The label or term self-esteem is an inverted compound term. In other words 'esteem' which means regard, respect, and concern for others is made after the term 'self' into a compound of the two terms, implying that the term esteem means only something individually inherent, or inherently created by the individual. The fact that the singular term esteem is used to mean regard, respect, and concern for others, means that self-esteem, unlike esteem, cannot be given and received, but is something that can be individually created in terms of the persons feelings, thoughts, and perceptions about him or herself.
In this respect, to feel good about ones self is often about feeling the same things as the professional, or feeling good about oneself when the professional says those things are good. Even in this context self-esteem is used as in the interpersonal context between individuals, and not the self in isolation. Self-esteem then is either what people say makes them feel good, or what professionals say makes then feel good, and according to different professional mental health models.
When a professional recently went on to ask a client about his self-esteem, she then asked him how his son regarded his hearing voices experiences, to which he replied that his son was kind and understanding, and she asked him if that made him feel good about himself, to which he said that it did. So the term self-esteem might mean how we feel about ourselves, whilst in this
instance it was then used in it's singular term of esteem and not the inverted compound term context. In other words, the professional started talking about self-esteem as an individual concept, and then went on to talk about esteem as a social and interpersonal concept and which can be given and received.
Self-esteem therefore really means self estimation, and to some extent the context of shared regard, respect, and concern, even in an original use of the term esteem have become somewhat obsolete. Low self-esteem is another label that can also be used to criticise those who try to achieve esteem on their own terms without professional instruction and with others.
Another assumption made in some mental health models, is that a person has to have good self-esteem in order to assert themselves, whilst other models emphasise things like assertiveness and communication skills first in order to achieve self-esteem.
Whilst feeling good about oneself socially or individually may help a person assert themselves, it is simply not the case that people assert themselves better always and when they are feeling their best. Otherwise we would have to say that people protesting against tyrannical regimes cannot be being assertive because they feel bad about themselves. Assertiveness, as I see
it, is again a separate issue which can be blurred with the concept of esteem.
Another interesting point is that esteem is also a euphemism for the term spirit, as in feeling in good spirits. This area might reveal the quasi-religious notions of the term self-esteem, originating from the religious idea of an individual soul, instead of an all- embracing spirit.