A healthy sense of self-esteem has a strong impact on motivation, mental wellbeing, and overall quality of life. However, having either excessively high or excessively low self-esteem can be problematic. You can find the balance that is right for you if you better understand your unique level of self-esteem.
What is self-esteem?
According to psychology, self-esteem is the subjective sense of value or worth a person has of himself or herself. Alternatively, self-esteem can be defined as how satisfied you are with yourself no matter what the circumstances. There are many factors that contribute to self-worth, including:
- Feeling of security
- Sense of belonging
- Feeling of competence
Often, It is used interchangeably with other terms, including self-worth and self-respect.
It is usually lowest in childhood and increases during adolescence and adulthood until it reaches a relatively stable level. Personality traits also tend to stabilize over time as well.
Read: Thought Disorder
Self-esteem and psychology
Psychology has been dealing with self-esteem for decades, just about as long as it has been around. The theories about self-esteem are at the heart of the work of even Freud, who many consider the founding father of psychology.
Psychologists have spent a lot of time studying how self-esteem develops (or fails to develop) and what influences it, and we’re still far from having it all figured out!
We have narrowed down an understanding of self-esteem and how it differs from other constructs similar to it, despite the fact that we still have much to learn about it.
The importance of self-esteem
Self-esteem plays a significant role in each of these areas: decision-making, relationships, emotional health and overall wellbeing. Positive self-esteem also contributes to motivation, since people who see themselves well understand their potential and are motivated to take on new challenges. Positive self-esteem leads to:
- Have a solid understanding of their skills
- Keeping healthy relationships with others is possible when one has a healthy relationship with oneself
- Expect the best from themselves
- Know what they want and how to express it
When someone has low self-esteem, they tend to doubt their decision-making abilities and feel less confident. If they don’t believe they can reach their goals, they may not feel motivated to try novel things. People with low self-worth often have difficulties expressing their needs and building relationships. Low confidence and feelings of unworthiness may also plague them.
An overly high sense of self-worth may lead to overestimating skills and believing that they are entitled to succeed despite their lack of abilities. People who are obsessed with their own perfection may have relationship issues and prevent themselves from improving themselves.
Read: Subconscious Mind
It has been documented that many theorists have explored the dynamics that lead to self-worth. Self-worth appears prominently in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which identifies self-worth as a fundamental human motivation.
According to Maslow, individuals must have both external praise and internal pride to build self-esteem. Self-actualization and growth as a person require fulfillment of both of these needs.
You should note that self-worth differs from self-efficacy, which refers to your beliefs about the way you’ll handle future actions, performances or abilities.
Factors affecting self-esteem
It can be affected by a variety of factors. The following factors may impact your self-esteem:
- Physical abilities
- Socioeconomic status
- Thought patterns
Discrimination and racism are also known to negatively impact self-esteem. Genetic factors can influence the way a person develops their personality, but it is life experiences that are largely responsible.
It is often determined by our experiences. A person who receives negative feedback from friends or family consistently is likely to experience low it. People who experience unconditional positive regard, as Carl Rogers called it, are more likely to have good self-esteem.
It can be measured in several ways. Your self-esteem is likely to be healthy if:
- Don’t dwell on the past
- You are no better or worse than anyone else
- Tell me what you need
- Feel comfortable
- Think positively
- Don’t be afraid to say no
- Acknowledge your weaknesses and your strengths
When you realize that you are capable of achieving whatever your mindset your way, you will have healthy self-esteem. It will motivate you to strive for success. You are also able to establish and maintain healthy boundaries in relationships when you have a healthy sense of self-esteem.
There are many ways in which low self-esteem can show up. Some examples include:
- Others may seem better to you than you.
- You may find it difficult to express your needs.
- Your weaknesses may dominate your thoughts.
- Worry, self-doubt, and fear can be common experiences.
- You may feel out of control and have a negative attitude towards life.
- You may be afraid of failure.
- Accepting positive feedback may be difficult for you.
- Setting boundaries and saying no may be challenging for you.
- Other people may be more important to you than your own needs.
- Confidence may be a problem for you.
Anxiety disorders and depressive disorders can be triggered by low self-worth. Maintaining healthy relationships may also become difficult as a result. When you don’t have high self-esteem, you have a higher chance of experiencing suicidal thoughts and reduced quality of life.
Narcissism is often mistaken for excessive self-esteem, but there are some distinct differences between the two. A narcissist may seem to have high self-esteem, however, their self-worth is either high or low, and it is constantly shifting in response to the given situation. Individuals with excessive self-esteem:
- There may be a preoccupation with perfection.
- There may be a desire to always be right.
- The individual may believe that he or she cannot fail.
- They may believe that they are better than others in their field.
- They may speak grandiosely.
- Overestimate their abilities and skills.
An excessive sense of self-worth can lead to relationship difficulties, social difficulty, and an inability to accept criticism.
How to improve self-esteem
Fortunately, you can take steps to improve your self-esteem. The following actions will help you boost your self-confidence:
- Be aware of negative thoughts. Discover how your distorted thoughts affect your self-worth.
- Take control of your thoughts. Try to counteract negativity with more realistic and/or positive thoughts when you find yourself engaged in it.
- Use positive self-talk. Affirm your positive qualities daily.
- Practice self-compassion. Let go of the past by forgiving yourself and accepting yourself as you are.
Mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression, can be impacted by a low sense of self-worth. Discuss treatment options with your doctor or therapist, which could include psychotherapy (in person or online), medications or a combination of both.
How can you boost feelings of self-worth?
It is impossible to evaluate one person more highly than another. It is essential to be aware of this detail. It is helpful to put aside fears about being less valuable than others in order to have healthy self-esteem and feel more confident.
You can try to make yourself feel more secure and valued by addressing some of the causes of low self-esteem, such as genetics, early childhood experiences, and personality characteristics. All people are valuable. Maintaining a healthy sense of self-worth may help you stay motivated.