Self-Esteem Issues Explained
Self-esteem is about an inner conviction that one is safe, that one belongs, that one is important and worthy. This brings confidence that one has a place in this world, that one has assets that can function not only to achieve but also to meet the blows that life deals. Esteeming oneself, one knows that one can keep on learning and developing and this includes being humble and accepting limits without becoming overwhelmed by the defeat.
Self-esteem gives a mix of optimism and realism. Early life sets the pace. The significant other/s as good enough mother is attuned to the child, able to meet the child’s needs. Parenting is many things but very briefly stated it is about care and firmness i.e. putting limits/boundaries but also offering safe space, enabling learning and development according to age. With time the child learns more and more to regard oneself with worth and continue to develop this further.
Valuing ourselves often goes wrong because we were not very well protected or over-protected; we were not set good boundaries; we learn that we are less than or better than; the care we received was not tuned to what we needed; we were not reflected back how we may have been feeling and so never quite grasped how to express our emotions and understand them allowing them to show us what we need and address those needs. We did not learn how to live with others with equally good consideration of ourselves and others. This may result in relating in dysfunctional ways. When we have experienced trauma as a result of the hardships experienced, we need help and one of the ways is to go to therapy – therapy can give us the care and challenge that we need to restore our inner worth.
Signs of low self-esteem
- saying negative things and being critical about yourself
- focusing on your negatives and ignoring your achievements
- thinking other people are better than you
- not accepting compliments
- feeling sad, depressed, anxious, ashamed or angry
- Effects of low self-esteem
How to improve your self-esteem and mental health
- think about things you are good at — what are your strengths?
- celebrate the small things in your life – give yourself a pat on the back when you achieve even a small thing
- challenge your negative thinking — look for alternative explanations and put things into perspective
- think about things you can change — don’t worry about things you can’t change
- avoid trying to do things perfectly — perfection is not possible
- stop beating yourself up if you make mistakes — everyone makes mistakes
- do things you enjoy — it’s easier to be positive when you are doing things you like
- be with people who don’t bring you down
- volunteer to help people — this can make you feel better about yourself
- exercise — it can improve your mood