Self-esteem, also known as self-confidence, is something that every person has, but the crucial differentiating factor between each individual is the precise amount of worth they evaluate that they have. It is a person’s belief of their value across a wide range of metrics that can include their success in relationships, work, physical and mental health, and many more.
Because self-esteem is such an introspective and personal assessment, it’s entirely subjective and based off what the person feels. For this reason, many people might have very low self-esteem even if an observer might think they should instead have higher confidence in their own abilities and achievements. And on the opposite side, you’ve probably met people who maybe come across as arrogant because they have an elevated sense of self-worth.
There’s no easy right or wrong answer to how someone feels about their inner worth. However, it is possible for licensed medical professionals and others to determine when someone is suffering from low self-esteem that can pose a risk to their overall well-being. For that reason, it’s vital to know some signs of low self-confidence and steps you can take to address it.
What is self-esteem, and how is it developed?
In the fourth edition of “Social Psychology,” published in 2015 and written by Eliot R Smith, Diane M. Mackie, and others, they write that “The self-concept is what we think about the self; self-esteem, is the positive or negative evaluations of the self, as in how we feel about it.”
That means self-esteem generally refers to how we feel about ourselves based on our internal judgement of our own status and actions, as well as our feelings about how we things others judge us. It’s so important to each person because it plays a key role in our daily lives.
The impacts of self-esteem on our thinking and relationships
Having an elevated sense of self-esteem can be damaging to relationships because people with that belief can appear arrogant, which can turn off friends, family, and others.
But this article focuses on those people who are suffering from low self-esteem, because they need assistance to help overcoming these internal feelings of doubt. Having a lack of self-confidence can be very detrimental to your life for a range of reasons. It might deter you from working out, in turn leading to poorer physical health that brings with it its own negative impacts. Or it can make the person suffering from lack of self-esteem feel they are inadequate for certain achievements, whether it be a new job, a new romantic relationship, or more.
And in many cases the lack of self-confidence is something that the person suffering from it is feeling even though the people that they meet might hold that some person in high esteem.
There’s an extensive body of peer-reviewed science that has linked adverse health effects with low self-confidence. An August 2004 article by researchers in England and the Netherlands found a direct connection between poor self-esteem and mental health disorders, including internal problems like depression, eating disorders, and suicidal tendencies, and external problems that can include alcohol or drug abuse and violent outbursts.
A separate May 2003 article by a medical researcher found that improving self-confidence can lead to improved overall well-being, helping to reduce or overcome negative physical and mental effects that have long been associated with an inadequate feeling of self-worth.
That’s why it’s so important to be able to identify instances of low self-esteem whether in yourself or in someone you care about, and take steps to try addressing it.
Ways to improve and retain self-esteem
Happily, the welcome news is that there are several options available for anyone who has a feeling of low self-esteem but is eager to overcome it and build up their self-confidence.
One option is to consider Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which involves talking with a therapist about your issues with lack of self-confidence through a formally structured series of meeting sessions. These conversations and treatment will help the sufferer to identify what is causing the problem, and provide a path forward for helping to address it.
More broadly, therapy in general can be a great tool for people to improve their overall physical and mental health, regardless of their feelings of self-esteem. But it remains a vital tool for those who need assistance in identifying ways that they can build up their confidence.
You can also attempt to address your issues with lack of self-esteem through mindfulness, which in an expansive sense refers to being aware of what’s going on around us without letting it hinder or otherwise overwhelm us. Meditation is one of the most prominent examples of this type of self-help, using it to essentially take a step back and a deep breath and realise that some of things that are hurting our self-confidence should not be doing so.
Mindfulness also includes the need to be able to identify exactly what those triggers are that are making you feel inadequate, so that you can reflect more fully on them and change whatever behaviours might be leading to those negative outcomes.
You could also consider pursuing some self-development activities to improve your sense of self-worth, such as taking on new hobbies or other experiences. Busying yourself with productive and rewarding tasks can help to push aside those nagging feelings of inferiority, and help you to build up the confidence that you need for a healthier day-to-day life.
Having low self-esteem need not be a permanent condition
As the guide above details, just because you or someone you know might currently be suffering from low self-confidence that does not make it a permanent condition. There are a range of valuable tips available — ranging from zero-cost to some cost — that everyone can take in a bid to tackle feelings of inferior self-esteem. Whatever strategy you might eventually settle on, rest assured that a bright future awaits that will boost you physically and mentally.