Personal Bill of Rights

To build self-esteem, it would help to know and put into practice your Personal Bill of Rights:

  • The right to stand up for your rights without infringing upon the rights of others.
  • The right to consider your needs first.
  • The right to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • The right to self-fulfillment. It’s okay to have ambitions and goals.
  • The right to make mistakes. No one is perfect.
  • The right to change your mind, behavior, and values.
  • The right to be left alone and have free time.
  • The right to ask for help, realizing that others have the right to refuse.
  • The right to have your needs and wants respected by others.
  • The right to be happy.
  • The right to leave an abusive relationship. You are special and don’t deserve to be mistreated.
  • The right to say “NO” without feeling guilty. You can refuse to run errands, to lend money, or do favors.

Self-esteem can be the key to success or failure. In this age of increased challenges and pressures, it is imperative that we learn to face life confidently and optimistically. ■

The modified version of the Personal Bill of Rights is from the Therapist’s Guide to Clinical Intervention, Sharon L. Johnson, Academic Press and Knowing Your Personality Type from APWU’s partnership with Wayne State University.

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