Why Do People Have Low Self-Esteem?

by | Apr 28, 2022

Identifying the reason behind low self-esteem is crucial. It is the next step in your journey of self-healing and establishing good self-esteem. As Robert Frost once said, “The best way out is always through.

Self-esteem is the sum of how you perceive yourself – not just on a good day, but even the not-great ones too. When no one’s around, and you’re left to your own devices, what do you think about yourself?

Several factors contribute to low self-esteem.

  • Developmental factors
  • Being bullied or teased
  • Having a parent or caregiver who is critical, uninvolved, or absent
  • Experiencing abuse (physical, emotional, sexual)
  • Going through a major life change or trauma (divorce, job loss, death of a loved one)
  • Having a chronic illness or disability
  • Struggling with addiction
  • Feeling like you don’t fit in or belong somewhere
  • Depression or other mental health disorders

Let’s look more closely at a couple of these.

Developmental Factors

From childhood, we begin to establish certain standards that influence our thinking.

This can be a “bottom line” of sorts and gets determined by life experiences. It also shapes our believes about ourselves,  others, and the world as a whole.

For example, if you felt that you had to prove yourself to others as a child, you may notice that this same behaviour follows you into adulthood. Hence, your bottom line becomes feeling the need to prove yourself to everyone you meet. This can become mentally taxing in social settings and your professional life too.

Such ideals can have a huge impact on your self-esteem. It can be hard to overcome these beliefs. And thereby, it can be hard to approach different tasks with self-confidence.

To try to enhance your overall self-esteem, take some time to assess how past experiences have shaped the way you think and feel about various facets of life.

Then, analyse whether specific situations, today, warrant the same thought process as before. Reflecting on your thinking in this manner is key to improving your self-esteem.

Change in Comfort Zones

We all enjoy the sense of security that familiar places and experiences bring us. Why else do you think that job interviews or performing on stage can be a nerve-wracking ordeal for many?

The unpredictable nature of events prevents people from stepping beyond their comfort zones. Drastic life changes such as moving out of home or even losing a job can have a similar impact on self-esteem.

It could lead to self-doubt which, if not addressed at the earliest, can result in lower self-confidence.

Toxic Familial or Social Relationships

How others speak to you can transform your inner voice and dictate how you view yourself.

A lot of this comes from Albert Bandura’s theory of social learning. You learn about yourself and society through observation.

Extended time in toxic relationships can result in a loss of self-esteem. It is common for people engaged in unhealthy relationships to lose their self-esteem. Constant belittling, gaslighting, and manipulation can make individuals feel powerless and inferior. This can occur in platonic, romantic, or familial relationships.

The reason why many people remain in such relationships could be that they feel that they don’t deserve any better or can’t be on their own, which of course is not true.

Seeking support to remove yourself from any such situations that you feel are detrimentally affecting your mental health is extremely important. Finding the necessary help can be incredible in transforming your self-esteem.

It is a good idea to do regular check-ins. Speak with a trusted friend, family member, or therapist. It can help you identify where your low self-esteem is coming from. Moreover, it will also help you recover from instances that have hurt your self-esteem.

Several studies show that your self-esteem levels can be affected by those around you, social approval and disapproval can dictate how we feel about ourselves,” says life coaching expert Jeanine Sciacca. “Even if we don’t realise it or believe it, the media and those we interact with in daily life can have positive or negative effects on our self-esteem”.

In Conclusion

If you are experiencing low self-esteem, don’t worry, there is hope.

There are many things you can do to improve your self-esteem and feel better about yourself. Counselling, therapy, and support groups are all great resources. They can help you work through the causes of your low self-esteem. You’ll also be able to develop healthy coping mechanisms.

You are not alone in this journey. Seek help and you’ll witness what a difference it can make to your life.


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