Every individual’s perception of everything around them is shaped by their beliefs. This belief system is dynamic and evolves based on your experiences in life. That is how you navigate the uncharted terrain of immensely diversified people and situations every single day.
But the belief system is not limited to the outside world. You also have particular sets of beliefs about your own self. It includes your subjective evaluation of your own worth. This is what is known as self-esteem. This touches upon the tremendous depth of being a human being.
If you think about it, each person has three selves. There is the actual self, which means the actuality of a person’s personality and behaviour. There is the ideal self that the person wants to become.
Then there is the perceived self. This is the person’s belief of what they are (which can deviate greatly from reality). This dictates how much self-esteem they have.
Why Is Self-Esteem Important?
The concept of self-esteem is a really important one to understand. Only then can you take steps to develop healthy self-esteem or keep it in check.
Depending on who you are, you can fall anywhere on the spectrum of low to high self-esteem. It is vital that you take steps to keep your self-esteem at healthy levels, no matter how you are currently feeling. The reason for this is that it affects every single facet of life.
Effects on Relationships
The way you feel about yourself directly dictates how you behave with other people. This will determine the quality of your various relationships with your family, spouse, friends, colleagues and so on.
If you have low self-esteem, you tend to become more people-pleasing or apologetic. If you have inflated self-esteem, you might become arrogant, and that may affect your relationships negatively.
Effects on Success
We all have unique capabilities and infinite potential to achieve anything we set our minds to. However, self-esteem plays a huge role in deciding whether or not that inner potential will be effective.
People with low self-esteem hold themselves back because they just don’t have confidence in their abilities. On the opposite side, people with inflated self-esteem can become overconfident, which renders their capabilities ineffective.
Effects on Happiness
Self-esteem has a direct and very real impact on your overall happiness and joy in life. The way you see yourself determines how you think and feel. The way you think and feel determines whether or not you are happy.
Low self-esteem is generally associated with feelings of inadequacy which ultimately leads to unhappiness. A healthy amount gives you the confidence in yourself that you need to “feel good”.
What Causes Low Self-Esteem?
There is a reason behind everything. You just need to find it and understand it. If someone has low self-esteem, no matter whether they are an adult or a child, there must be a good reason for it.
In most cases, the way your behaviour is moulded depends on your upbringing. This involves everything you can imagine that can affect your thoughts and emotions growing up.
Someone who has low self-esteem may have had unsupportive or even abusive parents or guardians. They might have been around friends that influenced them negatively.
Also, in many cases, children who go through traumatising events such as their parents’ divorce or death, can develop low self-esteem.
Other traumatising events might be bullying at school, failing important tests, physical & emotional abuse, etc.
There is a reason why children and teenagers are said to be in a “developing” phase of life. The belief systems that they develop during the earlier years of life act like a foundation for their entire lives.
Sure, it can be changed with effort and determination, but it is always better to lay the right foundation from the get-go. Doing so helps them realise their full potential and utilise their unique abilities. This allows them to live a fulfilling life.
Is Low Self-Esteem Genetic?
The debate between nature and nurture is a really old one. Many great minds have tried to understand what it is that really impacts you when you are growing up.
Some say it is the genes of your parents that dictate how you will turn out. Some say it is the different life experiences, people and situations that shape you into the person you become. The reality is probably a combination of both.
There have been some studies conducted by researchers that suggest that low self-esteem may be genetic. In 2011, reports surfaced that researchers had discovered that genes can indeed dictate whether a person will have low or high self-esteem.
The study was conducted on 326 people who were first given a questionnaire and then had their genes studied.
That is quite revealing. However, one should keep in mind that genes do not define your destiny.
In fact, the researchers clearly stated that there are many factors that influence your behaviour and psychological states. Genes are only one among them. Also, the sample size of the study was quite small. So, we might need bigger studies to be conducted for more conclusive findings.
Are You Born With Self-Esteem?
This is a pretty hard question to answer. If you research on this topic, you will find that there is no clear consensus between scientists. Some studies have said that you are not born with low or high self-esteem, but some studies have linked them to genes.
As we all know, genes are passed down from parents to their children. So, if genes are indeed responsible to determine a level of self-esteem, that must mean that we are all born with self-esteem.
Currently, the actual truth cannot be determined. So, for the time being, it is best to accept that both might be true. Your self-esteem might be defined by your parents.
Or, it might be based on your environment and experiences growing up. Of course, you don’t have control over the genes you get, but you do have control over your life experiences.
In the end, it is safe to say that we all have the power to define how our lives should be. Even if there are other factors affecting your self-esteem, the most important factor is you.
If you want, you can change whatever aspect of yourself and live the life that you want to live. It cannot get any simpler than this.
How Can You Improve Your Self-Esteem?
Now that we have established that you can change any aspect of yourself if you really want it, the next step is to learn how to do so. To do that, you must first accept your current set of traits and decide exactly what traits you would like to have. Your specific dreams, desires, and goals will dictate the latter.
Also, any change is bound to take time. So stay patient and determined until you see results. The following are some of the ways that have worked for many people in helping them improve their self-esteem. If you follow these for a sustained period of time, you will certainly start to see results too.
1. Push Yourself Constantly
People with low self-esteem tend to hold themselves back. They might not feel confident in social situations or in pursuing a particular goal. What you must remember is that life happens outside of your comfort zone.
Sometimes, all it takes is a little bit of courage to change your life drastically. It might seem hard, but if you push yourself, little by little, it will do wonders for your self-esteem.
2. Let Negative People Go
If holding yourself back wasn’t enough, many times, other people around us hold us back too. It might be your relatives, friends, or even colleagues.
They might do so for any number of reasons. Often, it is for their own selfish reasons. If you want to elevate your life, you have to let these people go. You will instantly feel a lot lighter and capable than you did before. You might even start doing things that you simply wouldn’t do before.
3. Master New Skills
Achievements make you feel better about yourself. You don’t need to conduct a study to find that out. This can be one of the best ways to enhance your self-esteem.
You can learn to play a musical instrument, or learn to dance, or many other things. Doing so will bolster your confidence in yourself. Little things like these go a long way in building your overall confidence levels.
4. Practice Affirmations
Affirmations are short positive sentences that you tell yourself repeatedly. In essence, these become the mantra that helps you in ways that you can’t even imagine.
It is like tricking your brain into accepting what you want it to accept. Once you get something in your head, that becomes your new reality. You can do the same with your self-esteem as well.
Meditation really is a master key that unlocks several different locks. Meditation helps you get in touch with yourself. It helps you understand and discover who you really are at your core. This revelation can be more powerful than you think.
It paves the way for you to accept who you are. Only then can you take steps to be the best version of you that you can be. It also helps calm your thoughts and emotions that can go into overdrive if you have lower levels of self-esteem.
6. Be Grateful For Your Accomplishments
One major reason people may have low self-esteem is that they might think they have achieved nothing of value in life. However, that cannot be further from the truth.
Each one of us has many accomplishments to be proud of. No matter how little or big they are. If you sit down every day, list your achievements and feel genuine gratitude for them, you will be well on your way to creating a healthy level of self-esteem.
What Are The Benefits of High Self-Esteem?
Everything you achieve in your life starts with you. Your level of peace, self-esteem, capabilities, thoughts, emotions and many other factors determine what you will achieve. Everything starts with you. So, if you learn to cultivate high self-esteem, it will lay the perfect foundation for your entire life.
You will pursue your dreams without any hesitation. It will act as the source of your courage to face any obstacles and accept new ones. You will feel resilient and learn to make your way to the top.
You will even learn to accept short-term disappointments. All of this will make sure that you achieve your dreams and live a happy and fulfilled life.
It will allow you to stay true to yourself. You will be comfortable in your own skin, which is the most wonderful feeling to have. You will also be able to articulate your needs and desires without a second thought.
This will go a long way in building stronger relationships with people. Also, you will be much happier as you wouldn’t feel the need for anyone else to be truly happy.
The intangible forces within you can have real tangible effects in your life. That is why the first thing you need to do is tame these internal forces.
If tamed, they will serve as armour and weapons to fight life’s battles.
If untamed, they will turn out to be your own enemy. The decision rests in your hands.
If you ever feel unsure, look at history and even the present times. Many people achieve great things in all areas of life. They too are human. They too are made of the same flesh and bones that you are made of.
Why, then, would you consider yourself any less capable? You have all the power you need. You just need to learn to unleash it.