The concept of low self-esteem is both intriguing and relevant. But how do we identify it, and how can we measure it accurately? Typically, individuals describe it as a feeling of inadequacy or a lack of self-worth. It’s often characterised by statements like, “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t like myself.” Interestingly, low self-esteem can originate from various sources, including negative past experiences, critical comments, or a sense of not fitting in.
The Influence of External Expectations:
Often, our self-esteem is influenced by societal expectations regarding our appearance, attire, and achievements. But who sets these standards? Frequently, we find ourselves striving to meet these expectations, seeking validation from others before we can truly feel good about ourselves.
The Comparison Trap:
One common pitfall is comparing ourselves to others. Reflect on the people you compare yourself to – do they tend to be individuals you perceive as “better” than you? This could be someone on social media with an idealised life, a person with an enviable physique, or someone who appears to have everything together. However, it’s crucial to remember that these comparisons often only consider the external aspects of a person.
It’s important to remind ourselves that every individual faces their own set of challenges and insecurities. We tend to be our harshest critics, scrutinising our flaws while forgetting that everyone has their struggles. The key difference lies in how we manage our inner critic.
To begin feeling better about ourselves, we must realistically assess our worth within the broader context of humanity, not just in comparison to a select few. Acknowledge your accomplishments and recognise that personal growth is a constant, ongoing process.
Acceptance and Change:
Understanding what we can change and what we cannot is crucial. Developing the ability to let go of what we cannot control is a valuable skill. We all possess the potential to become the person we aspire to be.
Empowering Internal Dialogue:
We often underestimate our own capabilities. By changing our perspective and adopting a more positive mindset, we can unleash our potential. It’s essential to realise that our external circumstances do not define us. Learning to navigate life’s uncertainties while staying focused on our goals is the key to personal growth.
Managing Thoughts and Feelings:
People who appear to have higher self-esteem may not necessarily find life easier. They simply have different internal processes for managing their thoughts, emotions, and subsequent behaviours. Regardless of our circumstances, we often contribute to our problems by how we handle our internal world. Learning to manage these thoughts and feelings, rather than suppressing them, empowers us to transition from the “dodgem car” of life to the “sports car” driving us toward our desired future.
In conclusion, self-esteem is a dynamic aspect of our lives that can be nurtured and enhanced. By understanding its sources, challenging unrealistic expectations, and developing the skills to manage our internal world, we can transition into a more confident and empowered version of ourselves. In this journey, we can move from being passive passengers in life to active drivers, navigating the uncertainties with resilience and determination. Remember, you have the potential to become the best version of yourself.
As renowned self-esteem expert Dr. Nathaniel Branden once said, “Self-esteem is the reputation we acquire with ourselves.” [Source: Branden, N. (1994). The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem. Bantam Books.]