YOUR self-esteem is made up from four attitudes you have about yourself: your confidence, your sense of identity, feeling a sense of belonging and being self-assured in your abilities.

Without a strong sense of self-esteem moving forward in the world and fulfilling your full potential can be difficult.

There are thousands of people who keep on settling for second-best; people who are so unhappy and unfulfilled that they can become prone to depression, eating disorders and self-destructive relationships.

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Hannah StephensHannah Stephens (Image: Hannah Stephens) My friends and I spent our teenage years in endless conversations about how we could improve ourselves, lose weight, be pretty, be smart, be more successful, get boys. Eighteen years later and we’re still talking about the same stuff. Why? Because we never found the solution to the one problem that has bugged us since adolescence-how to boost our flagging self-esteem.

We were so busy believing what everyone said about us that we forgot who we really were. More importantly, we forgot how to respect ourselves and or opinions.

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Some of us were so insecure that we settled for second-best when it came to choosing careers and boyfriends. We ended up with boys who treated us badly, or boys we treated badly. We were talked out of dreams and allowed parents and teachers to dictate our future.

So, what makes one person achieve their dreams despite enormous set-back, and another give up? Is it fate? Is it luck? Or is it belief in yourself and your abilities? I’m convinced that it’s all about believing in yourself, and that’s why it’s so important to respect yourself and have a daily focus on maintaining or working towards high self-confidence and self-esteem. This is the key to improving your life. It is your shield against the world, and your lifesaver when things go wrong.

Once you respect yourself, you’ll know that whatever happens you’ll be able to cope. Life is not a race, a contest, or a competition. You don’t have to do battle with anyone, nor compare yourself to others. Things will go wrong. This is life, it comes with ups and downs and there’s nothing you can do about it. You can, however, make it easier for yourself by being respectful of who and what you are. Perhaps, it’s time to be friends with a very special person. You! Small steps create big smiles.