Building Self-Esteem + Self-Confidence
Self esteem is the opinion we have of ourselves. These opinions are shaped by our early experiences in our family, at school, from friendship, and in wider society. The way we view and feel about ourselves plays a significant role in how how capable we feel, how we interact with others, and basically, how we navigate through life.
Lack of self-acceptance has been described as an "epidemic". We judge ourselves so harshly, often without even knowing why we do it. We are constantly evaluating aspects of ourselves and making comparisons with others. This is actually a protective function in the brain, a natural part of our human make-up. However, while in some cases it can be helpful, it is more often than not demoralizing and destructive.
Healthy self-esteem usually results when we see our caregivers modeling healthy self-esteem and we were given appropriate encouragement and unconditional love and acceptance. It this way, we develop the autonomy to take risks and celebrate successes, while developing resilience around failure, set-backs, and constructive criticism.
Some characteristics shared by those with healthy self-esteem include that they:
How do you see yourself - what does your self-concept look like? What comes to mind if I were to ask you to fill in the blank,"I've always hated ______________ about myself", or "If only ___________ was different, I'd be happy with who I am"
Low self-esteem negatively affects us in so many ways, including:
Increased likelihood of depression, anxiety, and stress
Shame: we experience shame when we think poorly of ourselves and our abilities
Loneliness: those with low self-esteem can struggle in maintaining healthy relationships. Because they are unable to accept themselves, they cannot fully accept others either
Pessimism: the mindset of those who struggle with low self-esteem tend to focus on what they see as being negative
Unhealthy/unhelpful habits: in many cases, those with low self-esteem will resort to unhelpful habits to cope with the uncomfortable feelings that come hand-in-hand with low self-worth. This may include habits like using alcohol or drugs, gambling, smoking, sleeping, over-eating, etc.
Lack of motivation: Academic and job performance can suffer and be limited