To trust one’s mind and to know that one is worthy of happiness is the essence of self-esteem – Nathaniel Branden
– Do you have difficulty finding something good about yourself?
– Are you constantly comparing yourself to others?
– Do you have a difficult time looking in the mirror as you don’t like what you see?
– Do you constantly find fault in yourself?
– Despite improving your looks or accomplishments, do you still have something that needs to be changed or improved?
If your answer is yes to most of the above questions, you may want to read on the importance of self-esteem and how you too can have high self-esteem.
I have worked on my self-esteem. I have come a long way from “I am not good enough” to “I am good, and I love myself”.
What is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem refers to a person’s perception of himself. It can also refer to a person’s beliefs and feelings towards himself or the evaluation of oneself.
– Self-esteem is a realistic, appreciative opinion about oneself.
– It’s about recognising and being aware of our strengths
– It’s about accepting our weaknesses
– Self-esteem is our confidence in our ability to think
– Self-esteem is about having good feelings about oneself
– It’s about knowing there is more to us than our faults or deficits
– Self-esteem drives human behaviours
– Self-esteem is the personal ability to cope with the primary challenges of life, like facing failures
– It recognises our innate, intrinsic self-worth
– Self-esteem is about feeling whole and secure in ourselves.
– It’s about feeling confident in our right to be successful and happy
– Self-esteem is about being worthy, deserving, entitled to our needs and wants.
– It is not the same as the outer appearance of confidence. Self-Esteem is the quiet and steady inner-confidence about us.
– Self-esteem is directly proportional to happiness and mental wellness in all age groups across different cultures.
What Shapes Our Self-Esteem?
Both internal and external factors shape self-esteem.
Internal Factors will include:
- Individual Belief System about self, others, and the world
- The inner conversations we have with ourselves.
External Factors will include:
– Verbally and non-verbal experiences in early childhood by parents, significant caregivers, teachers and others
– Relationships with parents, caregivers and others
– Childhood neglect and emotional abuse, if any, adversely impact self-esteem
– Parental smothering on a child can be just as damaging as neglect
– Negative or positive parental messages
Importance of Self-Esteem
Psychology suggests that self-esteem impacts almost all aspects of a person, starting from thinking, emotions, behaviour, and social and physical life.
The level of our self-esteem has a profound impact on every aspect of our life. It can be our relationships, our work life, our achievements, and the level of happiness we attain.
Self-esteem impacts our mental and physical wellness.
|A person with high self-esteem||A person with low self-esteem|
|Seeks challenging and demanding goals. Achieving these goals strengthens self-esteem||Seeks the safety of the familiar and undemanding goals. Confining oneself to these goals weakens self-esteem.|
|Has the ability to cope with challenges in personal as well as professional life.||May have many self-doubts, anxiety while facing challenges.|
|Is better protected against mental health issues like depression, stress, anxiety and others.||Maybe prone to mental health problems. They may exhibit depressive symptoms, anxiety, stress and others.|
|Finds it easier to manage physical health problems.||Finds it difficult to manage physical health problems.|
|Is usually an emotionally healthy person who can control their thoughts, behaviours, and feelings effortlessly, enabling them to cope with typical challenges in life.||Is usually overwhelmed emotionally and may have negative thoughts, ruminate, and find it difficult to cope with challenges.|
|Wants to express themselves, reflecting on the richness within themselves.||Has an urgent need to ‘prove’ themselves. Or to forget oneself by living mechanically and unconsciously.|
|Enjoys a open and honest communication as they respect their own thoughts and respect other people’s thoughts too.||May have muddy, inappropriate communication since there is doubts on one’s own thoughts and feelings.|
|Will usually form nourishing relationships.||May be prone towards toxic relationships.|
|Exhibit confidence, curiosity, inventiveness, and independence. These traits enhance engagements in relationships through creating expectations and attracting new connections, therefore facilitating interactivity.||Is hypersensitive to rejections (they are prone to offence). They tend to distance themselves from people, aiming to limit their vulnerability in case of rejection or disrespect. The withdrawal can lead to more severe consequences in relationships.|
|Projects satisfactory social bonds between individuals. While self-esteem impacts individuals’ cognition, people with healthy self-esteem are believed to be reasonable and pursue others with respect, creating healthy relationships||Trigger’s irritability and aggressive behaviours that impact relationships significantly. According to Murray et al., unhealthy self-esteem (inflated, low, or extreme self-esteem) results in unpleasant behaviours associated with frequent conflicts in society.|
|Will have a higher rate to succeed in the arena of intimate relationships.||Will usually have a fear of being undeserving of love or always feeling like a victim, not important, not loved.|
|Maybe believes, “I love myself and I have the ability to love others”||Maybe believes, “I do not love myself, then how can I expect you to love me?” Poor self-concept sabotages relationships.|
|Is more likely to do well in their studies, at work and in other performances.||Is more likely to have poor performance. According to Branden and other psychologists, you can predict a person’s productivity judging by their self-esteem.|
Psychotherapists like myself believe that when clients improve their self-esteem, it, in turn, facilitates the treatment of mental issues. In other words, healthy self-esteem improves resilience against mental conditions – self-esteem leads to less anxiety, low levels of depression, and eases chronic stress.
In addition to that, self-esteem is linked with cognitive abilities, especially in children and teenagers. Researchers conclude that children with high self-esteem also have high mental aptitudes.
Studies show that positive feelings towards oneself facilitate confidence, motivating and predicting success for young people.
And finally, research discloses that high self-esteem is one of the best predictors of personal happiness. Low self-esteem has a direct co-relation with unhappiness. This is discussed in D.G. Meyer’s The Pursuit of Happiness.
Self-esteem dictates all aspects of our life. When we suffer from low self-esteem, we do not like ourselves, we may doubt our abilities, and may feel overwhelmed with our emotions.
I have illustrated the difference between a person with high self-esteem and low self-esteem. It is clear we would all like to be on the side that says, “High Self-Esteem”.
High self-esteem is instrumental in attaining our inner peace and happiness. In my next blog, I talk about different ways to raise our self-esteem. If you believe you may lack the optimum self-esteem you would like to have, do read my blog on “25 Simple Ways To Boost Your Self-Esteem Quickly.”
Relationship between self-esteem and psychological health – CORE reader. (n.d.). CORE – Aggregating the world’s open access research papers. https://core.ac.uk/reader/19397120
Self-esteem in a broad-spectrum approach for mental health promotion. (2004, August 1). OUP Academic. https://academic.oup.com/her/article/19/4/357/560320
What is self-esteem? A psychologist explains [2020 update]. (2020, July 28). PositivePsychology.com. https://positivepsychology.com/self-esteem/