You might have come across people in your life who have a very positive outlook towards life and are ready to conquer the world and you may have also come across people who are always down in the dumps and not ready to take the stress of even the next assignment. The difference between the two individuals is mainly in their self-esteem. The two individuals are on two ends of the spectrum of self-regard; the former has high self-esteem while the latter without doubt has low self-esteem. Which one do you relate to more?
What is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem is an abstract term and you can understand it by imagining the image you perceive of yourself in your mind is your self-esteem. The picture that you paint of yourself, your qualities, your accomplishments, and your failures is self-esteem. If simply put, self-esteem is the subjective measure of one’s self-worth and value. Your self-esteem can be defined by how much you appreciate yourself and motivate yourself regardless of the circumstances.
Self-esteem is also referred to as self-regard, self-worth, and self-respect. Few factors can help you measure self-esteem. They are as follows:
- Sense of belonging
- Feeling secure
- Feeling competent
Self-esteem develops as we age; it is lowest in childhood and increases during teen years and reaches stability in adulthood.
Self-esteem is very important as it directly impacts our relationship, our academics, our decision-making ability, our emotional health, and overall well-being. High self-esteem provides us with a positive view of ourselves and of life, thus making it easier to tackle the ebbs and flows of life.
Several factors have an influence over an individual’s self-esteem and that should be taken into account when you see an individual with low self-esteem. They are as follows:
- Physical abilities
- Socioeconomic status
- Life experiences- tragic life experiences negatively influence self-esteem
- Race- racism can hurt an individual’s self-esteem
It is not unusual to be trapped in low self-esteem, people are often critical towards themselves. But when low self-esteem and self-criticism become too excessive such that you enter into a negative spiral about yourself then it is quite likely that you can succumb to low mood mental health disorders such as depression.
Why is Self-Esteem Important?
You may be asking yourself why self-regard is so important anyways.
Well, the answer lies in knowing the significance and effect of positive self-esteem on an individual. Holding oneself in high self-esteem means giving positive regard to oneself and it certainly does not mean that you are flawless and everything you do is a success. On the contrary, individuals with high self-esteem embrace their imperfections and their shortcomings as they own their achievements and this helps them to strive to be a better version of themselves.
It is right to say that having high self-esteem means celebrating yourself in your truest essence, including your strengths, your challenges, your weakness, and feeling good about yourself and life overall. High self-esteem helps you to cope with everyday life challenges effortlessly and it does not wear you down when you are given the next big challenge because you believe in your potential and you find the strength in yourself to beat all odds to achieve a goal.
Essentially, high self-esteem enables us to understand that whatever happens in our life is not our fault and that we do not need to take everything personally. When you acknowledge the fact that you are not responsible for all the setbacks and that not everything is about you so you stop being overly reactive. Additionally, high self-esteem integrates self-confidence in oneself and one begins to realize his or her potential.
Having high self-esteem has profound benefits on our mental health. According to the American Psychological Association, high self-esteem is the key to attaining positive mental health and well-being. The significance of high self-esteem is that it develops coping skills in an individual such that he or she is being able to tackle adversity and can look beyond the negatives and with a clearer vision of the future.
Instead of feeling helpless, unworthy, or stuck at any calamity, individuals with high self-esteem bounce back and approach a positive attitude while dealing with given circumstances by looking at ways to improve and working on strategies that yield better results.
Moreover, higher levels of self-esteem are positive predictors of academic success. According to a 2014 study, students in college with higher self-esteem and with a caring, supportive, and loving family were more successful academically and were better at adjusting to a new environment.
Whereas, individuals with low self-esteem have low self-regard and they find it difficult to shrug off unfavorable events and negative comments that others may direct their way. These individuals take criticism too personally and often feel dejected. Consequently, individuals with low self-esteem are overly reactive in minor circumstances.
Ultimately people with low self-esteem are unable to cope with day-to-day life challenges and they consider small tasks as insurmountable, thus they do poorly in academics and life generally. They are unaware of their potential because they have built up a negative image of themselves. The sad part is that people with low self-esteem fail to appreciate themselves even at any accomplishment because they are so sure of their inabilities to perform a specific task and lack of talent that they turn down compliments and do not believe when someone makes them see their positive aspects.
Moreover, poor self-esteem is greatly associated with risky behavior as these individuals indulge in activities of self-harm. These individuals particularly teens are involved in drug and alcohol abuse, smoking, and, drunk driving.
Low self-esteem is also linked with poor mental health. Individuals with low self-esteem are highly susceptible to developing depression. Low self-esteem is also associated with anxiety disorder, eating disorders, phobias, and suicidal ideation.
Is There Such Thing as Too Much Self-Esteem?
When self-esteem is unrealistically high such that an individual feels an elevated sense of self then this can give rise to narcissistic behavior and egotistic personality. Arrogance and an inflated ego are not good for self-growth.
If you look at self-esteem as a spectrum then inflated ego and an elevated sense of self is on the other end of the spectrum and it is just as undesired as poor self-esteem.
It is important to maintain a balance in your self-esteem such that not let it get too low or too inflated. Self-awareness is the key to maintaining healthy and positive self-esteem.
How to Improve Self-Esteem?
If you feel that you lack self-esteem then you can surely improve it by practicing and your efforts will certainly pay off. There are some strategies that you can work on consistently and this will eventually help you in holding yourself in positive regard. Here are some of the tricks that you can follow:
- Start accepting compliments: Do not turn down compliments rather accept them and believe the positive comments you receive.
- Practice self-love: Embrace all your perfection and imperfections and love and respect yourself for the unique person that you are.
- Allow yourself a break: Do not let the negative circumstances of life take a toll on your self-esteem and forgive yourself for the mistakes made and learn from them.
- Seek support: It is never too late to seek professional help from experts. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been of great benefit for individuals with low self-esteem.
- Begin a gratitude journal: Keeping a gratitude journal will help you stay mindful of all your blessings, accomplishments, and most importantly it will help you track your growth.
- Work on yourself: Each individual is a work in process so you need to start working on yourself by knowing yourself better and learning about your strengths and weaknesses so that you can work on your shortcomings and turn into an improved version of yourself.
What has helped you build up your self-esteem? Let us know in the comments below!