How much are you worth?
What is self-esteem?
Webster’s dictionary defines self-esteem as “satisfaction with oneself” and “one’s good opinion of one’s dignity or worth.” Self-esteem is our opinion about ourselves. Self-esteem is what we think, feel, and say about ourselves. There are many factors that affect our self-esteem. These factors can stem out from our past experiences or even come for what we are likely to experience in future. Self-worth, and how an individual will relate to it varies from person to person. Can I suggest, it’s unique to who you are and where you are in your life?
Research says that people who have a healthy self-esteem are more likely to feel content and positive about their life. Studies show that people with higher self-esteem have lower chances of developing mental health problems.
Here are some signs to look for to know if you have low self-esteem.
- You apologise a lot.
- It is very hard for you to say NO.
- You constantly try to please others.
- You avoid challenges and try to be perfect in social situations.
- You blame yourself for things.
- You criticise yourself constantly.
- You’re fearful and conscious of what people will think.
- It’s hard for you to make decisions.
- Feel that you are not good enough.
What are the causes of having a low self-esteem?
Decoding the source of low self-esteem is a multi-dimensional process. Since self-worth of an individual is shaped by various factors, for many of us, it can appear complex to figure out the reasons behind a low self-esteem. Emotionally substantial events can affect the way we see ourselves.
Experiences that may contribute towards developing a low self-esteem include:
- Past experience: Difficult experiences from the past can contribute towards lacking all rounded growth of self-esteem. The past negative experiences, comments and dialogues can create limitations in one’s own sense of self-worth.
- Parental control: Various studies have confirmed that parental behaviour has strong connections with child’s self-worth and self-efficacy.
- Insufficient encouragement and affection: Sometimes people don’t have negative experiences, yet they still struggle with self-worth. This could be related to the deficit of the positive reinforcement. Without sufficient positive encouragement, over a long period of time, an individual can develop a sense of low self-esteem.
- Continued self-criticism: Over a period, people with low self-esteem tend to blame and criticise themselves. This leads to a cycle of self-criticism that leads to further damage in self-worth.
- Negative social comparison: Negative comparison can create lasting changes in a person’s behaviour. Being compared over the weight, culture, socio-economic status, and appearance are common factors that can cause damage in self-esteem.
You can grow self-esteem!
It may be apparent that some people just happen to have a higher self-worth while others may not have it all. At times, it may be easier to consider self-esteem like a switch (something that you can turn on and off), it is rather something that can grow overtime; more like a plant that needs nourishment or like a muscle that needs training. When we start by making small changes in our lives, and take small steps towards appreciating ourselves, we can quickly create a better life for ourselves.
The key is that you don’t compare yourself with others. You may have realised that self-esteem is a delicate topic and often people get really offended if their self-limiting beliefs around self-esteem are challenged. Here is a question for you – do you want to consider one thing at a time and practice achievable ways to boost your self-esteem?
Here are five strategies to boost your self-esteem. Some of them may resonate with you and some may sound too simplistic to follow. Give it a go, you may start to see the change about how you feel about others and more importantly, yourself.
Five ways to boost self-esteem
Working towards developing your self-efficacy is a reflective process. One must understand and appreciate that the outside experiences and rewards can make us happy and celebrated, however the ever-lasting sense of being enough will come from within. Once we know that irrespective of the external positive or negative experiences and events; the source of our self-worth lies within, we become immune to our experiences.
Following five strategies can create awareness, provide a pathway, and facilitate the growth of your or your client’s self-esteem:
- Find something that you are good at: Create a list of things that you do well. Don’t judge yourself. These things could be as small as making a good cup of tea to playing a sport that you enjoy. Being involved in an activity that you enjoy doing will allow you to experience mindfulness and will also break the series of negative thoughts in that given time.
- Ask if it’s true?: When you see that there is a pattern of automated negative thoughts then focus on your breathing and ask yourself if the thoughts that you are creating actually true? If so, what is the evidence? A lot of time, we unintentionally tend to create horrifying scenarios in our head without realising that these are only thoughts we have created based on our past experience with a person, place or thing.
- Be willing to forgive: If you notice low self-esteem is originating from an experience that someone else created in your life which you had very little to do with it, you may find it hard to forgive (the person of experience). Perhaps start with just being willing to forgive. Over a period, you will see that, you no longer carry the heaviness about experience. Once you forgive, you are free.
- Practice positive affirmations: Saying positive affirmations has a proven effect on human brains. There are several studies that have showed that saying positive affirmations can activate different reward centre in your brain. MRI scans have shown that neural pathways strengthen as a result of doing self-affirmations tasks (Cascio et al., 2016). When we are new to doing affirmations we may feel that it does not work and ‘results’ are not showing up, however if continue to do our affirmations we are able to create small and yet significant changes in our life over sometime.
- Accept compliments without any justification: Being able to accept the compliments can be one of the hardest things for people with poor self-esteem. We often see people clarifying as soon as they receive a simple compliment like- “You look beautiful in this dress”. Instead of saying something negative such as- “it’s just the dress” or ” I am getting old, dress is old or whatever”. Say something positive like- “thank you for noticing” or “that’s very kind of you, thank you” or “I love this dress, thank you” and STOP THERE. Unintentionally defecting the compliment can dishonour it. When you are learning accept the compliments, learn to ‘secretly’ appreciate yourself for being able to accept the compliment with out any judgment.
Finally, improving your sense of self-worth is only a process. Learn to be more kind to yourself. If you are starting a journey where you are beginning to notice that you have low self-esteem, appreciate that. Developing awareness to our negative self-talk is a great starting point to develop a healthy and all rounded self-efficacy. Self-esteem can be developed overtime with care and mindfulness.
Self-esteem is crucial for our overall wellbeing and lays the foundation of the quality of our relationships. It is a multi-dimensional concept that encompasses how we perceive ourselves in one or various areas of life. Having a lower esteem can be detrimental to mental wellness however, self-esteem can be improved if it is carefully nurtured by the use of effective strategies discussed above.
I would like to share something than resonates with me a lot and hope you would agree.
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” ― Dr. Seuss,
This disclaimer informs readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual.
Fariya Naseem is a accredited ANZCAL Professional life coach specialising in mindset coaching. Fariya assists clients to streamline their life by helping them set and achieve goals and enabling them to identify and minimise the existing fixed mindset patterns in their life.
Fariya also conducts Life Coaching Power Workshops to help people create a better life and provide a chance to experience life coaching in a group setting.
A registered teacher and have 10+ years’ experience of teaching Physics Fariya holds degrees in Engineering and Education. This allows her to view things from scientific point of view, backing her teachings and talks with research.
You can contact Fariya via her webpage , Facebook or LinkedIn pages.