Causes, Effects and Solutions to Low Self-esteem: So many people believe that a person can automatically, by simply willing it, control the amount of confidence they have in the face of others. While the power of will is a great place to start, more is involved in building self-confidence or self-esteem. Other crucial steps would be identifying the signs of, and investigating possible causes of low self-esteem. This is why this article not only points out markers for low self-esteem; it also offers you ten suggestions on what might be wrong.
However, before diving into the different ways to beef up confidence, it is important to take a look at exactly what self-esteem means:
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Table of Content
Meaning of Self-Esteem
The subject of ‘Self-worth’ refers to a person’s judgment of their worth. It has to do with how high or low they rate themselves, and a sum of multiple factors e.g. identity, level of performance, feelings of consanguinity. The subject holds such a central position in virtually all areas of our lives where the lack of, would be a serious issue.
A mistaken belief people have of self-esteem is that it is limited to ‘liking oneself’. Granted, it is important for us to ‘like’ ourselves, but there should also be an understanding that we deserve to be loved, and that our opinions and notions on different subjects are valid. The reason for this is that having self-esteem not only impacts self-judgment, it also the determining factor in what you can tolerate from others. It is capable of spilling into your determination to pursue different goals, and even relationships (in and out of the workplace) that would put you in better or healthier positions.
It is difficult to gauge how very widespread low self-esteem is, but several research projects have shown that the level is most likely to deepen as one attains his/her youth. This is why we have come up with different signs that could help you identify low self-esteem in both yourself and others.
Causes of low self-esteem
Low self-esteem is not limited to a group of people or a particular age or gender. It is a feeling that can be expressed by anyone at any stage of life. Before we identify the causes of low self-esteem, there are some examples of low self-esteem which will add more to this article.
Some of the signs of low self esteem include: Self doubt, being overly apologetic for things one should not be apologising for especially when you are not wrong; feeling unnecessarily ashamed or frightened when you are amongst your peers; always wanting to please others just to avoid conflict; downplaying your accomplishments by thinking that you do not deserve what you had or fear of how others will react when you showcase your achievements; having a bad image of yourself and feeling the need to be perfect before you can measure up to others’ expectations and so on.
There are other unlisted examples of low self esteem and they are all based on the flawed perception of what people think of you. It should be noted that low self esteem can be caused by environmental and psychological factors. So, what are the causes of low self esteem?
1. Poor/Critical Parental Upbringing: I believe it was Stewart Stafford that said that caregivers play a huge role in shaping our view of the world and with that, our self esteem. This is true because our collective beginnings are traced to the families we belong to. If a child is brought up in a home where he or she is verbally abused on a frequent basis, such a child will not be confident in public.
There are some overly critical parents that expect perfection from their wards in their chores, academics or extra curricular activities. Even though on a general notion it is motivating, it can be emotionally disturbing for children who need more support and encouragement. When they grow up to be adults, they do not feel the need to be content with what they have.
They become engrossed with succeeding to the highest level in order to be accepted by society and if they don’t measure up, they are filled with self regret. Also when the parents do not give quality attention to the child it can lead the child to feel unloved and disregarded. The child will translate the feeling of loneliness and dejection to his/her perception of what the society is all about.
2. Cultural factors: When it comes to a family, the values and interests are largely the same and if not, there is still that bond. The society is a constellation of different people from different families. If a part of society has a bond with one another, it is because there is a tribal or racial connection which they all have.
Imagine being the only different one in the midst of a group of persons who speak the same language or are from the same ethnicity. In more cases than one, there is the instilled feeling of rejection even when the circumstances are not dictating such.
It is worse when a set of people treat a person discriminatively because of the religion or race he or she belongs to or because of an orientation such person has. This can lead to lack of self confidence or trying to always appease the multitude.
3. Negative Experiences: Not everyone is wired the same way. There are some persons who recover quickly from adverse past events that happened to them and move on. There are others who have to live with that burden of what they passed through. For the latter category, the outcome of situations like this is usually low self esteem.
Take for instance, a child that has been sexually or repeatedly physically abused. It is not very easy to forget the traumatic experience and have a boost in confidence. Amongst other things, what you will find in that child is a feeling of insecurity, inability to socialize and feeling intimidated by others who have not gone through such experience.
If a child has been bullied while in school or in the neighborhood, the child will be very timid even when he or she grows up to be an adult. It is often said that the past shapes how we see the present and that is why those with bad experiences hardly view themselves in high esteem.
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4. Unnecessary comparisons: When there is always an internal strife that someone has questioning if he or she is good enough, this is one fact that should be checked. There is a lot of competition going on in all walks of life whether in business, politics, entertainment and so on. People easily measure their worth based on the successes or failures of others.
Once a person becomes engrossed with whether he is as good as or better than the next person, his esteem begins to lower because he is examining his achievements by others’ standards. This makes them vulnerable in situations where if they fall short, they feel as though as they have completely failed. This is the beginning of self doubt and ill confidence in themselves.
5. Body Image: The way we see ourselves in our bodies can be a huge contributor to self-esteem. In our world today, there are so many projections of what the perfect body should look like. A person who is uncomfortable in their own skin, in light of these projections may start losing their confidence.
6. Unrealistic Goals: It is important that we set high goals for ourselves in order to be successful. However, it is counter-productive if we unrealistically set these goals; whether academic or professional. You must know your own abilities and tailor your goals to those abilities. It is okay to want to push boundaries, but we must be aware of the dangers of mounting undue pressure on ourselves, and feeling inadequate when we fall short.
7. History of Failure: If there is something that you have repeatedly tried your hands at, and failed. Chances are that your confidence in your ability to do it may decrease with each try. Now, if it is something that would naturally define you at a time e.g. your career or studies, there is then, a high possibility of little self-worth.
Effects of Low Self-Esteem
Having low self esteem may be a psychological issue but it must not be overlooked or underestimated. Depending on the kind of individuals, the resultant effects may be mild and simple to conquer or may be severe and remain permanent. The following are the effects of low self esteem:
1. Problematic relationships: People who suffer from low self esteem will likely have issues in their relationships. They are either uninterested in building a relationship with others or they are afraid of committing themselves to a relationship.
Some avoid the conversation of being friends with anyone making them social outcasts. Others who enter into it find themselves in a bubble and quickly want out of the relationship.
2. Vulnerability to social vices: One thing that is common with people having low self esteem is that they try to seek alternative to associating with society.
Once they perceive in their minds that they are not being accepted or feel loved, they fall into the wrong company and end up doing drugs, join cultism or be part of a criminal activity.
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3. Depression: This is a mental health condition that is regarded as a breakdown of the mental state of a person from a biological perspective. It has been acknowledged that there are genetic traits of this health situation. There are also external factors that can cause depression.
Due to various health related theories, it can cause a person to feel unimportant. Sometimes depression is an internal feeling of self worthlessness without anything or anyone causing it. A person may be accomplished and still be depressed. The person gets bitter about him/herself and withdraws from society because of unjustified fear of their opinions. When it becomes uncontainable, some persons develop suicidal thoughts.
4. Disinterest in achieving your goals: Low self esteem will make a person lose the flair for doing anything ambitious. For young people in schools, they are very apathetic towards academic works which in turn causes a decline in their performance.
For adults, they become so depressed that they settle for the least they can get without aiming to be better at what they do. So they end up being complacent and can quit their jobs at any time because of their current condition.
5. Health issues: The human body has a physical anatomy and a psychological structure. These main dual parts of the human body coexist at a balance for the body to remain healthy.
Those who have the challenge of low self esteem are compromising their psychological structure. This is because having low self esteem can cause anxiety and depression, which has been proven to weaken the immune system thereby making the body susceptible to illness.
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Solutions to Low Self-esteem
Low self esteem is not a medical diagnosis. It is a subjective observation of oneself thus it lies on the person to think better of him/herself. While professional help stands out as a valid recommendation, there are other options the person who has low self esteem can resort to. They are as follow:
1. Say positive things about yourself all the time. Do not use negative words concerning your appearance or what you did not achieve. When you do not get what you expect, always be hopeful that you will achieve it at the right time. In other words, stay positive.
2. Remind yourself that perfection is a process and not the end. This is what most people strive for. They want to be perfect by all means and if they cannot reach the highest level of excellence in what they do, they reckon themselves as nothing.
Always know that it is normal to make mistakes and in time you will overcome those mistakes. Even when you are excellent in what you do, there are people who are working at a higher level and they are still people looking up to you. Grow with the process and acknowledge that perfection takes time and there is no end to learning.
3. Avoid comparing yourself with other people. You must know that not everyone is the same. If you keep comparing who and what you are to others, you will be disappointed. Focus on what you want to achieve and remove people from the equation. Comparing self to another is folly. Competition should only make you get better at what you do and not to make the other look lesser than you.
4. Always celebrate whatever you achieve even though it is little. If you do not give yourself enough credit for what you have done, a bitter person will enviously downplay your efforts and accomplishments. However, if you can always be happy for the good work you do every now and then, it will go a long way to improve your self esteem.
5. Stay confident and believe in your abilities. Acknowledge the fact that everyone is blessed with various abilities but still have deficiencies as well. Just because they do not show it does not mean that those deficiencies are not there.
Confidence is not denying reality but shadowing your weakness with the faith that you can accomplish the task before you. As you grow in confidence by challenging yourself to do better, you will not find a reason to shy away from situations or people no matter how stubborn.
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6. Do not be afraid to be critical of the opinions of people. Learn how to stand by your opinion no matter how hard others try to fault it. If you do not agree with what people are saying, go against the popular opinion.
The dynamic nature of humans makes us accommodate different opinions depending on conviction. It will make you outstanding if you decide to justifiably hold on to what you believe. It may seem intimidating but you will earn respect from people and from yourself.
7. Surround yourself with the right company. This is very important because low self esteem is predicated on the negative vibe one gets from others. If you make friends with people who are overly critical of appearance and every little thing you do, you will eventually become depressed.
It is best you find people who are encouraging and can help you with your challenges while addressing you on the areas you should improve on. That balance will help you grow as an individual and improve your self esteem. Choose the right companions who will not crush your ego and esteem but are respectful and honest with you.
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In conclusion, self-esteem is a perception that one can have in a high or low level. It is important for people to be properly oriented on the causes and effects of low self esteem. It should not be restricted to people from “unstable” backgrounds alone but everyone in a society. As mentioned earlier, it cannot be diagnosed by a medical practitioner. It is an innate feeling that can affect anyone at any point in time. The earlier the trace is discovered and the issue dealt with, the better.
Low self-esteem has biological and psychological connections which makes it a complex matter. It has led to broken relationships, depression and more tragically, suicide. It is equally important for everyone to be mindful of how we address people understanding that people are not the same and can go too far to express their displeasure with a wrong word. As the saying goes “Be your neighbour’s keeper“. Help those in need of psychiatric assistance but let your words and actions be a first aid kit to those who are suffering from low self-esteem.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ACMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.