We hear so often that we are able to have a positive attitude to others if we have the same to ourselves as well. It’s a fact even if it’s difficult to believe in it.
How can be self-esteem defined?
Self-esteem is relevant in our life because it has a strong effect on cognitive and emotional process, motivation and behaviour. So if we have a problem with our self-esteem it can appear on several areas in life.
Self-esteem is very complex but we define three aspects of it. Trust in ourselves, own self-image and the self-love. They are the main parts but also we must mention self-satisfaction, self-confidence, self-knowledge, self-acceptance and self-assertion. Our self-esteem is shaped by two needs: competence, which is desire of expertise and the desire to get other people’s love and recognition. To have a healthy self-esteem both needs must be satisfied. Self-esteem is an easily changing personality dimension, so it must get a continuous attention if we want to sustain its healthy level.
Believe, love, trust-yourself?
The self-image’s point of origin is self-knowledge but notwithstanding more than that. It includes not just knowledge about ourselves but also persuasion about our abilities, characteristics and facility which not always match the reality. Self-image is an important part of the self-esteem since the positive self-image can be used as an internal resource to reach goals. The most important aspect of self-esteem is the self-love. It means we still feel worthy of being loved and respected notwithstanding that our imperfection, defects and failures. Self-love prods us to pay attention to our needs and desires. Self-love develops mainly in childhood and our family happenings and its relations are the most determinant factors in it, that’s why this is the most difficultly improvable part of self-esteem. Self-confidence is connected to action. The individual feels being able to hold on in different situations and isn’t afraid of failure or being judged by others. It’s indispensable to strengthen our self-esteem. Mainly with initiating actions we are able to work successfully on ourselves because with actions we are able to experience successes and they subconsciously effect our self-image and self-emotions improving our self-esteem.
A loving family, acceptable environment and happy childhood experiences constitute the foundation of self-love.
What kind of differences can we see between people with high and low self-esteem?
People with high or healthy level of self-esteem have a more detailed self-image which is basically positive. They are willing to make decisions, trust their choices. They believe they can improve, they like challenges and those activities which bring them new experiences. They are flexible and their self-love is almost touchable.
People with low self-esteem have less clear self-image, most of the time they are irresolute and their opinion always depends on who they are communicating with. They are afraid of being unaccepted and exclusions. They have difficulties to make decisions and they are not able to defend them. They don’t take risks and suffer more if they fail. Due to the less clear self-image they always compare themselves to other people, their feelings about themselves are mainly ambivalent and they are more susceptible to depression as well.
There is another dimension to see self-esteem, like how to cope with everyday difficulties.
The capability of resistance depends on self-esteem, stable or unstable.
To have stable self-esteem we must have positive self-image, self-love and self-confidence. With stable self-esteem our emotions and opinions about ourselves are not changeable easily, they are lasting. Stable self-esteem sustains a stable capability of resistance.
People with stable and high level of self-esteem understand critics sensibly, they don’t take everything personal due to the capability of resistance and lack of comparison with other people.
People with stable but low level of self-esteem are the most difficult to reach change with. Because their persuasions (negative) are stable, they don’t do any actions to improve their self-esteem, just accept their situation and emotions. They react to feedbacks emotionally and most of the times their mood is negative.
The unstable self-esteem can be re-shaped. If the self-esteem is unstable and high, re-shaping can cause a very negative outcome. People with high but unstable self-esteem often vacillate in uncertain or competitive situations. They are very sensitive to critiques, they typically use self-defence and self-advertising mechanism. Their core belief is stable, almost unchangeable.
If the self-esteem is unstable and low, re-shaping can cause a very positive change, because these people try to improve their self-esteem, they try to improve their mental conditions and react positively to success. Their core belief is unstable, so re-formable. Critiques and failures can easily make them unsure but praiseful feedbacks can shape easily their feelings and opinions about themselves.
Self-esteem has a key role in feeling good in our daily life, to sustain stable relationships and reaching our professional goals and feeling successful. With a healthy level of self-esteem we are able to evolve our capacities because we don’t feel that our mistakes brands our personality.
If you want to work on your self-esteem, concentrate your attention on making your self-knowledge more real and more positive. Try new things even if you are afraid of them. In the area of self-love you can get support from your own supporting and safe relationships.
Important to know how your self-esteem is unstable and compensate it.
To reach and sustain a healthy level of self-esteem is possible especially with professional guidance and it pays off. You can experience its great effects daily.
I must mention here there are some exceptions. Self-esteem is not or just partly able to be changed in few personality disorder cases. In personality disorders (like Narcissism, Machiavellism, Psychopathy, Sociopathy etc.) the core belief about self-image is so deformed but stable and unfortunately almost impossible to re-shape it.
Picture: Kinsale CBT