The entire basis of your self-esteem today is a product of your past. It has been influenced by countless sources such as your parents and siblings, your teachers, the kids you went to school with, the kids you played with, your teachers, your coaches, and any other type of authority figure. Each of these people played a role in establishing how you feel about yourself today.
The composition of your self-esteem is a direct correlation to how your family treated you in the past. If you received a sincere dose of healthy love, praise, and attention and were treated politely, and were allowed to be heard, then you would cultivate a solid sense of self-worth.
Conversely, if you were humiliated, neglected, disregarded, yelled at, and disciplined harshly in an unfair way – then your self-worth is likely to be low and diminished.
Other external influences
On top of the constant influence of those who play significant roles in your life, there are those various factors that also work on our society’s collective self-esteem.
These come to us daily through messaging in our media and other forms of public information. They continually attack our psyche to convince us that we don’t measure up to what we should be. And this is done in an attempt to manipulate us and persuade us to buy their product or service. How’s that for serving the public good?
We’re bombarded with images of perfect beautiful people who spend all their time working out and polishing their image – because that’s their job as models – and then lecture us into thinking that if we don’t look like them, then we somehow don’t measure up. Yet we’re working 8-hour jobs and getting our kids off to school every day.
All of these influences have worked in unison to create a core set of beliefs within our minds. And over time, these beliefs affect our lives – in terms of the decisions we make and the actions we take.
Good or bad, these beliefs leave an impression in our minds and an imprint on our very soul in terms of how we view ourselves.
Unfortunately for most of us, these beliefs are negative and greatly hinder our lives. In most cases, we are left with scars because bad news always travels faster than good news and has more impact. Don’t believe me? Take a look at any newscast or newspaper – those editors already know that bad news sells much better than good news. Our minds certainly believe this to be true.
However, if you are willing to put in the effort, you can overcome the negative programming within your mind and develop a healthy self-esteem level. Some people start by reading self-esteem quotes or using self-esteem affirmations.
Healthy self-esteem compared to low self-esteem
The first step in repairing low self-esteem is clarifying the differences between healthy self-esteem and low self-esteem. Notice I said ‘healthy’ self-esteem and not ‘high’ self-esteem. This is because high is not always a good thing.
Some people have high self-esteem but zero self-awareness. We’ve all seen them – they think they’re top performers when they’re not, they believe they are knowledgeable about things when they’re not – and everyone knows this but them.
Healthy self-esteem comes from a sense of humility. It means we know deeply who we are, we know both our strengths and limitations, and we embrace them.
Now let’s look at some traits of healthy self-esteem:
- You learn from your successes and anticipate more in the future
- You take care of yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally
- You establish balanced goals in different aspects of your life
- You embrace your strong qualities
- You accept responsibility for your mistakes
- You have the self-confidence to accomplish things
- You feel prepared for life’s daily challenges
- You feel content and sure of yourself
Now here are some traits of low self-esteem:
- You constantly compare yourself to others
- You assume that others will outperform you
- You often feel stressed and anxious
- You need and seek the approval of others
- You are too fearful of speaking up at meetings
- You fear having confrontations with others
- You feel too shy to talk with strangers
- You place too much focus on your past failures and mistakes
- You have many doubts about your self-worth
Let us clarify something important here. In all honesty, most of us have felt all of these things at some point in our lives – this is entirely normal and doesn’t reflect our current self-esteem levels.
It’s the thoughts that are dominant in our minds that we tell the real story. After we experience a low or high, we revert to our baseline thoughts, which describe our self-esteem’s true story.
Taking care of yourself
How you take care of yourself is a strong indicator of how your subconscious views your self-worth. Because in the end, it is your subconscious that drives your behavior.
When someone doesn’t shower regularly or doesn’t do their laundry, they are demonstrating low self-esteem. Now that person might give you the impression of being strong and having a solid grasp of things, but their subconscious is not supporting their story.
The same can be said about addictions to things like drugs, food, alcohol, and sex. Of course, most of us already sensed problems with people having these behaviors.
Perhaps one of the most consistent traits in people with healthy self-esteem is their routine. Over time, they’ve sensibly structured their day to achieve high-priority tasks. And these are tasks that exist in all aspects of their life.
They’ve learned to take care of important things at work, nurture and take care of their bodies and minds through various activities, and have spent time with their loved ones. Granted, they may not address all things every day, but they’ve developed a routine that adequately addresses them – because balance is the real life of living a fulfilling life.
Without balance, there will be neglect. Finding a healthy balance in your own life doesn’t happen overnight. You have to be willing to change things around until it all works together. And don’t fall into the trap of doing things half-assed, just to convince yourself you achieved your goals – make each task meaningful and ensure that it adds value to your life – otherwise, drop it altogether.
Establishing a new sense of self-esteem
Whenever we go about solving a problem, there are usually several things that need to be done. In the beginning, the question becomes which issues do we attack first?
Some believe that we begin with the ‘low hanging fruit,’ or the items that can be corrected quickly or right away. Then there’s the approach of attacking the things that are most meaningful and have the most impact. Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with either direction.
However, when you establish a new healthy level of self-esteem, we believe in the effectiveness of one approach. And that is focusing on things that are causing negative feelings within you. The reason is that this is robbing you of large amounts of emotional energy. When you correct these mental energy leaks, you’ll be better equipped to address other issues.
So you begin your quest for healthy self-esteem by identifying the situations and people that make you feel bad about yourself. Once identified, you must take action to remove or minimize these harmful sources from your life.
Your levels of control will likely vary among these negative energy-draining issues in your life. You begin by removing the ones you control. Gradually addressing the ones your partially control, and finally coming up with a plan on how you can function within the harmful environments you cannot control.
The key is understanding that you always have complete control of how other things make you feel. And when you begin restoring your mental energy from removing the things you can control, you’ll be mentally stronger to realize you have complete control over your feelings in situations you can’t control.
Such an approach is helpful for everyone. This is how to help a woman with low self-esteem, how to help a man with low self-esteem, or even how to help a teenager with low-self-esteem. They only need to understand how it works.