What is Self Esteem?
Self-esteem is the combination of: self-worth, self-regard, self-respect, and self-integrity. It is a psychological concept used to describe how an individual feels about him/herself. High self-esteem indicates a high worth placed on the self while low self-esteem indicates the opposite.
Abraham Maslow believes that psychological health is based on the core, and it is only possible whenever the essential core of the person is fundamentally accepted, loved and respected by others and by her or his self. According to Jack Canfield: “Self-esteem is based on feeling capable and feeling lovable”.
Self-esteem and self-image are interrelated. The term self-image is used to describe a person’s mental picture of himself. Self-image leads to self-esteem. During early childhood, we develop mental images of ourselves: who we are, what we are good at, how we look, and what are our strengths and weakness could be. Our experiences and our interactions with other people will make these mental images stronger inside us. Over time these mental self-images will develop our notion of self-esteem. Self-esteem is about feelings that we develop inside ourselves as a result of outside factors. Self-esteem is about how much we feel accepted, loved and valued by others and how much we accept, love and value ourselves. It is the combination of those two factors that shape our self-esteem.
Typically, self-esteem is defined in terms of how we evaluate ourselves and our characteristics. According to Stanley Coppersmith, a pioneering researcher in the field, it is “personal judgment of worthiness that is expressed in the attitudes the individual holds toward himself.”
Good self-esteem means that we have enough self-confidence to not need the approval of others.
How it is Developed?
Thoughts, relationships and experiences create your self-esteem. Self-esteem begins to form as early as childhood, and factors that influence it include the likes of one’s own thoughts and perceptions, how other people react, experiences at school, work and the community, disability, illness, injury, culture, religion, and even one’s role and status in society. Low self-esteem is developed when the person doesn’t see himself as having the qualities he admires. Unfortunately, persons with low self-esteem usually do have the qualities they admire but they can’t see it because they programmed their self-image that way. Dr. Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, says, “It’s more likely that self-esteem will come as a result of accurate self-understanding, appreciation of one’s genuine skills, and the satisfaction of helping others.” People close to you like: parents, siblings, peers, friends, teachers and other contacts and your interaction with those people, will have a big impact on your self-esteem. Self-esteem is established in your early childhood, and it matures during late adolescence. Whenever the person stabilizes their sense of being in control of their own destiny, they begin to formulate self-esteem. Family relationship plays a major role in determining our self-esteem. It is how we are treated by others that teach us whether we are important. The feeling of being cared for or worthwhile will shape our level of self-esteem. This is linked to receiving approval from others. Yet based on early life experiences and their social roles, women often seek approval more than men. By age 16, more girls than boys begin to report low self-esteem. According to Dove Research: The Real Truth about Beauty: 7 in 10 girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way including their looks, performance in school and relationships.
How Important is Self Esteem?
According to Brian Tracy: “Your self-esteem is probably the most important part of your personality. It precedes and predicts your performance in almost everything you do. Your level of self-esteem is really your level of mental fitness. To perform at your best and to feel terrific about yourself, you should be in a perpetual state of self-esteem.”
Self-esteem is important for people as it gives them more confidence to face life. Self-esteem will enable the person to have more optimism and have more momentum to reach their goals. Persons with low self-esteem usually feel inferior and may not perform well under different circumstances. They developed false thoughts that no one will accept them or like them. On the other hand, people with healthy self-esteem can feel good about their environment and then about themselves. They can do things more efficiently and by doing so; they can feel proud of their accomplishments and about themselves.
Feeling good bout ourselves will enable us to enjoy life more and more. Feeling that we are accepted, liked and loved, means we have healthy self-esteem, and this feeling will be reflected in our relationships.
One of the major causes of broken relationships is low self-esteem.
Developing self-esteem enables us to invite happiness in our lives. It is this feeling that makes you believe that you deserve happiness. It is very important to understand this belief, the belief that you really deserve to be happy and fulfilled, because with this belief you can treat people with respect, and goodwill, thus favoring rich interpersonal relationships and avoiding destructive ones. Possessing little self-regard can lead people to become depressed, to fall short of their potential, or to tolerate abusive situations and relationships. Many studies show that low self-esteem leads to stress, depression and anxiety. Research indicates a positive relationship between healthy self-esteem and many positive results, including happiness, humility, resilience and optimism. Self-esteem plays a role in almost everything you do.
World Health Organization recommends in “Preventing Suicide” published in 2000, that strengthening students’ self-esteem is important to protect children and adolescents against mental distress and despondency, enabling them to cope adequately with difficult and stressful life situations. In the book: Alcoholism: A False Stigma: Low Self-Esteem the True Disease, (1996) Candito reports: “Those who have identified themselves as “recovered alcoholics” indicate that low self esteem is the most significant problem in their lives. Low self-esteem is the true problem and the true disease. Alcohol is but a symptom of an alcoholic’s disease”. According to Glenn R. Schiraldi, who is Ph.D., author of The Self-Esteem Workbook and a professor at the University Of Maryland School Of Public Health:”Those with good self-esteem are able to realistically and honestly evaluate their strengths, weaknesses and potential.” According to Madelyn Swift, our emotional health depends on our self esteem. Liking ourselves and feeling capable are the foundations on which emotional health rests.
A healthy self-esteem enables you to accept yourself and appreciate life, as it is supposed to be.
Can You Develop a Healthy Self Esteem?
The truth is, self esteem is hardly stable. A study published by the American Psychological Association, reported that self esteem is lowest among young adults but increases throughout adulthood and peaks at age 60, just before starting to decline again. The study’s researchers measured the self-esteem of 3,617 U.S. adults. On average, women had lower self-esteem than men did throughout most of adulthood, but self-esteem levels converged as men and women reached their 80s and 90s. Blacks and whites had similar self-esteem levels throughout young adulthood and middle age. The study’s lead author, Ulrich Orth, PhD, said: “Self-esteem is related to better health, less criminal behavior, lower levels of depression and, overall, greater success in life. Therefore, it’s important to learn more about how the average person’s self-esteem changes over time.”
The biggest source of self-esteem is your thoughts, and these thoughts are within your control. Focusing on your mistakes and weaknesses will develop low self-esteem. You can reverse this type of thinking by focusing instead on your positive points and characteristics.
According to Denis Waitley: “To establish true self-esteem we must concentrate on our successes and forget about the failures and the negatives in our lives”.
There are many self-help tools to lift your self esteem. They all start at your way of thinking. As Eleanor Roosevelt said it: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”.