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Self-esteem refers to the way we know about and respect ourselves.

While we all criticize ourselves occasionally,  if you frequently think poorly of yourself or evaluate yourself critically, you may suffer from low self-esteem. While you may not be able to pinpoint the source of your poor self-esteem, there are measures you may take to boost it.

Self-esteem is not synonymous with self-confidence. Confidence is a measure of an individual’s abilities in a particular area of life. A person can be quite confident in their own skills and still have low self-esteem. Acquiring confidence in a certain area of life does not always translate into an increase in self-esteem.

Low self-esteem manifests itself in the following ways:

  • Expressing negative sentiments and being self-critical
  • Making disparaging remarks on yourself
  • Concentrating on your shortcomings and forgetting your accomplishments
  • Self-blame when things go wrong
  • Believing that others are superior to you
  • Believing that you are unworthy of enjoyment
  • Refusing to accept compliments
  • Avoiding difficulties out of fear of failure
  • Being excessively enraged by rejection or criticism
  • A sense of sadness, depression, anxiety, embarrassment, anger, or worthlessness

Your self-esteem is mostly built throughout your developing years, from early childhood to early adulthood. This is the stage of your life when you establish your self-identity and begin to comprehend your place in the greater world.

Childhood events might have a permanent influence on how you consider yourself. If you did not receive adequate care or regard as a youngster, this may manifest as feelings of insignificance as an adult. If your parents have low self-esteem, you may unknowingly emulate their behavior.

Our caretakers have a significant impact on how we interpret the world and, consequently, our self-esteem. At an early age, we begin telling ourselves stories to deal with different situations and to fill in the gaps.

Racism, class discrimination, misogyny, and white privilege are all cultural influences that might impact how we think of ourselves. These power systems affect us in a variety of ways, from inadequate media representation to playground bullying to micro-aggressions by teachers and neighbors. While many of us are capable of enduring these types of discrimination while maintaining our self-esteem, this is not the situation for everyone.

Several environmental elements can have an effect on our self-esteem:

  • During adolescence, parents, educators, and other significant adults frequently criticize you.
  • Parents or caregivers that are negligent or uninvolved
  • Bullying
  • Health problems, both physical and mental
  • Unfortunate life circumstances
  • Abuse or trauma

We should also keep in mind that adults might have low self-esteem as well. No matter our age, significant life changes such as the termination of a major relationship or the onset of a physical illness can have an effect on our self-worth.

Finally, biology plays a role. Certain individuals are simply built to experience things more deeply. As a result, we may recall or cling to events in life that other people might easily brush aside.

While young children often have relatively strong self-esteem, as they enter their tween years, poor self-esteem may become more prevalent. There are several connected factors for the onset of poor self-esteem during pre-adolescence.

Comparisons With Others

Kids start actively comparing themselves to their peers between the ages of 6 and eleven.

This novel social comparison is motivated by both social and cognitive factors.

Erik Erikson, a psychologist, believes that self-comparison sets us up for the biggest struggle that children of this age encounter. Their primary issue, he argued, was around cultivating an industrial sense, or a sense of accomplishment, while eliminating a feeling of inferiority.

Sense of Inadequacy

As Erikson discovered, some children become aware that their efforts fall short of those of their classmates and develop feelings of inferiority. Importantly, though, being incompetent does not always result in low self-esteem. If a child’s bad performance happens in an area he despises, like sports, his self-esteem is not going to be harmed. If, on the other hand, he is inept in an area he values, like academics, he risks acquiring low self-esteem.

Increasing the Bar for Performance

The pre-adolescent years also bring a rise in performance stress.

Parents and instructors often praise any effort, smaller or larger, lousy or excellent, throughout the early and middle childhood years. However, as adolescence comes, adults begin to demand more from children; effort is important, but performance becomes much more so. As a consequence, teenagers not only compare themselves to their friends but also observe adults making similar comparisons.

Presumed Criticism From Others

Teenagers begin to perceive their parents’ and teachers’ displeasure when their performance standards rise. The extent to which the child’s self-esteem is impacted is determined by which adult(s) disapproves of their efforts. If the youngster dislikes the source of the disapproval—say, an unappreciated teacher—the kid is hesitant to take the judgment seriously, and self-esteem will stay high. If the child, on the other hand, perceives that a cherished parent or respected coach is dissatisfied with them, low self-esteem may occur.  Thus, it is apparent that parents may play a critical role in assisting children in developing good self-esteem.

Bullying

Sadly, teachers and parents may not be the only people who can potentially damage a child’s sense of self-worth. Bullying by other children, whether at school or on the playground, can have a significant impact on how a kid feels concerning themselves.

While parental acceptance, love, and support are the primary elements of a child’s good self-esteem in early life, peer approval becomes increasingly crucial as we grow older. Fear of not ‘fitting in’, of being bullied because of one’s color, ethnicity, religion, gender, or social behavior is a significant early source of low self-esteem. Lacking confidence is a natural outcome of bullying.

Trauma in childhood

In its most serious forms, childhood trauma like physical and sexual abuse, natural disasters, severe sickness, or bereavement can contribute to low self-esteem. All of these encounters convey to the youngster the idea that the world is not safe. Nothing can be relied upon. Victims of childhood abuse frequently also face accusations of being responsible for the atrocities perpetrated against them.

Indeed, the causes of poor self-esteem are frequently childhood-related. This is why counseling and psychotherapy are so effective at treating depression. By repairing the deep initial wounds to our self-image and worldview, you can begin to mend the small kid within you who yearns to believe in himself or herself and be at ease.

Self-esteem develops in childhood development and is tied directly to growing up and interactions with primary caregivers. Absentee parents, negative parents, abusive parents, conflicting authority figures, unsupportive parents, and disapproving authority figures all contribute to the development of poor self-esteem in childhood, which continues throughout adolescence and adulthood.

Uninvolved/Negligent Parents

Parents who spend little time at home raising their kids, as well as parents and guardians regarding mental health problems, substance abuse problems, or other difficulties, may be unable to provide their kids with the attention, guidance, and care they require and deserve. This can result in serious self-esteem and abandonment issues for children and adolescents.

Negative Peers

Being a member of a social circle that drags others down through contempt, peer influence, and bullying can make others feel as though there is something inappropriate with them and they are to blame. These bad practices can become harmful over time, eroding an individual’s self-esteem.

Trauma

Abuse, whether emotional, physical, sexual or a mix of these, frequently results in emotions of shame and guilt. A youngster may believe that he or she did something to deserve the abuse or was unworthy of the abuser’s respect, affection, and care. Teenagers who have experienced abuse may also have substantial anxiety and sadness, which can impair their capacity to live a satisfying life.

Body Image

A teenager’s self-esteem, particularly that of young women, is heavily influenced by their body image.

As per studies, 53 percent of females are dissatisfied with their bodies by the age of 13, and 50 percent of teen girls and 30 percent of teen boys engage in unhealthy behavior to reduce weight, such as skipping meals, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, using laxatives and fasting. Female bodies are continuously objectified in the media, giving the impression that they exist to be looked at, touched, and used. For many kids, puberty can be exciting and frightening, causing them to compare themselves to what they see from the media, resulting in feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and disempowerment.

While body image advertisements disproportionately impact young females, young guys are not exempt. Numerous young men suffer from low self-esteem as a result of their weight and physical composition, particularly their muscular mass.

Several examples given below illustrate how low self-esteem might impact your relationships:

Not Expressing Your Needs

If you have poor self-esteem, it may be tough to seek assistance from others. You may be concerned about causing inconvenience or “burdening” others. For instance, someone with poor self-esteem may arrange for movers to assist them in moving homes long before considering asking a friend for assistance. This indicates that an individual with poor self-esteem may struggle to have their needs met in relationships because they are hesitant to ask.

Sensitivity

Individuals with poor self-esteem may take constructive criticism or simple requests emotionally. For instance, you may feel ignored or wounded if your partner requests some ‘private time.’ Your distress may force you to flinch or scream at your companion, resulting in an argument. While poor self-esteem undoubtedly has an effect on your relationship, your connection in the relationship may also have an effect on your self-esteem, since you may regret your illogical emotions.

Insecurity and envy. Low self-esteem can manifest itself in a relationship as envy and insecurity. You may doubt your partner’s worthiness and assume it is a coincidence that they like you. As such, it is natural for those with poor self-esteem to anticipate their partner being drawn to another person or fear they would quit the relationship.

It’s Difficult To Be Oneself

In relationships, low self-esteem can make it tough to be your real self. You may spend much time and effort attempting to be likable or attractive. For instance, you may make a concerted effort to entertain others or to be intriguing. Alternatively, perhaps you are constantly attempting to look your best.

Bad Relationship Decision

Low self-esteem can influence your spouse or friend selection. Low self-esteem increases your likelihood of ignoring your relationship’s essential demands. For instance, you may choose to remain with your partner regardless of their lack of love for you. Alternatively, you may endure your friend’s nasty attitude and place the burden for their reactions squarely on your shoulders.

Low self-esteem can have a detrimental effect on your mental well-being, therefore it is necessary to resolve your sense of identity and seek adequate assistance. While improving your self-esteem takes a bit of time, there are some things you can do to safeguard your mental health while you work on it. Among the things you may do to assist are the following:

Focus on Positive Thoughts

Spend some time each day concentrating on optimistic, pleasant thoughts. Take note of the small things you excel at and let yourself be grateful for them. Consider moments in the past when you overcame adversity and remind yourself that, even if you aren’t feeling your best at the moment now, you have the ability and power to see it through.

Take Care of Yourself

Low self-esteem sometimes can make you feel as though you are unworthy of attention and respect. Tell yourself time and again that you require care and look for ways to offer yourself compassion, no matter how big or small. Spend some time engaging in an activity that you enjoy. Allow for periods of relaxation and rest.

Seek External Support

Discuss your difficulties with someone who can give you wholehearted support. This could be a family member or friend, but it could also be a professional such as a physician, teacher, therapist, or member of the clergy.

Having a support network of individuals who care about you and want you to appreciate yourself might be beneficial while you attempt to improve your self-esteem.

Here are some practical suggestions for building and boosting your self-esteem:

  • Make an effort for doing something that helps you feel good.
  • Increase physical activity—exercise has been shown to boost mood.
  • Consider an interest in which you can engage for a long time without getting bored.
  • Maintain a notebook of appreciation.
  • Challenge an unfavorable thought.
  • Hang out with people that inspire confidence in you.
  • Volunteer your time to assist others.
  • Bear in mind that everybody makes mistakes.
  • Celebrate your triumphs, both small and big.

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