Why do we develop our self-esteem? How could this post change the course of your life?
The way we feel about ourselves affects all the aspects of our lives, including our job, love or sex life, the way we behave as parents, and the way we relate to God.
The influence that events in life will have on us will depend on the way we see ourselves. This means that a person’s self-esteem can determine, to a great extent, his/her success or failure.
If you are not convinced yet of how important it is to learn and to grow in this area of your life, putting the biological problems aside, there is not one psychological difficulty from anguish and depression, fear to be intimate or to succeed, alcohol or drug abuse, poor performance in school or job, to mistreating women or men, or raping kids, sexual dysfunctions or emotional immaturity, even suicide or violent crimes, that cannot be attributed to low self-esteem in human beings (Nathaniel Branden). William James, a psychologist, said about self-esteem: mental distress frequently follows people who think they are insufficient and worthless.
Now, after starting to understand the magnitude of the self-esteem problem, consider that 85% of the world population suffers from self-esteem related problems. Seventy percent of the population has a poor concept of themselves, saying that they are not good enough, that they are ugly or inadequate. Forty-five percent of men are not happy with their bodies.
Then, let us see what self-esteem is. It is the way you perceive yourself; “It is about the emotional part of your mind, it values the most intimate part of the self, your value as a person”; “It is the concept you have about yourself”. Brian Tracy
In other words, like Branden said, self-esteem is the sum of confidence and respect for oneself, and it reflects the implicit judgment each person makes about his/her ability to face challenges in life.
How do we develop our self-esteem? This question is important because if we understand the root of the self-esteem formation process, we can work on it more efficiently.
Self-esteem is developed from a very young age and it never stops evolving, changing, improving and even deteriorating. That is, it is continuously moving. Besides, as a product of our sinful condition, it is not voluntary, spontaneous or natural, but is originated from life conditions and what each person experiences during life.
For example, when we are approximately 5 or 6 years old, we start shaping an idea of what to be ourselves means. This idea will be under the influence of the attachment style our primary caregivers develop with us. If they develop a secure attachment, we will feel loved, we will feel that we are special and have value. But, when our primary caregivers are not emotionally present to give us love or acceptance, we develop an insecure attachment, which leads us to feel unworthy, not validated and that we lack self-worth.
Later, during adolescence, we start value ourselves according to the relationships we are building with our parents and the cultural criteria in the beauty, value and intellectual fields. And, when we get to adulthood, self-esteem is lived based on the life script we developed during our childhood and that may be shaping the course of our lives. This way self-satisfaction or dissatisfaction grows, as well as security and insecurity inside ourselves.
How do you know if you have positive self-esteem?
A person with positive self-esteem…
- Firmly believes in certain values and principles, and is willing to defend them even if opposition is found.
- Does not waste time worrying excessively for what happened in the past or what might happen in the future.
- Fully trusts in his/her ability to solve his/her own problems, without feeling intimidated by his/her failures or difficulties.
- As a person, considers himself/herself and feels that is equal to others; not inferior, nor superior, just equally dignified; and acknowledges the differences and specific talents, professional prestige or economic status.
- Is not easily manipulated, although is willing to collaborate if it is convenient or appropriate.
- Is capable of enjoying several activities.
- Is sensitive to other people’s feeling and needs; respects generally accepted sound rules of coexistence, and understands that he/she has no right to – or wishes to – thrive or amuse at the expense of others.
A person who has negative self-esteem has the following characteristics:
- Rigorous self-criticism: tends to create a normal state of dissatisfaction towards himself/herself.
- Hypersensitivity to criticism: that makes him/her feel easily attacked and to experience stubborn resentments against people who criticizes.
- Chronic indecision: not due to the lack of information, but due to the exaggerated fear to be wrong.
- Excessive desire to please people: it is hard for the person to say “no”, due to the fear to displease or lose the petitioner’s benevolence.
- Perfectionism: or self-demanding to do things “perfectly”, no mistakes allowed, in almost everything he/she does; which can lead the person to feel very bad when things do not turn out with the demanded perfection.
- Neurotic guiltiness: the person condemns himself/herself due to behaviors that are not always objectively bad, exaggerates the magnitude of his/her mistakes or offences, and/or indefinitely regrets them, without fully forgiving himself/herself.
- Floating hostility: they have irritability just above the surface, always about to explode even due to things that are not important; characteristically found in supercritical people who think that everything is wrong, who dislikes many things or everything upsets them. Nothing satisfies them.
- Defensive tendencies: a generalized negativity (everything is perceived as dark: his/her life, future and mainly, himself/herself) and poor generalized appetite for the joy of living and life itself.
- Is critical of others: sometimes, a person who has low self-esteem may get to use criticism when things go wrong, especially when it comes to defend oneself in the face of an awkward situation, pretending to prove one’s innocence. Even, it may happen that the person who has low self-esteem does not get to be aware of his/her behavior and that does not do things having bad intentions.
What type of self-esteem do you think you have? Have you thought about the way you see yourself? As we said before, the main value you must give yourself is the one that God has given you; such a big value that He gave His only son to die in your place so eternal life could be offered to you. So, it does not matter if your family of origin has sown doubts in you about your value as a person; or if your friends or partner does not make you feel as an equal; it does not matter if your co-workers do not acknowledge your hard work or your value as a part of the place where you work; you have immensurable value before the eyes of God.
See the goodness in you, acknowledge your qualities, your good principles, the knowledge you have; value the good features of your personality, those good things you have inside you to offer; look at yourself in the mirror and realize you are unique, that you have a purpose, goals, and dreams. Give yourself the value your own Creator has given you and you will be happy!
Have you done something that has helped you improve your self-esteem during your life? Share it with us in the comments section and thus you will help others improve their self-esteem and begin their way to happiness and self-worth. God bless you.