Our self esteem is lost in the process where we don't follow our natural instinct and instead think and do what is wanted or expected of us. The times that we "follow our heart," without a finely tuned internal GPS system, we are simply relying on defense mechanisms to protect us. Intuition is important. It tells us what is for us, and its results intricately tie into self esteem.
The down side of using our intuition is that we are bound to change or lose existing relationships and ways of living. So we make the decision that is pleasing to others' ears or won't rock the boat, and ignore the alarm bells. Wrong turn! Wrong turn! Yet we gladly move the steering wheel into a road we signed up for and now have to take.
When we give the power of decision over to third parties, and know little about where we are headed, we turn our gaze to them. They are the ones and situations we know and trust. Before long, we lose our sense of identity and with that goes our self esteem. Lost identity in this world is bought by those around us. They determine who and what we should be, and we submit.
The good news is that we can develop our self esteem by following our intuition. This is one of the very many natural tools available to us. We don't have to wait to become defensive and needy, we can make the right decision for us the first time.
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