Self-esteem is one of those strange things that our minds can create to be either positive or negative and affect us accordingly. For those lucky enough to have a positive self-esteem, there are certain factors that are not an issue but for those who have developed a negative self-esteem, many of life’s tasks are made that much more difficult.
What is self-esteem?
In very simple terms, self-esteem is the opinion you have of yourself and the way in which you see your role in life, and the world. People with a positive self-esteem hold themselves in high regard and have faith in their abilities to achieve their goals and be successful in life. Those with a positive self-esteem rarely doubt themselves in the way someone with a negative self-esteem would. We all know someone with negative or poor self-esteem – they’re the ones in the corner doubting every action and decision they have made; believing that they are responsible for many of the problems or issues others are having; the people who are constantly down on themselves. So why is it that some people have a high self-esteem while others are so poor? There are several factors and while not all of them are possible to fix, it is certainly possible to improve your own self-esteem.
How does self-esteem develop?
Think back to when you were a child. Did your family praise your efforts and congratulate you when you did well at something? Were you regularly told that you were smart, capable, and had the ability to achieve all your goals? Or was the opposite true? Were you put down, told you would amount to nothing, or blamed for everything that went wrong with your family?
How we are treated as children is often the start of the development of our self-esteem and while there are many factors that can impact on the development of self-esteem, the more positive feedback you receive the more likely you are to believe it. Let’s use an example. Imagine a little girl who is regularly blamed for her mother’s diabetes (which developed during pregnancy) and the fact that her birth resulted in her mother not being able to achieve her goals in life. Would you be surprised to learn that this little girl grew up to doubt every decision she made? Or that she constantly questioned herself and blamed herself for things that went wrong but had nothing to do with her? Or that this little girl genuinely believed that she had no purpose in life but to make people unhappy? Sadly, there are many little girls and boys who grow up like this yet it is possible to break these thoughts and begin to build and create a positive self-esteem.
Building a positive self-esteem
If you are one of the many people around the world to suffer from poor self-esteem, you are not alone. Regardless of your age, it is possible to change your way of thinking and begin to believe yourself. High self-esteem is possible for everyone and starts in your mind. All of us have something we are good (or even great) at and this is the best place to start.
Think about the things you enjoy and are good at. Forget every negative comment you may have heard about yourself and just concentrate on what it is about this particular thing that you enjoy and why you are good at. This is your starting point. For the little girl in our example, it was drawing. Yes, she received many negative comments from family about her abilities but in her heart she knew she was good. She used that feeling to start building confidence in herself and now she is a successful writer, with many people wanting to use her skills.
Building your self-esteem takes time and certainly won’t happen overnight. But with time and some self-belief (as hard as it may be to find in the beginning), you can and will learn to improve your self-esteem and believe in yourself. One of the important lessons learned by the little girl in our example was that many of the people that continually put her down over the years (even into adulthood and parenthood) did so because of their own insecurities. Once this girl decided to ‘take back her power’ the negativity and criticism no longer hurt – instead it simply annoyed her that her family chose to put her down rather than be happy for her.
Self-esteem can be tricky and there are many factors that impact on its development. Poor self-esteem, however, doesn’t have to rule your life anymore. By learning to focus on the positive things around you (such as your skills, qualifications, achievements etc.) you can learn to be proud and have faith in yourself and your abilities. And when you do, you’ll be amazed at how much different life can be with a high level of self-esteem.