Self-esteem can be defined as the way we see or feel about ourselves. It’s the evaluation of our self, the value or worth we attach to ourselves. Morris Rosenberg, a central figure in introducing this concept, holds self-esteem as simply the attitude towards oneself, whether favourable or unfavourable.
Self-esteem can be viewed as a continuum and is broadly divided into two i.e, high self-esteem and low self-esteem. People with high self-esteem see themselves in a positive light and demonstrate high value or worth towards themselves. People who identify themselves with low self-esteem, on the other hand, do not hold a positive viewpoint regarding their worth and may demonstrate inadequacy at the end of the day.
The Evolution of Self-Esteem
Self-esteem generally develops during childhood and therefore, it’s heavily influenced by parental attitudes and behaviour. There are two significant factors that influence the development of self-esteem in children. One is the supportive behaviour of the parents in the form of encouragement and praise for the child’s accomplishments while the other is the child’s internalized idea of his parents’ success and failure. As children get older, their world begins to include people outside the domestic sphere and peers within school. The self-esteem here is fostered by the level of competition and recognition of achievement in academics, sports and arts.
The experiences and relationships one shares with people they meet throughout their life, shapes their self-esteem. Negative experiences are detrimental to the development of self-esteem in which the person is left feeling unequipped to build resilience and fight through demanding times.
Self-esteem is also determined by the way one evaluates their performances, appearance, their ability to trust himself, make sound decisions, complete a challenging task, respect themselves and others. It also depends on meaningful and wholesome relationships, the thoughts they hold about themselves, the way they look at themselves in comparison to others, and their ability to live a self-fulfilling life. It is even more important to remember that self-esteem is not a fixed concept but can be subjected to measurements and is malleable.
Delineating High and Low Self-esteem
The positive effects of high self-esteem allows people to experience happiness, motivation, and optimism as compared to people with low self-esteem. They are also less likely to experience depression, anxiety and labile mood. High self-esteem allows people to accept pleasant and unpleasant situations, effectively deal with challenges, appreciate relationships, and develop their strengths. It also gives them the ability to stay focused and positive in the face of adversity. An increase in self-esteem can be attributed to a people’s success, praises or love they receive from other people. Therefore, it is not only their own perception towards themselves that matters but also the perception others have about them.
On the other hand, an extreme form of high self-esteem has come to be regarded as narcissism. It is the highly inflated and grandiose view the people have about themselves and their positive traits and competence, combined with a sense of entitlement. The person also has a tendency to overestimate the existence of risk behaviours of others while underestimating the prevalence of personal risk.
People who have low self-esteem endure feelings of inferiority, worthlessness and emotional instability leading them to have a general negative attitude towards themselves, others and the world. It contributes to their feeling of uncertainty and confusion leading them to have an inconsistent perception about themselves making them susceptible to the changing situation and events. Low self-esteem has also been linked with many psychological problems such as suicidal tendencies, major depressive disorder, eating disorders, substance abuse, aggression, antisocial behaviour, delinquency, social anxiety, etc.
8 Ways to Boost Your Self-esteem
While self-esteem is greatly influenced by past experiences and patterns of development, it is definitely something that can be worked upon to help themselves. (enhanced and implemented) These are some of the ways one can boost their self-esteem apart from maintaining good care of their mental health.
Our minds have a tendency to distort our perception of ourselves. Having a clearer understanding of our strengths and weaknesses can contribute to building a realistic picture about ourselves and our ways of functioning. Recognising our strengths is an important way to gauge our caliber needed to perform in different areas of life and aim for higher goals. Weaknesses, on the other hand, are to be seen as potential areas of development and not something we lack in.
It’s also important that we have a realistic expectation of ourselves where we do not overestimate or underestimate our capabilities. A discrepancy here will allow room for us to think that we are not adequately equipped to deal with novel situations and this might lead to a person giving up before the goal is achieved. Considering the times in the past when one was able to achieve goals they set for themselves with confidence and dedication can help them realise their potential.
There’s a thin line between being rude and conveying our needs to other people. Assertiveness promotes better communication of needs in an open and honest way making room for clear boundaries to be set. People with low self-esteem have been found to be less assertive. They find themselves putting the needs of other people before theirs and make no attempts for their opinions to be heard. Therefore, boundaries can help people value themselves as well as others and communicate with mutual respect.
This attitude restricts our ability to appreciate our accomplishments, thus making us believe that we are inadequate. Associating happiness and contentment with perfect performances is unhealthy as it does not allow us to accept our failures and mistakes. As much as we accept and account for the tasks we’ve accomplished with happiness, it’s important and necessary to accept and account for the times we’ve been inadequate too.
5. Circle of Control
Any attempts directed at influencing things or events out of our control can lead to feelings of insufficiency. Learning to direct efforts towards situations that are rewarding can be the takeaway (carry away)here.
Accurate and honest feedback from significant people can be useful in developing one’s self-esteem. People who value and know us can help us work on our weaknesses and mistakes. This allows us to accept ourselves better.
7. Positive Self-talk
It’s important for you to indulge in activities that bring you happiness and contentment. Avoiding situations or people who question your ability and your worth is a significant step towards building self-esteem. Allowing yourself to be good to yourself and believing in your capabilities are important. Indulging in positive self-talk reminds us not to abandon ourselves.
8. Avoid Comparison
No two people choose the same journey or are in the same position in their lives. We tend to compare ourselves with someone who has either crossed a specific stage in their life or was not even presented with the same. Our decisions should be based on our capabilities or knowledge rather than someone else’s performance during that stage.
Self-esteem poses great influence over people’s choices and decisions, making it an important motivational factor for people to take care of themselves and explore their fullest potential. We are better able to appreciate ourselves and value our existence. It allows us to be confident and feel secure about our ways of functioning and promotes a growth mindset within us. self-esteem helps build resilience and increases our independence and responsibility over our lives.