In many of the models and approaches to developing self esteem there seems to me to be something missing. That something missing is the self respect which come from feeling good about what we are doing. No matter how much we like ourselves, or how confident we are in our skills if we do not have self respect, which comes from fulfilling a meaningful purpose, it is hard to see how we can have high levels of self esteem.
Having a sense of purpose is essential to self esteem. In fact having a sense of purpose is one of the things which can most help us to push through the barriers and boundaries we may experience to having self esteem. For example, we may feel that our life purpose is to help others through the practice of medicine. Yet, we may lack confidence in that area initially as we do not have experience. However, our sense of purpose will help us do whatever it takes to become competent in that field. We will then grow in confidence as our skills grow and in self respect as we see ourselves actively expressing our deeper purpose.
A sense of purpose can drive a person to overcome shyness, lack of confidence, lack of money, lack of opportunity or many of the limitations and problems which we may face in life. It can push us to move to another area, another job, another country, another life. In other words a sense of purpose can drive us into leading a more worthwhile life and the higher level of self esteem which comes with it.
Once we have a strong sense of purpose then we have a strong sense of self. Yet a sense of purpose may not just come to us out of the blue. We may need to nourish it and encourage it to grow. We may need to make choices where the chances of apparent success seem very slim. We may need to take some risks in order to fan the flame of our sense of purpose so that it can grow and warm our heart and light our way.
As we grow in our sense of purpose our self doubts do not matter so much. They become dimmer and less and less important. As we grow in our sense of purpose any feelings we may have of unworthiness or not being good enough begin to fall away as our focus is on something more important. In this way our sense of purpose can enable us to rise above the psychology circumstances of our birth and formative experiences. We rise above the level of self esteem which we inherited and create our life on another level and on another plane.
Trying to gain self esteem without self respect gets us nowhere. Trying to have self respect without a sense of purpose is a pointless. Our sense of purpose does not have to be some grand scheme. It can simply be a commitment to treat everyone we meet with kindness and respect. Our sense of purpose needs to align with our own true values not the values we have picked up from others.