Q. What is your definition of self-esteem?

A. Everyone has it. Some don’t have enough. Others have an unhelpful form. Everyone needs an optimum amount. Our own level is reflected in every area of life and impacts every action we take, each decision we make, and every behavior we exhibit.

Here is the definition I used in my book Back to Basics (sold out currently but perhaps available soon on my website):

A healthy and balanced sense of self-esteem is probably the most universally important and yet perhaps the most universally neglected area of personal development. The word esteem simply means to respect, honor, admire, regard, or attach value. Consequently, self-esteem means to respect, honor, admire, regard, and attach appropriate value to oneself as an individual. It is the measure of how much we like, love, and approve of ourselves; the set of beliefs and images we have and hold to be true about ourselves; the reputation we have with ourselves. 

In other words, a desirable level of self-worth reflects a personal experience of being competent to live life in its fullness and of feeling worthy of that fullness. It provides us with a sense of completeness and diminishes the probability of our becoming involved with serious addictive behaviors, exhibiting dysfunctional behaviors, or developing habits that involve the frequent and prolonged use of defense mechanisms.