Self-esteem is totally relative to integrity. When integrity is defended, self-esteem is enhanced. When integrity is compromised, character suffers, and self-esteem is the first casualty.
The dictionary tells us that integrity is unimpaired wholeness, or incorruptibility. What corrupts character? In a nutshell, it is always dishonesty, on one form or another. That makes the solution obvious, doesn't it? All we have to do is to get honest with ourselves.
The problem is that getting honest can be traumatic. Many of the thinking and behavior patterns that erode character are the selfsame patterns that have made us feel safe. They are the thoughts and deeds we thought we needed to survive. Perhaps all our lives we have used these dishonesties to get approval, acceptance, and what we imagined was our best shot at intimacy.
Many people are now struggling with self-esteem because they habitually agree when they want to object, smile when they want to cry, work when they want and need to play. These are dishonest behaviors. No matter what benefits they may have provided, we have to confront them now as the liabilities they have become.
Self-honesty is displayed in actions, not words.
Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved. ~Helen Keller