Have you experienced very low self-esteem at some point in your life? Are you here because you want to work on improving yours or someone else's self-image?
Why it Self Esteem Is important
Having a balanced self-image allows you to try new things, take risks and lead a positive life. Having a low self-esteem makes you afraid to try things or scared to take risks because you do not believe that you can do it, or that you will be good at it.
Having an over-inflated or narcissistic self-image can cause you to not be able to have good relationships or keep a steady job. Self-esteem is very important to have a content, balanced life.
Self-esteem is the image that you have of yourself. What you believe you are capable of accomplishing or not. It is what causes you to make the choices you make every day. If you have a healthy self-esteem, you will be more apt to take risks and have the drive to succeed. If your self-esteem is low, you do not have the confidence to take risks or try something new because you do not believe that you are capable.
What Determines our view of ourselves?
The foundation for our self-esteem comes from those around us when we were very young and just learning everything. If we have a good supportive family that encourages and praises, then as children we usually have a positive self-esteem. Parents who praise their young children for a job well done, or encourage them to try new things and help them succeed, are building a foundation for a positive self-esteem in their child's life.
On the other hand, if children come from a family that is not outwardly supportive and encouraging, they may feel that they are not good enough. They do not learn the confidence to try new things or take risks. These children are not given a solid foundation of self-esteem and may not realize that they are just as good as other children.
As we go through life, our environment can change our self-image. Peers and teachers can cause us to gain self-confidence or to lose it as well. It is very important in younger teens who are already dealing with peer pressure and adolescence to have a solid foundation and good family support. Even as adults we can go through times in our lives that we do not have a positive self-image. It is normal to have ups and downs through life, but it becomes unhealthy if our self-esteem is damaged and stays very low.
Adults and children who are in abusive environments will likely develop a very low self-image due to repeatedly hearing how worthless they are, or how they can do nothing right or good enough. This can be a dangerous emotional state. Even if they choose not to be a victim and get themselves out of the abusive environment, it can take years to heal and regain their self-esteem.
What is healthy self-esteem?
Healthy self-esteem is when you have a solid belief in your abilities and know what your weaknesses are also. Your weaknesses do not cause you to feel bad, because you know that no one is good at everything and you are ok with that.
Your outlook on life is positive and you excel at the things you are good at, while improving in other areas. People with a healthy self-esteem tend to have steady jobs, do well in school and have better relationships.
Effects of Low Self Esteem
Living a life of fear is a bondage of sorts. You keep yourself from experiencing things that you may find out you love or are very good at, just because of the fear that you won't be able to do it right or good enough. Eventually, people stop trying at all. They may fail in school or on the job. It can even cause deep depression.
Teens and young adults who have low self-esteem may fall into self-destructive behaviors. It is not uncommon for teen girls to cut themselves because they have a very low self-image. They believe that the pain from self-mutilation will relieve the pain they feel emotionally.
What is narcissistic personality and what does it have to do with self-esteem?
Sometimes people with a low self-esteem will try to compensate by attempting to portray to others that they are exceptionally good at everything. These people will come off as vain and conceited. Conversations with them will always be self-centered around what they can do and what they know.
This is a very unhealthy self-image. Most people with this type of personality do not ever seek out help, they have deep emotional issues. Sometimes they have tried for so long to make themselves feel better by making others look bad that they actually believe it on some level. Many people with this type of self-image tend to turn into addictive personalities. They turn to alcohol or drugs to keep from feeling the emotional pain of not being good enough.
How to improve self-esteem
You can absolutely improve your self-esteem and learn how to keep it balanced. A great way to do this may be to have a life coach, counsellor or a trusted loved one who will help you. Having someone to encourage you and guide you to finding ways to feel good about yourself will make your journey much easier.
A great start is to begin journaling, either privately or with your support person. Make a rule that your journal can only be positive. You want to write down everything that you are good at first, then things that you want to improve, finally new things you want to try. Then keep track daily of positive steps and events that happen, even if it seems tiny write it down! This way when you are feeling like you are slipping you can go back and read all the accomplishments you have made.
If you have chosen a support person such as a life coach or loved one; have them hold you accountable for keeping your journal. And share with them your success and your setbacks. They are there to support you and guide you through both.
Tips for a balanced, healthy self-image
- Do not allow other people to bring you down.
- Keep your circle of trusted friends positive.
- Reward yourself when you have a job well done.
- Take set-backs in stride, try again.
- Work hard at the things you ARE good at.
For many people a healthy self-esteem is a constant battle. If you feel like you battle with your self-image on a regular basis or you are afraid to try anything new, you are not alone. Just the fact that you have read this far shows that you want to improve yourself. Finding the courage to ask for help, being vulnerable and opening up to someone else about your weaknesses is very hard, but is the first step in the road to a healthy self-esteem.
For some people it is easier to be open and honest with a life coach or counsellor who is not emotionally close to them. For others it is easier to have some you know and trust to support you on your path. Whatever works for you is ok, you just have to take that first step and ask someone to be your support.