Self esteem refers to how we value ourselves and is about recognizing and honoring the parts that encourage good feelings. It involves taking a positive inventory of your assets and acknowledging them, celebrating your higher self. Self acceptance is a more global affirmation of self, asking us to dig deeper. It requires a fearless and searching inventory, risking a look into all facets of ourselves, both positive and negative. Many of us would rather ignore or pretend the negative parts do not exist, often because of the emotional overwhelm that is attached to them. Coming to acceptance of those unpleasant parts of ourselves is sometimes referred to as embracing the shadow side, and we all have shadows. Oddly enough, it is in befriending the parts of you that you would rather disown that you are most able to begin to change them and increase your self esteem.
We can't change what we pretend does not exist, so obviously the first step in changing an undesirable behavior is owning it. This is often more difficult than we might think as humans tend to be really good at rationalizing and defending against what we do not want to see. When we do catch a glimpse of a behavior we don't like in ourselves, we tend to judge rather than be curious about it. Self judgement is one of those powerful conversations for no change; curiosity invites exploration and the possibility of change. If you think there is something "wrong" with you because of a specific behavior, or insist that you shouldn't be this way, you reinforce the continuation of that behavior, and sometimes even amplify it. "What we resist, persists" is the way Carl Jung described this all too human peculiarity. Resistance takes a lot of energy that could be utilized in more productive ways. Releasing resistance and allowing room for all part of ourselves opens a doorway for movement in a new direction.
One approach is to look at what purpose the "undesirable behavior" serves for you. Maybe it is experienced as a sense of power, protection, an emotional release, self soothing, or simply a sign that something has to change. Odds are good that at one time it did serve a useful purpose but perhaps now is simply habit. If we can slow down, pay attention and choose how to respond rather than just react without awareness, maybe the behavior can be our ally to guide us into awareness of what really needs to change. All behaviors, even patterns of angry outbursts, overeating, blaming, self medicating, compulsive shopping or co-dependency, "make sense" in that the behavior developed in response to something that occurred in the past. And if the behavior no longer serves us, let it be okay to see it for what it is, to release resistance to it, and encourage it to transform into something that is more useful in the present day. This can be a challenging process if strong emotions from the past anchor the behavior, so it is good to have the support of someone you trust. If we don't try to pretend ourselves into someone we think we are supposed to be, and instead work with who we really are, we are likely to find more harmony with ourself and the world.