The term self-esteem is used to define a person’s confidence in one’s own worth or abilities. In other words, it is an overall evaluation of a person and how much they value, approve of, appreciate, or like oneself. This evaluation largely impacts the choices one makes since it determines, to a great extent, what one considers themselves capable and worthy of doing. Low-self esteem is not inherited. There are a number of external factors that affect our self-esteem. They are:
- Negative Remarks
Growing up, when a child is constantly criticised for his or her actions and all their negatives are pointed out to them, it can become difficult for them to feel confident and comfortable in their own skin, later. The shame forced on them for always “failing” and never being able to live up to the expectations of others can bring their morale down and therefore develop low levels of self-esteem in them.
- Negative-Self Talk
Many times when children are criticised for their actions or failures, they tend to feel disheartened and dejected. This can make them develop a negative pattern of thinking. For example, one may repeat statements like “ I am not good enough” or “ I am looking bad” to themselves till it actually becomes a core belief. Constant repetition of such statements only reinforces the negative beliefs and the self-esteem of that person becomes really low. The constant self-criticism can also lead to persistent feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety, anger, shame or guilt
- Childhood Neglect
When a child’s positive behaviour or achievements are ignored and are not recognized, it can make that child feel that they are forgotten, unacknowledged, and unimportant. It can also leave one feeling that they are not accountable to anyone, or may believe that no one here and now is concerned about their whereabouts. Feeling unrecognised can make a child feel small or apologetic about their existence which can later develop low self-esteem in them.
- Guilt from Previous Choices
People make mistakes at all stages of their lives. When one focuses on the negative consequences of choices and feels guilt over them, they create a cycle of low self-esteem. Unending remorse about past mistakes serves no useful purpose. In fact, excessive guilt is one of the biggest destroyers of self-esteem, individuality, creativity and personal development. However, what’s really important is to know that even the worst mistakes open doors for learning, insight, and change. Staying consumed with guilt will keep one away from moving forward in a positive and productive way.
- Unrealistic Goals
It is wonderful to be ambitious and to dream big. However, if one sets unattainable or unrealistic goals for themselves, and especially, if that is the only goal they want to achieve then they will be setting themselves up for nothing but disappointment. It is important that one focuses on their passions, needs and interests and sets smaller milestones along the way that they know they will be able to achieve. For example, a person may want to be a famous singer one day, but to begin with, one can first set a goal of attaining 300 fans on social media and then aim higher.
- Bullying and Victimisation
Bullying is when an individual or a group of people with more power, repeatedly and intentionally cause hurt or harm to another person. It could be physical, verbal or even social. For example, spreading nasty rumours about a person that could harm their reputation in their school. When a child is regularly bullied, either outside or at home, it can affect both their physical and emotional health, either in the short term or later in life. It can lead to physical injury, social problems and emotional problems too. Those who are bullied may also be at increased risk for mental health problems and can cause long-term damage to self-esteem. If a child is a victim of bullying and has developed low self-esteem, then he or she might eventually experience isolation and depression as well.
Low self-esteem doesn’t only effects the professional life of people but also their personal life. Thus, seeking help from a professional psychologist becomes very essential. A psychologist can you find ways to restore your self-worth.