Self-esteem is how a person thinks and feels about their qualities and characteristics. This is described as either high or low—that is, a person has either high self-esteem or low self-esteem.
More specifically, a person who has positive thoughts about their qualities and characteristics would have high self-esteem, whereas a person with negative thoughts about their qualities and characteristics would have low self-esteem.
Having self-esteem is important for decision-making relationships, emotional health, mental health, and overall well-being.
Having low self-esteem isn’t a mental health problem in itself, but they are closely linked. So, this is important because higher levels of self-esteem translate into improved mental health, and lower levels of self-esteem are related to mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.
Your self-esteem can affect whether you:
- Like and value yourself as a person.
- Can make decisions and assert yourself.
- Recognize your strengths and positives.
- Feel able to try new or difficult things.
- Show kindness towards yourself.
- Move past mistakes without blaming yourself unfairly.
- Take the time you need for yourself.
- Believe you matter and are good enough.
- Believe you deserve happiness.
Benefits of self-esteem
The benefits of self-esteem are as follows:
- Sense of purpose: Self-esteem allows individuals to have a sense of purpose in life.
- Positive outlook: People with high self-esteem can have a positive outlook on life.
- Realistic: Self-esteem enables people to accept themselves and accept reality as well.
- Value of self: Self-esteem allows one to appreciate their value and worth regardless of the opinion of others.
- Communication skill: Self-esteem helps individuals to improve their communication skills.
- Drive for success: Self-esteem allows people to take on new challenges and achieve success in life.
- Feel happy: You feel happy and content with your life because you respect yourself and other people respect you.
- Feel less stressed: You realize that you don’t need to be perfect so you feel less stressed. You are not afraid to make bad decisions because you understand that anyone can make mistakes and it’s OK.
Disadvantages of self-esteem
The main disadvantages of self-esteem are as follows:
- Overconfidence: Too much self-esteem may lead people to become overconfident.
- Affects performance: People with high self-esteem may sometimes face failures in their performance.
- The pretense of humility: Due to high self-esteem, some people may pretend their humble.
- Emotional problems: Due to the suppression of problems, sometimes, individuals may face emotional problems.
- Delusional: The overflow of positivity may sometimes lead individuals with self-esteem to be deluded from reality.
- Lack of confidence: Lack of self-esteem may also lead to a lack of confidence among individuals.
- Poor academic performance: Those who have poor self-esteem may face problems in academics as well.
What can cause low self-esteem?
The things that affect our self-esteem differ for everyone. Your self-esteem might change suddenly, or you might have had low self-esteem for a while – which might make it hard to recognize how you feel and make changes.
Difficult or stressful life experiences can often be a factor, such as:
- Being bullied or abused
- Experiencing prejudice, discrimination, or stigma, including racism
- Losing your job or difficulty finding employment
- Problems at work or while studying
- Ongoing stress
- Physical health problems
- Mental health problems
- Relationship problems, separation or divorce
- Worries about your appearance and body image
- Problems with money or housing
You might have had some of these experiences, and you might also have had difficulties that aren’t listed here. Or there might not be one particular cause.
Signs of low self-esteem
The specific signs of low self-esteem depend on the type of low self-esteem or the area of self-concept or life related to the negative beliefs. However, some signs can help to identify general low self-esteem.
Someone may have low self-esteem if they are experiencing inner voice of self-talk that is negative, difficulty accepting or responding to compliments or constructive criticism or feedback, avoidance of social gatherings or challenges, focus on what is unwanted more than what is wanted, hesitance to try new things, low level of confidence, excessive sensitivity, mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, or eating disorders, etc.
How to enhance your self-esteem
The following eight strategies for improving your self-esteem will allow you to develop the specific habits and mindset you need to successfully face whatever challenges life throws your way, so to speak.
The first strategy for developing greater self-esteem requires the practicing of acceptance, i.e., the ability to fully and honestly embrace who and what you are as a unique individual. This doesn’t mean ignoring your faults and acting as if you’re perfect in every way. On the contrary, acceptance means acknowledging your imperfections and flaws and working to improve upon them over time.
So, you must find a healthy balance: focusing too much on your imperfections gives them a heavy, self-destructive “weight” that “brings you down” whereas ignoring them outright leaves no room for self-mastery or development as a person.
Self-esteem is like a muscle that requires constant contraction for it to grow. If you don’t actively practice developing your self-belief, it will shrivel up and become weak. Believing in yourself requires that you constantly engage in positive and reinforcing self-talk.
Some unhelpful thoughts are inevitable, but you can choose how you react to them. Try to remain aware of your previous successes and accomplishments. When facing a particularly challenging situation, remind yourself that you have battled harder times previously and always “made it out the other side”.
3. Being present
A huge source of the anxiety that so many people experience today is the unwillingness to stay grounded in the present moment. Constantly forcing your brain into a hyper-vigilant state by obsessing about the past can lead to anxiety, depression, and the feeling that something bad is always around the corner. You must train yourself to stay grounded in the present moment. Take regular walks in nature, feel the sunshine on your face, notice the color of the trees, and pay attention to the joy of animals as they run around looking for food. Start every single day by writing down 5 things for which you’re grateful.
Developing greater self-esteem also requires that you dedicate yourself to continuous self-improvement and self-growth. This doesn’t mean that you must become ever critical of yourself, questioning every choice you make. On the contrary, it involves becoming slightly better — smarter, more patient, less antagonistic, more forgiving and understanding, less harsh on yourself and others, etc. — than you were yesterday or last week or last month.
5. Practicing mindfulness
The fifth essential tactic for achieving high self-esteem is mindfulness training. The only requirement for mindfulness is that you pay close attention to your ideas as they appear, move through your conscious awareness, and then fade away. Being “on alert” for self-defeating thought patterns, or negative self-talk is especially crucial.
You must learn to create a positive inner dialogue if you are continuously telling yourself that you can’t do something, that you’re not competent enough to do something, or that you don’t deserve anything.
6. Empowering beliefs
Self-respect, self-discovery, and self-esteem are the three main components of self-esteem. Enhancing your sense of self-worth and general happiness requires adopting positive and self-affirming attitudes, such as “I can achieve x, I will do y, and I did the best I could give the circumstances.” You will almost likely be prevented from reaching your full potential if you believe false or unduly harsh narratives about who you are as a person. Genuinely contented individuals who have found success, happiness, and inner peace did not just happen to be in these states; rather, they worked tirelessly to forge these conditions in their lives.
According to author Debbie Mandel, exercise fosters both physical and emotional empowerment. Daily task abandonment for the sole goal of unwinding or engaging in enjoyable activities is a form of self-care. It has also been demonstrated that healthy eating and getting enough sleep have a good impact on one’s sense of oneself.
Forgiving self and others have been found to improve self-esteem and promote an acceptance of people, despite our flaws, says author Francesco Schiraldi. If we hold on to feelings of bitterness or resentment towards ourselves, we keep ourselves stuck in a cycle of negativity. “If I have hurt or harmed anyone, knowingly or unknowingly, I ask forgiveness,” says Buddhist meditation on forgiveness, “and forgive them”.
Also, more methods can help to improve your self-esteem:
- Seek CBT talk therapy
- Eat healthy foods
- Join a support group
- Connect with friends and family
The bottom line:
Be gentle and kind to yourself as you work to increase your self-esteem and develop personality traits that will allow you to overcome criticism from others.
Be dedicated and hardworking while remaining compassionate and forgiving: only by being your own biggest fan will you be able to persuade others to show you the love, respect, and support you deserve. Speak with your primary care provider or seek assistance from mental health professionals.