What is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is the respect that we have for ourselves. When we have healthy self-esteem, we feel positively about ourselves and about life in general. It makes us more able to address adequately the hardships of life.
When our self-esteem is low, we tend to see ourselves and life more negatively and critically. Thus, we feel less efficient to undertake challenges that life itself poses.
What causes low self-esteem?
Low self-esteem often begins in childhood. Teachers, friends, siblings, parents and even media are sending us messages about ourselves, both positive and negative.
For some reason the message that you are not capable enough is what tends to remain at the most in you.
You may find it difficult to satisfy others’ expectations imposed on you, or your own expectations from yourself.
Stress and pressure of life events such as illness or bereavement, can have a negative effect on self-esteem.
Personality may also play its own role. Some people are more prone to think negatively and others pose extremely high standards for themselves.
How does low self esteem affect us?
If you have low self-esteem or self-confidence you may avoid social situations, stop trying new things and withdraw from situations that you consider provocative.
In the short term, avoiding challenging and difficult situations can make you feel more secure. But in the long run this may backfire on you as it reinforces your doubts and fears.
Living with low self-esteem may damage your mental health and lead to problems such as depression or pathological anxiety. It can even lead to harmful habits such as smoking or alcohol, as ways of dealing with depression or anxiety.