“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” – Louise L. Hay
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Do you frequently ask yourself:
“How did I get to this place?”
“What made me who I am?”
“Why do I constantly doubt my abilities?”
“Why others have more confidence in themselves?”
A simple sentence, “Believe in yourself!”. However, this simple sentence can be the source of happiness and success in our lives, or it can be about our not so happy life and maybe not doing well. Self-esteem is about you and how you feel about yourself as a person.
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A person with unhealthy or low self-esteem has little or no respect for themselves, nor their abilities and nor their skill sets. They have little or no confidence in themselves, and their inner conversations are about criticizing themselves, putting themselves down and belittling themselves.
A person with unhealthy self-esteem may be more prone to depression, anxiety, stress and more. They may struggle with loneliness and limiting beliefs like, ‘I am worthless’ or ‘I am not good enough’ and many more.
It is hence essential to understand the triggers or reasons for low self-esteem. A change, however challenging, starts with awareness. When a person has self-awareness, they choose to either stay the way they are or start taking small steps on their journey of empowering themselves.
In our quest to be empowered with healthy self-esteem, sometimes it is vital to ‘look back’. To understand our past life, like our childhood experiences, our triggers, habits, thinking patterns, and belief system to implement changes needed to shift from ‘unhealthy or low’ to ‘healthy or high’ self-esteem.
Without further ado, let’s dive immediately into various reasons that can be responsible for our low self-esteem.
What Are The Characteristics Of Low Self-Esteem?
– Victim mentality like, ‘Poor Me’, ‘Why does this always happen to me?’
– A person is not ok with their personality. They do not respect themselves.
– Unhappiness in relationships with self and others
– Critical inner conversations with self
– Feelings of loneliness, fear and immense anxiety
– Unhappy with performances and achievement
– Unsure of their own true identity
What Are The Reasons For Low Self-Esteem?
Many factors can influence our self-esteem. They can be external or internal factors. Let’s understand who and what affects your style of thinking, feeling, and behaviour.
Family like parents, grandparents, extended families, cousins and others influence how your future will shape either consciously or without knowledge.
– Children from an incredibly young age, maybe from the day they are born or even in the womb, absorb cues from their parents. Babies observe and take cues from their parent’s body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice.
– Children who experience loving touch, unconditional messages like ‘I love you’ attuned to the parents and others body language, will usually grow up with healthy self-esteem.
– However, children whose voice is not heard or emotions are neglected/discounted, or there is abuse – physical, emotional or sexual will grow up with a good dose of an unhealthy self-esteem.
– When a child is constantly compared to their siblings or others at home, they may develop low self-esteem as they may not be ok with who they are. They may start believing they are not good enough.
– When a child experiences traumatic events like loss of a parent, separation from parents, prolonged illness in family or themselves, it may impact their self-esteem.
– When the family is not supportive, or when parents do not have time to communicate with their children, or when a family member may have a mental illness, it may develop unhealthy self-esteem.
– Friends are one of the primary sources of support and guidance.
– Friends are also responsible for shaping self-esteem.
– What kind of friendships developed as a child, teenager and young adult? A person was able to have close and intimate relationships, or they were about lack of trust. Did the person grow up thinking, ‘Do not trust a person; they will stab you in the back?’
– Did a person make friends, or did he/she find themselves isolated or bullied or left with a feeling, ‘I do not belong’?
– Was a child envious of others when they saw them having fun and a caring friendship? Jealousy or feeling not good enough impacts self-esteem over the course of a person’s life.
– Often, to ensure a person belongs to a friend circle, they may adjust to new beliefs and behaviours, which is detrimental to self-esteem.
– A person may enter toxic friendships to combat loneliness, but they may unconsciously start an abusive or a controlling company that dents self-esteem.
3. Schools and Teachers
– Teachers are amongst the earliest influences, along with parents and friends.
– When teachers compare a child with others, they are unknowingly denting their confidence in themselves and their self-esteem.
– When a teacher constantly picks on a child and finds faults, it is unhealthy for their self-esteem.
– When teachers embarrass, humiliate or made a child feel that they are not important or not worthy of their attention, that the child does not deserve a good life, they are shaping the child’s beliefs about themselves and others.
4. Television, Internet and Technology
– Another significant influence is the internet, television and other technologies like apps, gaming and social media etc.
– In today’s age, more and more children are watching or gaming or chatting for many hours at a stretch.
– Movies, tv serials, and gaming blurs the lines between reality and fiction. There may be comparison with their favourite stars, and may ask themselves, “Why can’t my life be like X?”
– These questions and others are responsible for a person’s view about themselves, their identity, and their function in the world.
– Comparisons begin to impair judgements and wear away a person’s self-esteem.
– The frame of Reference: As a child, an essential factor determining healthy or unhealthy self-esteem is how this child perceives a situation. What they think they saw, heard and felt.
– Limiting Beliefs: What are the limiting beliefs a child develops over the years through their frame of reference. Though the personal values and beliefs are formed as children, they tend to run the adult person’s life on a tight rein.
– Inner Conversations or self-talk impact self-esteem: When there is high energy invested in the internal critical part that puts a person down most of the time, and there is little or no appreciation, it dents self-esteem.
– Different thinking styles : Thinking styles like blaming themselves for everything, black or white thinking, catastrophizing, predicting adverse outcomes and more impact self-esteem.
– Negative thoughts: Focusing on the negative and discounting themselves or their abilities is unhealthy for self-esteem
– Self Condition: When a person has many ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ as they speak to themselves or others, it may also dent their self-esteem.
It may be a good idea to write down what comes to you about yourself as you read the above. To take a step towards greater self-esteem, it becomes essential to be more aware of who you are, what beliefs are crucial to you, and what your goals are for yourself.
In my next blog, I will write on how to build healthy self-esteem. If you like, keep a check on our website as the blog “25 Simple Ways To Boost Your Self-Esteem Quickly.”