What is self-esteem?
It’s a psychological term used to describe a person’s view of himself or herself. Why is it so important? It’s very important because not only does it reflect how a person views himself or herself, but also how they act towards their body or well-being or general sense of self. It can be either low or high or even just right, and can change through a number of factors.
Development of self-esteem
There are several factors that contribute to a person’s view of themselves, including physical appearance, culture, religion, social status, interpersonal relationships and even experiences at home, work and in school. For example, if a person had been continually criticized or ignored while growing up, then they may become obsessed with getting approval from their peers, which is a clear sign of low self-esteem.
However, the most important aspect of self-esteem can be the person’s own thoughts, and not necessarily those about themselves. As these can be directly controlled by the person, they have very big impact on the person’s self-esteem.
Healthy sense of self-esteem
A healthy sense of self-esteem is usually characterized by a number of things. The main point is that the person sees himself or herself as a healthy and capable individual who is of equal standing to those around him or her. It’s not about thinking of oneself as perfect, but instead being a healthy person who is happy being just right while accepting criticism from others.
These are some other traits found in a person with healthy self-esteem:
• Ability to make the best choice and stand by it without feeling guilty if others don’t agree;
• Secure in their capacity to solve problems despite failures and can ask for help when needed;
• Does not waste time worrying too much about past mistakes and about what the future holds;
• Learns from the past and plans for the future but lives for the present; and
• Has no desire or interest in success at the expense of others.
Low self-esteem doesn’t mean that a person doesn’t have much of a view of themselves, but rather thinks lowly of their worth to the point of being dependent on approval from anyone to feel needed or accepted. They can feel the need to continually do better in order to feel accepted by society if they succeed, but rejected or ignored if they fail. Because of this, people with low self-esteem can be destructive about themselves when pursuing a goal.
Other characteristics of low self-esteem include:
• Indecision and intense fear of making mistakes;
• Self-criticism and dissatisfaction with one’s abilities;
• Perfectionism, which leads to frustration;
• Dwelling intensely on past mistakes;
• Low confidence;
• Sensitivity to criticism with a feeling of resentment or defensiveness against the critic;
• Resentment towards more successful people; and
However, while a person with low self-esteem seeks for anything positive, indulging in things such as sex, success or having a better physical appearance or more possessions are only temporary solutions. These things will not improve a person’s view of themselves.
Overly high self-esteem
Having high self-esteem can be viewed as having an inflated ego. People who have an overly high sense of self-worth tend to view themselves as better or more important than other people, which can lead to arrogance and self-indulgence. If this ego is threatened, such as a move being criticized, then the person will react aggressively towards the critic.
Narcissism is usually mistaken as a form of overly high self-esteem because narcissists usually see themselves as better or more important than others with an inflated sense of self-love, but in fact, a person can have a low level of narcissism and high self-esteem.