What is self-esteem?
Self-esteem, also known as self-worth or self-respect, is the opinion people have of themselves. In psychology, your self-esteem is used to describe your sense of self-worth or personal value. In other words, how much you like yourself. Your self-esteem involves a variety of beliefs about yourself, such as how you look, how you feel and how you gauge your personal successes or failures.
If you have healthy self-esteem, you are likely to feel positive about your abilities and have a sunnier approach to life, in general. Whereas if you have low self-esteem, research have linked poor self-image with a variety of problems that can affect everything from the way you view your career to how you conduct your relationships.
Low self-esteem symptoms
From self-doubt to body dysmorphia, low self-esteem comes in many guises. We look at 8 common symptoms of low self-esteem and explain how to address them:
1. Self hatred
While there are times when we all dislike who we are, loathing your thoughts and actions is a classic sign of low self-esteem. Self-hate is characterised by feelings of anger and frustration about who you are and an inability to forgive yourself for even the smallest of mistakes.
A desire to be perfect is one of the more destructive aspects of low self-esteem. A perfectionist s someone who lives with a constant sense of failure because their achievements, no matter how impressive, don’t ever feel quite good enough.
3. Negative body image
A negative body image is often linked to low self-esteem and vice versa. This means it can affect everything from how you behave in relationships to how you project yourself at work. It can even prevent you from looking after your health, as you feel unworthy.
4. Feeling worthless
We all doubt our ability in certain areas of our lives, but a deep-rooted sense of worthlessness comes from believing that somehow we are not as valuable as others. If this sounds familiar, it’s important to understand that feeling worthy isn’t something given to us by others, but something we have to build ourselves.
Being too sensitive is one of the more painful aspects of low self-esteem. Whether you’re angered by criticism or literally feel demolished by any comment that’s directed at you, it’s important to desensitise yourself.
6. Fear and anxiety
Fear and a belief that you arepowerless to change anything in your world are irrefutably linked to low self-esteem.
Here are a few tips on dealing with the already mentioned problems;
Are your fears genuine or unfounded?
Challenge your anxieties with the facts. For instance, you may feel it’s pointless to go for a promotion because you don’t think you can get it. How true is this statement when you look at the evidence?
• Build confidence by facing your fears
Draw up what’s known as a fear pyramid, placing your biggest fear at the top and your smallest fears at the bottom. The idea is to work your way up the pyramid, taking on each fear and boosting your belief in your abilities as you go.
• Really listen to what’s being said
Developing listening skills can help you learn to evaluate whether a comment is true or not, before deciding how you feel about it.
• Stand up for yourself
If the criticism directed at you is unfair, say you disagree. You don’t have to accept everything everyone says to you as the truth.
• Be proactive
If there is some truth in it, learn from what’s being said, rather than beating yourself up about it. Constructive criticism can be exactly that, provided you take the comments on board and make changes for the better.
• Accept we all have unique talents
We have to take pride in our unique talents to believe we are worthy people, so celebrate what makes you special. You don’t have to be a concert pianist to be a worthy human being; being a good friend, a reliable sibling or a trusted employee is worthy of celebration too.
• Stop thinking others are better than you
While it’s fine to think highly of your peers or even your favourite celebrities, it’s irrational to translate this as meaning they are ‘better’ than you. Admire others’ traits, but not at the expense of your own. There is room for everyone to shine
• Stop comparing yourself to others
Comparison is the thief of joy, and leads only to insecurity. Accept that everyone is different and remember where your strengths lie. You might not be great at basketball but you make a delicious banana bread, and that is something to be celebrated!
• Set realistic expectations for yourself
Feel like a failure for not being a famous pop star, even though you’ve never had a singing lesson in your life? Consciously think about how reasonable and manageable your goals are before striving for them, remembering that life in general is imperfect.
• Failing doesn’t make you a failure
There is a big difference between failing at something you do and being a failure as a person, so don’t confuse the two. Successful people fail all the time and use it as motivation to keep going. JK Rowling’s original Harry Potter pitch was rejected 12 times before it was published, and now she’s one of the most successful authors in the world. Use your knock-backs to develop strength and resilience to keep on trying.