Self-esteem is the belief that you are good enough and that you deserve happiness, success, friends and good relationships. Psychologically speaking your self-esteem has to do with you sense of self. How much you respect yourself and your beliefs, how much you feel that your personal satisfaction is just as important as someone else’s, and how you see yourself and your worth. These qualities are not to be confused with someone who is narcissist, who admires only themselves. Rather, these qualities can be experienced taking others in consideration but not letting others dictate the way you should feel.
Why Do People Have Low Self-Esteem
Low self-esteem usually has to do with thoughts about not being good enough or deserving enough. These feelings usually derive from childhood wounds. Children are very sensitive to the way they are treated. They pick up cues from others both verbal and physical, and consciously and unconsciously use those to create an image of themselves. Children who come from childhoods that are lacking with positive regards for themselves, often take this into adulthood.
Abuse can come in many shapes. Children do not have the tools that are needed to understand that they are not the ones that should be blamed for emotional, physical or sexual abuse that they had to endure. These experiences force them to often blame themselves.
What Are Some of the Ways That Low Self-Esteem Develops?
-Low self-esteem can arise due to parental absence or neglect. This may happen because of occupation, illness, any type of addiction disorder or mental health issues of parent/s. These type of parents are not focused on the child, its demands or its interests which interfere with how a child bonds with a parent. The child learns from these experiences that they are not important and not worth the effort. A child internalizes these messages and behavior and leads the child to feel worthless, powerless and not important. This has an effect on self-esteem in the younger years as well as the adult years.
-On the other side of the spectrum are helicopter parents. These types of parents hover over their children and focuse all their attention on how the child behaves, their grades, friends etc. The child with parents that react this way, believe that they are never good enough, because they are always being compared to other children, and always feel they have to do better. This leads a child to feel defeated no matter how successful he/she is.
-Low self-esteem is also very prevalent in victims of prejudice for race, ethnicity, gender identity, religious beliefs, disabilities or being any different than the general populations. People who are discriminiated against when they are younger have very deep emotional scars. Self-hatred and low-esteem is a result of being bullied by society for being different.
-Lastly social media plays a big role in how younger, as well as older people see themselves. We are constantly bombarded with messages of how one should look like. People often time compare themselves to what they see, without realizing that most images are photo-shopped or taken in a way that only shows the good side.
How Low Self-Esteem Can Affect You
The problem Is that low-self esteem leads to people believing they are not worthy and often times leads them to make decisions that can be more damaging than helpful.
- People with low self-esteem readily succumb to peer pressure.
- Difficulty in choosing relationships that are healthy.
- Often times addiction is prevalent to numb the negative thoughts.
- Some people may be tempted to self-injurious behaviors and actions that are risky.
- People who do not believe in themselves miss out on opportunities to grow.
- Problems that result from anger management.
- Low self-esteem can lead to feeling depressed and sad.
- Anxiety and feelings of panic are often correlated with low self-esteem.
Is there a way to build self-esteem?
The good news is that just as we grow and change, so does our self-esteem. Self-esteem is not about changing your looks or any physical aspect of yourself, its about changing your thoughts. The best way to start working on your self-esteem is becoming aware of your self-talk. Once you recognize the negative thought patterns, you can start to challenge them.
A very powerful tool is to notice at least one good thing about yourself each day. Make it a habit. Write it down. Think about how your muscles grow and stretch when you do yoga or work out. Your self-esteem is similar, it will grow as you find things you like about yourself.
Challenging yourself to do something outside of your comfort zone, might seem scary at first, but it can be very rewarding. It proofs to yourself that you are capable of more than you think. Even if you feel you didn’t succeed, the important thing is trying something new. Make sure you do this in baby steps. You first have to learn how to run before you partake in a marathon.
Another big step is to recognize that you are not perfect, no one is. Its being compassionate with yourself and your progress. Look at the small gains you have made rather than critizizing everything that is not going the way you wish it was. Remember Rome was not made in a day, and mistakes are part of the learning process. Forgive yourself for past mistakes.
One of the most powerful tools is learning to understand and differentiate between your current situation and your own-self worth. There are circumstances in our life that we have no power over. These do not define you. What can define you is how you learn and grow from them. The changes you make over time. Remember you are not the same person you were yesterday.
Lastly, finding a coach or a counselor that can help you through the trenches is another good option. Often times it is enough just to have a few sessions to help you make small changes. Contact Mind Wellness Center if you have any questions or would like to know more.