Self-esteem refers to the overall positive evaluation a person has of themselves, or in simpler terms a person’s satisfaction with oneself. It consists of an individual respecting themselves and considering themselves as worthy. It is related commonly to personal beliefs about skills, abilities, and social relationships.
Self-esteem has been identified as an important determinant of emotional well-being and an important aspect of mental health. A person with good self-esteem tends to experience more happiness, optimism, motivation, hope, love of life, and satisfaction with life. Meanwhile, those with poor self-esteem lack confidence, generally have a negative mood and are prone to develop depression and anxiety in the long run.
Persons with good self-esteem are focused on growth and are more likely to have persistence when challenges and are more resilient. They can accept both happy and unpleasant moments as it is, and cope effectively with challenges to engage in close relationships and improve their strengths. Researches have however also shown that self-esteem rises when a person succeeds, is praised, or experiences another’s love, indicating that there is a possible dependency on not only one’s perceptions of themselves but also on others’ perception of them.
People with poor self-esteem on the other hand tend to experience feelings of worthlessness, inferiority, have a generally negative attitude to life, and emotional instability, leading to dissatisfaction with life. There are individuals too that are afflicted by either adverse childhood experiences or demoralizing life experiences resulting in lack of resilience, less competency in overcoming challenges, and difficulties in maintaining relationships due to fear of rejection. These individuals are often filled with shame and self-doubt and therefore spend lots of time focused on not making mistakes, criticizing themselves, and/or avoiding certain situations where they will be evaluated resulting in the perpetuation of the overall poor well-being.
The good news is, there are ways to overcome this low self-esteem that one experiences, such as :
1) Ensuring one’s basic needs are fulfilled so that one can then focus on other aspects of life including self-improvement.
2) Identify and challenge any self-criticism – remember that everyone makes mistakes, so focus on what you can change.
3) Accept certain negative emotions as it is – allowing oneself to experience an emotion without it consuming/overwhelming us can be liberating.
4) Retrain our mind to focus on the positive by finding things that we’re grateful for daily – remember to celebrate the small stuff.
5) No one’s perfect, so stop being a perfectionist – set realistic ‘rules of living’ and being flexible in case changes are necessary.
6) Practice introspection and positive self-talks – recognize what you’re good at and be kind to yourself always.
7) Engaging with a trustworthy individual (be it a family or friend) whom we can have discussions with – surround yourself with a supportive squad.
8) Boundary setting including open communication with others and speaking up your mind in an assertive yet calm manner.
9) Allow time for self-care and relaxation – do what makes you happy.
10) Stop comparing yourself to others – You do you.