What is that? You know, we say it’s important and we say that bad self esteem can have a huge impact on children and all the rest. But I’m betting a lot of people don’t know what good self-esteem looks like.
I didn’t for the longest time. You always think that your own self-esteem is fine. And then you find yourself squirming because some event or another in your life has made you take a good, long look at where you stand on your own list of priorities. And the answer is nowhere near the top.
Self-Esteem is defined as an overall subjective emotional evaluation of one’s own worth. There are two parts to self-esteem: how important you are to yourself and how you judge yourself compared to others.
Bad self-esteem is incredibly common. And one of the main indicators of it is an inability to see yourself clearly, whether that’s because you focus solely on your own faults and other people’s merits or because you hold yourself to unrealistically high standards or do any one of a thousand other things designed to belittle yourself.
But where does this come from? Surely you’re not born thinking of yourself as inferior to the next person for some arbitrary reason? Well, no. But the actual causes of low self-esteem come from sources that are almost as tragic. Research shows that often poor self-esteem is as a result of overly critical parents, teachers or other significant figures in an individual’s life. This makes sense when you think about it – people generally take the opinions of those they care about most to heart.
It makes sense to trust those opinions… because you love these people and it’s hard to swallow that they may not see you clearly or may even be deliberately over-critical for their own convoluted reasons.
Other contributing factors to low self-esteem include the media, ongoing stress and mental illness.
So now we know where low self-esteem comes from. But how do we counter it? How do we stop the unhealthy thoughts and begin to evaluate ourselves honestly once again? How do we learn to like ourselves and not think of ourselves as awful or undeserving of our own lives?
The sad truth is that it’s hard. Incredibly so. It requires continuous reminders and introspection – sometimes needing the help of a therapist or even a trusted individual in your life to help change ingrained destructive behaviour. But it is possible. It requires work and effort, yes. But it’s very possible.
So to all the people out there who are struggling with your self-esteem, know that you’re not alone. Know that there are other people struggling with this. Most importantly, know that there is a way out.