Self-esteem is the cornerstone to yourself. Learn in this blog post why this is and how you can build your self-esteem.
Anyone who has ever dealt with self-esteem issues knows how debilitating they can be. People with self-esteem problems can find themselves captive of self-destructive thoughts and behaviors, self-sabotaging the chances for happiness in their lives.
This is why it’s important to understand self-esteem. It helps us see what self-esteem really means, what causes it, and what we can do to raise it when necessary… or maintain it when already high.
What Is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem is our opinion of ourselves. We all have self-esteem whether we realise it or not. Most people just don’t give much thought to this fact because their self-esteem tends to be so stable. We may not be self-aware and self-conscious about it, but our self-esteem affects the way we feel, think and act in every important area of our lives. Problems with self-esteem can lead to anxiety, self-destructive behavior such as self-sabotaging and unhealthy relationships.
Self-esteem is a term by which self-respect, self-worth and self-regard are usually grouped under. Good self-esteem is often categorised by self-confidence and self-acceptance.
People with low self-esteem tend to think that they are bad or unworthy of attention or praise whereas people with high self-esteem tend to think that they are good or worthy in the eyes of others. An individual’s self-esteem is mostly based on personal beliefs about oneself, although it can also be affected by how others treat them.
The main beliefs that affect an individual’s self-esteem include ideas about whether one has power or control over other people or events in their life, their appearance and who they are as a person and how they feel others perceive them. All of these self-views can be affected by other people and experiences.
People with high self-esteem
Tend to believe they have self-control and self-power and generally think well of themselves. They accept themselves as a person apart from what others think of them, so tend to be less influenced by what others may say or do. They are more likely to stand up for themselves if necessary without worrying too much about what others will say. If they feel that someone has treated them badly they are likely to move on rather than dwell on it because their self-worth does not depend upon the acceptance or attention of other people.
People with low self-esteem
Tend to believe they lack self-control and power, and worry greatly (often obsessively) about what others think of them. They often judge themselves on a single factor such as appearance or how well they can do things which they have little control over.
People with low self-esteem are usually easily upset if they don’t do well e.g. in exams and tend to dwell on negative self-views after bad experiences with other people, even when the person who upset them is not around anymore. They tend to feel that their self-worth depends totally or very heavily on the acceptance and attention of others and will avoid conflict with other people because it may lead to others rejecting them, plummeting their self-worth further.
People with low self-esteem tend to blame themselves for everything, even when it is clearly not their fault and may display self-destructive behaviour such as self-harm. They will often feel unworthy of anything good happening in their lives and could believe that they do not deserve love, praise or care from anyone else.
Self-esteem can also be affected by
Self-talk is your internal dialogue, the things you think about yourself sometimes without even realising it eg. ‘I’m so stupid’ or ‘I never get this right’. This negative self-talk can lower self-esteem over time the same way another person repeatedly putting you down would.
If a person has been having self-defeating or deprecating thoughts like this for long enough their self-talk will become a habit, at which point stopping them becomes difficult.
- Self-fulfilling prophecies
When a person holds a view of themselves or an outcome for their life and then confirms that outcome by behaving in ways that matches their self-belief, that is a self-fulfilling prophecy. As an example, if someone thinks they are ‘worthless and lazy’ and acts in such a way the outcome is likely to be failure at school or work because they don’t put in enough effort or enthusiasm to succeed. Because they approach the situation essentially already in a state of giving up, the outcome is likely to be unsuccessful and thus they confirm their negative notion and believe it.
Changing your perception of yourself or the outcome of a situation to be positive can motivate you to do everything in your power to achieve the result.
“You would be shocked at the disparity of success between events with hosts with high self-esteem and those with low self-esteem, almost always those with confidence have successful events where everything goes off without a hitch” says event planner Sam Gosper, “Even when I encounter people with more experience in the industry, if they have low self-esteem and don’t trust themselves to achieve success, more often than not a lot goes wrong.
- Deserved self-worth
Sometimes people with low self-esteem put themselves down or blame themselves for both negative and positive outcomes. This could manifest as imposter syndrome, “I got the job but do I really deserve it?”.
“I felt this was so prevalent for me when opening my business” says entrepreneur Patricia Raneiri, “At times I would think, is this possible? But I believed in myself and now I have a business that has exceeded my expectations, all it takes is trusting that you have the power even if you aren’t 100% what you’re doing”.
People with self-esteem issues often self-sabotage, they believe bad things happen to them because of who they are and they feel they don’t deserve positive outcomes or success.
- Self-reinforcing cycles
People with low self-esteem tend to model their behaviours off past experiences. They may avoid social situations because they have had negative interactions with people in the past. People with low self-esteem can also act out which can be mistaken for bad behavior or rudeness but it is simply a mask they use to get attention or protect their ego.
“I find a lot of times when I encounter people who are unpleasant or don’t talk much it really just comes down to low self-esteem levels and anxiety” says customer relations expert Maddy Kucuk, “Once they feel comfortable they are so much brighter and pleasant to be around but if they can’t overcome that initial issue with self-esteem and open up you would never know that”.
People whose self-esteem has been lowered may try self-sabotage in order to protect themselves from being hurt. If a person with low self-esteem is rejected in some way then this person will feel even worse about themselves than they did before because of his perceived inability to attract people who want to spend time with them.
These self-reinforcing cycles can last a lifetime if they are not broken, leading to self-fulfilling prophecies and self-destructive behaviour in adults which can have serious consequences in their lives.
“You would be so surprised how many people give up on their fitness goals because they have one bad experience or just feel they aren’t capable of achieving their goals” says health specialist Craig Daley, “It is devastating because everyone has bad experiences once in a while but you need to persevere and keep going”.
The bottom line
Happy people generally have high levels of self-esteem. People who are happy know they are worthy of happiness because they have a strong sense of what makes them happy and how to go about getting it. Self-esteem is so important because it affects our self-reliance, self-worth, self-sufficiency, motivation, confidence and determination.
Our levels of self-esteem drive our behaviors in most areas of life, including relationships with others. The most important person we learn to interact with is ourselves and this tends to set the tone for how we approach every other relationship we develop throughout life. When we don’t like or love ourselves very much, chances are pretty good that we will project these ideas onto our relationships with others. When we know who we are, believe in ourselves and know how to get what we want, our relationships tend to be positive and beneficial all around.
Self-respect is based on a healthy sense of self-worth. Low self-esteem can cause us to self-sabotage, doubt ourselves and engage in unhealthy behavior. It is so important to recognise when we have low self-esteem so we can take action to improve it. Your happiness largely depends on how you view yourself and your life and these factors start with good self-esteem.
Check out our article “Improve Your Self-Esteem in 10 Simple Steps” to get some ideas on how to start your self-esteem improvement journey or reach out to our professionals who can help you improve your quality of life by improving your self-esteem.