What is Self-Esteem?0 comments
Self-esteem is a broad psychological concept that is used to as a measurement of how highly a person rates their overall abilities, skills, and worth. Dictionary.com defines self-esteem as “a realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself, or self-respect.” Self-esteem is linked to many other concepts in psychology and counseling like achievement, happiness, depression, and motivation. Self-esteem is a building block of your personality as it defines whether or not you are able to view yourself in a positive or negative light. People who have low self esteem typically sell themselves short and do not go after their dreams and goals. While people with adequate self-esteem will typically rate their performance and abilities favorably and will make wholehearted attempts to reach their goals. This tip will help you identify what healthy vs. low self-esteem looks like, and understand some of the factors behind self-esteem.
The definitions of what self-esteem is are helpful to understand the concept, but do little to help people understand what self-esteem looks like. A common misconception about healthy self-esteem is that feeling good about yourself makes you too proud or narcissistic. However, having healthy self-esteem, and a positive view of yourself will act as a buffer from psychological distress such as anxiety and depression. Healthy self-esteem is having a realistic interpretation of what you are good and not so good at so you can place appropriate expectations of yourself and others. A strong sense of self-esteem makes you resilient in the face of adversity, because you are able to trust your problem solving skills yet ask for help if you need it. Self-esteem helps you feel like you are capable and worthy of achieving your goals. Having a healthy dose of self-esteem helps you feel confident in your values, beliefs, and principles so you are able to defend or act on them in difficult situations without worry of judgment from others. People with self-esteem are able to make choices that fit with who they are as a person, and don’t need to spend a lot of time dwelling on what happened in the past or what may happen in the future. Self-esteem lets people feel interesting and valuable to others, accept other people as they are, be respectful of diverse opinions, and enjoy a variety of activities and adventures.
As a concept you can understand that low self-esteem would be the opposite of healthy self-esteem, and would thus bring with it some challenges both personally and professionally. But what does low self-esteem look like? People who have low self-esteem will usually be highly critical of them self and others. They will have a strong desire and need to please others and often have trouble making decisions for them self because they need to constantly check-in with other’s opinions. People who have low self-esteem might also have seriously high standards of them self and feel like a complete failure if they’re not absolutely perfect. This can cause them to feel guilty for not living up or envious of people who don’t have to deal with so much stress. People with low self-esteem tend to focus more on their shortcomings, and feel unworthy of achieving their goals.
So it’s pretty clear to see that there are lots of benefits to having self-esteem like motivation, achievement, confidence, and acceptance; yet, a lot of people will identify themselves as having low self-esteem. So how does one person have good self-esteem and another low self-esteem? One prominent theory about self-esteem is that it is directly related to the way people think about them selves. Researchers in the field of Psychology and many therapists propose that low self-esteem is determined by having negative thoughts and core beliefs about yourself. (link to other tip). Some common thoughts and core beliefs that are shown to affect self-esteem are:
- Overgeneralizing: Using absolute words like always, never, no one, every one. “I never win.”
- Labeling: Placing demeaning labels on yourself, or using clichés. “I’m a loser.”
- Filtering: Only focusing on the negative aspects of a situation and ignoring the positive. “It doesn’t matter if we won the game, I didn’t score any points.”
- Self-blame: Blaming yourself for everything. “I’m so sorry it’s all my fault we were late.”
- Personalization: Comparing the worst in you to the best in someone else. “I’m ugly because I’m not as tall as Jenny.”
- Mind reading: Making assumptions about what the other person thinks of you when you don’t have any facts. “I bet she thinks I’m dumb.”
Just like thinking negative thoughts or believing only negative things about yourself is attributed to low self-esteem, there are behavioral and emotional factors related to having healthy self-esteem. “Catching” yourself when you think negatively, reframing situations to highlight your value, and confident behaviors will increase self-esteem. Some influences on positive self-esteem are:
- Assertiveness: The way you present yourself determines how people respond to you! Using I-statements and whole messages makes people more responsive to you, which will help you feel valuable. Example: “I’d like to leave now because I’m tired and had a hard day,” is a whole sentence that shares your message clearly and respectfully.
- Body Language is another way to increase confidence and show your self-esteem. To show confident body language maintain eye contact (about 30-60% of the time) while speaking, stand or sit up straight, and uncross your arms. Speaking clearly and loudly enough for people to hear will keep their attention on you. Be close to people to show interest and receive interest back.
- Defining Value: Don’t attach your value as a human being to what you do or your degree etc. Everyone is equal and value should be about how much effort you put out and how much you try. Don’t define yourself by your resume. Rather look at relationships with friends and family and your willingness for self-growth as where your value as a person lies.
Self-esteem is a measure of how favorable you rate your abilities and value as a person. People with high self-esteem have confidence in their abilities and feel like they deserve to reach their goals. People who have low self-esteem often feel unworthy of achievement and rate their abilities as lower than they actually are. Negative thoughts and core beliefs are linked to low self-esteem. Raising self-esteem can act as a buffer to anxiety, depression, and stress as well as raising motivation, achievement, and quality of interpersonal relationships.