The Importance of Healthy Self-Esteem
Self-esteem is your opinion of yourself. If you have poor self-esteem you probably already know it from how you talk to yourself: self-criticism, pessimism and lowered expectations of your capabilities. On the other hand, if you have good self-esteem, you probably don’t notice it! You just get on with doing what you can, giving things a try and if you fail, seeing it as an opportunity to learn or choose more wisely next time. This kind of self-esteem may seem a matter of luck, but in fact, there are mental and emotional skills you can learn to respond with more confidence and improve your self-esteem.
Some signs you may be struggling with low self-esteem are:
- Being extremely critical of yourself
- Focusing on your negatives and ignoring your strengths
- Comparing yourself to others to your detriment
- Ignoring compliments or discounting them “Oh, anyone could do that”
- Feeling hypersensitive and easily ‘wounded’ by others
- Describing yourself negatively
- Blaming yourself when something goes wrong, even for something out of your control
- Avoiding situations where you fear others will judge you
There are many contributing factors associated with low self-esteem. Some of these factors might be:
- An underlying mental condition
- A childhood where you were criticised or held up to very high expectations, or paradoxically, where everything you did was praised, even when it required little effort on your part
- Experiencing bullying in situations where high performance is valued, mainly work and school
- Being traumatised in any of these environments such as that you choose to “Play It Safe“
- Ongoing medical problems such as a physical disability or serious illness
This TED-Ed Talk gives an interesting insight in to self-esteem and what factors can cause low self-esteem: https://ed.ted.com/featured/Mywo8YxC
Strategies To Boost Self-Esteem
There are several simple strategies you can practice to promote healthy self-esteem and build confidence
- Talk to yourself in a compassionate way – treat yourself as you would a good friend. Acknowledge that some things are hard for you, be supportive and kind.
- Put yourself on the spectrum – you may never be the best, but you are probably far from the worst. In any case there will always be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
- Challenge your negative thinking – reflect on your negative thoughts about yourself objectively, even discuss them with a friend. You’ll likely find that most of these negative thoughts are unfounded, illogical and most of all not helpful to you.
- Get active – Not only is exercise good for your body, it can be very beneficial for your mental health and wellbeing too.
- Surround yourself with good people – good friends won’t support or reinforce your negative view of yourself, but rather will encourage you to take prudent risks and to pick yourself up after setbacks.