Understand Your Why to Build Self-Esteem

August 26, 2020 Jessica Kaley

When life overwhelms you and you have trouble keeping it together, understanding your why will help you get past the tough times and keep your self-esteem strong. If you have a good reason to keep on keeping on, it makes it easier to persevere through whatever you face. But, what makes a reason good? Understanding this point is key in your effort to build healthy self-esteem.

This week, I faced unforeseen events that temporarily broke my spirit. Learning what a good reason looked like was the beginning of my own journey to improve my self-esteem, although I didn't know it at the time. I did recognize that after working on applying this lesson, I began to feel more successful in life, and so I knew I was on the right path.

In my struggles to do what I felt I needed to do this week, I changed a couple of my whys and it helped me see through the dark cloud and feel good about myself again. I want to share how redefining my goals helped me understand my why to build my self-esteem and move forward confidently.

Take Time to Question Your Reasons to Understand Your Why

The pandemic has given me the gift of time with very few distractions, and one by one, I've been tackling the hard jobs that I put off while I was distracted by people and places. This week I decided to face settling some property issues with my ex.

My goal has always been to be fair to him. He suffers from rapid cycling bipolar disorder, and I couldn't blame him for having this. That meant that at times, I allowed myself to be hurt emotionally because I thought it was the price I needed to pay to meet my goal of fairness.

Every time we spoke about the property since we split, it started out as a rational conversation and devolved into anger and tears. This week was no different, and I reacted as usual by detaching from the conversation and waiting for him to get back to a place where we could continue the discussion calmly, perhaps in a day, perhaps in a month.

This time, with the space to have a good me-centered think around the topic, I realized that my primary goal was no longer fairness. It was now to prevent as much pain for myself as possible. I will always be fair, but yesterday I reached out to a lawyer to help me. I hope it will be quicker than dealing with it on my own, and I know it will be easier as I will not need to be directly involved as much.

While this was going on, I also dealt with a visit to the dentist. I have dental phobia and drive three hours each way to my old dentist because he is awesome with me and very trusted. This time, the pandemic restrictions kept me waiting in my car for them to get ready for me, and when they tested my temperature before allowing me to enter I showed a slight fever. Four tests over a 20-minute period had the same results, and I was sent home without treatment.

I wasn't sick. The fever was caused by sitting in the sun in my car, and I was fine when I got home. But I realized that allowing my fear of trying a new dentist was causing me unnecessary pain. For 10 years, I made the drive through three states because I believed I was being kind to myself, but now I needed to rethink my why because this was not feeling kind at all.

In the 10 years since moving south, I tried four local dentists and each was disappointing so I keep returning to my comfort zone. This time, I asked my trusted, local doctors for their recommendations of someone who was medically sound as well as compassionate, and I made an appointment with my endocrinologist's own dentist for next week.

Your Why Can Change Over Time

Healthy self-esteem means recognizing that life changes us constantly. We owe it to ourselves to continually review our goals and reasons for our behavior. When we recognize that our old why may no longer be relevant to who we are today, we stop resisting change and can move forward in a positive manner.

I feel so much lighter today writing about the way I practiced self-love by removing unnecessary pain from my life. I'm nervous about visiting the new dentist and I don't know how the property settlement will play out, but I am confident that I am acting in a way that supports my personal goals today and not my goals from a time past.

What changes have you gone through that might have also changed your goals? Do you think your self-esteem suffers from the difficulty of letting go of past beliefs? How are you learning to understand your why to build self-esteem? Share your story in the comments.

APA Reference
Kaley, J. (2020, August 26). Understand Your Why to Build Self-Esteem, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Jessica Kaley

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