If you have ever wondered what healthy self-esteem is, how you can get it, and how it affects your daily life, this is the time for you to gain understanding. Simply put, self-esteem is comprised of your thoughts and attitude towards yourself. It is recognized as the core beliefs you have about yourself and thus the appreciation or love that is shown to yourself because of those beliefs.
You can describe it as the worth or value you have for yourself. Self-esteem is very important for several different reasons. The main one being, the way you think about yourself serves as your motivation to function in your daily life. For example, if you think well of yourself on a daily basis this allows for the opportunity for you to achieve your full life potential.
It has been said that positive thoughts and attitudes towards the self also help you from becoming overwhelmed by life’s many challenges because when you have healthy self-esteem you build resiliency. Resiliency is a term we use in therapy to describe the metaphorical action of getting back up again every time you get knocked down.So, if we piece this concept all together, healthy self-esteem allows you to achieve your full life potential and be resilient to life’s many challenges.
Whatever that full life potential looks like for you, is up to you entirely. In fact, self-esteem has been described by the late esteemed psychologist, Abraham Maslow as a basic human need. He went on to note that this basic human need was a pre-requisite for humans to self-actualize, or otherwise reach their full life potential. Carl Rogers, another famously recognized clinician in the world of psychology stated that at the origins of all human problems, there existslow self-esteem.
Let’s talk about low self-esteem for a moment to recognize the impact it has on our daily life. First let us understand that anyone we know,or love can have low self-esteem and it might not be recognized by the untrained human eye because it is something that is internal. We should normalize low self-esteem because it is something that any of us can face on a daily basis, but we don’t have to face it alone and it is possible to get to a better place with learning how to have healthy self-esteem.
A person with low self-esteem often does not value themselves and they have a consistent negative self-image. They may be sensitive to other’s criticism, be socially withdrawn, display a constant preoccupation with personal problems, feel inadequate, ask for constant reassurance from others, and have difficulty accepting compliments from others.
Most notably, someone with low self-esteem puts very little value or worth in their own opinions or ideas, unlessthose thoughtsare the negative beliefs about themselves. I urge you not to blame yourself if you have low self-esteem, but instead understand where it comes from, how it is expressed within yourself and work towards healthy self-esteem so you can achieve a better quality of life.
Low self-esteem can be manifested from unresolved early childhood experiences that had a significant negative impact on you. If you grew up in a household with overly critical parents imposing a lot of shame, you could develop low self-esteem. Also, if you experienced consistent poor performance in school or sports, ongoing stressful life problems, or were impacted by negative personal relationships you are likely to fall into the trap of low self-esteem.
Unfortunately, the possible result of unchecked low self-esteem can manifest intoprominent mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety. As a therapist, we want to be mindful of not just low self-esteem in our clients but also the opposite end of the spectrum, inflated self-esteem. This can present as someone consistently thinking they better than all other people, an inability to listen to or consider other people in general and disregard their opinionsas well. Sometimes people with inflated self-esteem can become hostile with others and generally lack taking responsibility for themselves and often they cope by blaming other people for their mistakes.
If you are interested in building more awareness regarding your self-esteem, you can consult a licensed therapist for an accurate assessment, suchas the RSES (Rosenberg self-esteem scale) or The Coppersmith Inventory. Before we get into ways in which we can build healthy self-esteem, I want to take a moment to distinguish between self-esteem, self-confidence and self-efficacy because they all have different properties.
Self-confidence can be seen as the trust in one’s judgement (thoughts) or presentation to others (appearance). Rather, self-efficacy is the trust in one’s abilities to succeed or accomplish something. As we have previously mentioned, self-esteem is the trust in one’s self-worth or personal value. This trust in yourself-worth and value are based on the beliefs you have about yourself. These beliefs about yourself come from your self-talk or inner dialog running through your head about yourself. This self-talk can be critical and negative, or it can be positive and self-compassionate.
Healthy self-esteem comes from that place of positive and compassionate inner dialoged. Thankfully,we can move towards the balance of healthy self-esteem with implementing a few key routines in our daily life. The single most influential factor is self-compassion in the way we talk to ourselves in our mind. This involves challenging your pre-existing negative thoughts you have about yourself and affirming your own self-worth with positive self-talk.
A therapist can help you increase your awareness of your existing negative thoughts and teach a process called reframing, to help you transform those negative thoughts to positive ones so that you feel deserving. The result with proper focus and attention on building healthy self-esteem would most likely include life improvements in personal relationships, physical health, nutrition, resiliency, trust in one’s opinions, self-assurance, healthy boundaries, prioritizing needs, and most importantly, affirmed self-worth. Your daily life choices are very powerful and it’s important that people feel comfortable with making that first step of self-improvement. Always remember, you are in control of the pace at which you explore your inner self.