Self-esteem is a term used your overall emotional evaluation of your worth. It is a judgement of your self as well as an attitude toward yourself. Self-esteem includes beliefs (for example, “I am talented,” “I am worthy”) and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride and shame. So self-esteem is also closely associated with self-consciousness, self worth and self belief.
Your experiences are how self-esteem develops, positive or negative experiences creates your attitude toward yourself so good experiences equal a better self-esteem and bad ones obviously lower your self esteem. So as ever childhood plays a huge part in how good your self-esteem is, parents are the most significant influence on self-esteem and the main source of positive and/or negative experiences you have. You all need real love and encouragement from your parents and if it isn’t there or real your self- esteem takes a pounding.
School of course means academic achievement if you achieve or consistently failing, your self-esteem develops accordingly. The fact at school you are judged against other children also affects your self-esteem even if you are good at something’s that will be balanced out by the things you may not be so good at. School brings the need to belong and fit in at any cost and again if this is not successful your self-esteem will be affected. Finally bullying, social pressure and critical parenting all affect your self-esteem so it’s a pretty fragile thing as we grow up.
Once we get to adulthood you can damage it even further with bad relationships negative thinking, discrimination against you, finding people to criticise you and loneliness. If you allow enough things to damage your self- esteem you can end up depressed, stressed, feeling worthless and even mentally ill. So it is really important you protect and nurture your self-esteem, but with modern life that is easier said than done!
Here a few ways to protect and look after your self-esteem –
- if you are treating your feelings of low self-esteem with food, drugs or alcoholism – get help and stop as it is simply lowering your self-esteem
- If you personalise stressful events (e.g., criticism) by making sure it is always personal and negative, you will simply become that negative and shameful person. Slow down before you take criticism personally or criticise yourself. Is that the reality of the situation or did you simply make a mistake? Simply stop any automatic processes you have to internalize the negative.
- Acknowledge when you feel the process happening and then you will be able to stop it quicker, and then you can assess your response, and begin to stop an now automatic response.
- Learn about giving empathy to yourself – would you talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself?
- Accept and honour your feelings, as when we accept others view of ourselves we do not trust our own feelings – your feelings as valid and based on a sound knowledge about yourself.
- Become assertive, develop boundaries and do not let people cross them no matter how they try!
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