Straight Talk: The Importance of Self-Esteem


Rhesa Kaulia and Edwina Reyes from Ho`oko LLC answers our questions on the importance of self-esteem.

Q: What is self-esteem and why is it important?

A: Self-esteem generally refers to a person’s overall value or worth. It is the attitude that we have towards ourselves, and whether or not we like who we are. It is different from self-concept, or who we believe ourselves to be.

Self-esteem is important because it drives the way that we make decisions and draw conclusions about ourselves. If we draw a negative conclusion, we are more likely to act in a negative way towards ourselves (e.g. put ourselves down, think we are not good enough or not worthy, remain in abusive relationships because we don’t think we can get better or deserve better).

On the contrary, if we have a positive self-esteem, we are more likely to make decisions that promote our overall growth and healthiness (e.g. we may take risks and believe in ourselves, we won’t blame ourselves if something doesn’t work out, we don’t remain in toxic relationships).

Q: What are the statistics on self-esteem?

A: Low self-esteem has been linked to school dropout rates & low academic achievement, teenage pregnancy, violence, & suicide.

Additionally, 7 in 10 girls believe they are inadequate, and female self-esteem is strongly related to how she views her body.

Finally, children with low self-esteem are 1.6 times as likely to meet the criteria for drug dependence than children with higher self-esteem. There are a number of alarming facts that are tied to low self-esteem.

Q: What are some things that contribute to self-esteem?

A: Genetic and other heritable factors; not getting one’s needs met from childhood; the experiences one has (e.g. if a person is criticized, abused, or talked down to early on in their life or all their life); age; physical health; socioeconomic factors (e.g. poverty), personality (e.g. if one has a strong, resilient personality or not), etc.

Q: What does healthy self-esteem look like?

A: Having boundaries, confidence, accurate assessment of one’s strengths and needs & being able to accept it, able to express your needs and figure out how to get them met, not internalizing or blaming oneself when things don’t work out, having healthy relationships.

Q: What can be done if you are struggling with your self-esteem?

A: First off, talk to someone trusted. Get your feelings out in the open. Second, seek professional help from a therapist who is trained to help you evaluate your current situation and who can create a plan for improving your self-esteem. This may include learning to get your needs met, working on your levels of confidence, and assertiveness skills.

Our Counseling Center provides services for these types of situations. Often people don’t realize that counseling services are covered by most major health insurances.

If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact our office at 808-375-7712 or visit us online at

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