There are times that all of us lack confidence, feel uncertain about ourselves or don’t feel good enough. But when these feelings persist over time, they can lead to low self-esteem and greatly affect our well-being and daily life.
Self-esteem is the opinion we have of ourselves. People with healthy self-esteem are likely to have positive views of themselves and an optimistic outlook of the world and the future. They usually deal confidently with challenges they encounter and trust their abilities. They have a robust sense of self-worth, feeling that they are good enough in different areas of their life such as ‘I’m a good parent/friend/partner/colleague’, ‘I’m a caring and loving person’.
On the other hand, people with low self-esteem are likely to hold negative and critical views about themselves, their future and the world. They usually do not feel confident to deal with challenges they might encounter and do not trust their abilities. They have low self-worth, and feel that they are not good enough, claiming ‘I’m not worthy’, ‘I will never make anything of myself’. As a result, people with low self-esteem might often feel anxious, sad, and unmotivated.
No one is born with low self-esteem. Low self-esteem develops throughout our life and it is mainly influenced by negative, early experiences such as:
- Disapproving and critical parental figures
- Being bullied.
- Repeated punishment, neglect, or abuse
- Not meeting peer group standards
- Not meeting other people’s expectations
- Not receiving sufficient warmth, affection, praise, love, or encouragement
Other life events that might contribute to low self-esteem include:
- Chronic stress
- Discrimination or stigma
- Experiencing abuse (physical/emotional/sexual)
- Financial difficulties
- Physical and mental health problems
- Relationship difficulties
- Social media pressures
- Work/school related issues