Self-esteem is the perception you have of yourself. It’s a blend of your opinion of yourself, your worth as an individual, and the confidence you place in your own abilities and judgment. It’s not a static notion; it can fluctuate depending on different situations, experiences, and emotional states.
Self-esteem is like the foundation upon which a house is built. If this foundation is solid, it will reliably support the structure through all kinds of weather conditions (life challenges). If it is fragile, the house may collapse under pressure.
Self-esteem is a psychological concept that refers to the judgment a person has of themselves. It’s an overall evaluation of their worth, abilities, and qualities. An individual with high self-esteem feels capable, competent, and worthy of love. Conversely, a person with low self-esteem feels inferior, incompetent, and unworthy of love.
Why is it important?
A healthy self-esteem is like a pillar that supports many aspects of your life, from relationships to career, and emotional well-being. If this pillar is strong, you are better equipped to face the challenges and stresses of daily life. If it’s weak, you may feel more vulnerable to criticism, failures, and even minor challenges.
Signs of low self-esteem
Signs of low self-esteem can be multiple and varied. They can manifest on cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and relational levels.
On a cognitive level, individuals with low self-esteem tend to devalue themselves and have a negative self-perception. They may have thoughts such as: “I’m worthless”, “I can’t do anything”, “I don’t deserve to be loved”.
On an emotional level, individuals are more likely to experience negative emotions such as sadness, anger, shame, and anxiety. They may struggle to manage these emotions and cope with life’s difficulties.
On a behavioral level, individuals with low self-esteem may engage in avoidance or self-destructive behaviors. They may avoid social situations, challenges, or opportunities that could make them feel rejected or incompetent.
On a relational level, individuals may have difficult relationships. They may struggle to assert themselves and establish healthy and satisfying relationships.
If you have low self-esteem, you may tend to:
- Constantly criticize yourself
- Have difficulty making decisions
- Compare yourself negatively to others
- Avoid situations that make you anxious or uncomfortable, even if they are beneficial for you
Causes of low self-esteem
Self-esteem can be influenced by a variety of factors, including life experiences such as your upbringing, relationships, and even your current mental health. Sometimes, low self-esteem can be a symptom of other psychological issues such as depression or anxiety.
Several factors can influence self-esteem, such as:
- Childhood experiences (upbringing, relationships with parents)
- Life events (failures, successes, relationships)
- Mental health (depression, anxiety)
- Body image
- Social or cultural pressures
Sometimes, low self-esteem can be a symptom of other psychological issues such as depression or anxiety.
There are various psychotherapies that can help improve self-esteem. These therapies can be individual or group-based and may be conducted by a psychologist, therapist, or another mental health professional. Therapeutic strategies used may include:
- Identifying and challenging negative thoughts
- Developing problem-solving skills
- Improving communication and social skills
- Setting and achieving realistic goals
- Mindfulness exercises to enhance self-awareness
Tips for improving self-esteem
There are also things that individuals can do on their own to improve their self-esteem. These tips include:
- Focusing on strengths and skills: It’s important to take time to reflect on one’s strengths and skills. This can help develop a sense of worth and competence.
- Setting achievable goals: Setting achievable goals can help develop a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence.
- Treating oneself with kindness and compassion: It’s important to talk to oneself in the same way one would talk to a friend.
- Avoiding comparisons: It’s important to remember that everyone is unique, and there’s no comparison.
- Spending time with positive people: Positive people can help us feel better about ourselves.
It’s important to remember that self-esteem is a process that takes time and effort.
If you believe you have self-esteem issues that negatively affect your quality of life, it may be beneficial to consult a mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment planning.