Often we hear the term self-esteem. But, what does it mean?

Self-esteem is the acceptance of oneself in its wholeness, both of our strengths and positive characteristics and our negative traits and weaknesses. It is essentially the degree to which we value, respect and accept ourselves.

How Low Self-Esteem Develops?

Low self-esteem is a very common phenomenon and one of the main reasons one needs psychotherapy in order to strengthen it. It is largely determined by the experiences one had with familiar persons (parents, grandparents, siblings, etc.) from the beginning of his life.

When a baby begins to perceive that is no longer one with his mother, but a different entity, then begins to shape its self-image. This happens at about the first 12-18 months of his life and completed at the end of puberty.

If someone grows up in an environment where relationships with familiar persons are positive and empowering, the more likely it is to develop a positive self-image. Conversely, if indifference, lack of attention, affection, care, recognition and reward, comparisons, excessive expectations, disrespect, coldness, criticism, neglect, and condemnation dominate, the more likely it is that he will have a low self-esteem.

The lower self-esteem a child has, the easier it becomes an adolescent and then an adult with a negative image of himself. This happens because once this image has taken shape, the person tends to express it through his behavior into adulthood, thus accompanying in all aspects of his life, making his interpersonal relationships difficult.

Low self-esteem leads to a feeling of dissatisfaction with ourselves, a sense that we’re not entitled and not deserve to have a lot in life and in our relationships, feelings of disadvantage and inferiority, intense internal conflicts, sadness, unfulfilled needs and desires.

The self-image can be changed and it’s possible one to learn to love and respect himself and begin to see himself from another, more positive perspective.

Let’s see below in what ways one can improve his self-esteem:

1. Stop Comparisons

Do not enter the process of comparing yourself with others. Do not forget that every person is unique. The ideal is to compare yourself only with you and your accomplishments.

2. Be Realistic

Make sure you put realistic goals. Putting too high standards and unrealistic goals is the perfect way to experience frustration and disappointment. Divide each target to smaller ones. Once you conquer one, move on to the next.

3. Let Go of Perfectionism

Stop looking for and chasing perfection. Perfectionism can paralyze you from taking action because you become so afraid of not living up to some standard. And so, you procrastinate, you don’t get the results you expect, and your self-esteem lowers. Remember, the perfect does not exist and it is the enemy of confidence.

Watch: Stop Procrastination

4. Think About What You Are Proud Of

Devote every day 5-10 minutes to think about what you did in the day, and for which you feel proud of yourself. It may be something that seems very simple, however, it is significant (eg. you helped an elderly to cross the road, you collaborated very well with your colleagues etc.).

5. Learn from Your Mistakes

Do not feel bad if you do something wrong or fail on something. Mistakes are always instructive and valuable, and learning opportunities for growth and development. Learn from them and don’t give up!

6. Do the Things You Enjoy and You Are Good on Them

Sure you have talent on specific hobbies. Identify the things you enjoy doing and usually score well on them. This will give you an inner appreciation.

7. Avoid Negative People

Try to avoid people that through continuous sterile and negative criticism, devaluation and caustic comments cultivate doubts about yourself. Spend more time with supportive people that will make you feel comfortable, positive, and help you grow.

8. Do Something Positive for You

Reward and do often something positive for yourself. This may be a trip, a gift for yourself, doing an activity of your choice, such as going to a dance school or a gym.

After reading all these, you might think your own ways to improve your self-esteem. After all, you are the one who chooses which path you will follow in the course of your life. Psychotherapy also helps a lot to improve your self-esteem.

Also, through the journey of self-awareness, you have the opportunity to understand the obstacles that alienated you from yourself, the whys of your low self-esteem. Mostly, it depends on you!

H/T: marpscyhology.gr

The ego is formed through our relationships with other people -especially with family members, during the upbringing period.

Through these relationships our self-image and beliefs around the value of the self is formed, and they influence whether how much we feel accepted by others. The acceptance of others, in turn, affects the feeling of belonging and sociability.

Thoughts Determine the Form of Interaction

The question “how I think (or how I feel, how I suppose) about how others see me”, has a particularly revealing and potentially therapeutic character. Throughout our life, we come into contact with other people. To work somewhere, to create friendly or other relationships and generally to organize our life, we have to interact with others.

If every time we come inτο contact with others, our mind plays negative thoughts about the self, then we’ll only see the respective symptoms of fear, anxiety, shame or guilt, which will greatly hinder our socialization at all levels. If a mind has been programmed to believe that on the interaction with others, what others see is the image of a lower, inadequate or troubled person, then develops various adjustment or avoidance mechanisms, to avoid revealing some aspects of the self that have previously assessed as disadvantaged.

Instead, if one mind doesn’t create negative thoughts about oneself, the interactions with others will be easier and won’t involve defensive or other mechanisms.

The Mechanism of Projection

How we think about others see us reveals the content of the mechanism of projection. Projection is essentially the thoughts that a mind project outwards (to others), coloring the world with the colors of the soul. If the self-challenged by thoughts of self-doubt, worthlessness, self-rejection, inferiority and other similar to the above, the impression that others see us as such is formed.

Is that true? How do we know what others see in us?

The answer to this question is very simple. Others see a body. The next question is more critical: what we see in others? Do we see only bodies, or do we see the projections of our minds, ie, judgments, identities, typifications, and roles? When we see other people, do we see bodies or we think we know what “type” the other is, judging by the clothes he wears, his posture, the way he speaks, and other features?

Criticism Creates Problems

People who suffer the most from fear of criticism are those who judge others. Someone who is not judging and classifying people into categories (“he is so…, the other is…”), he is not too much concerned of how others see him.

This is the true meaning of the saying “do not judge and you will not be judged.” It’s not that you will be judged by others, but will be judged by your own mind that it will judge you as it judges others. It’s like turning your weapon against you. One to be released of thoughts about oneself and how he is perceived by others, one must understand that he can interact with others without being “armed”. Only when one is free from the belief that says that to be okay you have to be careful and defended, then he’ll start to move freely in the world without being concerned about thoughts of himself.

Related: Know Thyself: A Perspective of How You and Others See Yourself

The Solution is Awareness

So, if problems in our interaction with others arose, let’s ask ourselves honestly and answer the question: how I think about how others see me? What I think that they think when they see me (either for the first time less familiar persons or for the umpteenth time more familiar persons). And, also, how I see others? Do I “decorate” them with names, descriptions and identities, or do I see bodies that function? Whatever the answers, we must recognize them as products of the programmed mind and not as objective or invariant truths.

The instrument that will allow us to observe our mind as it will be activated at the time of our interaction with others, is awareness.

Watch: Increase Your Conscious Awareness

This article was originally published in aytepignosi.com and translated by Visual Meditation.