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!